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How to deal with being essentially ignored on Facebook?
July 15, 2011 3:44 AM   Subscribe

How can I deal with my frustrations about my Facebook profile in a productive way?

First of all, I want to preface that I realize this may come across as somewhat childish... and I do understand that this is just Facebook, but I do need your ideas/input because this is really driving me nuts. I am trying to articulate my thoughts on this.

Background information: I'm 25, I have approximately 480 friends on Facebook (I recently did a friends list sweep), and I attend a college.

What's happening is, simply put, I feel ignored on Facebook. I post pictures, profile updates with what's happening with me and my place in the world, and even PicNik my pictures from time to time. I literally get zero to maybe five, if that, comments/likes for the status updates/pictures that I do post. I do have a "core" group of followers, maybe 5-10 people, mostly family members, family friends who I knew from a long time ago, and/or old teachers from high school, who will comment/like my status and pictures. Interestingly, my college friends very seldom comment/like my Facebook updates.

I hate to say this, but it's really getting on my nerves. If the same "core" group of people continued to like/comment on my status and photos, ALONG with the 470 or so other friends I had, then it wouldn't be a problem - it's a question of balance. It's gotten to the point where I literally see the same person in the notifications bubble and grit my teeth in annoyance. I think, why can't it be someone else for once? I look at my other friends' and see that their photos get 20-30 likes, most of them from my other friends, many comments, and I feel jealous and wish I could get that kind of attention and be "popular." I know, I know - very middle school of me. That's how bad it is right now. I hate feeling this way, and the resentment I have, because I honestly have nothing against those "core" people at all - they're good people, but it's just getting old and I wonder what I'm doing wrong on Facebook to not be noticed by anyone else other than that "core" group. It's hard seeing my "empty" Facebook and seeing most of my friends' Facebooks being infused with likes/comments.

One point I want to clarify: I do not expect that EVERY picture/status update/whatever will be infused with comments/likes... but in my case, it's NEVER that way.

Recently, I tried PicNiking my pictures, as mentioned, and adding "cool" messages to the pictures, to try and get people to notice my page more. Literally no success. To add insult to injury, when I added pictures of my friends and me, they did not even bother to comment/like the pictures, but other tagged pictures of them (from their friends) they did like/comment. I even texted a friend of mine to check out the PicNiked picture of us, and she told me through text that she loved the picture. She did not like/comment on it, though, and then tonight she liked/commented on another friend's picture. It feels like my Facebook has cooties or something. Literally.

Again, I know I probably sound whiny (and I don't 'muse' like this on Facebook, trust me!), but I just am at the end of my rope, and I need advice and ideas on how to move forward and deal with this in a better way. I can't go on like this, or I will grow to resent my friends, and/or feel worse about myself.

As a side note, I do feel a bit lonely in real life sometimes, but not as bad as on Facebook. I have good conversations with most of the people on my Facebook list in person, and they obviously like me enough to keep me on their friends list.

I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong here. I hope some useful advice/insights can be offered. And, please don't criticize me saying something among the lines of "you're 25, time to grow up and stop dwelling on Facebook!" I hope I didn't seem too defensive there, but I've seen other people be told that... it is what it is right now, and I'm trying to deal with it.

Thanks. :)
posted by dubious_dude to Society & Culture (67 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Again, I know I probably sound whiny (and I don't 'muse' like this on Facebook, trust me!), but I just am at the end of my rope, and I need advice and ideas on how to move forward and deal with this in a better way. I can't go on like this, or I will grow to resent my friends, and/or feel worse about myself.

I even texted a friend of mine to check out the PicNiked picture of us, and she told me through text that she loved the picture. She did not like/comment on it, though, and then tonight she liked/commented on another friend's picture.

Why isn't the text directly from your friend good enough? Technically, that's a lot more intimate and genuine. Which makes it sound like you are specifically seeking social validation. But rather than trying to figure out how to gain that, I think you are not looking hard enough at why you need that

I know you don't want to hear this but I really think you need to get off Facebook and even consider therapy. Rather than stressing out about why your posts aren't "popular", you need to focus on figuring out why your self esteem is so dependent on this.

Facebook attention has NOTHING to do with your worth as a person or as a friend. Until you understand and accept that, I don't think anything you do will make you happy.
posted by like_neon at 4:06 AM on July 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


Um , you come across a little overbearing and attention seeking . If you come across this way on facebook 。 your frienda might be a little put off . Sorry . Also , I know you dont want to hear it but you should probably spend less time on facebook .
posted by bearette at 4:08 AM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


One thing you don't mention is how actively you like/comment on their posts. I think this is key as it can be reciprocal. The more you are active on their posts, the more active they will be on yours. I may be wrong, I'm not on Facebook, but I found when I used to be active on flickr that was the way it often worked.
posted by Elmore at 4:09 AM on July 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


Recently, I tried PicNiking my pictures, as mentioned, and adding "cool" messages to the pictures, to try and get people to notice my page more.

You are trying way too hard. Put things on facebook because you want to share them, not because you want people to respond to them. Say/do things because you want to say/do them, not because you want validation from others for saying/doing them.
posted by headnsouth at 4:14 AM on July 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


The only people I've ever seen post Picnik photos are fourteen-year-old girls. Stop it.
posted by Judith Butlerian Jihad at 4:15 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


What you're doing wrong here is you're measuring yourself against a semi-arbitrary metric. It has no relation to your real life popularity or interestingness, and very few people give it much credence as an indicator of social status. It's a metric informed by a wide range of interrelated factors ranging from simple (you're posting at 4am and nobody's online) to incomprehensible (the social desirability of commenting on your interesting political link in an election year when my grandparents are both die hard republicans and have recently added me on facebook combined with the fact that I've got to reply to a message from Tammy).

You have 5 times as many friends as I ever had on facebook, and I felt okay about my interactions there. Perhaps you're worrying too much about quantity instead of quality. Perhaps your close friends are the kind of people who prefer a conversation or text message to a facebook comment. I certainly used to have friends whose online presence I would value more highly than others, despite my offline friendships.

Stop trying so hard. People are excellent at recognising when people are trying to make an impression. Be genuine. If you see something interesting, post it. For some perspective, go look at the Reddit "new" post list and see how few posts get more than one or two comments.

Oh, and delete your facebook account. You'll find out pretty quickly who likes you and who doesn't.

It might also be an online manifestation of this phenomenon.
posted by doublehappy at 4:17 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm 25, I have approximately 480 friends on Facebook (I recently did a friends list sweep),

I actively avoid participating a lot in Facebook. That said, a couple of things come to mind.

1) 480 sounds like a lot of friends. Do the people you seek attention from have a similar number of friends? Maybe they think of you as a friends collector and don't realize you want to interact with the 480 people in your friends list.

