The Status Is

The Internet is now full of blogs that offer a ‘slice of life’ in form of some unusual snippets. We previously have looked at several examples, from the modern necrology of My Death Space, to the passing phrases of Overheard in New York, and to the confessed artwork of Post Secret. Now we come to The Status Is, a Tumblr blog which features the quotable status indicators of user’s Facebook sites.

Facebook, like MySpace, is a social networking site, in which people can insert their interests and friends into a centralized outlet. There, they can be integrated, networked, discovered, won, lost, and enjoyed. The appeal of these sites is something new and unusual as this type of social aggregation has never existed outside of people’s heads. One of the interesting aspects of these sites is the status indicator. One of the first times this was used heavily was with the blogging service and social networking protosite called Live Journal. When writing a posting for Live Journal, users were able to specify their mood, and what song they were listening to at the time. This allowed a nonverbal verbal cue to be added to the text of their message. In addition to reading what was on the writer’s mind, readers could also feel it out from their stated mood (with accompanying emoticon), and from whatever song they were listening to. The songs could be anything the person typed in, from a bawdy piece of pop music, to a dirge, to a mournful love song, to the main theme from Night Court.

With Facebook, the person is able to place their status by finishing the statement: “User is __________.” The user could be pulling weeds in their garden, doing homework, feeling sad, happy about a new puppy, or any of a great number of actions and descriptions that run the gamut of human life. The Status Is crystallizes these phrases, collecting significant or humorous phrases from users, and putting them together for their esoteric value.

The site has no stated purpose other than collecting and displaying these artifacts. They don’t postulate their value or assign them tags. So when this was posted on June 19, 2008: “Mike does a really funny impression of you when you’re not around,” the humor was obvious to the reader, but not because he or she was told so by the site. It simply is a bit of ironic humor.

So far The Status is is a young site, compared to the aforementioned ones, or even compared to this one. Most of the entries thus far have been humorous. It will be interesting to see in the future if more poignant, significant, tragic, or ethically questionable postings emerge as seen on Overheard in New York.


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