About two years ago, I wrote about the Facebook phenomenon that was (finally) hitting adults. My essay, “Thirty-Seven-Year-Old on Facebook,” discussed my personal experience—while laid up with a broken leg—with Facebook. It’s an amusing piece, so I’ve been told. I wrote it when I was enjoying Facebook.

Now, there’s that serious Facebook movie out, “The Social Network.” Was it the number one movie the other week? I don’t even care; I think it looks mildly annoying, and I don’t imagine that I will pay $10 to go and see it (though thank God the profits aren’t going to that seemingly-conniving, frizzy Zuckerberg. He has enough money—hundreds of billions–don’t you agree?).

Still, Merrick Morton. Rooney Mara (left) and Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network"

I am so completely over Facebook.

Fads come and go, and the passage of time is one reason why I don’t care much about FB anymore, but there’s another reason. Facebook has gotten (more) petty. Grownups are misusing Facebook. Yes, I know, the younger set has long bemoaned adults “contaminating” their precious FB, but I’m really serious about this, and now I see their point.

Facebook is supposed to be used to connect with friends and maybe (for singles) scope out people who interest you. I do not think that Facebook should be used to gloat, brag, show off or try to make other people feel like losers compared to you.

That’s what I am seeing now from my grown-up peers when I check Facebook. It turns me off. I don’t see the point; in fact, I think showing off on FB smacks of desperation.

I barely post FB status updates anymore, and when I did, I was usually self-deprecating. Pithy. Mildly cute.

I even told the world on Facebook that I had lost my job. Why? I figure it’s better to come out with it and own up to it than to hide away when it’s clear other people are dying to know the detes. Even if the news is bad, you can control the news (somewhat) if you don’t hide the truth. That’s my philosophy, anyway. It seemed to work for me and sure, if Facebook could somehow help me snag a new job, I’d be very cool with that. (It didn’t, but if it did, I’d probably change my mind about it.)

I didn’t dish on FB about losing my job—which was a long, crazy, complicated story—but I knew the old school chums would see stories about it in the news. I knew I couldn’t refuse to address it, even if I never got specific, never pointed fingers—because people would surely be trolling for that sort of dirt on my Facebook account, too.

Facebook, in my opinion, should be used for the truth, should be used to foster genuine, mutually positive social connections, and okay, sure, it should also be used to announce good personal news such as the birth of a baby or the publication of a book. What I’ve been seeing lately, though, is Facebook’s original purpose twisted as a tool for one-upping others, or wide-network keeping-up-with-the-Joneses. That makes me sort of sick.

I really do not want to see another “friend” post a status update that reads something like, “My life is so awesome! Hubby and I had rollicking s-x (as if that makes it less tacky? The missing vowel?); the cleaning lady straightened out all 10 bedrooms, and now we’re having celebrity chefs cook us dinner in front of our infinity pool! At our Cayman Islands cottage which we flew to this afternoon on our private jet! Yay, us!”

All right, so I don’t generally see updates quite that extreme in their repulsive entirety. But updates like, “What a day! Ran the marathon with the fam and then hubby grilled mahi-mahi and served it to me on the beach!!” are still somehow too much.

Even “Ate authentic Moroccan couscous with my beloved and went to bed early –wink wink!” makes me feel a little pukey and consider un-friending the gloating showoff.

Then I remind myself: they are showing off for a reason. Because, perhaps, they are insecure. Because they want to make other people nervous, maybe (which is frankly sociopathic, isn’t it?), and at any rate, they are just being sort of stupid or self-congratulatory.

I tell myself I should just ignore it. I do ignore it—after making a mental note that the “friend” has a few chances left not to force me to delete her/him.

It’s fine to be happy, of course, and to share good news. But is constantly talking about your great life and great dinner and great day on Facebook sharing “good news?” No. I think it’s just you seeming as if you are trying to make other people feel bad that they don’t have it as great as you.

I have especially good days, too. But I don’t post updates about what’s great in my life, generally, though I might say that the Halloween parade was fun or my kids look cute in their costumes. Maybe. Much more than that, though, seems socially weird. (And if you’re not a chef or caterer, someone whose identity is connected to food preparation, I really don’t care what you had for dinner. Writing about what’s on the family menu seems to be one of the primary ways people are showing off to each other.)

Besides, if all you seem to do is brag on Facebook and then I finally see you in person, what am I supposed to ask you?Remember: I already seem to know pretty much everything (except for the bad stuff, the likely truth).

Would you think it strange if I asked you, “So, was the s-x you posted about truly rollicking…or was it like that other time you posted about it and said your night was ‘way hot’?”

See? Awkward. Unnecessary. Wrong.

Photos can be another problem on Facebook. Sure, some photos are wonderful and cute and good to share, and I appreciate seeing them—photos of your kids, photos of wild animals drinking from tiny bottles, photos of the cloudy summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Other photos irk me. For example, I sort of hate seeing photos of people I know at parties, or people who are all dressed up for a party. It’s just, in my opinion, more showing off. Yes, you looked very good. Amazing. Yes, that dress was great (or—I may be thinking this, but I’d never say this–that dress did nothing for you).

I may know for a fact that 99% of the time you don’t look anything like you did when you were heading out to that party, but hey, I give you an A for effort. Those were attractive pictures. I’m probably impressed.

I saw a photo of someone from high school, posing with her husband before some themed costume party (there seemed to be many party photos coming from her). I looked at the photo for a minute or two, shook my head and laughed. Then I forwarded the photo to another friend and merely asked, “What do you think of this?”

He responded. “Does someone need to warn her about that guy? She is so obviously his beard.”

My response: “Exactly what I thought.” It was exactly what I thought. It was painfully clear.

The woman who posted the photo believed—I assume—that she was showing the FB world how great and fun her grown-up married life is. But some of us saw precisely the opposite and predicted the devastation that may happen in her later years. That’s another reason to be careful on Facebook. Some people can read between the lines or see the smudges on the pictures of your meticulously marketed fakey Facebook life.

More than a few photos—unless they’re of your kids or you went on a humanitarian mission to Ghana and documented everything–seem (sometimes) like they could be too many photos. There’s something about Facebook that forces you to look at photos of people you don’t even know that well or like that much. If you’re my good friend, by all means, I want you to post photos. If I barely know you or haven’t spoken to you since I was 12, then I don’t really want to see your photos…but Facebook still puts them all out there. They are impossible to miss.

I even see photos or video of people I don’t know at all. Once, an acquaintance used Facebook to re-post some strangers’ wedding video footage, shot in front of an infinity pool (lots of those end up on FB) somewhere on the Mexican Riviera. He added the amusing caption, “Rot in hell, Henry and Dolores!”

I thought that was rather brilliant and it made me laugh for quite a while.

Henry and Dolores (but mostly Dolores) were so full of themselves. You had to see the whole video; it was over-the-top, with excruciating footage of Dolores getting a massage, getting a mani-pedi, posing in lingerie on the bed (awkward!). Actually, I don’t think I saw Henry at all except for when he put the ring on her finger and they smiled for a minute by the pool.

I doubt we will see any FB status updates if Henry and Dolores hit the skids. But truly, I wish them well. Dolores, you looked great, and you’ll love watching yourself on that video (over and over) after your body goes to pot when you hit middle age or have kids, whichever comes first. Some days are good to document, even if people you don’t even know end up watching your videos (which makes them Facebook porn, does it not?).

Facebook, for all the above reasons, has lost its luster for me. Still, I check it. Just briefly. Just barely. I am very conscious of not letting Facebook suck my time, though. It’s just not worth it.

After the initial thrill of finding an old friend or seeing what the old boyfriend looks like now, I see little point in Facebook if it isn’t being used honestly. Let’s use it to really be friends, how about that? Let’s not use Facebook to try and make other people feel bad or get paranoid that they aren’t as lucky or happy or rich as you.

If you show me the bad along with the good, I’ll be more likely to believe that your life is great, anyway. If you admit that your life isn’t perfect, then I will respect you and yes—even like and admire you—more. Even if I only ever think about you when I’m checking my Facebook.

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ELIZABETH COLLINS is a writer and writing/literature teacher, whose blog (http://prettyfreaky.blogspot.com) attracts an international following to its mix of memoir, personal and political essays, and quirky observations. Collins, a graduate of the University of Iowa's MFA program in English/Writing, won the Columbia University Nonfiction Prize in 2001, as well as other writing awards. Her essays and short stories have been published in a variety of literary magazines, including The Massachusetts Review, Natural Bridge and Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art. Collins currently writes YA novels--and her latest, also entitled Pretty Freaky, is about a foreign adoptee's quest to help her adopted American boyfriend find his birthmother. She is also at work on a memoir about teaching.

132 responses to “Adults Have Ruined Facebook with Juvenile Showing Off”

  1. Greg Olear says:

    Steph and I were just dumping on FB last night. It really has become insidious.

    Although I don’t see many Infiniti pools or people getting hitched. When people post things like “Isn’t my life grand,” my take is that they’re trying to spin it for their own benefit. They’re not happy, but maybe, by seeming happy on FB, they can be. Something like that.

    I’m just tired of the comments. I have enough friends now that chances are, if I update my status, someone will post a comment that irritates me. So I’ve more or less stopped. It’s good for sharing pictures of the kids (which I’m sure many people don’t want to see), and announcements; even the scoping-out-old-friends angle has been played out by now.

    I’m ready for the next big thing.