2) Maybe when you did that recent sweep, you hurt some people's feelings and it got around without you knowing it. If there's no reason to remove or add people to your friends list, don't.

3) You should spend zero time worrying about Facebook, but that's I know that not the kind of advice you asked for.
posted by vincele at 4:20 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


In my experience, the posts that get lots of likes and comments are the ones about important things like new babies, serious illnesses, graduations. Everyday pictures and status updates don't seem to get as much attention. It doesn't mean that people aren't looking, but there is less need to engage.

So, maybe edit yourself down to the important stuff? Personally, I'm less likely to comment on or like posts for someone who updates constantly. It seems a little self-involved and it gets a little boring seeing the same people talking about the same stuff all the time.
posted by Alison at 4:21 AM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Or, hilariously, this might just be a consequence of your feed only showing posts that meet a certain threshold of "likes" or comments. It seems unlikely that all 480 of your friends produce comedy or sentimental gold all the time.
posted by doublehappy at 4:23 AM on July 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure what the actual algorithms are, but I tend to get more status updates from people I interact with. Have you tried interacting with more friends on FB? It could just be that you get muted from their streams due to a lack of interaction
posted by gadha at 4:24 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


It is not a competition. It is a bulletin board where you put things of potential interest to share with people.

Also, if all your friends also have 480 friends, their "most recent" newsfeeds probably go by very quickly and plenty of things get missed.
posted by gjc at 4:24 AM on July 15, 2011


Whenever I write something about my deepest innermost feelings, or come up with a really witty comment, or post a gorgeous, well-framed, in-focus photo, I get maybe 1-2 comments.

When I say, "I'm having tomato soup for lunch!" I'll get dozens of comments and likes from people who just ADORE tomato soup.

The internet is finicky and weird, and Facebook even more so. Worrying about it is bound to drive anyone insane.
posted by xingcat at 4:29 AM on July 15, 2011 [19 favorites]


"Doctor, it hurts when I do this"
"Well stop doing it"

Just... disable the account and walk away. It's not making you happy.

(if you say you can't do that, I'd be interested to know why not).
posted by Leon at 4:30 AM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is a genuine answer. Watch this video, reflect on it, then think about deleting your profile. Seriously, if you have been driven to ask this question, you've clearly spent a lot of time thinking about this and twisting yourself up about it.

No-one has 480 'friends'. No-one. Seeking attention from an enormous mass of people who would have little to no reason to be connected with you if Facebook didn't exist is a recipe for feeling down on yourself.

I deleted my Facebook profile about six months ago, was totally social media-free for ages and then joined Google +, which has just enough of the things I liked about Facebook that I might stick with it. Or I might delete it. Whatever, really, it's just a website.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:31 AM on July 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


Also, compare these two facebook users:
1: I post pictures, profile updates with what's happening with me and my place in the world, and even PicNik my pictures from time to time.

2: Once a month I post only my favourite picture and a status update to go with it.
I'm holding out for user 2 to post their picture of the month, but user 1 is just noise - I probably deleted him from my feed. Which brings me to my final point. Your friends might not like you all that much, or they might not like you all that much online.

Either way, facebook isn't a positive part of your life right now.
posted by doublehappy at 4:33 AM on July 15, 2011


@Like_Neon: Your post did hit home in a way, and I'm still mulling it over. I will get back to your post when I have thought it out, but thanks for your honesty :)

@bearette: I have mentioned in my original post that I don't muse like this on FB. In fact, I don't update everyday - just from time to time. It's hard to explain without you actually seeing my Facebook. May I ask, however, how I appear overbearing?

@elmore: I did think to mention that, but realized it was too late and I couldn't edit my original post. Thank you. The thing that does bother me is, I DO comment/like on their updates. That's why it bothers me too that there's no reciprocity.

@headnsouth: True... you raise a very good point there. I have been trying too hard, I suppose.

@Judith Bulteran Jihad: Not necessarily. Many of my college friends are using Picnik - it's the "trend" these days.

@DoubleHappy: True, true - there could be some factors, such as my friends not seeing my updates in their feed, being too busy, etc. It's just that it's been commonplace for such a long time, that it's became frustrating. Also, the friend who texted me is definitely a Facebook liker/commenter. She comments/likes often on her friends' updates.

@vincele: Answering your questions in order:
1) No, they are my friends who I knew at my college, socialize with, and go to the same events as them. We do talk in person as well.
2) Doubtful. This issue has been going on for literally years, and it's only now that I have finally talked about it. However, the people who I deleted were people I never talked to anymore, or who never bothered to connect with me.

@Alison: Weirdly enough, most of my friends' updates/pictures are daily updates/"unimportant" stuff, but they continue to get many likes/comments. I update my facebook mostly to update people on what's happening with my graduate school application process, and even that doesn't gather much comments/support.

@gadha & @gjc: I did think about that - maybe my posts didn't show on their newsfeed.

@xingcat: True. Maybe that's what it's like in my "circle", too?

@Leon & @Happy Dave: I wish! I have to keep my facebook alive to connect with my family, and hopefully to make more friends/connect with people from my college. Well, I CAN leave Facebook, but the truth is, I can't imagine life without Facebook. Sad, huh?

@doublehappy (again): I don't update my Facebook everyday - I just add pictures from time to time, and sometimes status updates. I'm talking maybe 3-4 status updates a week, and maybe 2 photo albums in a week.
posted by dubious_dude at 4:36 AM on July 15, 2011


Do you hang around with groups of people where being popular is incredibly important and where unpopular people get bitchy comments behind their back? In that case, you need new friends. That kind of shit is unpleasant, unnecessary and just serves to make everyone miserable.

Or are you really just finding it difficult to make true close friends, and seeing all this interaction is evidence that your supposedly close friends are closer with other folks? In which case: Making close friends is easier to do away from Facebook. Go and invite someone out for a coffee instead.

Try getting a time consuming hobby that involves interacting with people, away from Facebook. Then you'll be interacting with people regularly in an appropriately reciprocal fashion, and you'll probably care less about what the 480 people do on Facebook.

Oh, and nobody else is looking at how popular you are on Facebook, or how many comments you get. They are all too busy worrying about how popular they are on Facebook.
posted by emilyw at 4:36 AM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wish! I have to keep my facebook alive to connect with my family, and hopefully to make more friends/connect with people from my college. Well, I CAN leave Facebook, but the truth is, I can't imagine life without Facebook. Sad, huh?

I think we're starting to get to the actual problem here.

Just to pull one thread out of that (and hey, I'm long past college age so I could be wrong), but isn't the best way to make friends at college to get out from behind the screen and go do stuff in the real world?
posted by Leon at 4:43 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


isn't the best way to make friends at college to get out from behind the screen and go do stuff in the real world?

It's my sense that college students find out about what is going on in the real world from Facebook.

