Facebook Status Updates have become the most important form of writing...in the WORLD. They now represent 12.2% of all media consumption and account for an astonishing 18.7% of all the words American adults between 18 and 45 read. The incredible rise of Status Updates as the prime forum for literary expression in America can be explained by the confluence of powerful technological, societal, economic, demographic and psycho-sexual trends impacting the nation (not really on the last one…I've just always really admired the term "psycho-sexual").
A prestigious panel of literary scholars and social critics is compiling the ultimate guide to Facebook Status Updates...Humor, Style, Etiquette, Impact, etc. Please send along your thoughts on the BEST and WORST…when have you been inspired and amused…when repulsed and annoyed. We want to analyze this important emerging form of literature. Contact us as [email protected] with your opinions.
But first, to make sure we judged this variety of literature from the appropriate perspective, here's a short chronicle of the other types of short form American literature and how they were impacted by sweeping historical and psycho-sexual trends.
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In the early part of the last century, the limerick was the most important variety of short form literature in the country. Developed as a method to recount the adventures and traveling of compelling characters from different quarters of our fair nation, the limerick found widespread popularity among roustabouts, drunkards and ne'er-do-wells. The art form emerged in certain regions of the continent, in particular Nantucket, Massachusetts; Regina, Saskatchewan; Planus, Mississippi; and North Ruttpuck, Montana.
In the 1960s, the protest march song emerged as the most critical type of diminutive literature. Some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, including Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Janis Joplin, cut their teeth in this form of writing. However, this form of literature died out quickly when the "Hey, hey! Ho, ho! [Insert subject of protest] has got to go!" emerged as the dominant form of protest chanting and stifled all other innovation within the art form.
By the 1980s, high school yearbook missive became a dominant variety of literary expression. Youthful writers concocted concise nuggets of wit and emotion that had to withstand the test of time. However, this school of literature began an inexorable decline when authors became overly reliant on music lyrics as the fodder for their scrawls. The art form completed its decline when young Texan Ty Cormney penned in his annual: "I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride. Once upon a time, I was falling in love, but now I'm only falling apart. Don't save a prayer for me now, save it 'til the morning after. Every rose has its thorns."
In the early part of this millennium, it appeared as if pithy Evite digital RSVPs might take the title as the essential modern form of 100 words or less literature. Cleverness virtually dripped from the pages of Evites and skilled writers were able to both celebrate the bacchanal and insert some witty social commentary. Spot-on RSVPs even became the topic of conversation at some of the hottest events around town. "Darling, I was absolutely awestruck by the way you wove in a Moliere quote and a terse critique of the Administration's human rights record into your RSVP for Tad's barbecue. Fabulous!" However, RSVPs as art quickly began to decline as its purveyors sunk into the morass of formula and repetition. Super Bowl Bash? "FAN-tastic! Who could PASS this up?!?" Final Four Fete? "FAN-tastic! I'm looking FOUR-ward to it!" NBA Finals Gathering? "FAN-tastic! I'll Ko-BE there!"
Now, would-be pundits are concentrating on transforming the minutiae of everyday life into a running commentary that can inform, inspire and sometimes nauseate (you've probably received a gastrointestinal health update from a "friend" at some point…more on this later…). This literary form came into its own during the 2008 presidential election season and particularly on Election Day itself. "Trang is…voting and eagerly awaiting for America to redeem and redefine the promise of our Nation, affirming the dream of our forbears." The next installment? "Trang is…eating Pinkberry! Vanilla with Cocoa Pebble mix in! Yuuuummmmmmy!!!"
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Will the Facebook Status Update be relegated to the dusty page-view logs of history, or will they flourish as tiny literary jewels, a form of digital age Haiku? We want your opinions on the Humor, Style, Etiquette and Impact of these updates. E-mail us at [email protected]