Facebook. We love it. We hate it. We love to hate it. We hate to love it. Since Myspace suddenly died off and the easier-to-use, more flashy platform took it’s place, I’ve been full-on facebooking. Tagging friends in funny memes, sharing things I believed everyone should know or see, and most of all, posting a bazillion pictures of my daughter, my food, my dog, and my cats has been my jam for, like, ever.
But, as the saying goes, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. And lately, I find myself feeling more hurt than happy or informed whenever I log in to check those ever enticing notifications. Why?
The short answer goes something like this: guilt, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, addiction, and the knowledge that I’m supporting a business whose leaders don’t seem as moral and positive minded than I once thought. Here’s the long answer.
1) Hi, my name is Abby and I’m a Facebook addict. I can feel the laughter from my friends list now. “No kidding, Abby!” I post every single day, numerous times a day. If you’re spending your life looking down at your phone, swiping and typing, is that really living?
2) My two year old is showing lots of interest in playing on my phone. She cries when I tell her no and take it away from her. She shakes with frustration. Is she already a little addicted? She is only mirroring my own phone behavior.
3) I’m missing things. I’m missing sunsets and lightning bugs and soft rains. I’m missing snowfalls and swaying trees. I’m missing pictures my little girl has drawn and stories she wants to tell me and questions she has for me. I’m missing the feeling of connection to my husband or the compliments he is giving me or his attempts to hold my hand. All because my smart phone is more important?
4) It often leaves me feeling really, really guilty. See number 3.
5) As much as I hate to admit it, a lot of my self confidence comes from your likes. Yeah, this is pathetic-sounding and unattractive. But I have to keep it real, always. It’s no way to live. It’s unhealthy.
6) I am very proud of my baby. But there is such a thing as posting too much about your kid. It might alienate and annoy people. But more importantly, there are sickos out there who prowl the internet. Am I doing my part to keep her safe if I’m willingly posting so much information about her openly?
7) How will she feel, as an adult, knowing that practically every day of her childhood was documented online? Think about it. I can’t tell you what I was doing on December 1st, 1990 … But she, theoretically, will be able to pick a date and look up exactly what she was wearing, what she was doing, and where she was.
8) It puts my brain into competition mode. I love my Facebook friends dearly, but the constant barrage of all of your beautiful families, homes, careers, and accomplishments can really make a girl feel like she has to kick it up a notch.
9) It’s depressing as hell. Some folks can scroll through hateful, angry posts and terrible, violent news stories all day long and not be affected. I am not one of those people. All I want to do is see so and so’s new baby, but I have to hear about how terrible this world is first … and from all angles. Then I find myself wondering why we are even bringing new babies into this chaotic, sad world. Sigh. Here’s some information on a Harvard study that proves I’m not alone in this.
10) What kind of business am I even supporting? Much of the 2016 election outcome can be attributed to people believing everything they read on their timelines and sharing fake news. Facebook knew what was going on. They knew untrue information was being thrown around and was even swaying voters (or just making them angrier than ever), but they didn’t really do much to step in. Look it up.
For example, this story, published by Forbes, is from November of 2016. Also though … damn, what does it say about us as a society that we let this social media thing so completely take over our lives that it is now basically telling us how to vote?! And we are listening to it! Have we really lost all of our personal control? Has it really become almost impossible to make an informed decision because of the way social media muddies it all up?
We all want to lead full, happy, inspiring lives. We want to be lying on our death beds thinking, I did it all. I did everything I wanted to do and I did it all with love. I fear that most of us will have terrible regrets about what we didn’t accomplish and all of the time we spent on our phones, trying to prove to the world how full our lives were, instead of actually living with any real life substance. Our children will either be sitting next to us, angry because we never took the time to out our phones down and make a real, meaningful connection with them, or sticking their phones in our faces, documenting every second our slow demise for the internet.
Because after all, if we didn’t post it, did it even really happen? And is it still possible to just have memories without documentation? Are they as meaningful if they only exist in our minds and hearts and not on our timelines or in our smart phone camera rolls?