I have a beef with Facebook.
Actually I have a beef with the way many of my “friends” and others’ “friends” (to use Facebook’s exaggerated term for connection) use Facebook.
Look, I know there are many flawed motivations behind why and how we use this social media mecca:
Things we would never admit out loud like,
“I am having a really good hair day and THAT never happens, so must come up with some other reason for posting this fabulous picture of me…….Celebrating the Second-to-last day of Spring!”
“I am really smart. I want others to know how smart and insightful I am, so I am going to post this ego-inflating insight but curb it with a self-deprecating jab at the end so people don’t think I’m TOO full of myself, thus jeopardizing my ‘like’ count.”
“Hmmmm….. this person hasn’t talked to me in three weeks. I’m going to cast a line here by posting about a hot button issue I just KNOW they can’t resist chiming in on. Just to make sure they’re still alive. And don’t totally hate me.”
“I’m going to post an intimate/personal/deeply moving picture of my wedding/baby/hospital stay/ — guaranteed ‘likes’ and reminders that I DO have friends (‘friends?’).”
Who wants to admit in engaging in one – or all – of these semi-manipulative, insecurity-laden, embarrassing-to-admit tactics online?
I’ll go first. I admit to using Facebook to feed my ego, present photos and parts of my life that leave the ugly stuff locked away, garner support for my self-esteem, and affirm that I am WORTHY of my thoughts, my goals, my lifestyle, etc….
BUT – I will admit that I ALSO use Facebook to share my struggles (like on this blog), to ask for help or opinions when I know I don’t have all the answers, and to genuinely do what I can to encourage and support my “friends” – whether it’s my brother, my former co-worker I haven’t seen in 10 years or my cousin’s cousin two states away. It may not be much, but if a simple “like” or “congratulations” or “thinking of you” or “love you” on someone’s Facebook wall can make their day even a LITTLE bit better, make us all feel a LITTLE more connected to one another, then why the hell can’t we all spend a little less time posting selfies and a little more time letting one another know we actually have some inkling of an interest in acting like a human FRIEND.
Here’s the thing – there IS an honorable way to use Facebook. If we want it to be, it can be an amazing gift of a tool. A tool for learning from others’ experiences and sharing their sorrows and their joys – regardless of the miles or years that may now separate us. A tool for FINDING support when WE (and not just our egos…) really do need to know that we’re loved, and listened to, and relatable. A tool for watching each other’s children grow up if it isn’t possible to see them every day. It can be a tool for so much more than the lazy, vain, gossipy ways so many of us tend to use it. Like an unhealthy, shameful drug.
It’s time that this stops.
Here’s the heart of this issue, for me. I consider it a privilege to grant you access into my life, my family’s life, my writing on a blog I pour my heart into, my family’s photos, my web of connections that are my REAL life experiences. I also consider it a privilege to be granted access into YOUR life and have learned SO much from YOUR stories, blogs, struggles and successes – things I never ever would have known about, learned from or been touched by, if it wasn’t for the bridge Facebook provides for all of us – everywhere- to come here every day and connect.
But there are those of who ARE active on Facebook, who DO enter through these doors of access to my life….and I NEVER hear from you. No words of encouragement, no “likes” or “loves” no congratulations on the biggest milestones of my life. Maybe once in a while I’ll hear from you if I happen to strike on something that is of particular importance to YOUR personal life (like I tout your family business) or if I hit a nerve with my views on a controversial issue you happen to DISagree with. Then, suddenly, you emerge – when it suits you. What about all those other times I could have used your support?
My question is this: Why on earth are we connected to each other at all if not to elicit the most bare bones of decent human interaction and support? This isn’t about my ego; this is just about a system we’ve lazily fallen into that is Really. Messed. Up. If you’re going to take the time to spy on my life, please take just as much time to let me know you support ME. Or please, just go away.
This may all sound harsh, or like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or am taking my Facebook “relationships” way too seriously. But it’s not, I didn’t, and I’m not.
This is about basic human decency, basic love, and how we express that (or don’t) through the medium we’ve all chosen to devote hours and hours and hours “connecting through.”
Many of you will read this blog and never let me know that you read it at all, what you thought of it, or what you think of me. That’s fine. Just know that I do my best to read what YOU write, to let you know I am happy for the celebration of YOUR baby/birthday/anniversary/promotion, and that no matter how busy my day is or how wrapped up in my own little world I may be, I hope I’m never too busy to let you know I LIKE you – in person, on the phone, or at the very very least – on Facebook. I challenge you to do the same – not just for me, by any means, but to all the deserving, support-needing people in your life. And THANK YOU to the many, many friends and “friends” who have never made me doubt their support of me, online or off. It takes a village, and we ALL need each other.