    • I know exactly what you mean by the annoying comments. I was getting flack for using a Wonder Woman picture on my page, so I finally put up a new one, and then I got about 10 comments about that, one of which was really weird and actually read (I think it was sarcastic, but I’m not 100% sure): “This is a terrible photo…”

      I tried Tumblr a bit yesterday, but still haven’t been quite convinced.

      Thanks for reading,

      EC

  2. Irene Zion says:

    Wow, Elizabeth,
    I had no idea FB was like this.
    I only go on if someone writes to me or if I’m going to post on TNB.
    Who has time to read all this intimate stuff about strangers?
    Who wants to?
    Yuck about Dolores!
    Sorry about your job.
    You’ll get a better one, I’m sure of it.

    • Facebook is only worth a glance, really, once you’ve gotten the basic “Oh, so that’s what she looks now; that’s what they’re doing…” info. I like it for its “virual reunion” aspect, but it’s also annoying.

      How are you doing, Irene? How can I get one of those cool light saber photos?

      Best,

      EC

      • Irene Zion says:

        @Richard Cox made the picture for me.
        He can do anything.
        It’s almost creepy.
        I think he has special powers.

        • Richard Cox says:

          I CAN do almost anything when it comes to pictures. In fact, most of the photos I used to make the light saber pics came from people’s Facebook profiles. Because it was a lot easier for me to figure out what worked than ask someone else to do it (yours was a special case, Irene).

          This is a fairly angry post about a web site that is just a bunch of algorithms and empty slots for content.

          Sounds like what Elizabeth is really ranting about is humanity. Which is where the blame more likely lies.

          Sartre and all that.

        • dwoz says:

          ALGORITHMS? you think facebook uses algorithms??????

          It’s a clusterfuck, to a developer. A rat’s nest, a bowl of spaghetti.

          a CLUSTERFUCK of epic proportions.

          Facebook is worse than ebay. I’ve seen some of the code. Horrible, like the dream where you’re in school with no pants.

        • dwoz says:

          EBAY, by the way, was coded by a guy who had no idea whatsoever what code even looks like.

          It was amazing that it worked at all.

        • Richard Cox says:

          They use algorithms to figure out what to show in the news feed, which friends to display on your page, which pictures they recommend to you, ads they choose to display, etc. Maybe their code sucks but the decisions being made about what content to display are the same sorts of decisions Google is having to make when someone executes a search. Except FB can be even more targeted because of all the personal information people share.

        • dwoz says:

          I guess what I mean, Richard, is that calling what facebook does “algorithms” is an insult to algorithms.

          I of course mean that in a semi-facetious way…by now, as a billion dollar company, they’ve surely moved past the byzantine and horrific drivel that was the early iteration of that codebase.

          But you never really know. Bad legacy code can survive a long time, especially if a high-ranking company officer is still championing it against all advice.

      • Gloria says:

        He made mine, too! And can I just say that, on dating websites, nothing shakes the nerds out better than this picture?

  3. Becky Palapala says:

    I suspect there is a fine line somewhere.

    Between something essentially harmless and banal–like posting photos of yourself with friends before a night on the town–and bonafide, infinity-pool braggadocio.

    I mean, I guess I just can’t understand being THAT annoyed at someone’s girls-night-out photos or giddy status update about a good dinner. Seems like a squandering of perfectly good contempt. But, you know. We all have our peeves. I can’t stand when people file their nails in public. It makes me want to strike them.

    Have you seen these sites?

    http://www.stfucouples.com/

    http://stfuparents.tumblr.com/

    • Hi Becky,

      I don’t get that annoyed at the occasional pre-party photo or giddy status update It’s the constant barrage of Look How Fabulous We Are! bragginess that is wearing thin. I think people need to be more conscious of coming across as…annoying or stupid. We’re all stupid at certain times, but perpetual bragging is just tiresome.

      I’m a little scared to check out those sites, but you know I will.

      Best,

      EC

  4. Thanks for recommending stfucouples.com, Becky. That is pretty much what I am talking about, though it would be highly amusing to witness a FB status update fight…though also disgusting. I did once see a marriage breakup (one mean post then two sad ones) on FB via nasty wall posts. That was crazy.

  5. Aurelie says:

    Great post! I don’t care much about Facebook – I like the newsfeed to check on my favorite newssites easily, but that’s about it. I joined because I was having a hard time staying in touch with some old friends, and I figured that one-sentence status updates were better than no info, although I realize we’re probably past the point of calling each other friends now if we mostly interact through Facebook.

    I don’t think Facebook has ever been about giving an accurate picture of oneself, especially given its origin in college dorms. College students want to seem cool and popular. They’ll post a lot of pictures of themselves at parties or in nice vacation resorts over Spring Break. That’s what a lot of people do at that age and I understand that, although I do find it silly. What I find mildly irritating, though, is that adults feel the need to have 500+ friends. Come on, we all know no one has 500+ real friends. I can understand the temptation for college students, but there comes a time where graduates should go through their Facebook list and de-friend the people they are, well, not friends with.

    • Exactly, Aurelie. The students just want to look cool and popular. I completely understand that. And yet–they can post glam shots of themselves without the show-offy status updates…something adults could learn.

      You are also onto something: I think it is starting to be semi-uncool for an older person to have *too* many friends. ..

      Thanks for reading!

      Best,

      EC

  6. M.J. Fievre says:

    Elizabeth, you’re so right when you say, “I do not think that Facebook should be used to gloat, brag, show off or try to make other people feel like losers compared to you.” I was thinking about the “FB bragging” the other day and I think that, yes, insecurities explain it all. Facebook has become that fantasy world… you get to be someone completely different, the YOU of your dream, so much more interesting that the real YOU. You can pick and choose what becomes part of your virtual life. Gained a few pounds? NOT in fantasy world. Got a date? Now THAT goes online. You get to post pictures that only show the best of you (not pimples, no wrinkles), plus there’s an audience! You can be reinvented and when you have a lousy real life, FB helps you make up for it. It’s like a never-ending high school reunion–“Let’s show them all how great my life is”.

    • You put it better than I did, I think. “Reinvent yourself on FB” so accurately explains the lure of this tool. I see the reunion aspect, too, but you put it really well when you explain how it never ends. Well, I guess it will end when we get tired of the bragging and sharing…but it is also nice, in a way, when FB is self-validating, when people “accept” you, comment on your ideas or life, etc.

      Thanks so much for reading.

      EC

  7. zoe zolbrod says:

    I give two cheers to anyone who wants to rain a little on the parade of “ain’t life always grand.” I do get sick of all the unreflexive good news, all the blog posts that end in epiphanies about gratitude and blessings and loving thyself and good things always coming to good people who dream big but stay humble. Hehe. It feels good just to type that. Yes, power to positive thinking and all that, but… can’t it be with a twist? Or an awareness that bounty is not spread equitably in this world.

    Anyway, despite the braggarts, I still love FB as a way to stay in quick, easy touch with old friends and new ones. I don’t have time to correspond with everyone actively or to keep up on contact info, but I like knowing I have an open line for when the time is right, and in between, I can see pictures of kids and pets and favorite bands.

    Thanks for posting this.

    • Thanks, Zoe. Do I sound like a meany when I complain about the too-happy posts? I don’t even care; I am tired of people posting tripe such as, “I loooove my husband!!” Fine, love him; I hope you love him, but beware that if you post such things, the cynics in the world (me, you?) will immediately think, “Hmmm. Something’s not right there,” or even that it’s just sort of selfish not to think about anyone else but yourself.

      The God-centered status updates are another story. I have nothing against God, but when it seems that all certain people do is post “Praise Jesus!” I get a little nervous. I am not sure why. Maybe they think they are racking up heaven points by doing that? Maybe I worry that I’m not? I don’t know. It’s just semi-inappropriate, in my opinion.

      Best,

      EC

  8. Wow, I don’t see anyone on my “home” page praising God. This makes me really happy to have the “friends” I have!

    I think FB has a lot of different uses for different people. For example, I have to admit that the idea of FB as somewhere to “hook up” is probably as creepy to me as the relentless brag parade is to you. Yet I know a lot of people use it that way and think nothing of it, especially the younger generation. Whereas I’m sort of creeped out to even get, like, a truly “personal” or intimate message over FB–I always think, If this person really knows me well enough to send such a personal letter, why not email or call me? Things on FB don’t seem private to me, remotely. I wouldn’t use the site to date, or to conduct my more intimate relationships.

    What I use it for, primarily, is professional networking. Because my “profession” is writer/fiction editor, my work isn’t as formal as, say, if I were the head of a bank. A lot of my colleagues are also casual (or sometimes even close) friends, with whom I can be friendly, share bits of news about upcoming literary events, reviews of mutual friends’ books, what I’m reading or excited about, what my authors at Other Voices Books are up to, and yes, some things about my personal life that I don’t mind “everybody” knowing, i.e. if I’m seeing a concert tonight, some plans for a forthcoming trip, or something goofy one of my kids said. Most of my updates, though, have to do with the lit world. And most of the news I share–about either my own work or the work of other writers I know, admire or respect, is good news, not bad (or non) news.

    This may mean some of it seems braggy. This is one of the weird aspects of FB, yes. It’s a great professional networking tool, but there is always something touchy about doing one’s own PR, even if to some extent this has become the norm in this Brave New (Online) World.

    I certainly don’t use FB to complain about negative aspects of my life. Those things are reserved for my real-life friends. I wouldn’t talk to 1300 colleagues about them. In other words, to me, as a professional networking tool, FB can be fun and entertaining, but the general rule of thumb is “keep it light.”

