Facebook profiles speak the truth

Bob Marley’s religion is love. Mine is a YouTube video.

According to my Facebook, I place my faith in a 90-second clip of Arcade Fire’s performance in an elevator. In actuality, this is not entirely the truth — I love many other bands just as well. Also according to Facebook, my “activities” are solely “Twitter.” Sure, this is how I spend the majority of my free time, but honestly, I sometimes do leave my laptop — some days I go running, read books, write for the Daily Trojan, etc.

These discrepancies in my own Facebook “info” section raise a variety of queries. What can you truly gather from someone’s “About Me?” How much does the quote beneath their profile picture describe their outlook on life?

Facebook stalking is a unique art, and I happen to be the next Picasso. As both an ADD-college student and a woman, I am especially inclined to overanalyze the words (or lack thereof) with which my Facebook friends have chosen to sculpt their online personas. I may seem a bit obsessed, but the judgments I pass as a result of a profile once-over are probably ideas you’ve courted once or twice, consciously or not.

If there is one digital mishap that immediately turns me off, it is when someone sprinkles his or her profile with clichés. Sure, some are witty, but most give me the impression that the writer lacks a broad sense of culture. If I read, “live-laugh-love,” I think, “die-cry-hate.” If your music taste is “everything except country,” I ask you to reasonably defend why you hate Johnny Cash yet listen to thrash metal.

Perhaps the most upsettingly uninteresting of all Facebook lines is “too many to list.” I read this as one of two things. It is either: A) You have no idea what you’re talking about — read: you know you like movies, you just don’t know which ones — or B) You are lazy, and now if I want to get to know you, I actually have to talk to you. Rough.

It may sound cynical and somewhat ridiculous, but if you think about how plugged in our society has become, a prerequisite to a developing friendship is Facebook chemistry. If an interest is piqued, the stalking is inevitable — and you do not want to disappoint.

If you hit it off with a strange guy at a party, he will likely friend request you the next day (assuming he remembers your last name). Because of Facebook and all its glory, said stranger can not only see what you look like when he is sober, but can also determine if you two share common interests. Even though we we live in a digital age that makes it impossible to withhold even the slightest bit of information from acquaintances, mystery is still key. Truth be told, it is possible to convey aspects of your personality without hating on the genre that brought us “Redneck Woman.”

Perhaps the most telling response to any of the thought-provoking questions Facebook begs is the text entered just below one’s profile picture. This unnamed area has achieved a reputation as somewhere to write a quote or lyric too important for your regular info page, and as something that is truly “about yourself.” The best choice of words I have ever read in this section was simply, “Something about myself.” Mind-blowing.

The key to a Facebook that receives praise from the general community is that it is vaguely too cool — too cool to list every single band or movie the user has ever been exposed to, too cool to say the trying-to-be-cool “I don’t read” in response to “Favorite Books.” Above all, it is too cool to possibly have as much time and energy put into its production as my analytical skills should warrant.

You may or may not choose to admit it, but your Facebook is more about who you wish you were than who you actually are. You are given a blank slate upon which to define yourself, and there is a whole new set of social guidelines to abide by. Honesty is key, but partial honesty is what keeps the curiosity alive. There is a reason that my profile has a link to a beautiful music video under “Religion” instead of just the word “Facebook.”

Jen Winston is a junior majoring in communication. Her column, “The Memeing of Life,” runs Tuesdays.