Facebook is such a strange thing. I can go to a website made by someone I will never meet, and find a box with my picture and my name. I can type in almost anyone and find a box with their picture and name, and then presume to know something about them. It’s a single stupid screen, filled with utterly meaningless posts and shares and pictures, where I look at what people want me to think about their lives. Too often I also look at my own nonsense on Facebook and try to understand what I want people to think of my life. What do I want to show the world? (Or rather, what do I want to show the world by using the least possible effort that could be made by a person? Think about it: a post usually has less thought and emotion behind it compared to almost any other form of self-expression. You can express who you are through art, film, writing extensive prose/poetry/fiction/nonfiction, travel, activism, your career, faith, volunteering, etc. But do we choose to show people who we are through those means? No, because posting something on Facebook is easier than trying to show all your friends your passions and pursuits in real life. Even physically saying something to someone else requires much more courage than a post ever could. The smallest touch can express more than any “like”. We have become so lazy, even with our own self-expression.) The more I look at my page the more fake I feel.
I was against Facebook for such a long time. But alas, my senior year of high school I caved in, telling myself that it would be useful to keep in touch with all my friends after I graduated. And you know what happened the summer after I graduated from high school? I deleted half of my “friends” who went to school with me. I never talked to these people much in real life, and they didn’t talk to me, so why did either one of us think putting any effort in an online “friendship” would be worthwhile? I couldn’t sever all ties with the website, though. I had become sucked in and was constantly snooping on people I couldn’t get access to in real life (ex boyfriends, friends who moved away and had forgotten about me, girls who were popular in high school and got knocked up the second after graduation, people who had far more fabulous lives than I had, etc.). It was a terrible addiction and gave me an icky feeling about myself. But everyone does that stuff on Facebook at some point, so I decided to cut back, rather than cut out my addiction. When I got to college I started following organizations on Facebook, and now I probably spend more time reading recommended NPR articles on Facebook than I do reading anything any of my “friends” post. However, the icky feeling remains.
I hate how much I care about everything I reveal on Facebook… Not that it’s much; in fact, I probably worry more about everything I want to hide from Facebook than anything I reveal. No ugly pictures, no posts that are too radical or too personal, no information that could provoke some online creeper to come to my house late at night. I never post anything that alludes to alcohol, drugs, anything illegal obviously, health concerns, financial concerns, educational concerns, rarely any rants, nothing that conveys a low self-esteem, and never anything about my family. I also take precautions to not friend anyone I don’t know in real life, any aunts or uncles, parents of friends, or anyone from the past who didn’t give a crap about me when we were in each other’s presence in real life. I tiptoe through my virtual life in ways I dare not to in real life…so why do I cling to it? Why does it matter so much to hang on to pages of people who I no longer see in real life?
Maybe I’m just sentimental, maybe I’m too lazy to avoid what is simply convenient, maybe I have fallen prey to the cyber-obsession of my generation. Maybe because I write my heart out on an anonymous blog I am no better than the postings on Facebook, and am a complete hypocrite for writing all of this. But one thing I do know is that when I sit and think about a world without Facebook, I feel more free, light, and happier. Human connection and self-expression is a beautiful thing, and the cyber world cannot do it proper justice (in my opinion).
I guess Facebook is our attempt of a do-over for all those bad first impressions, those conversations when the words came out all wrong, those conversations that never took place, and for what impression we give the world in real life. On Facebook, we are the false version of ourselves that we always wanted.
Here’s one of my many problems with Facebook. Whenever I log onto it I expect to be emotionally numb. After all, I really don’t care about how much you hate your job at Wal-Mart and are about to dye your hair red again, even though your eyebrows are a totally different color. I just sift through this information as I drink my coffee in the dining hall, silently musing about how rare it is that people who are actually interesting never post on Facebook, yet people log on it all the time. Oh the information age, how you have lowered our standards… Anyway, what gets my gears going, though, is how you can be friends with someone on Facebook and out of the blue you can have this strong emotional reaction to it.
We all experience this–whether it’s your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, your old best friend from high school, or that crazy relative we all have in the family. Someone starts posting stuff about politics, how unhappy or happy they are, or even shares a link to one of those YouTube videos where someone with cancer is asking for help, and BAM! Suddenly while you’re waiting in line at Taco Bell you’re pissed as hell or on the verge of tears.
And it can be the dumbest things, too. SoAndSo is off surfing in Hawaii while you’re at home doing laundry on a Saturday night, or just got engaged to someone they met six months ago, or just uploaded a bunch of horrifying selfies and all of a sudden we are sitting there wondering why the heck we care as much as we do. After all, it’s Facebook, the website made for keeping track of people you won’t bother to text or call. You’re not supposed to give a damn–so why do you?