    Maybe this means that, from a certain perspective, only the “positive” side of my life is recorded on FB. I guess that is true. I don’t report on FB if I got a rejection letter (which I guess I see as being relevant only to me)–yet if a piece has been published online and my colleagues/friends could read it, I would share the link. I don’t report if I have a fight with my husband, but I might report if we’re going somewhere fun for the weekend. From my viewpoint, that’s because going to New York for the weekend is not an “intimate” detail, whereas having an argument–much less its content–is. It’s never occurred to me that this would make my life come off as phony or artificial or bragging, because I have always taken it as a given that FB is a place for reporting life’s highlights, for sharing resources and information–not a place that serves as a stand-in for the things we’d tell our close friends. I have always assumed that most others in my network were using FB in a similar way. It is Life Abridged, Life Edited, Life Lite, and that tends to mean the darker stuff is not shared.

    It’s true that some people do report, with more regularity than is of interest to me, on what they’re eating for dinner. But I feel okay about it, tolerant of it, because I hope people will be tolerant about my reporting things that are of concern to me and others who share my same interests, but that may not be perpetually riveting to them. I’ve never thought that someone obsessing about butternut squash was bragging, though. I assume that if I really cared about butternut squash, I could buy some and cook it and write about it too. But I don’t care, so I don’t do that.

    That all said: someone reporting all the time about how much they love their boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse? Yeah, obnoxious. No matter what purpose you’re using the site for. It’s just gonna make you look seriously stupid someday if you get a divorce.

  9. Oh, I think professional networking is an absolutely justifiable use of Facebook. Also, I would not assume someone posting, “Hey, read my new work here…” was bragging. No, that’s pretty normal. It has to be done, and it’s completely understandable. Maybe people who don’t write, who aren’t trying to get their work known, might find that a teensy bit weird, but it’s a hard thing to try to sell oneself. I completely understand!

    We can always ignore other people on FB as much as we can embrace them. I just feel sort of bad for people who are constantly posting, “OMG, my dinner tonight is sooooo delicious!!!” And I mean constantly posting stuff like that. If you just discovered something amazing that I could do myself, then yeah, I might like to know about that. That’s fine. If I don’t care, I will ignore it and I probably won’t even notice it, anyway.

    Things other people would never know about and don’t need to know about are things that don’t belong on FB, I think. “Need to know” is subjective…how about “might like to know?” If people might hear about it and you want to address it, then I know that’s unusual, but the PR flack in me can’t try to head off rumors. I just think that’s a bad idea, to let such things go unaddressed–that relates to me or Sarah Palin or whomever, for whatever.

    Divorce? Blech. “It’s just gonna make you look seriously stupid someday if you get a divorce…” well said. Agreed! Always, always try to anticipate any possible outcome…

  10. Matt Baldwin says:

    I started my Facebook account mostly because I was bored, and because I largely hated MySpace, and starting an FB account seemed like a good way to give MySpace the proverbial finger.

    For me, it’s really mostly just a handy tool to manage my fairly large number of long-distance and international friendships, which is almost exclusively what I use it for; with a handful of noteable exceptions, I unilaterally refuse to accept “friend” requests from people here in town. Those people can call me – or even just drop by – if they want something.

    Whenever I post a status update, I usually try to make it something self-deprecating, funny, or just plain odd; something to justify the reader’s time. Otherwise I just like to drop links to things I think people might find interesting, or to promote my work or that of others. But I don’t check it anywhere near as often as I used to; there’s just too many other things to do with my day.

    Now, Twitter, on the other hand? Love it. Thought I’d get bored after a month, but I’m unrepenantly hooked.

    Oh, and it’s ridiculous how good The Social Network is. It’s not so much a “Facebook movie” as it is a character study of a certain personality type. I’ll be very surprised if it doesn’t get several Oscar nominations. I may very well go see it again.

    • Well said, Matt: all posters need to justify taking 30 seconds of my life. Make it worth my while. I will try to do the same.

      I love Twitter, too (sometimes). I got really annoyed the other week at some person on Twitter. It was a minor Twitter fight (I will tell you directly, if you want to know about it).

      You may have convinced me to see the FB movie. I am not that hard-hearted; I appreciate films of any sort, and actually ordered “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” last night. Very good film. My husband thought it was “so depressing,” but the film was better than the book (or about the same, maybe).

      Thanks for reading.

      Best,

      EC

  11. Don Mitchell says:

    This made me go to my FB page (which I almost never look at) and thus I learned about the Duke Rent Party and Reading. Otherwise I’d never have known.

    • Jude says:

      FB does have its good points – especially when artists who are not supported by their government are struggling to pay rent. As Don points out, the Duke Rent Party and Reading needs support… Head on over and make a contribution.
      (Sorry Elizabeth to hijack your page…)

      Meantime here’s something very amusing and most definitely relating to your post.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SgkfghupFE

      • I want to be invited to the Duke Rent Party and Reading (even if I can’t be there). Zara (relative, I assume? Sorry I don’t know for sure) can find me on FB.

        Best,

        EC

        • Jude says:

          With the time difference in NZ, I guess the Rent Party may have come and gone, or could still be happening right now, but like you I can’t make it over there – time and distance poses a problem. So there is a way everyone can contribute…
          http://drhaney.chipin.com/rent-party-help

          I was talking to Zara (I’m her mama) about this yesterday, and one thing that the last Labour Govt. (in New Zealand) did while they were in power, was introduce a welfare payment for those working in the arts. It wasn’t much, but was enough to keep the wolves from the door. Although I wasn’t a great admirer of that government, I thought what they did in terms of appreciating and valuing artists in New Zealand was excellent, and I was happy to contribute my tax dollars to the scheme. Since the US doesn’t seem to have such a scheme, I guess it’s up to us to keep the arts alive – and that goes for keeping the artists alive too!

          Your piece was timely – thanks Elizabeth.

        • Don Mitchell says:

          It’s our Zara!

          As in Zara Potts.

        • Jude says:

          I’m being outed…

    • That is a very good use of FB. I didn’t see this, but I haven’t checked FB in a few days, and maybe I wasn’t invited? I will gladly contribute, despite living thousands of miles away.

      Thanks for letting me know,

      EC

  12. J.E. Fishman says:

    Well, there I was, sitting by my infinity pool at my villa in Mustique, minding my own business with my stunningly beautiful wife and eating fois gras prepared by the chef from our yacht and thinking, maybe I should get a picture of this and put it up on Facebook…and now I’m too self-conscious and you’ve ruined the moment. Thanks a lot, Liz!

    But, seriously, I’ve noticed that Facebook postings are way down the past couple of months. I think the bloom is off the rose. Zuckerberg had better cash out while he can.

  13. It’s all about the balance. Great article, Elizabeth! I shared it on Facebook. Yes, I did. I have a few friends who should probably read it, though now that I think about it…they probably won’t. Ah well, I enjoyed it anyway.

    • Hi Valerie, thanks for reading.

      I am pleased that you shared the essay on FB. Do you know what I did NOT do? I did not post on FB that I have this essay here. I often don’t do that, partly because I don’t want some people to read my TNB posts, and also because I didn’t think this particular piece would go over well with the friends crowd.

      I fudged details, and NO, I don’t actually know anyone who posts about their sex life (well, maybe there is one person)–it’s called creative license–but still, I know there could be a paranoid reaction.

      It’s not about dishing on any people, it’s about discussing an odd phenomemon and trying to make sense of it.

      You are right, though, that if you are already on FB at the moment, the chances of wanting to read about your own, possible misbehavior are low.

      Best,

      EC

      • John Raven says:

        Elizabeth

        You forgot to mention that you delete any comments that you disagree with.

        • Ah, “John Raven” or [email protected] (does the “fishmalty” part hint at you being Australian?)

          I am really sick of sociopathic freaks who seem to get off on being insulting to people they don’t even know, especially via the cowardly, cyberbullying tactic of sending anonymous messages. See that? I just insulted you at least four times in one sentence.

          Everyone deletes comments they disagree with. Try coming up with a profound new idea.

          Best,

          EC

  14. Simon Smithson says:

    I may be naive here – I was stunned to learn that people photoshop Facebook photos, and even more stunned when people said ‘Oh, but everyone does it!’

    Not I. If I hate a photo, I just untag myself.

    I also never really got upset by anyone’s status updates of how good their life was. It never occurred to me to feel that way. It’s not as if we’re competing for resources, or anything. If Facebook gets annoying, then pull back. We all need to, sometimes, whether that’s something that occurs organically or by design.

    Do you really think people are gloating? Or are they celebrating their successes and enjoyments? Probably both, although I’d prefer to think it was more of the latter.

    • Most people probably aren’t gloating, but there are a few Sickening Sallys out there in anyone’s FB friends list. What I am talking about is the pattern of bragging…and I actually saw one woman self-censor (after a while) and post that she was sorry and she was going to stop with the “Facebook bragging.” I guess another friend told her that it starts to look bad.

      I don’t really compare myself to others; I just don’t. I have always been non-competitive. I can’t get into that. I have also always been conscious of humility, and it would be great if more people were also conscious of it, perhaps, but hey, whatever. You are right: pull back.

      Best,
      EC

      • Jewel says:

        She doesn’t mean posting about happy moments.

        She means CONSTANTLY posting about happy moments.

