WARNING!! Dedicated Facebookers might not appreciate contents below.
“Did you see Kelly’s new house?” Sandy asked with way too much enthusiasm as we sat down for lunch one rainy afternoon in a quaint little cafe in our hometown.
“Kelly who?” I didn’t bother looking up from the menu.
“Kelly Scott” she replied in awe as if this Kelly girl was the leader of the free world.
“Dont know her” was all I could mumble as my stomach roared and I could feel it starting to ache while I flipped through the glossy pages of the menu.
“Oh my goodness. Yes you do! We were in third grade with her!”
“Ummm….nope. Haven’t seen her since third grade. So, I’m not sure how I would see her new house. Didn’t even remember who she was until you brought it up. Puffy brown hair and braces, right?” I tried dredging up an image of this Kelly Scott, but that was all I had.
“Seriously? Will you just get on Facebook please?!” (almost didn’t catch that disapproving eye roll) “Anyway, it’s basically a mansion. She pretty much has the perfect life, cute husband, awesome job, that house and she’s pregnant!” She sounded more jealous than happy for President Kelly.
“Well there you go! Now, are you ready to order? I’m starving. Put your stupid phone down. I’m definitely getting the Reuben”. My lunch sounded so much more exciting than Kelly’s Facebook life.
Yes, this was a conversation that I remember having about a year ago with my dear friend “Sandy” (names have been changed to protect the innocent)
I remember being super excited to do two of my many favorite things that afternoon. Eat and talk with a good friend. I distinctly remember as well, the fact that her cell phone was glued to her hand while she strategically ate the turkey club she ordered while dipping her fries into a mound of ketchup after “checking us in” at the cafe on FB (I’m so glad that neither one of us had a psychotic murderous stalker that we were trying to avoid)
My severe lack of interest in other peoples business always seems to disappoint everyone. Even more than that, my complete absence of intrigue with social media tends to have a similar effect. So needless to say, Sandy’s updates were not even on the list of things I wanted to chat about. Facebook was just going to have to be put on hold until she was in the company of someone who cared enough to “like” a picture of someone’s cat hanging from their ceiling fan.
Now, on to my confession:
Many, many moons ago I was coerced by a certain Aunt/Fairy Godmother (you know who you are) during Thanksgiving to start a Facebook account so that I could communicate with her and all the cousins, keeping up with the family, and sharing pictures and such. Ok, ok, it sounded harmless enough; even though I wasn’t too keen on the idea of having my own personal information spread out all over the Internet.
She assured me that as long as I kept a close circle of “family only” contacts that it wouldn’t be a big deal. I believe my sister threw her two cents in there somewhere too, and the cult had gained a new member.
Later that week I sat down in front of my laptop and created for the first time ever, my very own Facebook account. I remember friend requesting my sister, my aunts, my uncles, and my cousins. Great! Their cheery little faces started to pop up with little bits of information about their lives, pictures of activities that they were partaking in, and miscellaneous things regarding themselves.
I remember scrolling through the pictures, especially the ones that were posted of my sister, brother and I from when we were little. This was great! These pictures were all lost over the years and it was so nice to finally see them again.
Then it started. Little pop up numbers somewhere at the top of the page, “friend requests” they called them. All of a sudden all of these people from my past, literally people from first grade (mind you, I was 25 at the time) were requesting my virtual friendship. (I always found the word “friend” on Facebook to be a bit overly exaggerated. What exactly did the maker of Facebook consider the definition of “friend” to be anyway?)
Oh look, there was my 5th grade crush. Still looked the same and had a little family of his own going on from the looks of his profile pic. Cool. My high school music teacher! A little weird but okay. My hairdresser back when I was 18 was looking to be my “friend” as well. One of my first employers at a flower shop that I worked in when I was 14 had, get this, after 11 yrs. of not seeing me once, wanted to be my “friend”. The girl who sat behind me in Biology, yup her too! Ummmm……Accept? 🤔 Why not? Accepted! Why’d I do it, you ask? I don’t know, but I did it again, and again, and again.
I never accepted “friends” that I didn’t actually know at one point in my life but the list of “friends” grew unnecessarily longer regardless, and before I knew it I was flooded with miscellaneous pieces of useless information about people I probably wouldn’t even recognize if they came up to me at a school reunion wearing a name tag.
At first though, I have to admit, it was kind of amusing to see the ugly duckling from second grade that turned into a swan. I guess you could say I was impressed with the accomplishments of the kids that everyone would have voted least likely to succeed. Mostly though I enjoyed seeing how everyone had just grown up (physically at least) and the beautiful children that they had brought into this world. That was the coolest part.
Shortly thereafter the microscopic allure had begun to diminish after realizing an odd trend on this Facebook thingamajig. People embellished, they lied, downsized, upsized, fantasized, gossiped, bragged, bullied and did a multitude of many other unbecoming acts, all with a few clicks of their mouse and some fingertip pushing. Did I mention these people were adults?
The one thing that was being done that stood out the most though, was the constant act of crying out for validation. It almost seemed as if everyone was doing something everyday just so they could post it and see who would “comment”. It didn’t matter what it was, from “hitting the gym” to “scrubbing the toilet”, it was all documented.
It was like a giant game of The Sims! These people were falsifying lives they weren’t really living. They were acting to be applauded. From Photoshopping pictures, to the declaring of relationship statuses, to the 5k they just wrapped up before the rest of the world was even awake, to the newest pair of sneakers they spent half their paycheck on, people were “posting” it.
There were even people whom I talked to on a regular basis, that would praise they’re significant other in a “status update” with a lovey dovey picture of them captioned “best boyfriend ever” after complaining to me about how their relationship was in turmoil the night before. Then there were those parents claiming that they were having “family time” at the park or the zoo with their kids while the child is pulling on their pant leg for attention as the mother refreshes her page to see who thinks she’s “such an amazing mom!” Or those that I knew couldn’t hold a job to save their life, but were “checking in” at the spa. What on earth?
I didn’t understand any of it and then it hit me. After sitting back and slowly “defriending” these wolf criers because I had absolutely no reason to read their nonsense, I realized that they were just people who would rather portray themselves as something instead of actually becoming that person that they so obviously wanted to be. They would rather appear to have a great relationship in front of their Facebook audience than to actually put the work into creating an amazing union with their partner in reality. Their Facebook life was more important than their real world life because it provided them with a sense of false accomplishment. It was easier and took no effort at all to pretend than to actually become. (Ahhhh, western societies “easy way out” mentality strikes again!)
Of course not all Facebookers are tall tale tellers. There are the few that really do have it all, but they are less likely to be seeking attention or approval virtually because they are too busy achieving personal successes to be constantly posting. These Facebookers are the ones who you rarely see a “status update” from and probably only keep their profiles open to be reminded of birthdays (the one feature I think is genius! How could I forget my own fathers birthday?)
The bottom line is that Facebook was created for college students and their social affairs and has obviously expanded far beyond its original borders. It can be a wonderful networking tool along with having many other productive facets. It’s just in my opinion that people need to know their boundaries, exercise self discipline and remember that the game of life isn’t played nor is the score being kept on a computer screen.
It took me a little while, but I finally freed myself from this simulated society realizing that I only care to share my real life, in real time with my real friends.