Facebook makes me feel crap. And yet, day in and day out I find myself logging in to see what my 650+ friends are up to, talking about, sharing with me and posting pictures of. I’ll confess, it’s pretty much the first thing I do when I wake up and the last thing I do before I go to sleep. It’s been important to me to know that Friend A has had eggs for breakfast because they’re on a high protein diet, and that Friend B is sipping cocktails in Thailand while I sit in my office looking at my view of a wall and air conditioning equipment. It must be important, or else why do I keep going back?
Yes, yes, there’s that whole fear of missing out thing. I recognise that. I’m very aware that there may be a photo posted of me that I never know about. You know, that dreaded photo where I haven’t raised my chin fast enough and the whole world will see photographic evidence of my seven chins. And there could be that lurking invite to some fantastic party that’s only being organised on Facebook. And the guy who went to high school who was so hot but now so fat – what if I miss out on him?
And there’s that whole keeping up thing. I’ve phoned friends who I’m connected to on Facebook and we’ve had nothing to talk about. Every time they mentioned that they had been sipping cocktails in Thailand, I would respond by telling them I knew and that it looked amazing. I would let them know that I now had seven chins and they would stop me mid-sentence to tell me how they had seen that photo before I got the chance to untag myself. There’s no more news to share in real life. It all happens on Facebook. I can’t possibly miss out on that can I? I mean then we’d have to speak!
And then there’s all those networking and celeb opportunities. I can see Tori Amos in her specs, uploading a selfie before she sings Selkie. Selfie- Selkie. She’s so clever. And the big brands who invite me to Like them so that I can maybe win a new car by Like-ing them. And those cat videos. Oh I can’t possibly miss those. By the way, did you see the one about the cat saving the kid from being attacked by a dog. Apparently this proves cats do care. Thank you Facebook. And the 344 friends who shared the link.
I know there are all these positives to Facebook. And I don’t want to quit because Facebook has all my data. They really can have it, with the picture of my seven chins. It’s not that. It’s just that everyone looks like they’re having a way better time than I am. A few months ago I met a friend in Cape Town for lunch. She’s a real friend and a friend on Facebook. The first thing she said was, “Wow, you look like you’re having an amazing time. Really living life aren’t you?” Apparently this is the impression I had given her through my Facebook feed. I thought about it and could see how it made sense. Here I was posting pics of me smiling at my husband lovingly, or lying with the dogs in my lap, or at the beach in Cape Town , or dancing the night away at a party where everyone looked like they were having a good time. I didn’t post the pics or statuses about the argument I had with the husband about who was making dinner, or shouting at the dogs to stop barking at the birds while I was having a nap because I had been to a party, which I hated but smiled when the camera came round. I presented the best me. That’s what people want to see don’t they? Or maybe that’s what I want them to see. I don’t post about popping my seventh Urbanol for the day because work is stressing me out so much. I post the after work pic where I’m raising a glass of wine (which I promptly down) to celebrate the end of a severely taxing day.
Facebook is our best selves. Our gorgeous children are on display. Our work promotions are announced for all and sundry to Like and comment on. Our parties are shared for all to be jealous of and be left wondering why we didn’t crack the nod. Our weight loss is shared with glee, while our seven chins are hidden behind selfies of us staring up to our smart phones which are practically attached to the ceiling to get the best angle. Our trip to Thailand is on full display for all to oooo and aaaah over while our credit card bills remain hidden in the pile of debt on the kitchen counter. Facebook only gets our best. Because we want people to see the best in us.
But that just leaves me feeling crap. And inadequate. I hate that I wasn’t invited to the party. That I can’t afford to go to Thailand. That I have seven chins when Friend 446 looks so fantastic in all of the eight selfies they’ve posted of themselves. I feel less than because you show me the best of.
I think it’s time to go back to being real. To finding out what’s happening in a person’s life because they’ve called me to tell me. To see the photo’s of their trip to Thailand because I’m visiting, and hear the horror stories about delayed planes and druglords attempting to smuggle narcotics in their bags when no one was looking. To see the baby when it’s not smiling or looking cute, but crying or having its shitty nappy changed. I want to be reminded that we’re all real and not everything is amazing.
It’s not any one on Facebook’s fault. It’s mine. It’s not you. It’s me. Really. I’m just looking for something more… And that’s maybe why it’s time to delete Facebook.