Without it, they don't have an easy way to find out what is going on on campus. Maybe the OP should think about using Facebook as a way to get updates about events and make plans rather than the way he's using it now, which is causing him to feel bad. Facebook can be used a lot of ways. It's just a matter of finding the best way for you.
posted by vincele at 4:48 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


OP: "I wish! I have to keep my facebook alive to connect with my family, and hopefully to make more friends/connect with people from my college. Well, I CAN leave Facebook, but the truth is, I can't imagine life without Facebook. Sad, huh?


Yeah, also, you don't 'have' to do anything. When I ditched Facebook, I started emailing and calling my family and friends again. That worked fine. The world didn't end.

Whenever I have something in my life that is becoming emotionally draining and difficult to manage, I ask myself, what's the worst that could happen if I stop doing this? Also, what is stopping doing this going to allow me to do.

Install this extension on your browser, if it's Firefox, or find an equivalent one. Whitelist everything but Facebook. Hide the icon. At the end of a normal week, check how much time you spent staring at Facebook, seething because people haven't commented.

Then think about how you could use that time. Studying for one. Going out and meeting people for another. Then watch the video upthread again and take the plunge. Seriously.

The world will not end if you delete your Facebook account.

Here's how you do that permanently.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:51 AM on July 15, 2011


@emilyw: Well, most of my friends on Facebook (who I wish could pay attention to my Facebook) are good people, but I'm from a small university where we all are Deaf, and cliques are very existent. The truth is, I didn't participate alot in events and parties up to my last year of college, so I'm trying to make up for lost time. I wasn't in the popular fraternity on campus, as well, and I do kind of regret that. I know that makes me sound like a wannabe, but I have never experienced what it's truly like to be "popular" and I was hoping Facebook could change that. It hasn't. I guess that's pretty much the crux of it.

@Leon: Can you clarify more on what you meant by my comment to that "fresh serving of pain on the hour" thread is relevant to this? I hope I don't sound rude at all - just wondering.

@Happy Dave: I'm thinking about that. I also like @vincele's idea, and am still mulling it all over.

I guess what really bothers me is that I think I post interesting content and pictures of my adventures (road trips, time with family, etc.)... and they get ignored, while the others' pictures of their beer bonging, partying, and modeling pictures are liked/commented on. Of course, you can argue I'm being biased, and my content really isn't that interesting. Maybe it isn't to them... but some of them do post the same content as I do, and they get the likes/comments, and I don't.
posted by dubious_dude at 4:57 AM on July 15, 2011


you're 25, time to grow up and stop dwelling on Facebook!
Its true though. Seriously, if you're getting this worked up about it, maybe you should close your account.
You say you have 480 facebook friends... but how many actual friends do you have? I have around 60 facebook friends - I keep my list to family and people I'm actually (or was in the past) friends with. Not just anybody I've ever met. I keep my likes and comments, mostly, to friends that I'm closest with. I realise that most of my friends comments are really intended for their inner circle and I don't want to be the creepy facebook stalker that comments on stuff that wasn't really aimed at me. Its nice to see what they're up to and connect from time to time but I'm not going to try and inject myself into their current lives through facebook. You say you're 25 and in college - are you older than the rest of your classmates?

The only person who regularly comments on my facebook activities is my boyfriend's mum. Sad, I know but I'm not losing any sleep over it.

On preview I see that you've responded to every single post - do you do that on facebook too? That always comes across as needy and desperate, especially if these people are reciprocating. Its very off-putting. You're also saying you're trying to use facebook to make friends and make up for lost time in your first 2 years at college - that's not how it works. These people aren't your friends and they don't care about your 'adventures'. College friendships are usually formed in the first couple of weeks of college, you're not going to make up for 2(or 3?) years of not socialising by posting on facebook... also, status updates every other day and 2 albums per week?! That seems excessive to me.... especially since no-one on your list really cares.

Facebook is not a substitute for in person interaction. Go make real friends in the real world.
posted by missmagenta at 5:07 AM on July 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


especially if these people are aren't reciprocating
posted by missmagenta at 5:08 AM on July 15, 2011


This is how I use facebook, if it helps. I follow 5 people on facebook, 50 on twitter, and pipe all the status updates, from both services, into tweetdeck. I never, ever, post anything on facebook but I pull the information I need from it.

Can you clarify more on what you meant by my comment to that "fresh serving of pain on the hour" thread is relevant to this? I hope I don't sound rude at all - just wondering.

Ok, over there you wrote: "I have some friends who I try really hard to gain their trust and admiration, and I feel like I get nothing in return." In this question you wrote: "I feel ignored on Facebook".

You sound like you're kinda desperate for approval. (I'm honestly trying to help, not judge. And I'm not going to do the knee-jerk "go get therapy!" thing... I'm very wary of that myself).

I also see you're 25 but in college... are you older than the people around you, for the most part? Or are you in grad school? When I was at university, I found that the gap between 18 and 21 was pretty wide.

I've posted too much on this thread already so I'm going to bow out now, but good luck, I hope you find a way to use the tool that works for you, or you break free of it.
posted by Leon at 5:14 AM on July 15, 2011


You need to interact with people in order for your stuff to show up on their "Top News" feed. Most of your 480 probably never even see it unless they're bored enough to click on "Most Recent" and actually look at everything.
posted by tomboko at 5:16 AM on July 15, 2011


@missmagenta: How exactly is replying to every post that people had made "needy and desperate"? Most of those people have asked me questions, so I consolidated my answers in a single post. It's also courteous to acknowledge all replies (even those you don't agree with!)... so I fail to understand your reasoning.

Also, you said those people are not my friends, and they don't care about my 'adventures.' How do you KNOW that? Like some others upthread suggested, my updates got lost in the mix, they didn't get around to seeing the pictures, or you could be right - but the way you said it comes across as absolute and kind of harsh. I do have friends in the real world.

@Leon: Don't worry about posting too much :) your input has been helpful, believe it or not! To answer your question, yes, that's pretty much what I was referring to in that thread, and a few issues with a close friend at the time (which has been subsequently resolved). And, yes, I'm older than most of the people at my college, but there are some older than me who are well-known.

I may be kind of desperate for approval, I admit. That's why I feel unsure about everything and Facebook is just feeding my insecurity.
posted by dubious_dude at 5:18 AM on July 15, 2011


I guess what really bothers me is that I think I post interesting content and pictures of my adventures (road trips, time with family, etc.)... and they get ignored, while the others' pictures of their beer bonging, partying, and modeling pictures are liked/commented on. Of course, you can argue I'm being biased, and my content really isn't that interesting.
Here is a list of things that are boring:
Road trips, unless you're on them with close friends.
Family, unless you're part of the family.
Photos of road trips or family.

