I’ve read a lot of blog entries and other articles and postings in the last year about “Facebook reality.” Facebook reality differs from actual reality in that you completely control the message, right? Most parents’ Facebook reality is that their children are adorable, their house is always clean, they play lots of family-time games with their children, dinner is always healthy, the TV is extremely limited. You get the picture. Their actual reality may or may not bear any resemblance to the image projected on social media. Moms might be the worst perpetrators of this revisionist posting trend. I know I’m guilty of it sometimes. I don’t mind telling you and all my Facebook friends, that my bathrooms get dirty, my children watch too much TV, and often their dinner is peanut butter and honey with potato chips or hot dogs and pretzels. But I post those perfectly adorable pictures of the kids doing something perfectly adorable, cooperating sweetly, sleeping peacefully, creating artfully, without telling you that I was just screaming and tearing at my hair moments before. Some of us share more of the actual reality than others, but few of us put it all out there.
And, frankly, none of this is shocking or abnormal or unhealthy in anyway, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve written before about how different people approach the social media thing differently. Here, for instance, I showed an adorable picture but maybe shared a bit too much. Over or under sharing might be part of the projected Facebook reality, but if you meet me at a cocktail party you’re not going to get the actual reality of my life, either.
To me, that’s what social media, especially Facebook, is all about. It’s like one big social event that never quite ends. Sometimes it’s a football game, sometimes it’s a cocktail party, sometimes it’s a parenting support group, sometimes it’s a worship service. It’s whatever you make it, determined by what you let others see, which friends you accept, and which you move to “restricted” or some other list. Some people worry about trying to “keep up” with all the things their friends post, but it’s my belief that they should just let that go. You can’t know what was said at the party before you showed up. You might get a recap from a friend, but thanks to Facebook’s complicated “most recent” algorithm, you won’t know everything. And really, that’s OKAY!
That all brings me to my rant. Unfriending. Maybe we don’t see this act of aggression the same way. Maybe I’m missing something I should know, and if I am, please enlighten me. Sure, it’s totally your right to unfriend whoever the hell you feel like unfriending. It’s your page, your life, your business. But I see it kind of like walking away from a person you don’t like every time they walk up to the group you’re talking with at a party. Sure, you can do it, but you look like an jerk. At a party I’m much more likely to stop interacting in the conversation as animatedly, and then excuse myself politely when the opportunity arises. The Facebook equivalent is to move the person to my “restricted profile” list, or maybe just “acquaintances.” I see less of them, and they only see what I want them to see of me. I’ve excused myself from the conversation without looking like an ass. Life and Facebook can already be messy. Why make it messier by pointing out to anyone that you just don’t like them. What good comes of it? Do they suddenly change their behavior because they find out they’ve offended you? Not likely, right? I mean, most likely it will cause bad feelings for the other person whether they express them or not. If you’re just trying to cause bad feelings, well, fine. Unfriend me, too, while you’re at it. I’ll get over it but I don’t need friends who want to live like that.
Don’t give me a privacy rant, either. Your stuff is out there. If you don’t want it out there, don’t put it out there. If you don’t want anyone but your best friends who you trust implicitly to see it, invite them over for a slideshow, or just email it. But know that once you email it, it’s out there, too. You are, and have always been, completely in charge of what information you want to post. If someone else posts things about you, that’s a whole different problem, and not one I’m speaking to at the moment.
It’s 2014, folks. If you don’t have a Facebook account, that’s your right, but to those of us at the party, it’s as if you are hiding under a table. If you have an account, linked to an email you read, but you don’t use it, well, that’s like coming to the party and standing in the corner. Some of my best friends are corner standers, and that’s cool, but hiding under the table, if you’re under the age of 50 is a bit on the anti-social side. Of course then there are the cases like my brother, who has a Facebook account, but not under his real name, so he’s hiding under the table but peeking out from under the tablecloth. That’s a whole different ball of issues, but since I don’t want him dissecting mine on the internet, I guess I’ll leave him be, even if I do slip him a cookie once in a while. (And by that, I mean that I pass along your greetings, those of you who know him and tell me to say “hi” for you.)
So that’s my rant for today. I know a lot of people don’t see it that way, but I won’t kick you off my friend list for it.