        For some of us, it bothers us seeing updates from people every single day about their personal lives and just how wonderful their lives are. After a bit, it grates on you.

  15. Brin says:

    I think it’s really human nature that irks you more than anything Zuckerberg inflicted. He just recognized so astutely how we work. Facebook’s innovations over other websites were shrewd: exclusivity (Harvard addresses only initially), not allowing knowing whose looking at your profile (stalkers paradise), the undercurrent bait and switch of it being “social networking” ostensibly while completely being about hooking up with people you don’t really know.

    I’ve often thought online dating works far better for women than men (men get to LOOK, which is a massive payoff). For starters there’s an element to the social networking that’s like a diary that writes back, far more so with blogging. Then, essentially, a woman has an opportunity to form an ideal template based on all the suitors who contact her. Plus, if she finds herself attracted to a guy, she has the whole romance novel set up built in: longing and anticipation (he lives somewhere else), violating prohibition (We met online? Isn’t that supposed to be creepy? Maybe he isn’t who he says he is! Lucky for us this isn’t an *explicit* dating website… he liked my reading list and that’s why he got in touch), overcoming obstacles (distance, peer pressure, guilt, shame, insecurity), overcoming ambivalence (I can’t NOT meet him!)…

    As for the bragging element, I do think your beef is with humanity more than anything specifically Facebook. Facebook’s currency just allows people to be more of who they want to be without the outside restrictions. “How are you doing?” might be the most asked question in America, I double dare you to answer it honestly.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Couldn’t agree more, Brin. This is usually the argument I make in these kinds of discussions. Facebook doesn’t create or generate or cause any of this behavior, it just makes it publicly (perhaps uncomfortably) obvious and generally impossible to ignore, even to the most minor, petty detail (like, what the humanist implications might be of a person bragging about their vacation).

      So then the argument against facebook sort of becomes, “Well, humans should go back to hiding their ugliness/awkwardness/desperation better! I liked it better when I didn’t know!”

      Which, as you mention, is sort of the problem of the person looking on. Not of the people who are simply being people in no exceptional way other than that they’re doing so on facebook.

      • Brin says:

        Extreme example: Abu Ghraib. The only people thus far who have been charged or prosecuted have been people who either *took* or were *in* photographs. NOT anyone who authorized or ordered what was being *done* in photographs.

        Errol Morris made this point in “Standard Operating Procedure”: essentially photography itself was scapegoated, not any crimes. Which is to say, Facebook gets scapegoated for what it exposes has been going on all along with all of us.

  16. Humanity on Facebook makes itself look bad, in some cases (and thanks for reading, Brin.)

    By trying to look too perfect, I think we make ourselves look worse (the protesting too much, the Shakespeare element).

    FB certainly seems less awkward than online dating, perhaps–though I have never done that. It’s still weird, though. One time, the friend of a very distant friend started IMing me on FB, and was steering the convo (which I didn’t even want to have, actually) to really explicit, bizarre pervy talk, which was so shocking I was laughing…and then I told him I had to go. So there’s a seedy side, too–and this guy did not know me, and I only accepted his friending, after asking him why he wanted to be FB friends and he answered, “You can’t have too many friends,” and I thought, hmmm, ok. Why not? Still, while I admire in a tiny way his nerve, I am not about to go there with a stranger on FB.

    People seem okay these days with having a FB-initiated romance or relationship or marriage (I have seen this happen; people kept saying how “cute” it was), but except for the marriage-minded online dating sites that are advertised on TV, I don’t think people openly admit to that.

  17. Brin says:

    Where’s the fun if you’re explicit? Where’s the mystery etc? Where’s the decoding and sexual tension? REPORT REPORT REPORT reminds Facebook. Unless you like it… in which case REPORT REPORT REPORT but do it with your friends and post photos and like the shit out of everything so market research can study what’s what.

    All this stuff gets so slippery on account of it not mattering whatsoever *what* you do, only *who* you do it with. The same material that would get you slapped with a restraining order could be the sweetest account ever told by a girl to her friends about the risks her true love went to prove his devotion. What’s the difference in the content? Possibly nothing.

    My guess is people don’t want to openly admit to much that they don’t have to. Touched up photos are the last of our worries. It carries on down the line far more severely. The closer it hits to home, you can bet the more people wanna hide it, mostly from themselves.

    What you were saying in the piece about what *you* open up with on Facebook says (and advertises) what you stand for (or want to be seen as standing for) as much as what anybody else puts out there. Tribal mode takes over and people who agree with you or want to be seen as agreeing with you can feel better. Those who have other aims with Facebook might feel judged or judge you.

    I keep only my work on my page. Total policy decision. Accurate depiction of what I use Facebook for? Absolutely not. I’m very much hooked on how people advertise themselves and commodify their lives and I like to work backward from it. Whatever people hide is always infinitely more truthful than what they usually try to reveal.

  18. angela says:

    i really enjoyed this, elizabeth. i also can’t stand the one-up-manship that goes on. like if someone says, “i’m not looking forward to. . .” that’s fine. complain away! but then someone comes in and says, “you think you have it bad? i have to blah blah blah.” one of my friends has a friend who ALWAYS does that. i don’t even know the woman and i want to smack her.

    for me, FB is mostly about publicizing my writing, keeping in touch with friends who are far away, and the occasional bitching and whining. i like Twitter for basically talking to myself online. there seems to be less invested with Twitter. i just get the person’s thought (or tweet or whatever) rather than getting bombarded with pictures and notes and (apparently) infinity pool videos (yikes).

  19. Angela, wow–I think that’s a whole new side to FB. One-upping “look how busy my life is” stories. Yeesh. We all have them, but personally, I think they’re too boring for FB, unless they are also somehow funny.

    Here’s something that happened to me today that I could have posted, but did not post, on Facebook: I took my kids and one of their friends to an orchard/fall carnival/zoo place that was literally the most crowded, insane place on Earth, I am sure. At one point, I was having a quasi-mystical moment just watching this beautiful calf, and then I realized I couldn’t find one of my daughters. I was sure she had been abducted; I almost lost my damn mind and thought I was going to have a panic attack. Then I found her petting a baby pig. That was such a relief, and yet I am still shaken. So, it’s a mix of good and bad, but altogether too complicated for FB. And it’s definitely too long to tweet. Also, it would just invite a whole slew of anecdotes from people about almost losing their kids..or maybe they’d just think I was sort of crazy.

    Thanks for reading–I had actual hate notes here this morning re: this piece. Not joking. Weird day.

    Best,

    EC

  20. Laura says:

    Excellent article. I ran across it when I googled “I don’t care what you had for dinner and I don’t want to see it in a photograph.” I was hopeful such a site existed so I could post it. Reading your words reassured me that no, it’s not me, so many friends just post in order to show the world how amazing their lives are, what recent purchases they have made (including trips), and of course, what they are eating. Whoooooo cares? I am about to delete most of the 200+ friends I have and keep 10-15 who actually include interesting and honest content which adds value to my life. Thank you, thank you.

    Laura

  21. Thanks for reading, Laura. I think you are hitting on the new trend toward FB simplification: whittling down the friends list to include the best and truest friends.

    EC

  22. Alma says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your article Elizabeth. I often wondered often how real these comments are and how much of them are made up. So many of the points you highlighted are exactly what my sentiments are. I have a “friend” who makes it a point to post each and every picture of where she went that day or what she ate. It is beyond annoying because no one really cares. Plus the new feature that pops up pictures from albums of friends from the past is also another way to get you to click on those pictures. It’s funny but you can’t help to. I also don’t mind it when people occasionally post good news or something insightful about their daily lives, but to be constantly barraged with comments such as “ooooh I just got a new apple iphone4, sweet!” or “shopping time for me!”…it’s that kind of annoying chatter that really makes me question why I am in this network. I also try to be inclusive of everyone and try to reply to everyone’s comments, not only to the ones that have responded to me but to those that I have commented on. I notice that some people blatantly ignore me, even if I am saying something positive. Others I comment on, never comment on what I have to say, let alone acknowledge me, and these are so-called close family members! I also think that it breeds jealousy and resentment. I have also had the encounter of family members posting pictures of their kids’ birthday parties and feel left out because I wasn’t invited. Again, these are members of my immediate family (i.e. first cousins). I just can’t stand the level of gloat that goes on in this forum. I am going to try to make a conscious effort to frequent it less often because I also feel like others try to rub it in your face how “great their life is”. Really if we knew the entire truth we would really know how insecure and how sad some of these people are.

  23. Hi Alma. Thanks for reading! Loved your note–all of it is fast becoming the universal experience re: Facebook, I think. And people who take photos of every single meal they eat? They are weird people. I read once that a woman who has a blog where she does that is extremely popular (blog-wise). I think a lot of people like to obsess about food and compare their intake to others. I also once saw a blog where a woman photographed her kid’s lunchbox contents…also strangely popular, but UGH. I am sure she also posted to FB that “Son’s lunchbox is on my blog.”

    I like that you try to be nice to others on FB. So do I (or so did I; I am not on FB that much anymore).

    Best,

    EC

  24. […] ELIZABETH COLLINS is over Facebook. […]

  25. Priyanka says:

    Well said! I just couldn’t agree with you more! First of all, the concept of being a “friend” on Facebook has completely lost its meaning. Most people add you as a friend only to see your photos and track your activities. And then there are those who add you only to increase the number of friends on their profile page. Its just crazy out there…I mean I have seen people having 1000 – 1500 friends on Facebook!! I mean really? Does he/she really have that many friends and well wishers? Must be very lucky in that case.