Here is a list of things that are interesting to many people in their early 20s:
Beer bonging.
Partying.
Modelling pictures.
Photos of partying with models.
Case closed.
posted by doublehappy at 5:19 AM on July 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


What doublehappy said. Especially true when your Facebook friends are either in the partying photos or know people in the partying photos.
posted by lalex at 5:23 AM on July 15, 2011


(Slightly o/t, but please stop thread-sitting. Read and absorb; people are trying to help. Don't feel compelled to respond to every comment here, unless someone is asking for more information.)

I'm in a different demographic than you, but I find that most of my really active Facebook posts are when I'm asking friends for opinions or information ("Where's a great place for pizza?") or talking about popular culture or current events ("No Emmy nomination for Nick Offerman? Unfair!"). My "work sucks" or "Just got back from vacation!" posts get one or two responses.

If you want to engage in conversation or relationships, FB is just like real life: people want to talk about themselves, not you*.

(You = "one," not you = you in particular.)
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:25 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


It should not be under-emphasized that FB automatically turned on an option to only show the people with whom you most interact. Unless the meme about it spread through your friends, they've likely got it on. Also, lots of people are too lazy/oblivious to click out of top news, especially those with an enormous number of 'friends'.

To be blunt, your question and subsequent threadsitting sadly cry out "look at me!!" I really am not trying to be mean; I just see you desperately needing attention from something, and you've managed to hinge your self-esteem on FB interaction. Go be social in a less asynchronous environment (online or off).
posted by asciident at 5:29 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


People can sense neediness, and you're clearly feeling needy right now. You would do well to force yourself to unplug from facebook for a while. That could help you both not care so much and get reactions more in line with what you're looking for.

So, no one has 480 actual friends in real life. You do realize a facebook friend isn't necessarily a real friend, right? I'm much more likely to comment on my friends' facebook pages than on the pages of people I don't really care about.

On that note, you mention you were hoping to make up for lost time and your lack of popularity through facebook -- sorry, it doesn't work that way. First, you can't become popular through facebook. Second, trying to rush the development of friendship makes you seem needy, which turns people off.

Other random thoughts: Two photo albums a week seems excessive. And don't text people about your pictures -- it makes you seem needy, it might annoy them by forcing them to respond by text, and once they have done so they're not going to also "like" it on facebook.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:33 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I see three possibilities:

1) Your content is interesting but people don't want to respond
2) Your content isn't interesting to your audience
3) Your audience isn't seeing your content

I think 3 is unlikely to be the culprit if you're posting often. Therefore it's got to be either that what you're posting just isn't interesting to your audience or that they find it interesting but purposely don't want to respond. Boiling it down even further, if you're pursuing change here, you've got to figure out how to be more interesting or figure out why your audience doesn't want to encourage you.

I have an acquaintance who is also a Facebook friend. In real life, his tendency to insert cheesy puns and one-liners into every single conversation is tolerated because he's a nice guy and he means well. He's like a Catskills comedian--desperate for yuks. Most of us usually give wan smiles and change the subject. On Facebook, however, his bits are usually met with silence or a single meager "like." Facebook has no "wan smile" or "you're trying too hard; let me redirect you" button.

Maybe you're similar to my acquaintance.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 6:00 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


If #1 (my audience doesn't want to encourage me) is the culprit, then how should I go about finding out why?

Thanks, ImproviseOrDie.
posted by dubious_dude at 6:14 AM on July 15, 2011


I'm not in college anymore so my situation is a bit different, but I find 5-10 people who comment on or "like" my FB posts to be about average and I'm fine with that since I talk to other friends in other contexts, and since it's nice that 5-10 people are reading what I write! The things I post that get a lot of comments tend to be either random (quoting a song lyric, maybe) or topical (don't any of you Harry Potter midnight moviegoers have work tomorrow?). If I get around to looking at friends' photos/posts more involved than what I have mentioned above, I generally will not comment on them but that doesn't mean I haven't seen them. I don't tend to comment on people's posts more if they comment on mine, though I will respond to their comments if appropriate; it's a question of what grabs my interest.

I'm sorry that it feels like everyone is getting more input than you, but remember that's not a shorthand for "Everyone is more popular and well-liked than I am." As others have mentioned above, there are many possible reasons for why people will or will not comment.
posted by mlle valentine at 6:16 AM on July 15, 2011


Really, if you post as often as you say you do, I would stop responding to all but the most obviously life-changing or hilarious things, either. I'm actually pretty bad about responding to anyone, but the people that post constantly (and you're on the border of "constantly" for me) kind of start to seem like white noise. I don't usually filter them, just in *case* they say something amazing, but I do tend to skim their posts.

And, btw, I'm not sure where you've gotten the idea that it's courteous or necessary to respond to everyone's answer. Most people on askme who do that tend to 1) have very, very few responses or 2) seem fighty, needy, or both. Normally I probably wouldn't point that out, but since many of the responses seem to include "you may seem needy on Facebook," it kind of makes sense to point out specific behaviors that may be causing that without it being a personal attack.

My recommendation, in addition to the excellent advice given above to figure out *why* this is so important to you, is both to post less often and to make a point of commenting on other people's posts/pictures, whether you feel the interaction is reciprocal or not.
posted by wending my way at 6:21 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think your problem here is that you're using facebook as your main social conduit, which seems really... restrictive. Do you interact much with people outside of the site, in real life?
posted by Stephanie Duy at 6:25 AM on July 15, 2011


I have close to 200 facebook friends. The number of them that I feel comfortable commenting on or liking is closer to around maybe 20 - 30. The number of people who regularly comment or like my stuff is maybe a dozen.

That's just how it works for some. I don't worry about it.

When I see someone who posts a lot, or who posts attention seeky things, quickly get removed from my feed... so don't do that.

You need to forget about the bulk of these folks. These folks are not your actual friends, they are folks you've (maybe) met and then added on a website. That does not translate into a relationship!

Honestly, pick the solid friends you DO have and work on your friendship with them. Maybe pick one or two acquaintances who seem to like you and like spending time with you and try to become better friends with them. In meat-space, not on facebook.
posted by utsutsu at 6:27 AM on July 15, 2011


You are coming across as very needy, as others have said multiple times. If we sense it here, it's probably noticed on facebook.

You should really focus on having genuine relationships and completely forget about being popular. It sounds like you have a lot of great things going on in your life. You do not need to post everything thing you do on facebook. People like a little mystery.
posted by seesom at 6:30 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


May I ask, though, how exactly I'm coming across as very needy? I mean, obviously with the Facebook issue, but in general...? I can't really "see myself", but I did read my posts, and they didn't come across as needy to me. I guess I'm missing something?
posted by dubious_dude at 6:35 AM on July 15, 2011


Hon, I don't get anyone responding to my Facebook comments, and I have way less friends than you do. It's made me realize that Facebook posting is basically like exhibitionism -- and when you've got a room full of exhibitionists, you've probably crowded out all the voyeurs.

In other words -- I think the reason people aren't commenting on your posts is because they're all too busy making their own posts and waiting for people to comment on THEM.

