Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It's Really Deep...on the Surface

I have a confession to make. Are you ready?

I'm shallow on Facebook.

There! I said it! And I feel so much....better? Dang. I don't feel better. Because gosh, Facebook, I wasn't feeling badly about my shallow status updates to begin with. Because they're status updates and you're, well, you're Facebook. Even though, apparently, there is a discussion going on Out There about how people are not being honest about their eternally happy selves and their seemingly perfect children and locally grown and 100% organic lunches on Facebook.

Someone wrote an article about all of this, and I heard her interviewed on NPR. She sounded super-duper intelligent and I'm sure she's an excellent writer but I just didn't really care about (nor was I surprised by) the whole Facebook Shallowness topic.

The writer was concerned that people are giving false impressions of themselves and their lives on social media. Der...ya think? She felt that people would be sitting around at home thinking their lives were the only lives that weren't perfect. After all - what if you're depressed and unable to leave your house and you have to look at endless status updates and pictures of people hiking, biking, dining out, etc? What if your kids are juvenile delinquents and you're having to look at endless updates about how other people's kids are being inducted into the National Honor Society in between feeding the homeless and qualifying for the Olympic rowing team? What if you're doing good to stop by McDonald's and you have to look at endless pictures of That Girl You Didn't Like In High School's gourmet meals that she made from vegetables she grew in her own garden? I mean, don't you think people should be HONEST so you can feel better about yourself?

For me - the answer to that is a big old NO. Really - don't post a picture of your bunion on my account. I'd rather see a picture of that deer that comes by every morning and nibbles on your honeysuckle.

Let's consider my own Fake and Oh So Pleasant Facebook Life. This is my current profile picture.

I don't always look like this. I am not always smiling happily whilst clinging to my happy husband. I know - you're shocked, right? And this was a particularly decent hair day. My hair is sometimes excessively curly. And not in a pretty way. On curly days, Joel calls me Hagrid. As in this:

I'm guilty of posting a lot about my kids. Yesterday I posted how they'd cooked breakfast and lunch. Before that I'd posted a picture of a freaking perfect vegan espresso layered cake Camille baked ALL BY HERSELF SO THERE. I'm sorry if it upset anybody.

This might come as a huge surprise to you if you think that nothing happens in my home that I don't post on Facebook - but my kids are not perfect. Sometimes they argue, they make enormous messes and refuse to clean them up or they say they'll clean them up and then disappear for the appropriate amount of time they think it will take for me to either forget about it or clean it up myself. They're noisy. They are sometimes listless and don't seem to care about anything. They sleep a lot. They game a lot. They are hungry a lot. But I'm not going to get on Facebook and tell everyone everything they do that isn't made of awesomesauce. It would be massively disrespectful to the children, who are luckily, not using my failures and examples of lack of perfection as their status updates. In fact, I can't post anything at all about Camille without her permission - she feels rather strongly about that. So my lack of My Kids Are Horrible!! status updates doesn't indicate my children are perfect - nor is it an attempt on my part to convince you that they are - it is merely me respecting them and their privacy.

I tend to post when I'm happy. But I'm not always happy. But people are rarely taking pictures of me when I'm in the middle of a temper tantrum. I don't have a picture to post.

I also tend to post when something good has happened. But bad things happen to me, too. In fact, if you know me and this really seems to be the crux of the situationmost of my Facebook Friends do not really Know Me you know that some very bad things have happened to me. I have had family tragedies and financial distress. I've suffered loss and the pain of illness. Is it really necessary to discuss this on Facebook? (And for those of you who suffered my seemingly endless flu posts - okay - so sometimes I do a little public suffering.)

I just don't get the point of the article or the discussion that has ensued in its wake. And there is a discussion going on - I'm seeing it on Facebook. In the past week I've seen several people post about this article while saying something along the lines of, "I'm guilty of this, too." As if  they've done something to feel guilty about by not baring their souls to people they don't really know all that well on a social network.

So what are social networks for? What constitutes a friend if it isn't someone who follows you on Twitter or friends you on Facebook?

Social networks are for networking. They're for meeting people who might share common interests or goals. They're also avenues of expression and means of giving and receiving information and, often, advice. And let's not forget - they're where you can see images of Grumpy Cat at all hours of the day. As to what constitutes a friend - well, a friend is the person who reads your status updates and says, "That's bullshit."

I do think that social networking sites and blogs (!!) can be excellent places to make Real Friends - although obviously - you have to be careful. Have you seen the documentary, Catfish? If not, you should. But anyway, assuming that young female writer you just met isn't actually this guy

you can make some great Real Friends. Two of my very best friends are women I met right here on this little old blog. That's right! Leave me a comment and you, too, can have me and my neediness as your very own endless vacuum of angst all wrapped up with a bow! (It isn't easy being my friend - so be careful what you wish for.) I recently picked up a friend via Twitter. Remember that Twitter Pitch Contest I entered? I didn't win. I came in 2nd. Actually, I was named an alternate but I'm calling that 2nd because it kind of is. And actually there were 2 alternates so it's quite possible I came in 3rd but since nobody will ever know, I'll say I came in 2nd. I could say the other alternate came in 3rd but since she is my New Best Friend and will probably read this, I'll say we Share Second.

I'm pretty sure my New Best Friend is already regretting having met me, by the way. She's thinking She's not like she is on Twitter at all! She's a whiny mess! She never shuts up! She is quickly discouraged and easily downtrodden! If only she'd been more honest about herself on Twitter... I bet that stupid picture of her in the baseball cap is at least 4 years old.  **Not only is it old - it's photo-shopped. Shhhh!!

I don't think most people really want to know more about me than I share on Facebook. And I don't really want to know all that much more about them, either. And whenever I give in and post something political, I've noticed that whatever I post next - be it a picture of my new shoes or a recipe - will receive a ton of likes, as if everyone's encouraging me to behave myself.

Once I received an Un-Friending Threat following a political post - but c'mon people - it was about THIS GUY.

So is this really a thing - this Facebook Non-Reality? Are you concerned about it?

I'm not. I'm happy to hear what you had for breakfast, see a picture of your new car, hear about your kid getting accepted into college. I know this isn't all that goes on in your lives. I know that behind every perfect pie there are many that were total disasters. I know that your kids probably yell at you, that at times you worry you're a horrible mother and you've messed everything up. I know that sometimes you can't sleep at night because of bills, or illness, or marital issues. I think it's because of these things that the picture you posted of the butterfly outside your kitchen window makes me so happy. The butterfly isn't a lie - it's not a false representation of the person who took it - it's hope and optimism. And it's important.

Carry on with your fake self, Facebook. Carry on.


  1. I've already come to terms that you never wear that hat in real life, sort of. Although, if we ever meet, I hope you wear a hat. Feel free to carry on with the off-stage whining. I enjoy the show. As a codependent, I love that shit.

    Also, I'm considering changing my profile photo to that awesome dude pictured above.

    1. There were two awesome dudes pictured. The one you choose may very well color my view of you forever, Sam.

  2. That was me!!!!
    Aw, man. You're fab.