Ladies and Gentlemen, the communicative power of Facebook is shifting. Tag groups are bringing together all types of communities to post, share and ROFLMAO over content without the fear of being judged by your Facebook friend list. Before I get into tag groups, let’s backtrack slightly.
As the social networking site continues to increase its number of active users (reaching almost 1.5 billion in 2018’s 3rd quarter), every individual user’s network is growing too. According to Omnicore, 20 million friend requests are sent every 20 minutes, with the average user having about 155 friends. However according to WordStream, 39% of these 155 friends are individuals the average user has not met; only 28% are thought to be genuine or close friends; and only four could be trusted in a crisis. On the facts, it seems as though our personal circles are now more foreign than ever; it’s a strange mix of family we’re likely obligated to connect with, as well as those we’ve met at a party three years ago and haven’t seen since, and the people we see often but don’t actually interact with. Oh, and I can’t forget, the people we actually want to know.
But anyone who has a Facebook account under the age of 30 can tell you that. Where we choose to communicate is a part of Facebook that baby boomers, fake accounts and pages sold to the highest bidder have yet to fully invade. When posts are only available to a select few, they are often streamlined rather than random, and derived from all over Facebook and the internet.
These are normally referred to as tag groups.
The concept of a tag group is very simple. The name of the group usually dictates (either explicitly or implicitly) the type of content that will be posted to, shared in, or derived from the group itself. Usually before one joins a group, there will be a few basic rules laid out to them; something along the lines of understanding the various procedures of the group (which can be as simple as no excessive sharing of the same content to using ‘m’ instead of ‘n’ in every word). From that point, most applications are generally accepted by a group moderator: the user is now in the group, free to scroll to their hearts content and (if moderator-approved) have their content shared or posted to the group.
Now for those already in this community, and even some of those who aren’t, there is one group that may likely come to mind first: subtle Asian traits. Yes, it fits much of the description above. It is a tag group that hosts content to do with the mannerisms and peculiarities of life as an Asian growing up and living in a non-Asian society. Opinions on it vary, as the humour is loved by some and lost on others. However, this is not the only tag group on Facebook.
Take the brilliantly-named ‘Please show to Jim !! HA !! HA !!’, a group posting innocent content from older Facebook users who have yet to fully understand social media. Maurice, looking to buy a PlayStation via Facebook Marketplace, asks the seller ‘Good morning, is this available?’ The seller responds, ‘Yes it is available, are you interested?’ Maurice responds ‘No’. This received 2,300 likes. An unnamed boomer, whose profile picture is a bald scalp (assumedly theirs but we can’t confirm) and works at ‘retired’, has this exact following description: ‘I am Old School,,,I do not use a cell phone, I do not have caller ID. I am gay.’ 700 likes in under an hour.
Or, if you prefer frozen treats, take ‘Blokes and their Ice-creams’. Only blokes (apologies all non-blokes, usually females) post pictures of themselves enjoying an ice-cream (often abbreviated to ‘cream’). This may be followed by a rating, such as ‘bon/10’ (indicating their Maxibon either cost $10 or is 10/10). Other group members will comment an encouraging ‘cream on x bloke’; the ‘x’ ranging from a mild roast of their physical appearance to an adoration of the complexity of their cream.
Finally, consider ‘Previously Unsaid Sentences in Human History’. Ever read a headline, post, or comment so unusual you want to share it but simultaneously avoid the judgment of your Facebook friends? This group is designed for exactly that. ‘This Paster Is Melting Purity Rings Into A Golden Vagina Sculpture’, received 527 reacts in 3 hours (at time of writing). ‘4,000-Year-Old Megalithic Tomb in Spain Vandalised with Harry Potter References’, received a whopping 3.3k reacts (mostly angry). One commenter tags a group, ‘I’m begging you please read another book’, referencing the fact that there are more books than the Harry Potter saga.
These three are just some from an endless list of Facebook tag groups. Groups full of strangers who come from all over the world are bound by the similar content the group demands. Personally, i believe more beneficial friendships are made through these groups. This is for many reasons: there is no fear of judgment from the people we know. Posters and commenters alike can express their true, weird selves. Thanks to moderators, all the approved content is guaranteed to be relevant to the page, allowing for these outcomes to occur often, if not every time a post is made.
Their greatest feature is their constant presence. Once someone takes their first foray into a tag group, finding others is an easy and enjoyable task. Being able to jump from community to community, one ultimately finds themselves enamoured by these pages and their ideals. The way one sees Facebook content changes, the ethos of these tag groups subconsciously working in their minds as they read a strange headline or see an old person post on a Facebook video. Once you’re in, you’re in. And by god is it a fun journey.
Thanks to subtle Asian traits, the process of popularising smaller tag groups will begin soon. Communication will take on new, exciting, and unexpected value as content is applied to different contexts. Just like text abbreviations such as ‘LOL’ and ‘lMAO’ were once an underground concept before becoming language anyone would understand, so too will tag groups ingrain themselves in our everyday lives. Cream on uneducated blokes, get in on these previously unsaid sentences before you become an old Jim who refuses to acknowledge it.