Oh, Facebook- How entertaining and misleading you are.
Facebook is replete with the perfect storm, for many people. It is the platform, where everybody in your friend’s list sees you, and judges you, based on what you share. We all know that.
It is a world where we can literally be anything we choose to be. We can be happy, sad, pissed off, weird, depressed, anxiety ridden, and literally everything in between.
It gives us the opportunity to share as much of our lives as we want.
Are You Really Happy?
I have gone for drinks, or dinner dates, with a few people from Facebook, who I haven’t seen in ages. I have also run into these people at the grocery store, or at functions, and they all seem to “know me”, based on what I post on their Newsfeeds.
“Oh, I saw you bought a new car! That must make you happy!”
“I see you and your guy in photos, and you seem so happy.”
That is what we all WANT. We want everyone to be “happy” that we are happy. We want them to laugh at our jokes, and feel our sadness through touching memes. We want to be the puppeteer of our real world, and present the “best parts” of us, on a Social platform, for everyone to see.
Often, it is Fake News
After a few sips of wine, my friends in real life, tell me what is REALLY happening.
Having face to face conversations is where the real person comes out, and their Facebook profile is found to be smoke and mirrors. They tell me that they don’t want to air their dirt and frustration on Facebook, because they don’t want people to judge them.
I am guilty of this as well. If you are on my Facebook Friends list, you will see nothing but happiness and humor. I made it a rule, long ago, to never air my shit on a platform that my mother can see. It’s just not worth it.
Alternatively, I see friends who are chronic complainers, continually posting FML and angry at the world statuses. It is extremely difficult to read them, and a challenge to not touch the “unfriend” button. I get that they see the social media page as a place to post ALL of their feelings, but in my mind, it doesn’t help matters. Negativity and chronic whining makes Facebook “too real”. It gives us all a reason to roll our eyes and keep on scrolling.
Sometimes, people will talk about the negative people behind their backs, “Why is she/he so whiny and negative on here? I am unfollowing them”.
Why? Because it’s not what anyone wants to read. We don’t want real. We want entertainment and pleasure.
Reality vs Facebook
There are Facebookers who will share every moment of every day, just to feel like they have followers. Then there are the folks who only share pics of themselves smiling, covered in filters, and engaged in fun. People crave attention of others, but don’t want to leave the privacy and comfort of their world.
There are also many people who never post anything, and spend their time scrolling through other people’s lives. Based on the information they are given, they make silent judgement calls. You see a person on a dream vacation, and feel a twinge of envy. Or you scroll through your friend’s photos and are provoked with bitterness because they are more successful than you are.
How much of the photographed emotions are true?
Consider life before Social Media, when people had to take pictures with camera, have them developed, and sort them into albums or scrapbooks. What were most faces doing in those images?
They were smiling, right?
But, is the smile REAL, or is it because someone behind the camera provoked and commanded the reactive grin.
Facebook is much the same, only the photos and captions are posted, at a crazy pace. Everyone wants to have the perfect selfie, or the romantic kissy photo by the beach. You want to present yourself as being envy worthy. You want people to look at your images with a WOW factor. You want the image to be perfect, even when there is a storm brewing in your life.
The Perfect Storm
Social Media has a very dangerous side to it, if we aren’t cautious.
Because we have the ability to share so much of our lives, people who are linked to us think they “know” what is going on in our worlds. Being selective, and sharing only the happy pics of our world, and over sharing, leads to a lack of true understanding and deep relationships.
We want to be seen as carefree and having fun 24/7, so that is all we share.
We pick and choose who we chat with, and avoid too many deep conversations, so our image isn’t questioned. We can ghost people who want to talk with us, and don’t feel guilt, because once they are Social Media friends, they aren’t see as humans.
But what happens when we need help? What happens if our life isn’t, at all, what we have lead others to believe and we actually need help and support? It becomes challenging and vulnerable, to admit that the smoke and mirrors covered up your reality.
The more you build on your capacity of false happiness on Social media, the harder it becomes to undo it and come clean, with true friends. We don’t want to look like liars, as we hide behind our profiles. It becomes more difficult to have real relationships with people who have been judging you, and watching your successful life, on their phones.
I know when I was married, Facebook was becoming popular. I never shared anything other than sweet, loving, photos of my husband and I. I didn’t want people to know that we were in trouble.
We had gone to Mexico to try and redeem what we could of our marriage, but to onlookers, who saw our photos, we looked happily in love. Message after message on our pictures read, “aww you two are so cute”, “Lovebirds”, “so jealous”, “You two are couple goals”.
