I have the strangest ambivalent relationship with Facebook.
On the one hand, I love the ease of following friends (and not-friends) without having to commit to hours on the phone or meetings at the coffee shops (not to mention evenings of dinner and bored conversation.) It’s a tool for keeping both friends and enemies close in an age where time is more valuable than diamonds.
On the other hand, I hate the irrelevance and boredom of it all. How often is it really interesting or inspiring when you scroll through your news feed? Pictures of babies and dinners, exaggerated fun on holidays, picture perfect Kodak moment happiness of families, parties, weddings, etc. And often, so often, it’s smiles for the cameras – surface happiness – seldom real. Facebook is a hot spot for pretend, look-at-me, attention seekers and like hunters. How strange even that such a word is now common speak! Like hunter.
I hate this entire concept. I hate how it’s now important that you leave time and room for presenting yourself and your life on Facebook. Of course, you decide for yourself how you want to present it, but it’s commonly expected that you present something, and there’s judgement.
Maybe most of all, I hate that I fall for it. I’m part of it. I present myself on Facebook, and I leave my decision of presentation out there for others to judge. Why not delete my account and be done with it? Oh … because … maybe somewhere I like the idea of presenting myself, and I like following others. At least, some of them.
So what’s on my news feed? Oh … books, mostly. Rarely a friend. Book Riot, the Paris Review, Gyldendal, The Reading Room, etc. Now and then, friends pop in between, someone’s photographed meal or grinning baby. But the really interesting reads follow right after. Brain Pickings is also good, and most relevant. Today it’s presenting Susan Sontag on storytelling. Now there’s an interesting read.
It’s my own private revolution. I feel like I’m revolting against the entire Facebook concept. Ha! Yes, I’m part of it, I present myself, I snoop on others, but mostly, I’m reading articles on books, reviews, philosophy, anything non-Facebook. And I feel better for it, even when now and then I like someone’s baby, or wedding, or meal …
Ah, I admit it. I do feel genuine happiness/sadness/anger/relief now and then when reading news from friends. I am happy for Søren when he has a new baby, I am sorry for Lise when she breaks her leg. I am human, after all.
What tickles me is when someone posts just for attention, i.e. This is the worst day ever … or I can’t believe this happened to me … etc. Posting only to have others ask: Why? What happened?
I don’t understand why they do this. Or, I do understand the want for others to care, for others to ask, but why not try some good old-fashioned honesty: I had the worst day ever, and I really need to know that you care. I need someone to care for me and to comfort me.
What would happen if you posted this? My guess is, someone would care.
In other words, what tickles me is the dishonesty in lieu of honesty. The drama, the charade. And Facebook is great for charades.
I think it’s great that Hans is enjoying a home-cooked meal worth a Michelin star, but why doesn’t he just post it saying: I am so frigging proud that I can actually cook this and it’s fabulous and I really enjoy taking the time to cook and learn. Instead, he slaps it up there with a picture: Hurried home and made dinner waiting for someone to feel bad that they don’t have time for 5-star organic home-cooked meals in their everyday, wanting their praise and envy. Isn’t that the case? We try to be so much, we try to be everything, we try to be perfect at everything, and when we fail, we pretend on Facebook. We’re picture perfect families with time for the perfect career, the perfect top-cleaned, top-nice home, the amazing garden, home-cooked meals with our own grown vegetables from the amazing garden, we make our own clothes, bake our own bread, paint, write, sow, love, talk, cry, make Michelin star dinner parties for our friends, raise our kids to walking wonders, go on amazing holidays, walk the dog, keep perfectly fit, run 5 kilometers every day, find time and surplus to talk to and make love to our partners every night … at least, that’s what we post to Facebook while turning our backs on our messy home, the left-over washings, the pizza box from last night, the unpaid bills, the rotten job, etc.
This is what I see running through my news feed – all the truths untold. And I tap the latest post from Brain Pickings and read that instead.