Maybe your phone's autocorrect function has its mind in the gutter -- right when you're commenting on Facebook about something concerning your grandmother. Or perhaps you mean to privately IM a love interest -- rather than post that intensely personal message directly onto his or her profile page. Could be your knowledge of geography is a little shaky, your spelling is simply atrocious, or you just don't have a clue concerning how to actually navigate Facebook.
No matter how carefully a loved one, friend, acquaintance or archnemesis crafts his or her Facebook status updates and comments, it's virtually guaranteed that eventually a mistake or faux pas -- perhaps accompanied by a moment of awesome -- will sneak in at some point. Sometimes those departures from the humdrum will be hilarious, at least to others out there cruising around the Wild West of the Web.
Because that's where Failbook reigns supreme. Failbook, one of the many scions of the vast Cheezburger Internet empire, is set up to showcase all the "wins," "fails" and "facepalms" that haunt the spidery halls of Facebook. Visitors to Failbook are invited to upload submissions (with the pictures and names largely obscured to protect people's privacy) of moments too priceless for just one person's social network. It's all in good fun. And it's not limited to Facebook these days. The site's traditional slogan was "Too Funny to Unfriend," but in a move to be more inclusive of all the far-flung fails social media has to offer, it made some updates in July 2011. The banner currently reads Failbook+ with the slogan: "Social Media from Facepalms to High-Fives."
Failbook showcases a wide range of items, and new entries constantly push the boundaries of wonderment when it comes to demonstrating to readers just how absolutely nuts their fellow human beings are. But there are also many tried-and-true memes that just never seem to get old -- and never stop cropping up. On the next few pages, we'll go over some of those hallmark bad habits of Facebookers that never die. Not that we'd want them to.
It's Rife with Grammar and Spelling Mistakes
It's not a guarantee, but if you engage in some version of what's commonly known as webspeak -- think acronyms gushing forth like alphabet soup and garbled phrases like "wat r u Sayg 2..me" -- you could end up on Failbook. If you attempt to communicate on the Internet with webspeak, and you know a whole bunch of Grammar Nazis who love to correct you, you've upped your chances of drawing out their indignation.
But woe betide the Grammar Nazi or otherwise judgmental person who makes a mistake in his or her comment critique! That's Failbook fodder for sure. If you scorn society (or just a friend's poor spelling), but make an error of your own in doing so, the crowd following Failbook will revel in the assumption that you're a perfect example of the silly masses (or, you know, same word without the "m").
But that's not the only trigger that can make fingers itch to submit your Facebook post to Failbook. Read on to learn more.
Is your boss a hopeless poser who just made a major mistake, but at the same time, a "friend" of yours on Facebook? Are you upset your crush hasn't called you back, and want some attention to distract yourself? However tempted you are to update your Facebook status to something like: "Smells trouble brewing," or "Thinks this is too much," don't do it. Repeat, don't do it.
The Internet is not always a nice place, and Facebook users in particular don't always turn a kind eye on people who regularly practice vaguebooking. Vaguebooking is loosely defined as a Facebook status update that refers to potential problems in a person's life, without actually saying what the problem is, thus prompting the need for other people to chime in and give that person attention.
When you vaguebook, you'll at the very least end up with the details of your private problem aired in the comments section. But some people -- especially the younger set -- are likely to step the embarrassment up a notch and call you on the attention-grab, then plop said ambiguous problem on Failbook for all to see.
It's Full of Fail
Sometimes when people post to Facebook, they post carefully considered comments or valid inquiries, of which they're truly seeking constructive responses or helpful answers from their social network. Other times when they post, they sound like psychos or bobbleheads. Think blatantly incorrect gibberish or questions that make others wonder if the poster has little but cheese between his or her ears. (For the record, New York City is not the capital of the United States and Spanish is both a nationality and a language spoken in many nations, not just Spain.)
Other big offenders besides being outright wrong? Hypocrisy (think texting while driving to complain about other people driving poorly while on the phone), inappropriateness (perhaps addressing an elderly relative in inappropriate ways) or just plain old over-sharing (a relationship status that boomerangs on a regular basis). A takeaway from these types of fails: Think before you post.
But there are lots of other ways to fail, too. We'll get into some of those on the next page.
It's Busted or Pwned
Above and beyond just sounding idiotic or spouting ridiculous falsities, some posts that wind up on Failbook feature someone -- whether the original poster or one of his or her commenters -- getting busted or pwned. These include gems like:
- The employees who badmouth their bosses, only to wind up getting fired on Facebook when said bosses see their comments. And do not react kindly.