    And yes, about people trying to show off their perfect lives – I think its more of a sham or because it is imperfect that they are trying so hard to make it look perfect. I have some people in my profile who are just gloating over the fact that they baked a three tier cake or that they are shopping for their unborn kids from Paris or that their in-laws are the most perfect people in the world etc etc.. I mean its just so irritating to even see their faces on FB. Unfortunately sometimes you just cannot delete some people because they are your family members and it just looks rude. However I have deleted so many people ever since I joined FB who have bugged me to the core with their ridiculous status updates and photos and showing off stunts!

    I feel what you feel and it just felt nice to read this article because you spoke the truth :).

    Take care…

  26. Priyanka says:

    Well said! I just couldn’t agree with you more! First of all, the concept of being a “friend” on Facebook has completely lost its meaning. Most people add you as a friend only to see your photos and track your activities. And then there are those who add you only to increase the number of friends on their profile page. Its just crazy out there…I mean I have seen people having 1000 – 1500 friends on Facebook!! I mean really? Does he/she really have that many friends and well wishers? Must be very lucky in that case.

    And yes, about people trying to show off their perfect lives – I think its more of a sham or because it is imperfect that they are trying so hard to make it look perfect. I have some people in my profile who are just gloating over the fact that they baked a three tier cake or that they are shopping for their unborn kids from Paris or that their in-laws are the most perfect people in the world etc etc.. I mean its just so irritating to even see their faces on FB. Unfortunately sometimes you just cannot delete some people because they are your family members and it just looks rude. However I have deleted so many people ever since I joined FB who have bugged me to the core with their ridiculous status updates and photos and showing off stunts!

    I feel what you feel and it just felt nice to read this article because you spoke the truth :).

    Take care…

  27. Elizabeth Collins says:

    Thanks for the read. I personally feel guilty deleting anyone from FB, but if I can’t stand their blather, I hide their posts…I have a friend whose political ideas bug me to no end, but I am not going to fight about politics on FB, so I just don’t look at it. Which is denial/avoidance, maybe, but I hate to throw away an otherwise decent relationship just because he thinks Ron Paul is some great guy and I think Ron Paul is kind of crazy.

    • dwoz says:

      that’s not the worst, though.

      Back when I was on facebook, I friended a woman in NYC. I had posted something on Linkedin in a group discussion, and she sent me a private message that she enjoyed it. I noted that she seemed interesting…a young, black actress with a growing professional portfolio, who seemed to have some connections in the NYC media scene…someone that I could benefit from as a contact, perhaps. I friended her.

      Thus, every day, every SINGLE day, or perhaps twice or even three times a day, I started to get wall posts from her.

      the BEST kind of wall posts…

      …the impeccably generic, god-based, inspirational phrases.

      FROM TANDA: “To exceed beyond your wildest expectations you must begin with wild expectations.God Bless!”

      FROM TANDA: “Thankful to God.”

      FROM TANDA: “Loving yourself is a MUST.”

      FROM TANDA: “There are No coincidences and there are No accidents! ”

      And, of course, there would follow a bunch of enthusiastic affirmations of her deep thought, from her boyToy followers. (she’s a very pretty girl)

      I was faced with a choice. Figure out how to un-friend someone, or find a rusty razor blade and google the best artery to bleed out from.

  28. Elizabeth Collins says:

    Yeah, @dwoz. What is up with people who just use FB or Twitter to spread hackneyed inspirational quotations? I am noticing right now that one of my FB friends who does this even recycles the inspirational quotes. I remember everything I read (which can be a curse), and I felt like commenting, “You posted that on Dec 12, only six months ago). But I didn’t.

    Did you delete Tanda, or did you Hide her? HIding is easier said than done…I was looking to hide someone’s status updates today, and I couldn’t even see how to do it anymore.

    One thing that I do not like about the new FB is the way I only see stuff from the same 20 people now. I used to see everyone, but I know I only see a small clique. Maybe in a way that’s better, but it sort of makes the racking-up-of-friends a new non-issue.

    Best,

    Liz

    • dwoz says:

      I solved it by figuring out how to delete my facebook account. Very difficult to do. Took me about 4 hours. You have to delete each individual post, picture, everything, one-by-one.

      • Gloria says:

        That isn’t how I deleted mine. Weird. Maybe things have changed in the last year? It was one year ago tomorrow that I executed my Facebook account and I’ve never, ever looked back. I actually feel liberated.

        “‘I don’t have a Facebook account’ is the new ‘I don’t even own a TV.'” ~Rainn Wilson (on Twitter)

        • dwoz says:

          the FIRST and SECOND TIME I deleted my facebook account, I didn’t. I just did the “deactivate” thing, which was buried about 8 layers deep.

          but then, about a week later, my daughter used my computer to go to facebook, and my login credentials came up in the browser when she opened the main facebook page. she clicked the “go” button without thinking, and by that alone, completely reopened my account.

          This happened twice, then I went deep and found out how to delete every scrap of it.

          Even now, it will still reactivate my account if I just open the facebook main page. But it will be empty.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          It’s almost impossible to totally delete a facebook account. You have to deactivate it and then leave it for three months.

          But…

          It re-activates not just when you visit facebook, but any website which is linked to facebook. Which is pretty much every single website in the world.

          The last week or so I’ve been strongly considering abandoning it. The thing is a lot of the projects I’m involved with are organized through facebook events/groups.

      • Elizabeth Collins says:

        It used to look relatively simple, but life would just be too easy if we could just press “delete” for FB, now wouldn’t it? Actually, the more info I get on just how hard it is to get rid of FB, the more freaked out I am…my inability to hide annoying posts the other day should have clued me in that things have taken an ominous turn.

        Best,

        Liz

        • James D. Irwin says:

          this post, and some of the comments finally made me decide to deativate my account. It’s actually quite a lot of effort, but weirdly liberating at the same time.

  29. […] Facebook and consequently became a better person. However that’s a subject that’s been pretty well covered recently, and far more intelligently than I could hope to […]

  30. Erik says:

    I arrived to this site because I opened my facebook when I woke up (I am addicted to one of the strategy games on there) and had a quick read through updates and again… I thought how much some status piss me off, so typed it in google and this site came up.

    So what do I read:

    1) About what an amazing weekend she was having (someone who I know must be a mess inside her head because how dramatic her life is and how much she keeps changing, including her sexuality)

    2) Someone moaning about her b/f again for the same thing, same threat, same everything..

    3) Just bought x

    4) (by various) going to x with x cannot wait!!!!

    I completely agree with your post, to me is all about a status race, who is the coolest, who goes out more often, who has the most friends…

    Recently I did a facebook clean up, every friend who’s status often annoyed me or “friends” I have messaged 1 or more times and have not replied I deleted… well, it was over 50% of my friends I got rid off, around 150 in total.

    One of my best friends is really bad on Facebook, I have told her how I feel about people that update as often as her… she still does it though, in fact her and her cousin are two of the worse.

    When you are supposed to be having an amazing night out in a club… how can you have time to update your facebook several times? and ironically just saying how amazing the night is.. to me that says: “I am actually bored and distracted, cannot get into this but I thought you people at home doing nothing should see that I have a better life as I am not at home like you”

    Since Facebook came out I think I have updated my status 4 times, 2 to thank people for Bday messages, 1 to warn people in my town about the worse traffic jam I had ever seen, 1 to warn people of a facebook scam that was spreading in my network of friends.

    I wont delete my facebook account as I use it to keep in touch with friends who had moved away but that and the game I play is the only reason I use it… basically is the modern “email”.

  31. Elizabeth Collins says:

    Hi, Erik.

    Thanks for reading. I am glad the piece struck a chord with you. Some people think it’s “complain-y,” but the fact is that a barrage of status updates are tiresome and–sad to say it–nauseating. It’s one thing if the updates are funny, but if they are just for showing off (my daughter is now complaining to me about braggy updates she is seeing, too!), then that’s a waste of everyone’s time. Such braggy posts make people feel the converse of the envy or admiration that the updater is probably hoping to engender.

    Best,

    Elizabeth

  32. katie says:

    I am really tempted to delete my account because like you, I can’t stand the blatant show-off from some of the people on FB. When I look at the number of responses their posts are getting – like 10 out of 500 friends, I was like, why did you care to broadcast your intimate information to an audience when 90% of them don’t even care?
    I never update my statuses or post any photos now, I don’t want to make myself too exposed. and Suckerberg will forever have a right to the info you post on that site. creepy.
    FB was fine and harmless at the beginning – with a user-friendly layout, and used largely for what it’s meant for – connecting old friends from the past. Not like now, it’s now degenerated into a voyeuristic platform where people post trivial details about their life, and it’s getting worse and worse. surely technology should get us ahead instead of going backward? We’re much, much worse human beings for using facebook.