Think of Facebook as more like a bulletin board rather than a source of interaction.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:36 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a side note, I do feel a bit lonely in real life sometimes, but not as bad as on Facebook. I have good conversations with most of the people on my Facebook list in person, and they obviously like me enough to keep me on their friends list.

Two things:
  1. Work out your real life issues and FB will follow.
  2. liking someone enough to be kept on their Facebook list is kind of a low bar to set
In short, you'll probably get more comments on your posts -- and will certainly enjoy the comments you do get more -- when you're more confident in yourself and not seeking approval from everyone.
posted by mazola at 6:46 AM on July 15, 2011


Just out of interest, of the 480 friends, how many added you and how many did you add?
posted by missmagenta at 6:57 AM on July 15, 2011


How can I deal with my frustrations about my Facebook profile in a productive way?

By deciding to care less.

Remove 80% of your "friends" from Facebook and do not add any more unless they are your friends.

Do not post anything to Facebook more than once per week.

Check Facebook no more than twice per day.

Taking these steps would be more productive than what you are doing now, as regards your frustrations about Facebook.
posted by General Tonic at 7:00 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I may be kind of desperate for approval, I admit. That's why I feel unsure about everything and Facebook is just feeding my insecurity."

Address your insecurity and your frustration (and likely your very use) of Facebook will wither away.

It sounds like your posting meaningful events in your life. Be happy that you have meaningful events like roadtrips and experiences with your family and that facebook can help you commemorate or share those experiences with like minded people.

As it stands now, it sounds like you have 470 or so un-like minded people on your Friends list. There is nothing you can do on Facebook that will change that except for unfriending them. As the 470 other friends grow older, they may come to appreciate the kinds of things your post, but likely not.

So in the meantime, cultivate, in person and through other means, the relationships that are giving you something back. Also, contiunue to cultivate your self through real and interesting experiences. You will find people in your life that will appreciate you for who you are. Probably not 470 and probably not on Facebook.
posted by Verdant at 7:06 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I get the most responses from friends with the following posts:

-photos from parties/events that I've tagged people in
-photos from 10+ years ago
-ridiculous news stories
-asking for advice
-animal videos (yep...)

Also, try taking time out to post on peoples walls. Post a funny picture (maybe an old photo of them from high school) or video or ask them a question.

I would say most of my Facebook friends post multiple times a day - and I'm happy to read and respond. Those who post once or twice a month, like some are suggesting, fall of the radar for me.

If you're posting tons and tons of photos and not uploading them all at once, people may have removed you from their streams for clogging it up.
My boyfriend goes through times where he posts about 20 music videos in a 2 hour period.
Many of our friends have removed him from their feeds and have told us. He doesn't really give a shit, though and still continues to do it.
posted by KogeLiz at 7:08 AM on July 15, 2011


The only people I 'friend' on Facebook are IRL friends, people I used to know and would be happy to see again, or people I meet and like. Even then, few comment on my profile. Even my boyfriend doesn't, because we talk every day, and there's no need to. How often do you speak to the people who aren't commenting in real life - have they already told you what they think?

Keep telling yourself that Facebook is not real life.
posted by mippy at 7:17 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think you need to interact less on facebook. 1-2 photo *albums* a week? This is a lot. Are you responding or liking or commenting or whatever to the majority of people's posts and photos and updates? That is also a lot.

It's hard really to describe neediness, but it's very easy to see. You want people to agree with you, you want people to acknowledge you, you want people to interact with you. And it's off-putting, which is just an incredibly unfair catch-22, but there it is.

Even if facebook is a measure of popularity, so what? You don't want 480 friends really, you want some good friends, who probably don't respond to you via facebook because they respond to you in real life. The 400+ other people aren't going to start liking you if your posts start getting extra likes or comments.
posted by jeather at 7:18 AM on July 15, 2011


If all your friends have 400 friends and they have never commented on your stuff then they really may not be getting anything from you in their feeds. There was a link recently about the algorithms that Facebook uses to control whether your posts appear in others feeds.

I remember thinking at the time that it sounded quite self-fulfilling. if you are on the outside you will remain on the outside.
posted by mary8nne at 7:18 AM on July 15, 2011


May I ask, though, how exactly I'm coming across as very needy? I mean, obviously with the Facebook issue, but in general...? I can't really "see myself", but I did read my posts, and they didn't come across as needy to me. I guess I'm missing something?

Well, two things. One is Metafilter-specific: it's considered a little weird and over-anxious here if you respond to every single comment in a thread you started. That's a bit of local etiquette — on other sites, acknowledging every comment would count as polite — and it's fine if you didn't know it ahead of time.

The other thing, though, is that you come across as someone who gets upset and even angry when you're expecting attention and don't get it. Partly this is your tone; partly it's things you've said outright — for instance, your comment about how you'll inevitably start resenting your friends if this goes on. It sounds like this hits a really deep nerve for you and makes you really sad.

And that's not a bad thing! It doesn't make you a bad person! It doesn't even make you unlikable! The thing is, though — so okay, I know people like you: people who just hate to be ignored, who feel really cut to the bone when someone doesn't reply to an email or return a phone call. Some of them are awesome people who I really like and even admire. But I also tend to keep them at arm's length.

Why? Because it's cruel to set someone up for disappointment.

In the past, when I've gotten close to someone like that — someone who often feels hurt and angry over small social slights — it's ended badly. I've ended up slighting them in some way, often inadvertently, and they've ended up... well, hurt and angry. And I don't like hurting people. So now when I meet some new awesome sort-of-insecure person... my first impulse is still to say "Yes! I want to be your new best friend! Let's hang out all the time!" But I stifle that impulse, because I think "Gee, the last time I said that to someone with these insecurities, there were a couple times I had to cancel plans on them, and they felt really terrible and sad and told me I'd let them down and they didn't want to be my friend anymore." So instead I say "Hey, maybe we'll see each other around some time" — and that way I'm not running such a big risk of hurting them.

It means seeing less of some really awesome person than I'd ideally like to see — but I figure that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make in the interest of being kind and compassionate and not setting myself up to make some blunder that really hurts this poor wonderful sensitive friend of mine.

So... sorry for the long explanation, but I hope that conveys a bit of why "I need your attention and I'll be hurt and resentful if I don't get it" is a counterproductive attitude. I know you're not saying it outright to your friends — but I suspect that they're sensing it, and keeping a respectful distance for fear that they'll just make you feel worse.

