Facebook Has Ghost Writers?

Facebook Has Ghost Writers? May 12, 2012

There’s more than enough repetition on Facebook as it is, as people post and repost the same thing — often some faux-inspirational pablum or the latest “torturing and killing kittens and grandmothers is horrible! I bet 99% of you won’t have the guts to repost this” bullshit — over and over again. But did you know that there’s an app for people who want to post status updates but don’t want to go to the trouble of actually writing out a sentence or two?

Last Sunday, Jennifer C. updated her Facebook status. Her friends found it funny; two commented, and three clicked the like button. “Fact of life…After Monday & Tuesday, even the calendar says W T F !!” was the status Jennifer had written. Except she hadn’t written it. And neither had the other 120,000-plus people who have also used it as their Facebook status.

That status comes from Status Shuffle, a Facebook application (and accompanying iPhone app) that allows users to choose from a variety of pre-written statuses and post them to their Facebook profile as if they were their own. According to its creators, it has four million active users a month and is one of the longest-running applications on the site. It’s a minor Facebook phenomenon.

The “fact of life” Facebook status is their most popular, they say, and has been used in exactly the same way, questionable punctuation and all, over 120,000 times. That may very well make it the most commonly occurring sentence on all of Facebook.

This cracked me up:

On both Facebook and the App Store, where it is, at time of writing, the number two most downloaded paid social-networking app, Status Shuffle is incredibly popular and sparklingly reviewed. Users have to feel as if they’re getting away with something. That is, unless their friends have heard of Status Shuffle and noticed its app icon below their status.

“I posted something on Facebook without knowing it would say u used status shuffler,” App Store user Nicky843 wrote in a rare two-star review earlier this month, “so my friends think I’m a loser who can’t come up with my own status.”

That’s because you’re a loser who can’t up with your own status. Even weirder is that some of the statuses you can choose from this app are personal in nature, like this:

My friends told me to leave you alone. But i ignored them. i loved you, i hugged you, i kissed you. I feel stupid now because i didn’t listen. And now i miss you.

The fact that it’s grammatically incorrect makes it even better, because that’s how people actually do write most of the time. So they want to take someone else’s thoughts, but they also want to make sure that it looks authentic.

Looking closer at App Store reviews, it’s clear people who use the app for their status are using it like one would use a greeting card, to express a mood better than they can in their own words. “Everything I’m feeling they have something for it,” Sammie_69 wrote this week. “In love using status shuffle because I’m not good with words myself,” wrote Missy09/02/09. As Solomon put it, users come into the app after a certain “life event,” looking for “a piece of text that embodies how they’re feeling.” According to Solomon, this status has been used over 116,000 times: “I am strong because I know my weaknesses. I’m alive because I’m a fighter. I am wise because I’ve been foolish. I laugh because I’ve known sadness.”

Still, you’re not going to find anything profound or terribly witty on Status Shuffle. These statuses are written, after all, by people who came to the app because they don’t feel they’re very good at writing statuses. There are categories like “Christian inspirational,” “divorce sarcasm,” “Edward Cullen is gay,” “fake bitches,” “I love you baby x,” “Justin Bieber gay,” “pissed at boys,” “sarcasm bitchy,” “sisters 4 ever,” “squirrels,” “truck drivers,” “two-faced bitches,” and “WWE quotes.”

The word “pathetic” comes to mind.

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