  33. fan page design…

    […]Elizabeth Collins | Adults Have Ruined Facebook with Juvenile Showing Off | The Nervous Breakdown[…]…

  34. b0b0b0 says:

    I generally agree with the points you are making in this article, but I think it is really inaccurate to heap your criticisms squarely on “older” ppl and single them out as the reason FB is little more than a vanity parade. As others have pointed out, the origin of FB is college students and now with its widespread use, you can see plenty of younger ppl bragging and posting pics of their “glamorous” lives to make us all so “jealous.” I agree with others that what you are complaining about here is humanity more than Facebook. Facebook is just an online venue that makes this type of vanity and overcompensation glaringly obvious. And, I would also caution the other about being so judgmental… often times, the things that bother us the most about other people are, in fact, the very things that bother us about ourselves. The author mentions that she hardly posts now and when she used to, it tended to be self-deprecating. What I wonder is if her disgust is really objective or, if at some point, she “matured” to a point where she saw this kind of fake glam for what it is (perhaps without realizing that she was guilty of the same behavior at certain points, as well). I really like this article and the points made in it, I just wanted to raise the point that many of us who push back against facebook do so because we see behaviors on it that sometimes hit closer to home than we’d like to admit.

  35. b0b0b0 says:

    “…I would also caution the *other*” should read *author xD

  36. Elizabeth Collins says:

    Oh, I completely accept the axiom that what one hates in others one really hates in oneself. It’s a difficult concept to fully understand (and I am not sure that I do), but I get it. I honestly don’t think I have ever used FB to show off. I am just not that person. Some people might “show off” now through their kids…I don’t even do that. I understand that FB is still useful in some ways, but I am at the point where I wonder if it has done more harm than good. Think about *how many people* have been fired because of FB…think about how many people have experienced cyber bullying. I feel like writing a letter to Mark Zukerberg: “Did you really intend to ruin people’s lives with Facebook?” Then again, seeing as he started it basically to get back at some girl, perhaps he DID intend that…

    • b0b0b0 says:

      You don’t strike me as one who shows off, I just wanted to put the thought out there because I personally know a lot of ppl who complain about these types of behaviors on facebook, and lo and behold, they are some of the worst offenders. Plus, I just enjoy playing devil’s advocate from time to time. Still, I think you really hit on something with this article. Even a year later, it is still relevant and feels great to read after some of the status updates from “friends” I’ve been seeing lately. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts in your blog. Thanks for writing what so many of us are thinking/feeling.

    • Eddie says:

      You say you never show off but why tell ‘your friends’ or who ever can see your account about things like you lost your job. Isn’t that just looking for sympathy, waiting for someone to say aww don’t worry everything will be alight. Do you really need those people who really don’t care what happens to you only themselves pretending they feel sorry for you.

    • Eddie says:

      You say you never show off but why tell ‘your friends’ or who ever can see your account about things like you lost your job. Isn’t that just looking for sympathy, waiting for someone to say aww don’t worry everything will be alight.

      Do you really need those people who really don’t care what happens to you only themselves pretending they feel sorry for you.

      • Well, my FB account is not all public, but the reason I put that job loss info out there is because I used to be a reporter, and I know that when people try to hide things, it just looks worse. I knew the story was all over the interwebs (it went international), and I felt it was better to address it. Did I get sympathy? No; no one really said anything, as far as I recall, but I did get a lot of notes from people who said they’d seen a story about me/the issue. At least I was able to say, “That wasn’t the whole story,” and direct anyone who cared to read more to other stories. I knew that many people were checking my FB at that point, just to see if there was any more info. I was also hoping that the networking aspect of FB (which may be overplayed; I haven’t seen any benefit from either FB or LinkedIn, really) might prove useful. In general, I think it is better to be transparent when it comes to problems. I don’t regret saying anything about this on FB. Many of the writers I know use FB primarily as a networking/publicity tool. Having said that, I just racked up 300 writer “friends” I don’t know; I am trying to use FB to help market my books.

        • Eddie says:

          that a fair comment. However I really dont think facebook is doing society an favours and its getting worse, there are other ways to communicate and give out information. Facebook is becoming the main marketing tool these days due to it popularity which is good I suppose if you are trying to promote something but what other damage is it doing, it is becoming a web within a web.

          • I agree. I see many, many problems with Facebook. I have long wanted to write an open letter (although I am sure someone already has–don’t know who, though) to Mark Zuckerberg asking him if he feels good about himself, given how many kids have committed suicide because of bullying on their FB wall…or how many teachers have lost their jobs because they were tagged in a photo, holding a plastic party cup or a beer. Think about how many lives have been hurt because of FB. Then again, I suppose the “fun” of FB negates the occasional, but severe, pain it has inflicted. As someone once wrote in response to an article about me, perhaps 20 years from now when everyone has written something on FB or posted slightly scandalous (to prudish minds), this nonsense (persecution because of FB, firings because of FB, etc) will stop. To be clear, though, I did not lose my job because of FB. I was attacked for having a blog–just in case it is getting confusing.

  37. Elizabeth Collins says:

    Thanks for your notes. Can’t believe it’s been a year…anyway, with more and more people on FB, I think the show-off status updates are feeling more annoying than ever. I was seeing tons of them, and then I started seeing people apologizing for “Facebook bragging,” so maybe now when people see the annoying behavior reflected and repeated, they will think twice about their own online presence and whether it’s for good (and fun), or for something else entirely. Best, Elizabeth

  38. bekha says:

    Facebook is used by many just to show off

  39. bekha says:

    i am asian and many of my asian friends use this as a tool to show other people what wonderful life they got and how great they are. they even put pictures of their new purchases usually designer clothes or accessories on facebook. they take tonnes of photos in new clothes on a daily basis…post stuff like ‘my wonderful boyfriend got me a new car yay’. it got so bad i had to hide some of their posts. these people were sickingly materialistic and really would sell their sould for a designer handbag. they also think that lots of people are jealous of them and really get off on this. They are jus middle class girls who trying to live the life of paris hilton and think that this is really cool. Reality tv shows like keeping up with kardashians and the hills hav got their heads and they think they are like them…they also look down on other people. My white friends on comparison are a lot down to earth about it..

  40. Elizabeth Collins says:

    That’s interesting, @bekha. I work with many Chinese students who (obviously) are under great pressure to be “successful”–and this success only seems definable by salary. I’ve also been reading about average monthly clothing budgets (for women, and what women spend on their kids) in Japan. The sums were staggering. There must be something that can be said about needing to prove success in some cultures. We certainly have the “keeping up with the Joneses” effect here in the USA, but unless–as you aptly point out–people have been brain-contaminated by celebrity comparisons, it’s not that bad.

    • bekha says:

      hey elizabeth its nice to knw u have observed something similar and im not just over analysing stuff. im asian of indian origin but i knw japanese and chinese probably suffer from this too. The UK is slowly becoming like the usa in terms of keeping up with the joneses. In the UK i think asian people behave like this cus they come from a poor background and have never had much money untill now and so they just cant wait to show off with it all..its really sad. however not all asian people are like this and certainly there are few white people who are just as bad….the thing is i dont want to directly have a go at people like this cus they will only think i am jealous of them..and im not cus i have everything they have. their behaviour particularly annoys me cus im a socialist and i really cant stand seeing people showing off when times are very hard in the uk with recession and stuff. i have some friends who are struggling to pay the bills and to them going out for a meal is a rare treat..they really dont need people bragging about their cars, handbags and fine dinning..i think this type of behaviour would really put a damper on someones day.

  41. Eddie says:

    I totally agree facebook in general is just people showing off. And the other thing is why would anyone want to reconnect with people they have absolutely nothing in common with any more ?

    It really is for people who have something lacking. I know a lot of men use it to look for available women and I’m sure some women like the attention also but just come clean and stick with the dating sites.

  42. Arun Jacob says:

    My wife and I were sitting around like everyday in front of the TV post dinner when she asked me,”Why do people show off on FB so much?” Since I was online anyway I Googled “why do people show off on facebook” and came across your blog. I agree with it totally and it is actually sort of fun to see what silliness people are up to on FB. Good blog Elizabeth. I am Indian by the way living in India. My observation is mostly about Indians in India and living overseas and here is one – the Indians living abroad seem to show off a little bit more. But just slightly.

  43. Tony says:

    I like your insights about how pretentious people can be on Facebook. I have always marvelled at the existence of “friends” who seem to exist like vacuums of Likes, who are incapable of reciprocating the gestures (as if they were there to pose to the world and shout out, “Look at me!”). I do, however, wonder at what point does it become an exercise of showing-off or an innocent way of compiling personal memories (generously shared), especially when these people have classified their “friends” as those eligible to take a peek at their private lives. Are they somehow afraid that they have to keep-up with their reputations, their social value? What kind of monsters are they afraid of among their so called “friends”? If this isn’t a microcosm of what the Cold War was, then I don’t know what is. More so is this ironic, that I’m alluding to the Cold War in a paragraph about friendship through a social networking website called Facebook. The tragedy here of course is the paranoia suffered by both the observer and the observed. I mean no offense to you because I’d like to think that we are on the same boat on this issue, but when you said that the possible reason that people on FB seem to be showing-off is because they are insecure, it occurred to me that “insecurity” can go both ways. We can interpret the underlying meaning and agendum behind peoples’ posts, but as observers we are also exposed to this “insecurity” when we overthink their intentions. I believe we are susceptible to reacting and viewing things as acts of insecurity if we allow ourselves to play into the hand of the “insecurity game”. Juxtaposing our lives with others’ is already a nod to joining the “social status race” game that users of Facebook, I think, most often misconstrue it to be. It should already be a premise for any user that the cards in life aren’t dealt fairly, nor based on our personal preferences and wishes. Damn it, I wish I was a billionaire! Any ill will toward the success of others or this schadenfreude phenomenon might be unavoidable, but we can arm ourselves with the understanding and insight that allows us to see things maturely. Too often have I been exposed to office gossip, back-talk, back-$#it talk, and backstabbing and because I am not one to snitch on people, I have simply opted to shut the negativity out. This comes at a price though, because you are more likely to isolate yourself and portray yourself as the snob. This basically translates to the Facebook experience and I for one advocate to staying true to what being a friend is and how a friend would actually interact in real life (and no random stranger friend requests please). I personally weed out my friends list once in a while to check on acquaintances and “friends” who were in fact added for etiquette’s sake, but aren’t really the friends “worth keeping”. It’s a healthy catharsis actually.