What they didn’t see, were the continual arguments, the lack of passion, and the tortured hearts that beat within our chests. I thought that was a good thing.
Until I needed help.
I called my best friend, sobbing, telling her I was packing my stuff and moving. I asked if I could borrow her truck.
Her first response? “But you two are so happy! What happened? I just saw your Mexico photos and you looked so good together.”
Honestly, we hadn’t been happy for almost 8 years, at that point. I was just really good at playing the game.
We were “Facebook Happy”. I had even fooled one of my closest friends.
Typically, good friends will see past the lies in your Facebook feed. However, Facebook tries to take away the need for True Friendship. It’s a Catch 22.
Facebook and Anxiety
I find the irony in the thousands of Anxiety groups, Depression pages, and mental health awareness help opportunities on Facebook.
Social media, in and of itself, is a convoluted twist of irony.
It causes us to be Anti-Social. It gives us Anxiety.
If you don’t believe me, look at the passengers next to you on the bus, as they plug in and scroll. Check out the customers in restaurants who play with their phones, while they are with someone they could talk to. The “phone-in-hand, face-down, averted-eyes look”, has become the “norm” in Social situations.
Social media has given us all permission to ignore one another- in public and in the privacy of our own homes. We have no real reason to communicate, because our devices do that for us.
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and all of the other platforms allow us to hide, and be who and what we want to be. The lies and images of other people’s lives, give us anxiety, as we struggle with comparisons to others.
Conversations are strained, in face to face situations, because we all believe we know each other so well, through our posts. I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to have a conversation, face to face, with a Facebook friend. Inevitably, the talk comes to a screeching halt when one of us says, “Oh yes! I saw that on Facebook!”
What more is there to say?
Children are taught to communicate through devices, but in the real world, they are left to their own devices when it comes to building relationships. Parents are distracted on their gadgets, ignoring their kids. The kids are taught to “text mom and dad” when they are home, or ready to go. They Facetime or video chat with grandparents and other relatives. People no longer seem flesh and bone-they have become 2 dimensional.
Anxiety comes from not fitting into the real world, fearing people, and struggling to leave our comfort zones. Facebook feeds upon those struggles, and reminds us we don’t NEED to deal with people, or have a circle of friends. We can tap and scroll away, seeing what our peeps are up to, in our PJ’s, while Netflix plays in the background. That is our new “Social”.
Our relationships are built on photo albums in other people’s houses.
No one saves images of their stress, struggles, anxiety or anger. Those were the pictures that were thrown in the trash, when we still used photo labs for developing film.
Facebook and Instagram are the same. We don’t want people to see the dark sides of our lives. We want them to see us at our best-not our worst.
Although Social Media allows us all to share our lives, as much as we want, you never truly know what lies under the happiness that we see.
In order to have deep meaningful relationships with actual human beings, and not their profiles, we need to stay SOCIAL. We need to interact and engage with the warm body behind the captured smile. Just because you see your friends, every day, as you scroll and drink your morning coffee, it doesn’t mean you know how they feel.
You never know if that picture at the beach means your friend is truly happy? Or if they are simply “Facebook happy”.
The Next Generation
I was actually out at a friend’s house the other night- BEING SOCIAL. The conversation of children and teenagers came up.
He shared something with me, that I had never considered.
The fallout and mental capacity of the next generation-because of Social Media.
Remember the baby photos and “embarrassing” pictures that parents shared when Facebook became a household trend? Those little kids have grown up now, and some of them are pissed! They are angry at their parents for sharing private moments of their lives, and some of them are asking their parents to “take those photos off their Facebook”. Teenagers don’t want to have their photos taken by their parents, because they don’t want to be seen through the eyes of their parent’s friends and circles. Fair enough.
The children have never consented to have their pictures shared, and are becoming old enough to see the consequences of having friends and even co-workers seeing these images. Further to this, it puts kids at risk, sharing their photos. Their private lives, their “bare rug photos”, their most embarrassing moments, were captured and splayed out, without their say.They have zero control over who sees these images.
From a child’s perspective, as they mature into teenagers, I can understand why this could be a big deal. It’s one thing to have private photos of family life at home, but once it is on Facebook, it becomes accessible to the entire world. Privacy is stripped from them, and they have no control over it.
Then we wonder why kids are developing mental illness at such a young age?
Even within the next generation, the cycle continues:
All of our kids, who could be struggling with mental illness, shame, bullying, and neglect, are posted on our news feeds with smiles across their faces .
They too, might be only “Facebook happy”.