1. The emotional, somber, and defeatist post that makes you feel awkward
You have to feel bad for this person, as much as their tweet or status update makes you want to thrust a rusty nail into your cornea. Because we’ve all been there: rejected, alone, desperately hurting. You know that app that Charlie makes on Girls to stop himself from calling or texting his ex-girlfriend Marnie? Well there should be a similar app for this odd compulsion. Disclosing your inner-most pain via a Frank O’Hara poem for the world to see is never something you look back on and think: “Man, did I triumph with that one!” It is something one looks back on cringing with self-inflicted humiliation and embarrassment. And really, how is posting Beyonce’s “I Miss You” going to help your cause in any way? The subliminal message here is really not subliminal at all, but rather obvious, straight-forward, and pathetic.
2. Slutty photos
Ah, ye olde look-at-me-having-fun-juggling-tits/swimming-in-a-sea-of-men photo. Gets ’em every time. And that’s what’s so sad about all of this: it really does get them every time! Which convinces the perpetrator that this works, and to perpetuate this god-awful practice. While the photos may vary, the backstory seldom vacillates: You were recently broken up with, you miss your significant other—who isn’t giving you the time of day—and you retaliate by posting these photos, with the hopes of relaying: Look at me, still the hot commodity you met 14 months ago, having so much fun!
3. Compulsive and uncharacteristic updates
Like a rarely-active Facebooker who is suddenly pouring out their feelings through status updates. Or someone with a total of seven Instagram photos constantly changing their Instagram bio. This one is tricky, and isn’t typically consistent in the message the person is trying to convey, but one thing’s for sure: this person wants attention, and is getting desperate.
4. A deluge of likes from the same person
If this isn’t a recent Facebook friend or a new Instagram follower, then it can only mean one thing: this person is down. DTF at it’s finest, ladies and gentlemen. There’s also a 60% chance that this person is rebounding.
5. Unfollow and/or unfriend
Yes, this could just be a case of the “Remind me why I ever decided to follow this annoying turd?” or “Now that I finally left my job I don’t have to look at your feed all day.” But if you know the person pretty well—say, it’s an ex-boyfriend or an ex-girlfriend, or someone you went on a date with—then the message behind this is incontestable. This person is so hung up on you that he or she chose to unfollow you, so as not to be tortured by seeing photos of you looking really happy on your own.
6. Cute baby pics
Sure this could be nothing more than a simple #TBT (or #FBF), but usually it’s not. Usually it’s a way for someone who hasn’t been feelin’ much love lately to give a little knock knock on their followers’ door—a little, “Hey! I still exist and could use some attention!” Or it’s an ugly person’s way of telling the world they used to be cute. Either way, thirst-central.
7. Friending and/or following
Ah, a good ol’ run-of-the-mill friending. It’s such a simple act, and yet steeped in such meaning. And if it’s not a new co-worker, friend you made last night, or a hopeful connection, then the subliminal message is as follows: Let’s get it on. Same goes for poking.
8. Funny baby pics
Seemingly so similar to the cute baby pics trend, but tremendously different in meaning. Posting a funny baby pic is typically attributed to a heavy feeling of depression that has gradually developed into a a deeply sarcastic, bitter, and self-loathing disposition. Hence the pic. Such a picture could also denote: Look how funny I am—scratch that, still am and without you. And look how many people think I’m funny too.
9. Defensive and overly bitter posts
Perhaps you’re a prolific tweeter, have an abundance of followers, and were recently picked on. Perhaps you’re just wary of people in general and want to remind everyone that you still have your guard up. It connotes the same message as Kanye’s line in “On Sight,” “How much do I not give a fuck? / Let me show you right now ‘fore you give it up.”
10. “Accidentally” curated photos
They’ll swear to you that their Joan Didion book, glass of Rosé, Marc Jacobs notebook, colorful doodle, Pendleton blanket and sunglasses just happened to be perfectly arranged, and that the items were just “coincidentally” backlit flawlessly. But let me tell you something: this is no coincidence. This is a concerted effort to tell the world that you are very good at doing layouts.
11. Mad selfies
I don’t know. I still haven’t quite figured you out. Obviously you’re an attention-seeker, but there has to be more to it than that. So commenters: discuss ‘mongst yourselves.