The best thing about Facebook is everyone is on it. The worst thing about Facebook is everyone is on it. And everyone seems to have something to say.
I don’t spend much time on Facebook anymore, but I have before. And I recall a simple feeling- Having a bad day, and looking on Facebook to see how good looking my friends were, how much fun they were having, and all the delicious food they were making and eating. All this as I sat in my room, wondering why my life was as boring as it really is.
It’s simple enough, really. Click on a friend’s picture or status update, jump to their page, and scroll down to the ABSOLUTE bottom. This is how Facebook perceives your life-
1) January 3, 1986- Born.
2) 2004- Joined Facebook.
And from there scroll through hundreds (or more likely thousands) of posts, pictures, quotes, and check-ins to see just how amazing someone’s life really is. All the while you’re creating a fictional timeline of your friend’s life full of smiles, traveling, and boat loads of cash to pay for all that FOOD. Every year you see how much they love their wife. Every year you see just how many “friends” wish them happy birthday, and every day see how many people think their baby is too cute.
Meanwhile, time ticks away on a not so exciting life, in a not so exciting room, with a not so exciting dinner.
Facebook is designed to capture moments of life. Whether those moments are good or bad is up to the user, but most prefer to share the highlights of their day. Some may even go so far as to post optimized versions of themselves. And there is nothing wrong with this, the problem lies with the reader.
Too many of us look through a timeline and link these events in immediate succession. We assume that others lives, marriages, children, and meals are better than ours day in and day out when we are really watching the highlight reel.
Facebook can be a great way to stay in touch with long lost friends. It can also aid in keeping mass groups of people updated on major events in your life (i.e. getting married, having a child, etc). Facebook is not the problem. The problem is we use Facebook as a substitute for authentic relationship, and from there we build assumptions and perceptions of other people’s lives that are unrealistic.
Some of my friends have really cute babies who are often smiling in pictures. I would wager that they also cry. Our baby sure does, we just don’t post those pictures. Some of my friends have really great marriages and are deeply in love. I would wager they also argue and hurt each other. We sure do, we just don’t post those updates. Some people cook delicious meals involving some alternative form of ice cream that burns fat and builds muscle just from eating it and will also cure cancer, improve your sex life, and drywall the basement. Maybe that was hyperbolic, but you get the point.
Facebook is great. But it doesn’t know everything. People are still people, and it takes a person to know that.