Life, that’s why. None of us have the perfect life we want, and few of us are content to be happy with what we have. So we pick at other people’s lives to make ourselves feel better–or compare our lives to theirs to make ourselves feel worse. It’s a vicious cycle that crops up at the worst of times, like when you are sitting at work taking a break from studying and BAM! There’s that asshole who never texted you again after a week of blowing up your phone. And look at how happy they are! And look at what one of their friends said in the comments of that picture! Don’t you flirt with them and say they have a great smile! They’re mine!
…Well, they were….
And there you have it. Bam, just like that, you start to feel crappy. Why did you even like that asshole? Didn’t you see it coming, how they’d ditch you so suddenly? How could you be so stupid? The real question is, though:
When did treating ourselves like this become a part of society?
And I’m not just ragging on Facebook, because after all, it’s not the website’s fault. It’s how people use it. Why do we analyze every aspect of our lives and compare them to this unrealistic image we have of the lives of the people around us? Why are we never content with what we have, and our goals all come from what we think would make our lives that much more perfect. Why is it all about trying to be perfect? Why do we think that equals happiness?
The happiest people I’ve met are the ones with average lives, who are content with their crazy families, their small houses, their run-of-the-mill jobs, and their imperfect spouses. They are the people who know that what matters now won’t matter in twenty years, and that all you can ask for in life is to have things to be happy for.
Just some thoughts for the night that may be right or wrong.
Ah well, back to studying.
Personally, I don’t have a Facebook. I know, I know. You don’t know how many people have told me to get one…I’ve even had people threaten to make me one themselves… But anyway, I have refused for four years now, and I would like to remain in the non-facebook world. (Although one of my more kind friends did me a favor and put a picture of my boobs on there…oh how that tank top will never be seen the same…)
However, I am a professed Facebook stalker. Now, now, before you launch this picture of some chick rooting through her cousin’s best friend’s boyfriend’s niece’s baby pictures or whatever, let me make my case:
I don’t go on Facebook on any kind of regular basis. Usually it’s when I’m bored and too broke to buy music online.
Plus, I go primarily on the pages on my friends solely to download pictures they took of us all at the last shenanigan we concocted.
So, moving on… I was on it today, and spotted that one of my friends was talking to some guy I was mad for years ago. Yes, I did read their fascinating conversation about how working in fast food sucks, and yes, I did go on his profile. I haven’t seen him since…well, sort of since I’ve liked him.
If you really want to know, here’s our great story: I met him at school, where we had all but around two classes together. We got to know another, become friends, and I became infatuated. We flirted and flirted, while he went through relationship after relationship, and he lead me on like that for months. During this infatuation I had my one of my first bouts of depression, and so his rejection was magnified severely. Imagine standing at the altar with someone, and have them lift up your veil, say, “Whoops, uh pastor? Yeah, I object.” It was like that. Anyway, the moral of the story was that I learned to love myself and stop falling for such self-absorbed assholes. And then I switched schools. But that was just a coincidence.
Yeah, it’s a real great story, eh? Almost as exciting as that time I spent two hours cleaning the bathroom. But I actually do have a point in writing this, even if it is a lame one.
Looking at the older version of him today, a version I do not know, never encountered, I felt so disconnected from myself. Immediately I was years younger looking at him now, through the eyes of heart-break. And I don’t mean I never got over the guy, I did, but with anyone you have let close to you, it can feel so strange to see them and remember things like how they hurt you. He was just some dumb kid. I know I was definitely some dumb kid. I was wrong to put him on a pedestal and he was wrong to let me keep him there. We both were dumb and shouldn’t have been together anyway.
But man, why did I like him so much? I was crazy about him, I really was. I wanted to know everything about him, would hang on his every word. Every touch, every conversation was analyzed dozens of times. He seemed wonderful, and more than anything, I wanted someone wonderful to want me. So maybe I’d start believing I was wonderful.
But life doesn’t work like that. I know now that I set myself up for disappointment. He was just some guy, and no person’s opinion can replace your own opinion of yourself. So, it all just ended up being the cherry on top on the depression sundae that was my life.
And now I’m older and wiser and think that same haircut he has looks really dumb.
I guess what I’m saying, is no matter what, life is going to follow you around; the decisions you make don’t just disappear with time. Sometimes they even get clearer. I was a different person when I liked Mr. I-Am-So-Deep-And-Emotional, and looking at his profile I realized how completely happy I am being this person I am now, who likes someone for how they make her feel about herself, for how they always are there for her.
I also realized that having four different albums full of just pictures of yourself is just asking for a disfiguring car accident to happen. C’mon, no one needs to look at your face that much unless they treat your acne.