Every night without fail, Mitch and/or I surf our Facebook feed to see what our friends, family, and other associated people are up to. (By “our Facebook feed” I do not mean that we share a Facebook account. I have made a lot of really stupid decisions in my life and that is not one of them. But it’s too early to be parenthesesing so I apologize.) Mitch always points out some fool’s Facebook status that has a personal cell phone cam shot, most often taken in a bathroom, and an even more ridiculous caption for it. We let the first few go, but have recently noticed some horrible repeat offenders. Mostly on Mitch’s Facebook; I have long deleted or “hid” these types of Facebook statuses. Stati? Which reminds me that there’s a few more I’ve seen popping up on my feed recently…
Sometimes these people are random acquaintances, old high school classmates, previous employees, etc. But sometimes, embarrassingly, these people are close to us. I would ask Mitch constantly “why do they do that?” “Do they think it’s cool? Do they think they look good? Do they think I care?” And then people would comment on the picture! Mitch’s conclusion: it’s a very serious Facebook phenomena or culture going on.
Now as a certified Folklorist,* I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I hadn’t thought of it first. But after watching certain people take these pictures over and over again, and then to watch the same other people continuously comment on these pictures with positive remarks, it was obvious that there was some sort of subculture going on in the Land ‘o Facebook that I was not a part of, did not want in any way shape or form to become a part of, but desperately wanted to know about! I will, however, admit to you that my desire to study these creatures merely masks my true desire of publicly humiliating them.
When researching several subjects, I was able to document multiple similarities between them:
Have the subjects obtained a high school diploma or GED?
Have the subjects received any higher education?
Do the subjects have biological children?
Subject ages 19-29
Subject ages 30+
Subject ages 12-18
Subject’s Facebook relationship status?
- It’s complicated
Subject’s actual relationship status?
- Trying to be remarried Sunday through Thursday
- Single Friday and Saturday
Subject’s Facebook “looking for” status?
Subject’s actual “looking for” status?
Male subjects’ role models:
- Quentin Jackson, Bret Michaels, Mel Gibson
Female subjects’ role models:
- Angelina Jolie, Camille Grammer, Snookie
Besides my subjects’ questionnaire, I interviewed Erin, Michelle, and Nick.** Actually, all of my subjects were willing/begging to interview but I clearly just don’t have the time to listen to all these idiots and chose three subjects at random for my case studies. Here are relevant excerpts from these interviews:
Me: How often do you post a photo that you’ve taken of yourself on Facebook?
Erin: Well, I take a picture every time I get ready to go somewhere. Like work, school, or when I go out. And if I like it or think I look hot, then I post it. I made my stepdad install dimmers throughout the house so I could get better lighting for my pictures.
Me: When did you post your first self portrait on Facebook?
Michelle: About two days after I joined Facebook. I realized that these new friends didn’t know what I really look like, you know, like how I look like every day. So I started posting pictures so they could see the real me, like they actually knew me.
Me: Why do you post these types of pictures?
Nick: So my boys can see what they up against, and so the chicks can see where I’m going tonight and what I look like. And so my baby momma can see where I’m going tonight and what I look like.
Me: Is there an “unwritten” rule that these photos must be taken in a bathroom and at a slightly downward angle?
Nick: True dat.
Erin: Show’s the cleavage better.
Me: Do you think that your Facebook “friends” care if you post a picture of yourself?
Nick: The ladies do.
Me: No they don’t.
Michelle: My friends back at home do.
Me: Not Really.
Erin: I don’t care if my Facebook friends care.
After speaking with these three individuals, and receiving hundreds upon thousands of questionnaires, I began to piece together the answers behind this Facebook subculture. At first I was looking at it all wrong; my obsession with my own self caused me to believe that these creatures were posting these pictures for me, when in all reality they weren’t for me at all! I was coming down with a fever! A fever that made me believe that my Facebook feed was reality, that I was actually conversing with these people on a daily basis, and that it was quite ordinary for me to know their innermost personal thoughts and daily step by step actions. I only realized this fever after performing my own research on myself, and through rigorous and lengthy interviews (sometimes 24 hours at a time) I was able to learn that I had on more than one occasion reminisced a memory or piece of juicy gossip with a fellow Facebook friend that I wasn’t actually a part of or directly told. “Remember the time we went to Costa Rica, and we met Julio who offered to drive us to a secret waterfall that only he knew about for our honeymoon and I took tons of pictures of you and your husband and it was so gorgeous?!” “Did you hear that Allison and Kari are hanging out again? They went shopping on Saturday and then went to sushi for lunch and are pretending that nothing ever happened and Kari actually asked Allison to be in her wedding?!”
During this time a scientist friend*** of mine offered to do some urine and blood samples and other tests for me on several of my [volunteer] subjects. His findings were more than I could have ever deduced using my tried and true Folklore research principles. This wasn’t just a Facebook phenomena, it was a genetic disorder! All research subjects carried the same genetic disorder, and at least one of their parents did as well. My scientist friend researched every book and article he could find on this disorder only to conclude that though it had previously been recorded, no further data was ever examined and it was ruled an “inconclusive, recessive” disorder with no “history of side effects or life-inhibiting traits.” But I knew there was some connection! I did not carry this disorder, the scientist did not carry this disorder, nor did Mitch, my mother, or my step-cousin in Santa Cruz (who I had anticipated might.)
The scientist explained to me that my subjects all had a similar occurrence to their white blood cells. The body, which usually uses white blood cells to fight off infectious disease and foreign materials, was actually trashing its white blood cells. Even though the subjects had an adequate number of white blood cells, at least 50% of them were trashed, making my subjects less protected against things like illness, disease, class, and better judgment. It wasn’t their fault that they were falling victim to this Facebook portrait subculture; it was merely an exact match of new technology and an unidentified genetic disorder which made them succumb to the sickness without even knowing it.
Though we have not yet found a cure for White Trash, the scientist and I are currently submitting our most recent formula, a suppressant, to the FDA. Its primary ingredients include college coursework, table manners, and self respect.
*Author is not actually “certified.”
**Names have been altered to protect identities. These interviews never actually took place.
***Author is not acquainted with any scientists, nor knows what a scientist actually does.