“I didn’t come here to make friends, I came here to win.”
While that may have been a creed of the mid-2000s tween, today Facebook activity goes far beyond accumulating mass amounts of friends. Though the website estimates having over 250 million users, Facebook profiles tend to fall into a set of overarching categories — breeds of cyber-species identifiable through their status updates and social media expertise. Millennials will recognize these archetypes as hallmarks of the average news feed, so embrace them, because one of them may be you.
Freshman Whose Profile Picture is Still From Prom
Some students will leave college and wax nostalgic about their glory days at the university, but this girl is already there. She wants you to know her and remember her at her best, and, as far as she’s concerned, those days are already behind her. She did not shell out for professional makeup, hair and a ballgown to not be seen. Maybe she’s taking a more subtle approach and kept her senior portraits with 500 likes up, but either way, she’s currently living in the past. It’s likely that all of her photos pass through the filter of what’s most flattering, as she only wants to be painted in the best light. Any unflattering party photos will be promptly untagged, but her feed is likely filled with a highly-edited picture of the autumn leaves by the arch, so you still know she’s a student at NU.
While some turn to news outlets for their updates on current events, this girl’s friends need look no farther than their news feed, as her paragraph-long statuses always keep them in the loop. Her causes are many and her intentions are noble, but make the mistake of commenting erroneously on her status and she will take you down. Her wall is a carefully curated blog-like forum for her opinions, and she hopes to educate more than network. Don’t get too excited if she sends you an invite to an event – chances are it’s a protest in the city she isn’t hosting and she invited her whole friend list as a show of support. Less serious versions of this girl include the boy who jumps on the bandwagon and changes his profile picture to offer passive aid to whatever cause is the flavor of the week, and anyone who did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (whom, of course, the Activist would condemn on the grounds of superficiality and lack of real dedication to a cause).
Rando Celebrity Freshman Girl, Famous For No Reason
She has been here for a month, the same 30-something days as everyone else, but somehow her networking has branched out to every point on campus. She knows someone at every sorority, already formed connections to get into student groups and has taken a selfie with more people than her Instagram can handle. Her Facebook is swarmed with life updates, each getting at least 40 likes, and she shares every social media outlet so you, her loyal follower, can stay up to date with the Queen Bee of the Freshman class. She doesn’t seem to do much besides frequent the frat rounds, and she isn’t especially involved in anything, but it takes her an hour to walk down Sheridan because she is stopped every block to chat. You may grumble to your equally unpopular, average friend that her fame is unwarranted, but even you know you’re jealous, so the only move is to latch on, like that pro-pic and pray she keeps you in the loop.
Newly Initiated Sorority Girl
Alpha Zeta Gamma Omega Tau 5ever! This girl just rushed two weeks ago, but her sorority sisters are her family – she has basically known them for a lifetime (a month)! Get excited to hear about how hawt and cool and amazing her Big is, and the CRAZY shenanigans those two get up to. Nothing is posted without a full list of sorority-themed hashtags, and she wants all of her friends to see her ‘candid’ photoshoots whilst with the girls, whether they are apple-picking, tailgating or planning their annual hoedown. But don’t judge! She’s a philanthropist.
Lib Arts Students with Purposefully Low Presence
There is the girl everyone knows but nobody really knows – and she wants you to know that you don’t know her. So she won’t accept your friend request. Or, more likely, she will disguise her name by removing the vowels or omitting her surname altogether, just to stay off the grid. A curious choice, because all her profile pictures were meticulously edited on Photoshop and are available to the public. Make no mistake, she’s on Facebook because she has to be, not because she wants to be – she refuses to conform to societal norms. She’s just here to promote her latest DJ set on Soundcloud and further her overall image of a “'90s kid.”
Over-involved Promo Pic Person
Did you guys hear about the underground coffeehouse open mic party for the new post-modern pantomime production of Rent? Don’t worry if you didn’t, this guy has you covered. Rotating through new pro-pics faster than you can say "fundy," he is a walking advertisement – his Facebook page equivalent to that guy who stands on the corner of the freeway with a rotating arrow-sign promoting the BLOWOUT sale at a local mattress emporium. Maybe he just loves being in the know, or letting people think he is, and he uses his timeline as a social events calendar to prove it! Watch out, because the less Facebook friends the worse; he knows you, and he will see that you didn’t come to his friend’s performance art show, an hour-long interpretive dance inspired by Dr. Suess’ Green Eggs and Ham.
Freshman Who Added Everyone in His Class Group
He was accepted early decision and spent the past eight months itching to get on campus so he could finally meet all of his fellow wildcats in person! In the meantime, he decided to get to know them on the web by posting a bio on the class page and friending anyone who liked his post. Doubtlessly the topic of many an uncomfortable conversation during Wildcat Welcome, this guy has become a campus celebrity for his frequent meme shares and unsolicited Facebook messages. His coffee breaks in Norbucks become fodder for Snapchat stories and, if one feels particularly daring, an actual conversation IRL.
Renaissance Man/Campus Celeb
Then there people like Harry Wood, a sophomore in Medill, who guesstimates his current friend count to be around 3,600. Wood doesn’t like to brag about his ubiquity on the Northwestern Facebook scene but finds it difficult to avoid. It’s, “not a thing that I would lead with if I [were] introducing myself, but because Facebook social status is a thing it is a point of notoriety,” he says.
Wood heeds the advice that the website lists atop the friend request box and doesn’t friend anyone he doesn’t know, which would be an impressive feat considering his list of friends is more than half the amount of Northwestern undergraduates. As an urban legend on campus, and a Herculean social media presence, Wood has something to say to the haters: “I don’t find it to be particularly impressive, it’s just a thing ... I talk to people in real life too, sometimes.”