Of course, you also don't want to take an attitude that says "I don't need you! I don't even like you! Go away!" That's also counterproductive. But there's a happy medium in here somewhere. Something like "I'd really be thrilled to see you sometime in the next few weeks — but if I can't, I won't take it personally." If you can cultivate that attitude — and really sincerely feel okay about being turned down or even ignored occasionally — you'll probably find yourself getting more social attention. It's weird and perverse, but it makes sense if you look at it from other people's point of view. The less fragile you act, the more they can relax around you, and the more they can relax around you, the easier it is for them to act friendly.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:36 AM on July 15, 2011 [32 favorites]


@missmagenta: How exactly is replying to every post that people had made "needy and desperate"? Most of those people have asked me questions, so I consolidated my answers in a single post. It's also courteous to acknowledge all replies (even those you don't agree with!)... so I fail to understand your reasoning.

Look at a lot of other AskMe threads and see how people respond. On this website, what people tend to do is ask a question, and then respond maybe once or twice either to a particular answerer or to the aggregate. The social rules of AskMe say that actually it's not courteous to acknowledge all replies. Doing so can keep the discussion from moving forward, but more importantly it has you missing the forest because you're trying so hard to connect with each and every tree.

It sounds like you're doing the same thing with Facebook. The "rules" of facebook are that it isn't a place to make/strengthen/establish friendships, it's a place to maintain existing connections in a very casual, noncommitted way. My teenage kids use it to IM their friends and post links to their favorite bands (which suck), but they pretty much ignore the feeds and roll their eyes at posers who are trying too hard by posting all the time. I check in on it sometimes every day but other times not for weeks at a time. Nobody I know uses it to make/establish friendships.

So maybe you're not wrong to use facebook, you're just using facebook wrong. If you want to make friends, start now and look forward. Don't look backward. There's no making up for being unsociable in real life 3 years ago. Just be sociable in real life now.
posted by headnsouth at 7:39 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


In answer to your followup to me:

I would ordinarily suggest a lot of introspection to figure out why people are unwilling to encourage you. But you seem baffled at how to deal with some of your own insecurities, so I don't think you're going to arrive at answers that way.

Do you have any trusted friends who are also Facebook friends who are unfailingly blunt? ask them open-ended questions about their perceptions of your posts. I bet you might hear some surprising things.

And if you hear anything unpleasant, please know that you're really young, life is long, and this is an ordinary part of becoming an adult for some people. When our perceptions of ourselves don't line up with how others perceive us, that is.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 7:48 AM on July 15, 2011


@missmagenta: How exactly is replying to every post that people had made "needy and desperate"?... fwiw, I was saying that if you're responding to every post/status update on facebook, especially if those people don't reciprocate, it looks needy and desperate. Here its merely a faux-pas, not the 'done thing', on facebook, unless your friends list is limited to only your inner-circle of friends, you're going to come across as desperately lonely and attention seeking.
posted by missmagenta at 7:48 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


This article seems relevant: The Insidious Evils of 'Like' Culture.
posted by anderjen at 7:49 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


You sound like you're posting mostly the same things over and over. Things like grad school news. People will say something relevant the first time around, and the second time will pick up some people who missed the first time, but after that people aren't going to keep repeating themselves. (It's like sneezing, honestly, do you really have to say "bless you" again for the fifth sneeze?) People get away with this for party stuff because to the people who were there, every party is different. Every grad school step is different to you, but it's all the same to an outsider, you know?

Also albums are really time consuming for people to look through, so you need to be really aggressive about editing them if you want people to comment. Remember what people see first: Three thumbnails. That's it. Those thumbnails need to convince me that I want to open up the full picture, and then the picture needs to convince me that I want to go to the next one. Also, I'm not going to write a comment on every picture (that would be, well, weird). I might do one or two. If you have five pictures that are basically the same, you're splitting up your comments and killing potential conversations. With that in mind, here are some things I wish my friends would do: 1) Every photo must have people in it (or pets acting like people). Absolutely no landscapes, macro, or art shots. 2) Every photo must be substantially different from every other photo, not just to you but to the people you want to have look at them! This applies across albums, too--if you go skydiving you can post maybe two skydiving pictures (this is me as I jump from the plane, this is me doing a back flip in the air). If you go skydiving five times this week, you still only get two pictures. 3) Action shots are better than non-action shots.

Even doing everything right, interacting with people is really hit or miss. So much depends on the circumstances of all the other people, which is far too complex to really predict. If you can find a mindset where it's not stressful, then there's nothing wrong with updating even if no one commented on your last update. On the other hand, this sounds really stressful for you...

Re: Needy. It's pretty easy to tell what people are interested in by how they spend their time/energy. In this case, you're spending a lot of time and energy on interacting with any person who seems willing to post in your thread or on Facebook. Most people seem needy when they're too interested in interacting with anyone at all. People seem less needy when they can pick and choose interactions, sort of a "I have so many friends it's hard to keep up with it all" thing. You can try to game this, but it is a quick road to misery. Instead it would be better to find things that will make you actually busy, so that keeping a constant eye on Facebook is genuinely too much work. (And honestly, it seems like a fair cop. You're posting about how you're miserable because your friends don't give you enough attention. You need more attention. That's needy. We've all been there.)

I don't know if it's the same for you, but when I sit around thinking about this stuff (I need more friends, I need to get out and do more things, I am so lonely, man my life sucks) I get pretty depressed. Depression makes finding friends and doing things really hard. So if you find yourself stuck in that kind of downward spiral, talking to a professional might really help.

I hope this helps, my Facebook obsession comes and goes (based on how busy I am in the rest of my life, usually!) so I have way too much of this stuff stewing around in my head. Also, I am a very needy person. :)
posted by anaelith at 8:04 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had this same sort of emotional problem with facebook. I actually think it is a somewhat normal reaction to it - especially if you aren't and uber social person. It is strange to see relationships captured in such a finite and measurable way. Relationships should be measured in quality not quantity.

What I did, was quit - deactivated my account (you can always come back if you want). It was nerve racking at the time and people gave me shit (and they still do), but... a giant weight of stress has been lifted off of my shoulders. Now I really don't give a shit about the 500 "friends" that I never spoke to. I never think about what these people (that would have casually left my life long ago anyway) think about me and it is very nice not stressing about the best possible sentence to promote my current activity. I am having a fantastic time having real meaningful moments with real meaningful friends.

I joined back up about 5 months after quitting (due to a nagging friend telling me I was missing out), and then quit again a week later because it was clear there wasn't anything valuable to gain from it. It's great for some people I'm sure, but it wasn't adding any value to my life and was constantly making stressed that I wasn't as popular or interesting as other people.

Get off your computer for a while and enjoy your real life. You will get more emotionally from 1 hour with a good friend than you will from 500 little red facebook flags.
posted by LZel at 8:25 AM on July 15, 2011


OK. I think I may have some insight into what's going on. or I could be completely full of shit, but just keep an open mind.

Before I say what I'm gonna say, let me tell you a little bit about myself.

I am not Deaf, but I am severely HoH and I might as well be deaf without my aids on.

I also have severe scoliosis and I was teased mercilessly for "looking funny" as a kid.

