Nothing in this world, or in the bit of it that is Facebook, is as it seems. We’re constantly being fooled, tricked, duped and plain old-fashioned hoodwinked by the seemingly obvious. That’s why, rather than taking things at face value, it’s always best to assume there’s some passive aggressive subtext at play. Trust is a luxury for the yet-to-be-betrayed. Ruth Atkins has provided a guide to help sniff out the hidden meaning behind those seemingly straight-forward Facebook reactions- featuring a hypothetical woman named Susan. 

Facebook Like Button
Listen, Susan: I didn’t click the link. I didn’t even look at the post properly. I’m sorry. It’s just, there’s only so many sneezing hippopotomii one girl can take, you know? I never imagined such limits could exist, but I reached maximum sloth capacity three days ago. Anyway, here you go. I duly await your thumb on my next status. Thanks! I scratch your leathery back Susan etc….

Facebook Heart Button
I’m really, really happy you scored the internship I was trying for, Susan. Really. I so enjoyed seeing the photo of your first paycheque on my timeline. Thanks for tagging me, by the way. You’re right – “No hard feelings”, of course. Honestly, I’m doing all right this summer. Maybe I didn’t choose the Chugger life. Maybe… just maybe … the Chugger life chose me? Hope you’re having an awesome time.

Facebook Wow Button
Oh boy, this status has a whole lotta likes already. Better choose something different so you know I’m not just jumping on the bandwagon. See, Susan? I don’t just ‘like’ your new relationship, it is viscerally shocking to me! You go, girl! [I’m so alone].

Facebook Sad Face
Why do you keep sharing these articles? I come on facebook for videos of chocolate art and nail salons, not a lowdown on all the world’s injustice. Does that make me a terrible person? And are you really going to force me to react with a cartoon sadface? Do you think my feelings on complex issues and tragedies in the Middle-East can be condensed and expressed by an emoji? Christ Susan, are you TRYING to make me seem trivial? Why don’t you just give it a rest with the gorilla for a while as well, yeah? I’d appreciate it.

Facebook Haha Button
You’re right, Susan: Boy DID done good, you lucky thing! Look at all those presents! Hashtag “swag,” indeed. Such a hilarious update, Susan. I genuinely laughed my ass off – it’s still somewhere rolling on the floor right now. Pooping on the rest of my miserable life, probably. You’re so funny!

Facebook Angry Face
FINE. Fine. You win. Goddammit Susan. You’re a better person than me, ok? You’re funnier, deeper and more successful. Is that what you want to hear? Is your goal in life to humiliate me? Well, I hope you’re satisfi…. hang on, is that – Is that a grammar error? Did you just make a mistake, Susan? Hoho, you’re not getting away with that! Buckle up my friend!

Ruth Atkins