Ten years ago I reluctantly joined Facebook. Like magic, I could now see what everyone in every phase of my life was doing. It was great, at first. “Hey there Cathy,” we reconnected after many years! “OMG…Susan, you’re on here too…we had so many laughs in our teens, it will be fun to see you more now.” And then I connected with cousins I had never known or met only once or twice: older cousins, Uncle Harry’s daughters…what a joy, indeed.
Now the good parts remain…those people mentioned above and many, many others. My husband’s kids are on Facebook, love seeing them and their projects and adventures. I’d miss out on a lot because they are in Colorado and we just aren’t big Skypers/facetimers. My husband’s family of origin is on Facebook: we are always for each other…its fun connecting with them on the Facebook.
I also love Facebook Pages and Events…they tell what is going on where about things that I am interested in…if I want to find out something about an event, I often check Facebook first. (Also, in my job, I have had a lot of luck with Facebook promoting our events.)
But here is the bad…it isn’t that I necessarily want to go to the events that I’m not invited to, but it is nice to be included and hard to see pictures of everyone having the time of the life without me. Especially when all of your “friends” are getting together in your little town at the place where you work and having a girl fest. That is a little hurtful. Or when you are waiting for a call to be invited to your”friend’s” camp at the lake and you never get the call, but pictures roll up on facebook. Yikes, cortisol overload with the drips of sadness.
It goes beyond this too…the bad of Facebook, to the actual ugly. Actually considering in my day who liked and who didn’t like and who stopped liking my posts and pictures…what a waste of energy that is. Then, as my blog hits have slipped dramatically away from Facebook and as very few actual face to face or phone to phone contact occurs between myself and all the friends I facebook, I create the narratives.
My writing is too much for them…”her pictures of Moby just don’t do it for me, how many poses of that dog can she put up”…..Oh, they see me like they did 25 years ago, Claire with her crazy ideas. “I don’t read her posts anymore, yadda yadda, yadda, yadda…and besides there all about her…who cares.” And I think all the while, they aren’t saying that, but then I get a sign that fortifies my belief…I tag them in a photo that isn’t liked, some other nonsense.
Yep, the cyber world can be an ugly place and especially Facebook. Facebook reminds me of going to dinner alone in a restaurant where you are likely to run into a few friends gathering together. There they are, hanging out, yeuking it up, and there you are on this particular day alone. It feels weird, they know things about you, perhaps things you wish they didn’t know, and you are not part of their tribe…but in your vulnerability, they are in a position to judge you, and not so kindly. Other people walk in that know both of you and they wonder, why aren’t you sitting together. It is a type of disequilibrium. You may be for the same things, you may be against the same things, but they aren’t necessarily for you, they really aren’t your friends.
But maybe Facebook is the problem. If we were met, as humans, to connect with all the important souls in our life at once, would the growth of human beings not be stilted. If I hadn’t left my job in 1997 to get married, I might never have become a blog writer or college professor. I have grown from these experiences, I am not that person I was in 1997. I am also not the person who when she spilled something on the floor, the whole table looked at me and said, why it figures. Nope…way past those days. Engaging with old relationships blocks my energy, creates a sinking disturbance in my stomach, in ways that Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram do not.
Why? Becuase those are public forums…anything said or done in public must take into account the person and their thoughts more than the relationship between the person and their reader. Sure, I share some of the same contacts, but in public social media, I feel free to be me.
It is like going to a restaurant alone in a foreign city and running into that same group of people, but you’re both out in public in a place where no one knows your name, and as such, no one knows the contents of the bags you are carrying around. It’s freeing.