The rise of statusbombing
Boys are liking friendship statuses with girls to embarrass their mates
by Nat Campbell
Why are Facebook friendships getting so many likes? If it hasn’t happened to you (it has) then you’ve undoubtedly seen it on your timeline. Your friend has just added a guy, and 12 of his mates have piled in liking it. Cue panicked messages in your WhatsApp group about what they’re saying behind your back, what the joke is, and why you’re not in on it.
The craze seems to be age specific – teens to twenties, shock. The friendship statuses then receive a number of likes from their friends, in what can only be explained as a bid to imply something or just make the situation pretty awkward between the two. Psychologists have branded the bizarre marking of social-media territory “statusbombing.”
Trivial though it may seem- it can be a little unsettling, and girls are getting weirded out. So what is the deal with it?
We asked some of the likers in question, who explained it away as “classic rugby banter”, “to embarrass each other” and “to let them know we’re watching them”. Occasionally, the statuses also receive comments such as “Was this the girl you were telling me about?”
But why are guys doing it? We asked Psychologist Scott Gould, who called these likes “an act of sabotage”. He said: “We call things like this phenomena or memes. There will be some kind of name attached to it, if there isn’t there will be something very soon – and that name will give some insight into the nature of this.”
Scott explained the new phenomenas likeness with photobombing, as a means of marking territory. Naming the new “meme” of 2016 statusbombing, he explained the intention: “By everyone liking it, we are somehow disrupting the relationship, or attempting to mar the relationship.”
Scott continued: “It’s a pack mentality happening particularly among sport groups and perhaps frat groups in America… Those will be people that exhibit higher levels of adrenaline, testosterone than normal men.
“It’s this overtly ‘macho’ group of people. Pack mentality can be attributed to the heightened level of testosterone that exists within those people”
So why do they do it?
“I think there’s something in there about jealousy. Typically, when guys banter with each other, the banter serves to strengthen the relationship… It’s a way of showing solidarity with each other.
“It’s a way of communicating sympathy through humour.”
Why aren’t women doing it?
“Girls would do it in a different way – the girl version would be that no-one “likes” it.”
I asked men and women how they felt after seeing their ‘friendships’ had received lots of likes. The women tended to feel paranoid that something was being implied, but the men weren’t fussed. Why do men/women respond differently to this?
“Typically, at teenage to early twenties level, women have matured but men are still culturally maturing. While a guy would say it wouldn’t bother him, that response is designed to somehow show bravado – but actually it would bother him if he was interested in pursuing a mature relationship with that woman.
“What we have here is called ‘posturing’, where one displays how they want to be seen or what they think the norm should be in their social group.”
Is this similar to when younger boys in primary school typically tease a girl as a means of flirting?
“It’s more about ‘it’s what the boys do’. On stag parties, typically, we all annihilate the stag – it’s what we do. There’s no specific reason why, it’s just what we do.
“Part of that is if those guys are single it provides enjoyment for them to sabotage a potential relationship that someone else would have because they’re jealous.”
So don’t worry girls, it’s not directed at you – it’s purely the cyber form of cock-blocking.
You can follow Scott on Twitter here.