The Facebook Paradox

The Facebook Paradox is real. It’s out there and if you don’t watch out, and guard yourself against it, it will come up and bite your face right off. Grab your spelunker’s helmet and join me as we uncover the truth behind this dastardly, yet predictable phenomenon, won’t you?

Social media in general, and Facebook in particular, is many different things to different people. Ultimately, it is but one way for one to broadcast oneself to friends, internet acquaintances, strangers, creepy internet people and the French. Facebook attracts all types and scientific research* shows that 92.6% of users have some sense of inflated self-importance to think that what they have to say is needed to be read by the general public. Of course I fall into that percentage too, although I like to think my Facebook existence revolves around amusing myself and maybe providing an occasional laugh for others. Plus, it’s been a good way for me to re-connect with some friends from my past.

But there’s a phenomenon on Facebook that Jon and I have observed – the Facebook Paradox – where the more trivial your post, the more people will actually comment on it. Got something serious and emotional to share? Expect crickets. It goes a little something like this:

Peter Charbonneau can’t believe the love of his life just ran off with a Nepalese sherpa to run Yeti tours in the Himalayas and now he has to get his left foot amputated from running down the road after her, accidentally stepping in a grizzly bear’s mouth as she drove out of his life.

The best response you can expect? One of your friends to comment, “I really wish there was a way to ‘unlike’ this!”

Now for the other side of the coin. Prepare to be dazzled like Doug Henning.

Peter Charbonneau “Wasn’t there children’s book about an elephant named Babar?” “I don’t know, I don’t have any.” “No children?” “No elephant books.”

Within 15 minutes of posting your amusing little ‘Fletch’ quote, expect in the neighborhood of 25-32 comments. This is science. It works, bitch!

Now is this an earth-shattering revelation? Of course not. People go on Facebook to take breaks… from work, from stress, from reality or from Canadians. But as a social medium designed around connections and interactions, you’d think there’d be a place for the serious as well as the trivial. Not within the Facebook Paradox, my friends!

I hope to have visual proof of this phenomenon in action up very soon, but much like the aforementioned Yeti that the love of my life left me to go exploit, the Facebook Paradox can be an elusive animal. Stay tuned, dear reader. And by reader I mean you madam, the one person kind enough to read this blog.

* – scientific research consists of a phone call between myself and Jon discussing this entire idea.

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