I am reasonably sure there are a couple of thousand posts involving the façade of Facebook. I didn’t research (google) it. I’m afraid I’d find myself distracted by another breaking news story wherein Donald Trump offends an entire race of people. I digress. Instead of research, I will write from what I perceive.
Facebook is an incredible platform; it connects people from all over the world. Families who live in different parts of the country can observe what appears as a live stream into a person’s day-to-day life. Grandparents who may live hundreds of miles away are now able to see their grandchildren online, every day. How incredible is that? Pretty damn awesome right? Of course, it is, I know for a fact my kids love connecting with their Grandparents via Facebook.
But Facebook is more than that; it is the façade of a perfect life.
I know I am not the first person to ‘clue-in’ to this tidbit of information. It’s not as if I am discovering penicillin. Nevertheless, it seems to me, we are creating some communicative harm, or at the least not recognizing Facebook for what it is.
Let’s get real. Facebook is fake.
Calm down; I have met some incredibly real, and extraordinary people online. People, I have become friends with for life. As a matter of fact, these individuals have helped me tread through some particularly challenging times in my life and are great supporters not only in my writing but also in my personal experiences. However, these persons reached out, got to know me over and above my Facebook feed, or timeline. We built relationships worthy of genuine friendship, and to be entirely truthful, I wouldn’t hesitate to put each of them up in my home.
In saying that, we have to remember the difference between a “Facebook life,” and true-to-the-touch reality. What people see on my timeline isn’t accurate to real life. I’m not saying I’m not genuine, of course, I am. I do my best to be real with everything I post. I believe fully in putting out the most authentic me I know. When I write for my blog, I write in an honest, raw design. But hey, not everyone reads my blog. More accurately they see a meme, or a status update and piece together whatever judgment that person may see fit. To most, I am sure I look like I have my shit together. I carefully place what you see of my life on purpose. We all do. NO ONE is going to post a status or picture of themselves on the verge of a breakdown; we just don’t do that. But the reality is many of us do have life altering moments happening behind our Facebook Walls.
If we are going to be real, we must be honest with ourselves. Real isn’t Facebook; real is dirty, messy and often painful. We don’t place daily struggles or even our most tormented moments on Facebook. And I’m sure it’s with the best intent, but also with the adage “It’s no one’s business but my own.” The reality is Facebook isn’t where we get real with each other. It’s not as if a woman who has been beaten by her husband would quickly snap a picture and post it on Facebook, tagline: So-and-so and I had a terrible fight, he smashed my head into the wall. We post funny antidotes of our tough times but rarely do we let people see what is truly going on behind closed doors, or in this case, behind the Facebook timeline. It isn’t reality; it’s a résumé of our best days. Even the poorest of our days Posted on our Facebook Wall, usually is the best of our worst.
I’m not saying we need to air our dirty laundry all over Facebook, please don’t. What I am saying is we need to be aware of Facebook’s constraints, judge less and think more, and understand what it truly is. An online digest of what we want to put out into the world.
Understandably, each person we meet whether it is through social media, or in “real-life,” will only give you pieces of them, the parts they choose to reveal. Nevertheless, when you interact with someone face to face, there is considerably more you will ascertain via facial expressions, or as I said before, we may actually see the bruised face of a woman who has been assaulted.
Facebook users, myself included, are simulating our personal authenticity. And fair enough, not everything needs to be arranged on a blue and white wall for everyone to see. What a specific individual decides to share is no one’s business but their own, it doesn’t determine them less real, and in no way shape or form is it a compass for who that person may truly be. It surely is a part of them, but not ALL of them.
I can tell you I have had various people look at my Facebook-Life with envy, yet I can say without a doubt in my mind I don’t bake cookies with my children daily, my house isn’t always immaculate, and we aren’t always all smiles. My LIFE isn’t my Facebook Wall.
And let’s not forget the other side of it, most would assume I drink wine by the gallon (I do drink it by the box, on occasion – no, not all at once), and get out of the house more often than others. Neither of these is true, but these are some of the things I have posted on my wall, little snippets of my life, not my entirety. My reality, behind my Facebook Wall, is something not everyone gets to witness, and I do it with purpose, we all do. Everyone is guilty of placing ourselves in the best light; there wouldn’t be a filter option on our picture apps if we didn’t desire to be seen in a more beautiful light.
I believe there is a need to come to terms with the façade of Facebook, to understand we are airbrushing our lives. And just as we raise awareness for our son’s and daughter’s regarding “real-life,” vs. a model’s picture in a magazine, I believe we need to recognize and understand the reality that each of us does this on Facebook, every day.
I’m not saying it needs to change, nor am I promoting mud-slinging and lover’s quarrels smeared for all to see across our news feeds. What I am trying to articulate, is the need to see Facebook for what it genuinely is, a mere glimpse into someone’s life. One which is planned carefully and placed in a way that promotes our best attributes.
So as we open our Facebook to see glimpses of our friend’s, family and people we follow, don’t you think it’s about time we judge less, love more, and don’t assume to know someone based on their Facebook Wall?
It’s clear Facebook isn’t going anywhere; it has become as important as the telephone when it comes to communication. But I believe it’s time to come to terms with the so-called reality of Facebook. To take it for what it is worth, and stop claiming it to be anything but a lovely place to interact, and in turn, maybe even get to know people better, to dig deeper into the actual person behind their Facebook Wall.