- The kids who brag about getting away with things in school, only to have their teachers turn around and reprimand them. In real time. Through Facebook.
- The moms who get a little too "loud" when their new boyfriends come over, only to have their kids call them on it. For all their friends, and their recently made ex-husbands, to see.
- Those same ex-husbands, who post lewd photos from their weekends in Vegas, while busy forgetting said ex-wives (and friends and bosses).
- The teens who leave their Facebook profiles logged in and are hacked by siblings, or, even better, by parents.
There are lots of forms this can take, and all of them are bound to leave Failbook fans chuckling, gasping or shaking their heads in astonishment. On the next page, we'll cover an entirely different category of Facebook posts that often find their way to Failbook.
Despite the name, Failbook isn't all about fail. It's also about celebrating the awesomeness of the wins that sometimes happen in online spaces. Sometimes a win is accompanied by someone getting pwned, but other times not. A vague question or sappy quote attempting to sound deep answered with a direct and snarkily delivered retort could prompt someone to submit your post, as could all sorts of small victories. But a truly priceless win might even earn that vaulted and most honorable form of feedback: the slow clap.
Innuendo always helps, as Failbook is no place for the more innocent among us to tread. A good bawdy ribbing at another's expense is classic Failbook. Is it possible to take what you read the wrong way? Then yes, that's the way it will be taken on Failbook.
But above all, what Failbook is all about is amusing the masses -- not about being mean or hurtful, but about celebrating the quirkiness that comes out when millions of people are given such powerful social platform on which to interact with one other. If you post something on Facebook that has the potential to make other people gigglesnort when they read it, then you may very well see it snagged and submitted to Failbook. Movie tributes, clever jokes, turns of phrase: These may all pop on the Failbook if somebody sees and submits them. Can't wait to join the fun? Already have some potential people whose posts you plan to monitor carefully for fodder? Have fun, but play nice, please.
The Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal exposed major flaws in the online platform. Stuff They Don't Want You To Know talks where to go from here.
- Brown, Damon. "LOL -- 'Webspeak' invades Oxford dictionary." CNN. Sept. 20, 2010. (September 18, 2011) http://articles.cnn.com/2010-09-20/tech/web.oxford.dictionary_1_slang-oxford-english-dictionary-twitter?_s=PM:TECH
- Cheezburger.com. (September 18, 2011) http://cheezburger.com/
- "Definition of: pwn." PC Magazine. (September 18, 2011) http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia_term/0,2542,t=pwn&i=56903,00.asp
- Eagles, Dana. "An Online Glossary: Learn the Words of the Web." Poynter Online. Sept. 28, 2007. (September 18, 2011) http://www.poynter.org/archived/webspeak/84714/an-online-glossary-learn-the-words-of-the-web/
- Huh, Ben. bebhuh!com. (September 18, 2011) http://www.benhuh.com/
- "OMG.. $30 Million!!1! That's a lot of cheezburgers." Jan. 17, 2011. (September 18, 2011) http://blog.cheezburger.com/miscellaneous/omg-30-million1-thats-a-lot-of-cheezburgers/
- "Owned (Pwned)." Internet Meme Database. (September 18, 2011) http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/owned-pwned?search=1&utm_campaign=site_search&utm_source=web&utm_medium=search_results#.TnkXgl1faSp
- "Pedobear." Internet Meme Database. (September 18, 2011) http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/pedobear?search=1&utm_campaign=site_search&utm_source=web&utm_medium=search_results#.TnnsPF1fbTo
- Pichlmair, Martin. "Pwned - 10 Tales of Appropriation in Video Games." Vienna University of Technology. (September 18, 2011) http://publik.tuwien.ac.at/files/pub-inf_4395.pdf
- Pleshette Murphy, Anne and Allen, Jennifer. "Webspeak: The Secret Language of Teens." ABC. (September 18, 2011) http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/AmericanFamily/story?id=2820582&page=1
- Reynolds, Edward. "Vaguebooking." University of Queensland. Feb. 19, 2010. (September 18, 2011) http://uq.academia.edu/EdwardReynolds/Blog/2251/Vaguebooking
- "Social Media from Facepalms to High-Fives." July 22, 2011. (September 18, 2011) http://failbook.failblog.org/2011/07/22/funny-facebook-fails-social-media-from-facepalms-to-high-fives/
- UrbanDictionary.com. (September 18, 2011) http://www.urbandictionary.com/