Facebook Lies and That's OK

Every once in a while, a post filters through your newsfeed that says “I’m taking a much-needed break from Facebook.”   Or I sometimes talk to a friend who says that Facebook makes her feel depressed – because everyone else’s lives are so much better than her own.

I get it.  I have taken a break once or twice myself. And I’m not on Facebook nearly as much as I used to be.  But Facebook, if you can understand and control the role it plays in your life, is really a kind-of wonderful thing.

Facebook has huge merits we now take completely for granted.  I am in contact with people from throughout my life with whom I would have no contact what-so-ever were it not for Facebook.  Remember the days of snail mail and long-distance phone charges if you wanted to keep in touch with anyone outside your zipcode?

Oh, you don’t?
 Yeah.  I’m old.  Well…just trust me on this, then.  It wasn’t all that long ago in the grand scheme of things.  And if you didn’t actively keep up with someone on a regular basis, they fell off the radar permanently.


My mother passed away on the last day of 2006 but her circle of friends sees photos of my children and keeps up with our lives and when they comment, I feel my mom’s presence for a moment.
  That’s a gift.

I have twice shared a meal with a friend from high school who passes through Chicago on business periodically.  She’s delightful.  If we lived near each other we’d do it more often but I can still count her as a current friend because of Facebook.  Another friend from elementary school, whom I haven’t seen since graduation, writes beautiful thoughts to me.  She has struggled with a child with autism, I have struggled with a child with liver disease – sometimes we have commiserated.  She is dear.  And in Missouri.  And Facebook is our only source of connection.

I had an entirely long-distance relationship that began on Facebook after my separation.  Although that is no longer the stuff of steamy texts, he is now one of my favorite people on the planet.  And if I scroll back far enough in my Facebook messages from him, my very first cybersex experience is right there.  I’ve had Facebook sex, you guys.  It’s possible some employees at Facebook have enjoyed reading it as well.  It was pretty darn good. 

But, as with any relationship, you gotta understand and embrace your friend’s imperfections.  Facebook, I’m afraid, for all the connections and conversations and adorable baby pics and sex (tee hee) is a total compulsive liar.  That’s simply who Facebook IS.  But you can overlook that as long as you are aware and you don’t allow it to affect you.

Because people post photos and updates of their accomplishments and their children smiling sweetly and hugging one another and their cute new puppy and their new job and their promotion and their vacation…and their next vacation…and another vacation…and how the hell do some of these people afford to travel so damn much!

What they do not post, for the most part, are the failures and the arguments and the times when their children are pummeling each other and the custody battles and the court dates and the private estrangements and the anxiety attacks.  They don't tell you that they rotate which bill they are delinquent on each month so that nothing gets shut off.  They don’t post that when the new puppy chews up yet another pair of expensive shoes, there is a place deep inside them that loathes and wants to kick that puppy.  Cause that’s ugly.  They don’t post that they regret the acquisition of the puppy.  You don’t read that three months into the new job their boss loudly suggested that they may suffer from brain damage because when asked a question they couldn’t possibly know the answer to, they hesitated and then requested clarification.  Because that would be embarrassing.  They don’t post the deep, dark truth that they have discovered they may not love their spouse anymore or that they have crippling anxiety every single night about their exciting new business venture or they think their stepson might be on drugs.  They don’t tell you that they stand naked in front of the mirror and cry sometimes. 

And that’s OK.  They shouldn’t.  That’s why Facebook shouldn’t take the place of actually sitting down with people in the flesh and talking about what’s really going on. 

And, most especially, it’s why you shouldn’t read all of the light, shiny, accomplished posts and compare them to your own messy, complicated, anxiety-riddled, imperfect life.  It’s the same activity as comparing your thighs to the thighs of a heavily airbrushed super model. 

Facebook lies.  Don’t let it fool ya.

We’ve become better at seeing the airbrush strokes on the magazine covers now.  We need to become better at seeing Facebook for what it is – and then we can love it for what it gives us – the surface connections we can make that CAN lead to something deeper if we choose. Or that just allow us to hold on lightly so we don’t lose touch.

And we can see cute puppies that someone else has to clean up after.  That’s a nice perk, too.

 

 

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