So I have always been regarded as "different" even if I don't regard myself that way. I mean, it's not something I think about on a daily basis, and I'm sure it's not something my close friends think about, but it's shaped how I interact with the world. I think I need more approval than other people, especially for my written words, because I already know I am not going to get it for my amazingly good looks or my dazzling spoken conversational skills.

So two things are going on here: I put a disproportionate amount of stock in what other people think of my words, and I want to be regarded just like everyone else. The problem with that second part is I regard "everyone else" as "cooler and more popular than me" because they are "normal." It feeds my insecurities because I will never be normal.

I may be way off in left field here - you said you go to a Deaf school and I am not part of Deaf culture, but you still grew up in a world which regards you as Different, and that doesn't always know how to interact with you, even in a text-based medium.

This won't solve your "problem" of getting more Facebook interaction, but it might help to figure out where that insecurity is coming from.

If I am full of shit, then just ignore this, but if this rings a bell, feel free to contact me via memail or gmail.
posted by desjardins at 8:29 AM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh, AND, I've had to deal with a ton of feeling ignored IRL because I can't hear what the other person is saying (and they get sick of repeating themselves), so that makes me more sensitive to it all around.
posted by desjardins at 8:33 AM on July 15, 2011


Also I think you're framing this question in a way that is not particularly helpful to you.

You're asking 'how can I get these people to respond more to my posts?' rather than 'how can I make Facebook more meaningful to me?'

doublehappy rightly points out your interests may be different than the group whose attention you seek. Why are these people important to you?

Maybe you need to focus more on people who share your interests and less about trying to ingratiate yourself with 'the group'.

Looking for 'tricks' to get more people to respond to your posts is a distraction I think and will not contribute to making you any more happy.

It sounds as though you're trying to figure out who you are and where you fit in and that's not an uncommon position to be in when you're in your mid 20s (and frankly I think you're ahead of the curve compared with the party/beer-bonging crowd on that front).
posted by mazola at 8:54 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The amount of comments i get on my content usually reflects the other peoples' involvement in it. I get about one or two comments when i post a picture of me, but when i post a picture of the kayaking trip with friends i get up to 40 comments on one picture.

Just think, would YOU comment on the pic yourself?

Also, i deleted my profile yesterday and im extremely relieved for some reason!
posted by freddymetz at 8:59 AM on July 15, 2011


I think you're displacing other anxiety onto facebook. Different groups use it differently and granted I'm a bit older than you but many people I know seem to have a "core group" who comment on everything out of their larger group of friends. That seems normal to me, most of the people I know past their mid-twenties i know are not constantly on it.

Really its just not that important. You aren't really friends with all of those 480 people, there are probably people you wouldn't recognize walking down the street. That's normal, a lot of people's facebooks are like that.

I look at mine more like a virtual address book with networking features - those people are there in case you need to contact them. At least in the places I go becoming "facebook" friends has a lower barrier to trading phone numbers or emails its simply a way of keeping a lose connection with people.

I don't think you should defriend people (why burn that bridge if you don't have to?) or totally quit it (which could be bad for your IRL social life if its used a lot for invitations etc.) but try to work on other social connections and give it a rest. I only check my FB when I get an email telling me i have a private message/event invite/or wall post and if i'm on for that i'll do other things but it limits the time i spend worrying about it in a productive way.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 9:02 AM on July 15, 2011


I think looking for validation on Facebook is a perfectly innocent-looking trap that basically everyone falls into at some point or another. It makes sense that when you're feeling isolated and lonely to turn to Facebook, which has far lower stakes than face-to-face interactions. But the problem with Facebook is that it's a pretty awful way to interact with people under the surface, and it'll leave you feeling even worse than you did in the first place. You don't have to delete Facebook in order to stop the cycle, but you do need to radically change the way you interact with it. And that starts with recognizing that Facebook relationships are vastly different than real life relationships, even when it's with the same person.

First, Facebook's sorting algorithm means that not everything gets shown, even on "most recent." You need a long history of interacting with a wide variety of people, and of them interacting back with you, in very specific ways in order to even show up on the "most recent" tab, let alone on the "top news" tab. If you have roughly 500 friends on facebook, and each of them has roughly 500 friends, you're almost certainly seeing this effect. Everyone's newsfeed is censored to show only what Facebook deems the most "interesting," and that creates a feedback loop. If somebody's coded as an interesting content generator in the algorithm, their stuff pops up more frequently, which means more people see it, which means more people hit the "like" button simply because they saw it, which in turn causes more people to want to look at the item to see why so many others "like"d it, which bumps the item and the person up in facebook's algorithm so more people will see it.

That means Facebook interactions, at their core, are not real. They're highly circumscribed by a company whose main interest is generating revenue, and if your activity isn't as good at doing that as others then your activities will be deprioritized by the company. Not by your friends. You cannot know whether somebody never sees your post, or whether they choose not to comment on it. It's super-easy to conflate the two, though, and there have been a few studies that show how damaging that can be to people's self-esteem. Stanford did a study on how the constant stream of other people's good news can make people feel isolated and anxious, and another university's study showed that keeping up with the site can cause considerable stress.

Second, everybody uses Facebook in a different way. Some social butterflies never go on Facebook. Some people never post a thing, but visit the site 5 times a day. A few people are interested in using the site to maintain friendships, but more are looking for a way to kill time. Unlike in real life friendships, where there's some give-and-take in sharing and a mutual interest in each others' lives, on Facebook there tends to be a "What can you do for me?" attitude. What content can you provide that will entertain me at this moment? There is a time and place when your friends will genuinely want to hear about your vacation photos and stories, but that is not necessarily the mindset they are in when they visit Facebook. More likely than not they will skip past your photos to watch the crazy cat video, or look at pictures of themselves, or pine after that girl from high school they never quite got over.

If you want to develop some Facebook popularity, you have to embrace the artifice. Post things other people, not you, find interesting. Minimize contributions that don't generate chatter, and post only things you know will generate comments in order to protect your algorithm rating. Spend hours revising drafts of your pithy comments to maximize the "like"s. Hang out on reddit to catch the viral videos before they show up on facebook. There are a ton of things you could do to craft your Facebook submissions to attract more eyeballs, but that means constructing a Facebook presence that isn't really you. Not because you're not interesting enough as-is, but because people's lives are too big and complex to fit into Facebook's status update bar.

But I suspect those type of interactions won't be any more fulfilling to you than what you're getting now (and besides, it's exhausting work). Which means coming to terms with what everyone here is saying: You can't get the kind of validation you're looking for on Facebook. You get it by cultivating friendships outside of Facebook, by joining clubs and volunteering to find interesting activities, and by learning to be okay hanging out by yourself sometimes. It means having a small core group of 5-15 friends, and that Facebook's disinterest doesn't negate your value. Maybe that means deciding you're depressed and looking for professional help for that, or maybe it just means that it's time to turn off Facebook.
posted by lilac girl at 9:49 AM on July 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


I use Facebook to keep in touch with people -- including family -- from throughout my life. But I don't care at all about the day-to-day lives of the vast majority of them, so my feed is limited to about 20 people.

