Tuesday, December 08, 2009

If Facebook statuses were really honest

A lot of Facebook statuses are fairly innocuous – observations about life, work, daily activities, current events. Most folks are self-conscious and careful about not disclosing things that are too personal, especially anything that casts them in a negative light. There’s rarely any confession of wrongdoing other than “Jenny is stealing her kids’ Halloween candy.” But what if people really said what was really going on? Then instead of a status like “Mark is hiking the Appalachian Trail” you’d see “Mark is ditching his family and job to rendezvous with his Argentinian soulmate.”

A few years ago I heard about the concept of the Johari window, which organizes people's interpersonal interactions in different categories of people’s self-perceptions and perceptions by others. One category is the “arena,” that which is known to oneself and publicly made known to others, that we see and that others also see. Most Facebook statuses probably fall into this category, stuff that people feel comfortable making public about themselves.

Another category is the “facade” – that which we know about ourselves but is not seen by others. We are selective about what we disclose and edit out the naughty bits. So if we were to pull back the facade, our statuses might say things like “Wally is looking at porn,” "Eliot is visiting a prostitute" or “Carrie just slapped her daughter.”

Even more interesting is the category of the “blind spot” – that which others know about us but that we don’t know about ourselves. It’s hard for us to get clued in on things in this category unless we have trusted friends that let us know what's going on, but this might be something like "Michael is offending coworkers left and right" or "Dwight is totally staring at Pam's chest and is completely creeping her out."

The fourth category is "mystery," that which is unknown to both ourselves and others around us. This might be something like "Britney is acting out because of childhood issues" or "Ted is in serious denial about being gay."

It's interesting to think about Facebook statuses through the lens of the Johari window. Is that status really real or just a facade? What's not being said in a status that might reflect a blind spot or an area of mystery? Integrity, many have said, is who you are when no one's looking. In an age of Facebook, integrity might be having your Facebook status really reflect who you are and not just how you want people to think about you.

(P.S. Just found an interactive Johari window online, but I'm scared to try it.)


Anonymous said...

Hi Al,

I believe you are right about this "facebook" thing. I myself have a facebook account.

I have a suggestion. Why don't we (or you) create a site (similar to facebook) where we can truly reveal our true "statuses" and not just the "nice" ones?

Kacie said...

Jojo - it's called postsecret. :)

Anonymous said...

Hmmnn..www.postsecret.com. Sounds good! But I wonder if anybody would want to register? If they post their secrets, it would no longer be a secret.

But it's worth the try Kacie.