Facebook brings friends together to share feelings and facts; we can reach out across the globe with our posts and pictures. What a fabulous idea! In theory. In fact – not so much. It’s a place where nothing is what it seems. And Facebook has changed, not for the better, the way we’re friends. Nowadays, you’ll be more likely to read a post on an engagement, an illness, a vacation, than receive a phone call. It’s a convenient/lazy/time-saving way to impart news. I’m old-fashioned – I love to receive a card in the mail that I open, not an evite/card that I click on. I love to hear someone’s voice when they’re updating me on their affairs, not get a text or see it on Facebook.
As a society, we prefer our news in quick bites – Facebook’s the junk food of communication – a speedy way to reach many people – but it rarely satisfies for long. People present a facade – the version of themselves they want to be/want the world to see. Glitzy = yes. Authentic = rarely. People give the illusion of having perfect lives with fun parties, great friends, exotic travels; what sorrows/heartbreak lie behind the facade?
I’m as guilty as the next person – I post, I hope, entertaining articles, news on my travels, and positive updates on me. You want your friends to think you’re happy and have it together – who wants to announce, in public, that their life’s in bits and they struggle to get out of the bed in the morning? Only the drama queen/narcissist/attention seekers out there, who are focused on their own roller-coaster ride. I love the genuine news from people I care about, the whining, babbling, updates from the dentist, I can do without…
These are lessons I’ve taken from Facebook…
1. Never look at Facebook when you’re feeling bad – unless it is a special closed group that you trust – you know who you are!
Looking at a regular Facebook feed, while feeling bad, will make you worse – you can’t help but compare your pathetic existence to all your friends jetting off to exotic locales, meeting their soul mate at Costco, completing triathlons, enjoying happy hour a time zone away. Stay away from the keyboard. Phone a friend – a real one. Love this article ‘Facebook use feeds anxiety and inadequacy!’ http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/247616.php
2. Don’t look for validation on Facebook
We’ve all done it – posted something we’re proud of and want others to acknowledge – you eagerly check back often to see if anyone has commented on/Liked your post – to find very little reaction from the world at large. You think thousands of people like stupid pet stuff, why does nobody care about my stuff? It’s ridiculous and pathetic but, somehow, that lack of validation can devalue the experience you were so proud of. Now, when I post something, I let it go and don’t take lack of Liking personally….after I’ve reached out to someone I know cares and shared with them…
3. There’ll always be someone happier and sadder than you
If you’re feeling a bit down, Facebook can be a good place to skulk – with Chat turned off – as long as you focus on being grateful for not being afflicted by all the bad stuff out there. Laugh at the stupid animal stuff, rejoice in a friend’s good fortune, enjoy memories conjured by old photos that someone finally digitized, and be inspired by wise words.
Take care to ignore the stories that make you jealous and inadequate, especially if you’re lonely. Avoid pictures of snorkeling in Bora Bora and the wedding that cost more money than you make in a year. If you’re feeling lonely – you may be struck down by Fear Of Missing Out – the NY Times did a great article on this: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/business/10ping.html?_r=0
4. Post only what you don’t mind your boss/mother/future partner knowing….
Some people post stuff that is beyond logic and reason – you read it and think – why would you want to advertise that? Like a tattoo, web postings tend to linger. Think before you Post – especially photographs. Beware of friends of friends, who could see a post and get you into trouble at work. Also, be sensitive to fact that if you announce that you’re at a place close to your friend’s house and you haven’t bothered letting said friend know – that friend will feel sad and left out. Did I mention Facebook can also make you paranoid? Anyway, check your privacy settings and make sure that the people you want to see your posts see them – and no one else….or trouble may follow…
5. It’s a good place to connect with like-minded strangers….
It’s easy to find new friends online via a common love. I’m a great Celtic football fan, have joined a few Celtic groups online, and made some new friends – it’s good to share in the joy and misery of being a fan. Although you do have to be careful of not sharing anything too controversial – I was on a Doctor Who fan page, posted ‘Steven Moffat is not God; he just thinks he is – I prefer Russel T. Davies approach.’ and I suffered such mean backlash that I removed myself from the group. Choose wisely….closed groups are a brilliant way to be honest but not have it out there for the whole world to see. For Doctor Who fans: https://www.facebook.com/DoctorWho
6. Follow people/pages who inspire you….
You can learn, be inspired and be entertained by following pages that resonate with you – there is something for everyone out there – from products to mentors to shopping to art and news…I like the Good News Network – in an age of misery and evil – they only post good news! https://www.facebook.com/thegoodnewsnetwork
7. Being un-friend-ed is no fun in reality or cyberspace
Rejection is never fun. I’ve just realized I’ve been dropped by one of my Celtic groups! I remember posting my last Champion’s League article on their page – maybe my critical review of the current squad and their pathetic performance annoyed the people with the power? I’ve been deleted. Not a good feeling. If you know what you did wrong, you can do something to correct it – Facebook enables people/friends to be cowards – you get dropped and never know why; it doesn’t hurt any less.
One thing I do is only accept friend requests from people I’ve communicated with. If I don’t know you, I won’t pretend to be your friend – I’ve grown out of the notion that the more people I have as friends the more popular and cooler I am. If you want to Like my Facebook Fan page to see my latest articles = great – but I’ll not be sharing my personal life with you – there is a reason it’s personal….
Privacy is eroding swiftly in our society. We need to protect ourselves and make sure we post only what we want people to see – share the good stuff, censor the ugly, and beware of contributing more banal narcissism in a world populated by too many Kardashian wannabees….Type wisely and proceed with care….