I suspect that most of my "friends" feel the same, since I only get comments from a subset of that group. (Also, this is why I'm growing to really like the Circles in Google+).
posted by coolguymichael at 9:51 AM on July 15, 2011


Yeah, honestly? I never even look at albums of friends' family gatherings. Why? Because it's boring to most anyone not in the family. The same goes for vacation pictures unless you have caught something really funny/interesting/offbeat. I just don't care about your poses in front of the Eiffel Tower, because it's generic. There's no shared memory to post about as a response. That's partly why party pics are so popular. Shared experiences.

I have an acquaintance who posted dozens of pics a month of her toddler twin girls. Very cute kids. But you know what? At this point I don't click, and just skim over her posts when I see it's yet more pictures.

I post tons of stuff I don't get replies on. I think the last picture I got a ton of replies to was a picture of me horribly sunburnt with crazy lines on my arms/shoulders. Why? Probably because it was funny and it's something people can easily chime in on: lots of folk remedies, lots of commiserating, lots of jokes to make.
posted by Windigo at 10:37 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


One thought from outside the box...

Take a very close look at your privacy settings in FB. It's possible that they're set too tight, and a lot of people aren't seeing your updates - Or, they're seeing them, and they're not allowed to comment. This may not actually be happening, but it's worth it to make sure that you haven't accidentally hellbanned yourself.

Another line of thought: People aren't capable of mentally tracking more than ~150 social connections. So, if you have 480, that's way too many. Take some time to defriend anyone who you wouldn't feel comfortable emailing or texting out of the blue. That should reduce your flist to at least 150 or so, and probably less. Once you're there, take the interactions with these people, who you really like, and make them more meaningful. In essence, go for quality, not quantity. Once you do that, you'll probably feel much better about the whole enterprise.

Remember, facebook is a tool. If you're not getting what you want out of it, think about using it differently.
posted by Citrus at 10:37 AM on July 15, 2011


I absolutely hate the dumb things people post on facebook - which is why I deleted my profile months ago. Hopefully Google+ will be less dumb. At least I hopefully won't have to constantly update my privacy settings and untag myself from embarrassing old photos (the worst!)

So, I can't tell you how to be more popular on facebook.

Here's some advice for real life popularity:

In middle school I was concerned about popularity, and read some life changing advice. It was basically: "you will be popular when you don't care if people like you or not."

It really gets at the neediness aspect. I somewhat consciously applied this advice pretty immediately - I very deliberately stopped caring whether other people liked me or if they thought I was a lame nerd (fake it till you make it on that one), but whether I liked them. I basically ignored anyone who wasn't interesting to me and I just did my thing. I would caution that I was not deliberately mean (most of the time), just indifferent.

It probably took a year or two of faking it to honestly not care - but it was worth it.

While I was never popular in the cheerleader sense, I have never ever lacked for friends and social activity since that moment. It is honestly the best possible advice on social interactions I have ever received. (and, if your social life is lacking, you don't actually care that much.)
posted by rainydayfilms at 11:11 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're standing on a stage in front of a bunch of people and telling a joke about chickens crossing roads. Why isn't the crowd screaming with laughter - after all, you told a joke, right? Some people you know have told chicken jokes before, and you giggled. Adam Sandler sings an infantile, annoying as fuck song about chickens in that creepybaby voice of his and a bunch of frat boys high-fived. Louis CK could probably build an entire bleakly hilarious, side-splitting episode of his show around watching a chicken crossing a road as a depressed middle aged man. Meryl Streep could probably convey the pathos of this chicken with an arched eyebrow and a sigh. Helen of Troy could launch a thousand ships across the sea to war just by batting her eyelashes while cooing the phrase "... get to the other side." Your jokes are all about the same topic - so why don't they get the same response?

You are focusing on getting the format of Facebook right - you're uploading the right number of pictures, you're updating with the right frequency, etc etc - but getting responses on Facebook has nothing to do with "doing it right" and everything to do with delivery.

Facebook is ostensibly about identity but I think it's really about performance. And successful performance is all about TONE. My friends who get the most reactions from their posts - they are GOOD WRITERS. They wield a razor wit. They time their self-deprecations to coincide with pointed observations. They sneak in twist endings. Their musings have double dirty meanings. Their aim isn't to communicate - their aim is to delight. They are good performers!

Look, not everyone is a good performer. Maybe you aren't a good performer. You're never gonna be Live at the Apollo. But you are probably a really, really good person and a truly amazing friend. And people like seeing your photos and what you've been up to and being connected to you and having you in their lives.
posted by sestaaak at 12:25 PM on July 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


I had to Google the "PicNiking" thing, and realised it is the name for a phenomenon that makes me hide, and occasionally unfriend, people. Just because all the cool kids seem to be doing it doesn't mean you should smoke too, etc. However...

I wasn't in the popular fraternity on campus, as well, and I do kind of regret that. I know that makes me sound like a wannabe

I think your problems run deeper than social networking, and I think part of the appropriate and correct answer here does involve "You're 25, time to..." This is just not what adult life is about, and I think you would experience tremendous relief to leave these parts of life behind. Getting off Facebook entirely is probably something to think about -- I think it's great, but, you're not having any fun on it.

Also, the best way to get something good to post on Facebook is to go out and do something good. If you can't muster a bunch of likes out of 480 people for one well-posed (clean, non-"PicNik") photo of you doing some interesting or heart-tugging or badly needed volunteer work... Or any other "IRL" that is admirable/interesting. "Our play opens next weekend; message me if you want to come to the dress rehearsal for free." Pictures: of something you actually went out of your way to photograph and worked hard to get the picture of. "Starting a XYZ club for Willowdale. If you know any W-dale XYZ enthusiasts, will you comment and tag them if you think they'd be interested?"

"I update my facebook mostly to update people on what's happening with my graduate school application process" is a bit of a red flag, too. "I am applying to AskMe U; wish me luck," and, after an interval, "Accepted! AskMe MA 2014!" would suffice for that; I wouldn't want regular updates about that from anybody. Are you a "useful" friend? I use social networking to throw out recommendations and warnings for local businesses and appreciate it when others do the same; "Christian St Sandwiches does an awesome eggplant parm, and only $3.99" or "I cannot believe Peg's HVAC left me without heat all weekend; go elsewhere for furnace repair" will get likes from people in your community because people like sandwiches and central heating and you will be doing people a favour if your sandwich and central heating information is sound. "Looks like I can get a bursary," yeah, hiding that if it goes on too much; sorry.
posted by kmennie at 6:31 PM on July 15, 2011


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