October 21, 2010
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?).
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.