For person to person stuff ... you might get xfrock's @Tag functionality to work for status updates.
so an update like this:
@danswano I'm pissed my iphone broke ! ... would alert @danswano ... but my status update would be "I'm pissed my iphone broke".
@followers I'm pissed my iphone broke ! ... would alert all my followers.
Actuallly ...ask xfrocks for this function !
You know his Tag Me addon ?
Well, that's what the "news feed" is essentially for. But that needs tweaking. I have a "todo list" for my coder and one of the things I wanted him to do was make a filter system on the news feed, so you can checkbox whether you want to see the people you are following's new replies, new threads, status updates, and maybe something else...just thinking off the top of my head rather than reviewing the list I made. That way, you can get the alert and it send you straight to the page with the "status updates" already checked and have it highlight the new updates (if possible).