My kids are too young for Facebook. Some might argue that I’m too old for it, but I’ve found it to be a great tool for keeping in touch with family and friends, sharing news and photos and the like. But sometimes it’s hard to remember that this online life is virtual reality, and far from real life.
Don’t get me wrong; I share the things that really happen to me on Facebook, just as I do here on this blog. I’m an open book and don’t actively hide either the good or the bad events of my life. But mostly, I share the good. I write about the things that make me happy or that I’m proud of. Do people really want to see the sadness & pain that we all endure? I’m thinking not.
I did use Facebook when my grandmother died, those of us who knew and loved her used it as a tool to pay homage to her and share memories. It was a great help in a difficult time and helped me to connect with far-flung members of my family. It provided so much comfort but even then, we didn’t share it all out in the open.
Do I post an update about how I overreacted when the kitchen table was a mess of cereal and milk because the kids were playing around instead of eating their breakfast? No. Do I post an update about how my husband and I got into a huge fight when we were both overtasked and overtired? No. About my very real fears or pains? No. Do I post about how my cellphone fell out of my pocket and into the public toilet? Well, maybe. Occasionally on a really bad day I’ll ask for prayers or kind thoughts.
But my point is that I don’t want to share the unhappy moments. I am not asking for commiseration for my misery. Rather, I want my friends to smile and laugh along with me, not feel they have to shore me up when I’m dealing with difficulty.
I’ve noticed (through the comments and posts of friends) that there is a very real backlash to the virtual life we live via social media—these moments of happiness seem to blend together into a big, charmed reality. But we have to remember that it’s a false reality. Remember that for every deliriously happy post that you read out there, there are likely at least twice that many negative moments that aren’t posted.
And when you see a friend is posting about those happy moments, give her a call or invite her for coffee and get the story behind the story.