  44. Tony says:

    Also, I really appreciate friends who post fun, entertaining stuff, and the occasional points to ponder on. These are after all what I’d imagine a time spent in personal interaction would be, goofing off, sharing laughs, and ideas. What the hell is up with all the showmanship anyway?!

  45. Thanks for your thoughtful response, Tony. You raise some interesting points. Ironically, I recently acquired hundreds of new FB friends, people I don’t know at all, never even heard of. I am trying to conduct a FB experiment of sorts, by friend requesting anyone the FB algorithms have selected for me. Most of the “friends” have accepted me, strangely enough. I think the difference here is that we are all writers, apparently, and we are all using FB for networking. Having said all that, however, these new friends–some of them, anyway–have been incredibly insightful and funny in their status updates. It’s mostly political stuff that I find myself in agreement with. It’s worked out pretty well. The people I actually know from childhood/school I never see on FB at all. I don’t even remember them anymore because FB gives us this tiny circle now…I hate that part. I also hate Timeline, but that’s a complaint for another day.

    Best,

    Elizabeth

    • Tony says:

      That’s pretty bold of you to do so, especially when most sites and even the users advise not to do the wholesale adding of friends in FB for privacy and security’s sake. In any case, as long as you’re having fun with the experience (or for anyone else). I don’t think the site was meant to make anyone miserable at all, but if that’s the only vibe and emotion a person experiences from it, then it’s a definite no-no to even try to weather the emotional storm. Cheers!

  46. Dole says:

    I had a good laugh readin this, doing the “yea man” nod as i glance thru each line. I used to be rather suckered into FB.. but as the days and years goes by, it is merely a means of killing boredom when all mildly interesting things are completed and well, pretty much nothing left to do.

    I get irritated and pissed at some of my friends’ posts and after a few round of rolling my eyes so high that i had difficulty to get them down, i decided to block their post or unfriend them and after a while, i think what the heck, might as well check less of FB and not be pissed.. my friends love to brag, especially those chronically CMI (cannot make it) individuals who suddenly got attached and preparing for weddings.. and jeez… their post will be about their new found love, sweet nothings, happy-together disgusting poses and the needless sharing of love quotes fr other “inspirational” FB pages… one silly couple even post a few wedding dresses and ask people to vote for them and see which has the highest vote.. i mean… seriously? Are they taking the dress with highest vote? no right? eventually they will make own decision, so why the show off-ish photo sharing? oh and not to mention, the highest votes goes to the ugliest dress among the three and see she dus have mean bitchy friends.

    Or some empty air head commenting about politics and getting all excited with meaningless slamming of this and that party… it is a sheer waste of time to even read them now…. anyway, having said all these, i am bored now, i’ll check it anyway. (haha)

  47. truth says:

    facebook is for cunts. That’s about it.

  48. Well. C word bothers me (understatement). Are 800 million people c—-s? Maybe.

  49. sonia says:

    I enjoyed your post very much! I do agree with you with regards to how it makes people feel like losers. I do have a few friends who only post GOOD NEWS. I agree that they feel insecure. I think what you’ve mentioned sums up to this new phenomenon call facebook envy! 🙂

  50. madi says:

    Loved your post! I agree with absolutely everything you said about facebook. It took just one person’s annoying, daily comments and status updates that drove me to quit altogether. “I’m so perfect, look at my perfect husband, look at my perfect baby, my baby bump, my boobs, my apartment, my car, my ass”
    There’s something so un-natural about it!

  51. “..look at…my ass”–what a perfect line!

    I actually saw an un-natural ass once, and for some reason, it made me feel a bit angry.

    Showing off on FB is absurd.

    Thanks for reading,

    Elizabeth

  52. Dale says:

    I admit-I am a FB user. I am more of a “scroller” rather than a “poster”. However, what irks me is when a husband and a wife tell each other over FB how much they love one another when they are most likely sitting right next to each other. Of course I can see this if one spouse is serving in the military or something else along those lines.
    Also, posts that are more like a text over a news feed- its unnecessary and not everyone needs to see it.
    On the bright side-FB isn’t all bad. It is nice to genuinely connect with a lost friend from childhood or hear some great news- but people DO abuse the medium.

    • I agree with you–and thanks for reading.

      Spousal conversations over FB are bizarre. I even once witnessed a breakup (technically, I think it was a separation leading to divorce) on FB comments. I almost had to slap myself in an attempt to wake up from that strange hallucination…but no, it was all too real.

      Best,

      Elizabetb

  53. Me says:

    I couldn’t agree more! I finally had to delete FB entirely because I was sick of the adults flaunting their ugly children (yup, your kids are only cute to you) and debt-ridden homes/vacations. It was just too much. Do you really need the validation of acquaintances from High School? I knew a girl that was flaunting her upper class lifestyle for months while her “dream boat” doctor fiance was off screwing around behind her back. She still doesn’t know. Do yourself a favor and shut that crap off, it is the biggest lie of the century!

  54. Reshma says:

    That is exactly how I feel about this whole FB thing! Can’t stand all those people who are, as you rightly said, “so FULL of themselves”. I wonder what goes on in those heads…if they love themselves sooooo much, I’d think they wouldn’t need anyone else. But no, they have to let the whole world know even the remotest details of thier lives.
    Folks seem to have forgotten what it really means to “stay in touch” too. Sad. Sad. Sad.

    • Elizabeth Collins says:

      I really do think it’s insecurity rather than self-love. That just makes it more pathetic, though.

      Best,

      Elizabeth

  55. Jewel says:

    So Agree. Cant take the

    “oh heres our new bathroom –

    heres the new house we bought –

    us on our wedding day yadi yada yada”

    besides how do you know what people out there really feel about your success.

    it could be all dangerous if you ask me.

    • Elizabeth Collins says:

      You are right: it’s like the vomit-inducing Christmas card broken down into materialistic chunks of bragginess.

      Best,

      Elizabeth

  56. Annette says:

    Another reason I get sick of facebook is because I swear it’s almost turned into a beauty competition for some women and men, but more women than men. They post all kinds of ‘glamour’ shots of themselves and then will receive tons of compliments on how pretty or hot they are. I even saw a picture of a guy posing with no shirt on – please. It’s like these people are begging for attention and fishing for compliments. Does it help their self esteem? So much of it comes off as showing off and I find show offs annoying. One person seems to try to ‘one up’ another. I sometimes wonder if some of these people look as good in person or if they’ve altered their photos. That’s not the only competetive nature I see. It’s also who can get the most likes or comments, who has the most friends. So much about it just seems so self promoting and vain and a lot of these people don’t seem to give a hoot about anyone but themselves and their own ‘glory’.

    • Elizabeth Collins says:

      I have a FB friend in another country who was shocked to realize that most Americans use a Photoshopped photo of themselves as their FB profile shot.

      Hey, I probably would, too (if I knew how to doctor my own photos) because it’s too depressing to see the vestiges of time on one’s own face…but then again, it’s too fake, and I am against fake.

      Best,

      Elizabeth

      • Annette says:

        Yes, about being fake – I figure if a picture doesn’t really look like you because of so much photo shopping or doctoring then what’s the point? If you don’t look too different than the real you maybe it’s not so bad, but if it does look too different, then that just seems foolish to me. Then you’re just presenting a false image of yourself and more or less ‘pretending’ to be someone you’re not. Then it becomes something based more on a fantasy and who you wish to be – like role playing, other than who you really are. That can lead to deceiving others, even yourself and there are probably people on your friends list that have seen you in person that know you don’t really look like that. I would think that would be a little humiliating even though noone may have the heart to say anything, but may be thinking or chuckling about it. Even weirder, how would it be to meet someone in person that you met through facebook and end up discovering that they don’t look anything like their profile pic, especially if it’s a date? I would think that would be very embarrassing and misleading. Of course, photos aren’t the only way people can present a false image of themselves on FB. That can be done in many other ways too. If someone doesn’t like the way they look, they don’t have to put up a photo of themselves – probably better than putting up a fake image.

        • Elizabeth Collins says:

          I actually know someone who uses a So Obviously Airbrushed photo that it’s a little scary looking (not what she intended, I am sure). I know she doesn’t look like that, for one (as does everyone else), but on top of that little issue, it’s also so artificial looking, it’s like a bad plastic surgery result, a way-too-tight facelife. You don’t want to look too hard, but you can’t help staring.

  57. Kimberlydawn says:

    There’s so much of this bragginess online – not just on FB, but what about those individual blogs, like Crafty Wafty Mommykins which show just how perfectly perfect and adorable this woman’s life is, with her big perfectly decorated home, and her perfect hubby and her adorable YOUNG children (never annoying teens or teenagers, of course..after all, they’re not cute) and the woman is aways adorable LOOKING with long, long hair and a cute little face and the latest clothes, which she adds lace collars to and stencils the word BONJOUR on……why is it everyone is so damn PERFECT these days I wonder? Or the real question is, why do they feel the need to present themselves this way? Does this make them feel better about themselves? And why do they always garner so many admirers?

