Spoiler Alert: social media is kind of a big deal. We live in a fast-paced, media savvy world where we, as individuals, are less often required to simply describe ourselves by a list of hobbies and stats as we are called upon to sell ourselves as a brand or product. Presenting yourself in a compelling and unique fashion isn’t a luxury for those with the gift of gab, it’s a necessity to showcase what makes you better than the next guy. Potential employers are skimming your facebook page, potential love interests are scrolling through your twitter profile, and potential stalkers are checking your foursquare account so they can plan “accidental” run-ins with you at Whole Foods (w/ @ocdustino & 9 other people http://4sq.com/89ExVc).
All that translates into a world where — if you want to put your best virtual foot forward — you need to have something better than “LiVe LaUgH lOvE” in your About Me section. Since I have a weekend’s worth of bad karma to undo (and by “karma” I mean “liver damage”), I’m gonna give you a head start by presenting…
The Nine Phrases You Need to Stop Using in Your Bio (in case you hadn’t read the title of this post yet).
So in no particular order, here we go.
1) “I love to laugh.”
A lot of these taboo phrases are going to fall into a genre I like to call the “No sh**, Sherlock” category, reserved for the things that are generically applicable to ALL human beings. Of course you love to laugh, everybody loves to laugh. That’s what laughter is: the external, physical expression of internal happiness and/or joy, it’s enjoyment embodied — who doesn’t love enjoyable things? If you can’t come up with anything more unique/interesting than this to describe yourself, you might as well just send a cardboard cutout of yourself out into the world instead of actually leaving the house, because it’d accomplish the same thing.
2) “If you want to know about me, just ask.” (Also applies to, “I don’t know, just ask me.”)
Here’s how conversations work: people are gonna ask you about yourself one random tidbit at a time as they get to know you, and if they want to hear about your backstory (Where did you grow up? What do you like to do with your free time?) they will generally have the courage to ask these bold sorts of questions without getting permission from your facebook account beforehand. Out of the context of a job interview or a terrible first date (and really, aren’t they the same thing?), no one is going to demand to know your life story. If people are checking out your bio in their spare time, it’s typically not because it never occurred to them to ask you in person. Yes you do know about yourself — odds are, better than anybody else — so stop being lazy and put together an interesting summarizing paragraph or two.
3) “I’m a hopeless romantic.”
Look, I understand the appeal of categorizing yourself as a hopeless romantic — it has this sort of clichéd, last-scene-from-Say-Anything quality to it where we all picture ourselves as the sort of person who would sacrifice anything for our one, true love — but realistically, that’s a very small percentage of people, and odds are that you’re not one of them. I’m not trying to be a pessimist, and I don’t want to discourage anybody from hopeless romanticism, but if people were as creative, unique, spontaneous and romantic as they thought, coffee shops and match.com would be out of business. Frankly, I’m probably doing you a favor by keeping you from setting your personal bar so high — that holiday weekend trip to the lake seems a lot better if it’s not competing with that movie where the lead guy surprised his girl at work with a hot air balloon filled with roses, doesn’t it?
4) “I have the best friends in the world.” (Also applies to, “I enjoy hanging with friends.”)
Let’s get one thing straight: you don’t have the best friends in the world. Your friends are mostly average…and actually a few of them are downright douchey. That’s not even a dis, it’s just a statistical fact. You have something like a one in six billion chance of literally having the best friends in the world — and personally my World’s Greatest Friends vote is for these guys. What you mean to say is that you have a group of people with whom you have a lot in common, have probably known for many years, and are nicer to you than they are to strangers. That’s what friends are. If the people you hung out with treated you like crap, weren’t there for you when you needed them, and didn’t support/encourage you in your endeavors, they wouldn’t be your friends, they’d be your in-laws. Yes, I understand how hyperbole works, but you can do better than this when it comes to creating a captivating bio.
5) Inside jokes.
