As I’ve cruised the various forms of social media, (we’ve recently opened a Twitter account), I can’t help but notice that, for the most part, this so-called “networking” has often brought back and reinforced the traditional cliques of high school.  But what’s more interesting, is that unlike in real life, people can hide themselves behind a persona they project on the Internet much more easily.  After all, with most facades, when you interact with a person enough, you can actually see through the cracks of their preferred image.

Perhaps more interestingly, there are several archetypes that people seem to adopt.  For your convenience, I’ve listed several species below and their identifiable characteristics.

1.  The Spammer– you can usually spot this person because they follow you within a few minutes of opening your account.  More telling, however, is the salacious picture and promises of “certain” favors or gratification should you follow them (or their links).   Or they’re hawking a product.

2.  The Second Lifer– this species puts so much time and energy into their online persona that they neglect reality in favor of the virtual world.  Whether this is because they’ve very introverted, so abrasive they can’t hold on to “real life” friends, or some other reason, this is one of the more pitiable archetypes.

3.  The Façade– this person creates an online persona, but unlike the Second Lifer, tries to import parts of that persona into real life.  They may blur the line of reality and the virtual world, or they may just be trying to make up for their shortcomings in real life.  A minor mutation of the Façade is the “Self-Promoter,” who has to one-up every story, photo, or Tweet they can get their hands on.  They may even impose such labels on themselves as “poignant” or “profound.”  (Of course, such labels lose some of their impact when one applies them to themselves, but hey, how else would we know how to interpret the Façade?)  Incidentally, the Facade also includes all those “fake” accounts, be they strictly for gaming, stalking, or for other nefarious ends (Facebook acknowledged that up to 50 million accounts are fake, while Twitter is probably well beyond that).

4. The Billboard– a subspecies of the Façade, this one is like a doorknob for companies—everyone gets a turn at advertising on their virtual back (yeah, I know that’s a cliche).  Their walls or Tweets are filled with a variety of product information and links, apparently in the hopes that they’ll receive adequate recompense for selling their soul.

5. The Quoter- this person feels an obsessive-compulsive need to gather up quotes from the Internet and dump them all in one place—their Facebook wall.  Sometimes inspirational, sometimes attempts at humor, one wonders if the Quoter abides by any of the “advice” their dispensing to the Cloud (especially those fitness “gurus”).

6.  The Don Quixote– a delusional breed of the Quoter, this poster thinks they’ll change the world with their posts, Tweets, or blog.  They may even think they’re original in their ideas or tropes, but in reality, they haven’t created anything new, despite their claims to the contrary.  Any quick search of the Internet will reveal their style or ideas are a dime-a-dozen, and the triviality of nearly all social networking.  The Don Quixote does not refer to people trying to raise awareness about important topics like women’s issues, immigration, or corporate malfeasance.  This is the person who thinks their personal life sheds light on the human condition if, for example, they share their experiences about their bowel movements or some “deep thoughts” they had in the midst of said activity.

7. The “Artist”– some people think having access to a photo editor (even Photoshop) makes them a modern-day Rembrandt.  Of course, some of their stuff looks more like an accidental Picasso, but nevertheless, they post their creations for the world’s enjoyment.  Again, this species is different from those with talent that post impressive digital works or their photography.  How can one tell? Why it’s purely subjective of course.  After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

8.  The Gossip Girl– this archetype has simply migrated their habits from their high school years to a digital format.  Here they can be catty in solidarity while ignoring objective reality about the latest “gossip” that gets them all a tittering.  Some may even live vicariously through teen dramas such as “The O.C.” or the apropos “Gossip Girl,” despite having long left their own teenage years far behind.

9. Da Hater– a broad classification of negative Nellies, trolls, and prejudiced douche bags.  Some whine about their lives incessantly.  Some lurk on forums or pages, waiting to pounce on some trivial topic.  Others spew hateful language from the safety of the Internet or anonymity.  All bring our collective intelligence down a few pegs.

10.  The Uber Narcissist– while there’s a certain amount of narcissistic tendencies in all social networking, the Uber Narcissist takes things to a whole new level, often combining elements of many of the previous archetypes.  Mostly, they’re concerned with their image and have an over-inflated view of themselves.

It could be these guys:

The same ones who check their muscles in the mirror at the gym after every rep.

Or these chicks:

Quack!

In any case, they look sillier than they imagine, nor are they nearly as clever as they think they are.  Yet, it fools some of the people some of the time, and that’s all they need.

Now that you have this handy field guide, keep an eye out for new species that I’ve yet to discover, and feel free to add your own research notes as you see fit.

After all, armed with this knowledge, we’ll change the world!

[Please re-Tweet this post @fullofhimself; thanks, and May the Force Be With You.]

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