From The Exhibitionist to The Self-Deprecator: 10 types of social media users we meet online
There’s the narcissist, and the self-deprecator, the satirist and the public communicator.
They can be funny and they can be annoying, they can be controversial and highly boring. After more than a decade of social media we chart the 10 types of posters you meet online.
Just the same as you’ll meet exhibitionists in real life, the extravert who is more than comfortable to hold the spotlight at a party, you’ll meet them online too. They’re an in your face poster, they make no bones about their agenda and it’s up to you to follow them or not. Kim Kardashian is a classic exhibitionist and never was that more clearly demonstrated than by her: “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL,” post. Love or loathe, to follow is your choice.
The I’m-not-boasting Boaster
Yes, yes we see you. Now please just stop pretending. We know your life is utterly fabulous, that your skin is blemish free and that you are sipping cocktails in the Maldives while the rest of us are stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the M50. But just be honest about it, will you? When you next post a lifestyle shot of your diamond encrusted hand cupping a freshly percolated coffee, next to a designer handbag, don’t hash tag it with something about the Dalai Lama and world peace. Instead be up front about the fact that you’re really just showing off your aforementioned fabulous life. Jokes, like Millie Mackintosh’s about being caught in a fishing net, don’t count as being up front.
You’re beautiful, you know it and you want us to know it too. The millennial generation has been dubbed as a narcissistic one, where filtered selfies are as commonplace in our lives, as hot meals. The act of blatant self-promotion has now been fully accepted into our culture. Unlike the I’m-not-boasting boaster, the narcissist will just post endless selfies without even bothering to covertly caption them with references to world peace. Take Kylie Jenner for example, she posted this image last month, for no other reason than to show us her face. There was no plug, no hash tag, just one a little blue heart to accompany it.
They’ve had enough of this online world where narcissism, trolling and public-shaming reign supreme. They’re neither a luddite nor a rebel, social media just isn’t for them. Irish quitters include Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy who signed off from Twitter in 2011, calling it a “curious social medium,” and Claire Byrne who called it a day in 2015. “I don't really know what's wrong with people that they have to attack people online,” she said last year.
They’ve taken the if-you-can’t-beat-‘em then let’s just have a laugh attitude to the world of social media. No one in Ireland does it better than actress and author Amy Huberman. She regularly pokes fun at social media etiquette by posting images captioned with “currant mood” under a photo of a handful of raisins in the shape of a smiley face. She bravely poses with non-super-food-items such as pizza and chocolate and she neither oversells herself nor other people’s products online. So far he’s grown her following to over the 400,000 mark. All hail the self-deprecator.
While the other types of posters don’t necessarily need to be famous, the tease does. This is the celebrity who asks for privacy from the media for certain aspects of their life despite the terabytes of selfies they’ve already uploaded to the internet. Model and new mum Georgia Penna has more than 300,000 Instagram followers thanks to her prolific posting but she recently came out and said it wasn’t a place to showcase her family life. "I look at my Instagram as a fashion and fun account. None of my personal life is up there. My husband, our beautiful babies, our wedding, our general family life, I keep private and always have,” she said. However, she still posts images of her husband and twin boys online, but only just of the backs of their heads.
The Shrinking Violet
The shrinking violet is someone who might have once come close to being a quitter. They post nice photos of sunsets, walks in nature, album covers and generally just keep their accounts alive as a way to engage with the world. You won’t find any signs of narcissism here. The odd time they may raise their head above the parapet, but that probably only registers if you’re a Hollywood A-lister, like Anne Hathaway. She is one such shrinking violet who isn’t known for boasting or plugging online, nor for her incessant selfie uploading, except for one incident back in January. “So, posting a bikini pic is a little out of character for me, but just now while I was at the beach I noticed I was being photographed. I figure if this kind of photo is going to be out in the world it should at least be an image that makes me happy (and be one that was taken with my consent. And with a filter),” she wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of herself and her baby bump.
Oh to go back to the halcyon days of social media before sponsored posts and trolling took hold. The original is someone who adopted early and used social media as a tool to engage, humour and generally just communicate with people in a fun and friendly way. Marian Keyes is an original. She posts regularly on Twitter, about her books, about make-up, about anything really but she always manages to hit the right note and never ever wanders into any of the above territory. She gives us a snippet into her life, like showing us her trip to Ernest Hemingway’s home in Florida earlier this month, but without rubbing anyone’s nose in the fabulousness of her life. So far she’s keeping 128,000 followers happy with her posting.
Sort of like the self-deprecator but not really, the satirist too pokes fun at the goings-on of social media life. It’s kind of about them and it’s also kind of not about them. Amy Schumer is one such poster. She’ll spark debate, conjure up controversy and she’ll bring attention to various trends in public life. Take her nude shot that she posted earlier this year, except for a pair of heels and her underwear she was baring all online. “Beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless, woman,” she wrote alongside the Instagram post.
The Public Conversationalist
Perhaps the most irksome of all social media posters, is the public conversationalist. If you’re famous fine, it can be entertaining in a voyeuristic sort of way, if you’re not it can be highly irritating. Why tweet a friend about where and when you’re meeting for coffee when you could always just text them? Now if you’re famous, going through a divorce and subtly trying to communicate with a former partner, this kind of communication may attract inches and inches of newspaper columns. Cheryl knows this best. Just as news of her divorce from Jean Bernard broke so too did news of her relationship with Liam Payne. Cue various posts of cuddling, cosying and new tattoos.