Fact: the people reading your bio aren’t your closest and longest friends and family — those people already know you well enough to skip the description you came up with for yourself. That means that if your About Me is littered with cryptic and nonsensical phrases, you are wasting your time. The people checking out your bio are the ones who DON’T know a ton about you yet, so when they see random quotes attributed to people with equally random nicknames (“It’s fluffy turtle time! Don’t cheese sneeze!” —Spiderlips) or an out of context conversation between you and a friend (Jen: But he’s too slappy! Me: Could be worse, he could be an O-lipper.) you are just wasting a combination of space, energy, and time. Quotes go in the quotes section, if there is one…and if there isn’t, then you can save them for your xanga.
6) “I’m crazy.”
No you are not. If you mean crazy as in mental illness, you’re wrong, because if you were literally mentally ill, you’d be in a protected facility under professional supervision, not pissing away your free time on a social networking site. If you’re trying to sound badass by claiming that you’re “crazy” in the sense that you’re a wild, unpredictable, anti-conformist rebel who doesn’t play by “the rules,” then you should probably find a better way to express that sentiment than a site used by 300 million people worldwide. Also, you shouldn’t joke about people with mental illness, Howard Stern can’t help how he was born.
There is nothing more pompous and sickeningly American than to quote yourself or something you’ve said as if it’s some sort of life-changing philosophy, revelation or insight that the rest of the world simply cannot live without. If it really is the most profound quote of all time, it will permeate the masses all on its own. I’m the king and primary judge of all things pretentious, but this crosses the line even by my standards of acceptable self-importance. However, it should be noted that format is everything with this one, and I’m specifically decrying people who have things like “’A truly strong woman won’t settle for second place in a world defined by men.’ —Me” posted alongside Hemingway, C.S. Lewis, Aristotle and the like. (Note: all you feminists out there, that was just a randomly generated quote I made up as an example to represent any generic self righteous statements, I have nothing specific against your Marxist dialogue or anti-male agenda. You go girl.) If you have observations, advice, or life-tidbits, feel free to include it in your About Me, or just get a twitter account like everybody else does when they want to say things that will justify their aloofness.
8) “I love people-watching.”
We’re trying to cultivate a great virtual-first-impression for you, and nothing says “I’m creepy but also socially awkward” quite like publicly declaring yourself a people-watcher. It might be true, but this is a brief synopsis of who you are, not a doctoral dissertation of your life, and that means you should edit certain things out. You know what I love? Watching tv in my underwear. But I don’t put that in my bio because it sounds…weird (which is ridiculous because nothing beats a Saturday morning watching college football in your skivvies). If you simply have to get it off your chest that you love to people-watch, wait until you’re in a safe and public environment and say it in a half-joking way, then make a funny observation about someone you see (example: airport terminals and public parks in the bad parts of town are great for people-watching, but you wouldn’t list your hobbies as “hanging around by myself at airport terminals and public parks.” Why? Because it sounds creepy. See? You’re learning).
9) Dave Mathews Band lyrics
DMB lyrics are awful, and his music is awful. Which is weird because it’s a band full of talented musicians who somehow can’t produce anything more interesting than the equivalent of a pot-addled house band at a high school talent show. It’s like George Lucas, Harrison Ford, and Steven Spielberg when they made Indiana Jones 4: The Quest for Social Security, the elements for greatness were all there, yet somehow the final product was less than the sum of its parts (far less, in fact — that movie was a train wreck. And not the sort that Indy could nonchalantly jump from at the last second in order to avoid disaster). In general, band lyrics are kind of a cop-out when describing oneself, and should probably be avoided unless you plan to start a jam band that plays bi-weekly at the local coffee shop.
Originally I was going to do ten phrases, but then I was too lazy to think of a tenth. If you’ve got a good tenth entry that should be barred from bio usage, feel free to leave it in the comments section or mail it to me on a stone tablet if you don’t believe in the internet.
…So there are your tips. Skim through your own profile and see what you might cut or change in order to present a better version of virtual you to the online masses…remember, you never know who’s using your profile to do some virtual people-watching (see how creepy that is?!). And if all else fails, you can always just leave your bio blank. It will make you seem mysterious and full of intrigue, and that’s going to get you a hell of a lot more chicks than being the sort of hopeless romantic who doesn’t remember birthdays and anniversaries.