  58. It’s all marketing, I think. Even the “likes” are mostly manufactured or clicked by sycophants…

    • Elizabeth Collins says:

      I know about the bragginess. That’s why I refuse to brag on FB. I honestly don’t check it that much, and at this point, if one of my “friends” posts too often, I just delete him or her. I can’t stand it when people clutter up the news feed unless it’s really funny, really interesting, etc.

  59. Julie says:

    I’m finding facebook so hard at the min, i seem to have a love hate of it. Its good for being in touch with old school friends and friends that live miles away, but really…… i have friends on there who brag about what they are doing all the time, their half-term was fantastic etc…. and then you have to endure seeing their conversations with others which make you feel lousy, as they are having a great time. You see they have sleep overs with their friends kids, who is your friend, and yet they brag about it!! why do they do it??? why do these people feel the need to brag about it on facebook?? It is seriously winding me up, and i am normally a happy person, but i get fed up of hearing all this rubbish on facebook. I think i need to stand back a bit from it, and i guess let them get on with it.

  60. MollyCR says:

    I loved this. My personal favorite is when someone posts a picture of their dinner cooking away and it’s only 8am. And their family pics at the beach are all smiles, sunshine and bul%shi*! Where are the pics of your toddler hanging on you like a Spider monkey because he hates walking on the sand or your 5 year old crying because he wants to go back to hotel room to watch TV after being at the beach for only 2 hot minutes?

    We went to Walt Disney World. We love WDW. However, when we returned, I posted all the meltdowns that happened on the trip. Just like all the couples that constantly hold hands in public……If you need to show your love for your soulmate 24/7..it’s probably not there. Give me the couple that shows their eye rolls.

    • Elizabeth Collins says:

      Loved your comment, too.

      One of my most popular photos on FB (from the “likes” I suppose) was the one of my kid having a tantrum.

      It was a pretty cool photo, actually, but also just surprising, which made it funny.

      Best,

      Elizabeth

  61. nicola says:

    Thanks for writing this, I was until now thinking I was going a little mad. People with dull lives desperate to show that they are having the best time. Their children are always funny, attractive and clever. I posted on facebook yesterday about my in the main fab child. I never would say that, but I did share that he had been a total pain in the arse all day. I realise it comes from a deep inadequacy the inability to self-deprecate but I really want to stop friends doing it without de-friending them. I am embarrassed on their behalf. HELLLLP.x

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  63. Crochet lady says:

    I like your article. I just want to say that when making statements even the most seemingly mildest type (about the weather) can get misconstrued by anyone depending on whatever mood they are in. Those are things we can’t control. It’s impossible to make comments that appease everyone. If you come across too happy or genuinely content about your marriage, job or kids.. it stirs up jealousy in the “have nots” if you come across as “little and self deprecating” it sparks pity and worry. There are times if I post a picture of myself without a smile, people ask “aww what’s wrong muffin? (gag) if I post a picture of myself looking dolled up I get to much attention from men.. posting “hubba hubba” (also gag) post a photo of myself looking average sparks no comment and not engaging (boring). We can’t please everyone. Bragging using your kids is questionable as well some may think a photo of an upset/crying baby may prompt them to call Childrens aid. Comments about how proud or loving you are about your children generates skepticism. I also feel that people have become more interested in my children. Suddenly the people you think didn’t give a rats ass about you like your kids more than they like you. There is no way to please every observer on facebook. It comes to down to whether your friends list is populated by genuine friendships who appreciate seeing you succeed and look good rather than getting jealous about it. I find the jealous observer wants to see others at their lowest and exposing their hidden pitfalls and seem to appreciate that more as though it seems more honest while the happy marriage loving family doesn’t seem as honest.. weird. In summary I would refrain from posting “downer” statements on facebook because if I required moral support or advice or a just a comforting friend after losing a job we would meet for a beer or talk on the phone I wouldn’t use facebook as a “spill my guts-my life sucks” therapy.

    • the tolerant one! says:

      Crochet lady I agree with you 100%. Just let people be ! Jealousy also makes people nasty though!!!

    • Jewel says:

      I really don’t think that’s what the article is saying.

      The author is talking about people who are constantly showing their perfect lives to us. To the extent even of photoshopping or airbrushing their pics.

      Making comments and reposting posts and pictures with messages of comfort or the bible that’s fine.

      What I cant stand, is people who say got a new born baby (and Lord forgive me I have one friend like this at the moment) -and its constantly “oh this is our baby” “she pooped and I had to clean her up!” “oh doesn’t she look cute sleeping” and yadi yada.

      I kid you not, she has most likely posted in the space of 2 weeks about a 150 updates. It can get tiring.

      The message here is, show us pics of yourself allright, or your husband or even your beautiful mansion. Just stop doing it every day!

      Vomit.

      (Sorry to sign off with Vomit lol. But how do I keep my friends and still deal with their desperate needs to prove how good life is to us – CONSTANTLY!)

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  65. Nonesie says:

    I was with you until you admitted to mocking another friend behind her back. That sounds petty and makes you seem like a hater for all the attention you’re not getting that others are. Try again.

    • Jewel says:

      The author doesn’t strike me at all as an attention seeker.

      In fact she sounds like she has her head fair and square on her shoulders. She sounds secure in herself.

      People who don’t seek attention are usually people comfortable in their own skins.

      And she is such as them.

  66. Red G. says:

    “If you show me the bad along with the good”
    “If you admit that your life isn’t perfect”

    Who does THAT on Facebook? What was once a digital pass-the-note for teens has become a sort of D-I-Y PR machine for insecure adults. But I will say this, people do post their broken ankles, parking tickets, shopping cart dents, etc. You know, trivial stuff that happens to everybody else, anyway – for comments and comic effect, I’m sure.

  67. Dee says:

    Great article! Back to facebook objective, it’s supposed for us to tie back with old friends..relatives and sharing our moments for good. Nowadays facebook become a place to showing off and it ‘s really annoying.

  68. Will M says:

    Oh my GOD. Get over your self. Just because you are in a foul or depressed mood doesn’t give you license to rain on other’s happines. That which you call showing off others see as expressing their koy and events they find joy in. If you were on my friends list, after reading this crappy miserabke excuse for an article about how people annoy you, I would unfriend you immediately. All I get from his articl2 is you are miserable so anyone showing happiness pisses you off. WAAAAAAAAAA! Do the world a favor and close your facebook accxount.

    • Jake says:

      Will… if you don’t like what you read why don’t you go back to Facebook and stalks some more some of your beloved “Larger than life people”. I do not think it was any kind of jealous or envy it’s just a good observation of what Facebook users really became after many years.

      I was in Facebook the 1 year it came out publicly and two years later I started removing pictures, posts and stuff as it started to look seriously like a “Look at me” thing. The jokes were gone, there was more people posting their everyday’s little stories and photos for other to glorify them. Real purpose of Facebook was gone a while ago already. I started with 15 friends, when I decided to delete those inactive ones out of 300 only 50 remains and from all those 50 I’ve hidden their feeds, disabled all emails because honestly I really don’t give a damn what they ate from breakfast, what color their pee was and instead of calling me to tell me that someone has died they would post it on facebook with very impersonal pictures and inspirational messages.

      If you can’t understand what she meant, then I’d say you’re the one who need to get over it and smell the roses. Real ones not the one you can download from Facebook. You need a reality check Will… turn of your computer and walk around in a mall and take a good look at everyone, half of those pictures they’re taking in stores, on the streets, or anywhere will end up on Facebook or Instagram so they can satisfy their daily 15 minutes of fame.

  69. shaikhreza99 says:

    I know exactly what you mean by the annoying comments. I was getting flack for using a Wonder Woman picture on my page, so I finally put up a new one, and then I got about 10 comments about that, one of which was really weird and actually read (I think it was sarcastic, but I’m not 100% sure): “This is a terrible photo…”

    I tried Tumblr a bit yesterday, but still haven’t been quite convinced.

    Thanks for reading,
    Jealousy Quotes

  70. Flannagan Miles is not my real name says:

    Ways of Showing Off:

    (1) Drive an expensive car
    (2) Own a large house
    (3) Wear expensive clothing and/or jewelery
    (4) Own expensive electronics
    (5) Go on expensive vacations and show off your purchases/photographs.
    (6) Advertise your high income earning profession
    etc…

    These are just some of the ways we used to show off, prior to ‘social media’ websites becoming popular.

    Now, with websites like Facebook – the conceited can show off their assets in one convenient location.
    Or, the bullshitters can pretend to be well off and maintain a falsified image on Facebook.

    Either way – both types of people are not my cup of tea.
    Nor is facebook; I believe it’s an addictive colossal waste of time for gossip loving people.

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  73. Insert Here says:

    I think social voyerism is a great way to describe Facebook.

    I stopped using it because I found myself very envious of what old friends had, that I did not.
    Absolutely they are showing off. If I had what they have, perhaps I’d do the same, I’m not sure. It didn’t help my self esteem, so I decided to leave that environment.

  74. Leigh Harwood says:

    Fuck all this nonsense. Everyone should keep their lives absolutely private. No information or pictures should be broadcast so others can gain an insight into your life.

    This is how it all starts by the opening the floodgates. Keep the bloody things shut and you wouldn’t have any of these problems.

    Charles Barkley once said that ‘social media is where losers go to feel important’. Hit the nail right on the bloody head there!

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