A lot of my friends and acquaintances seem to have left Facebook recently on mental health grounds. Apparently it’s the most liberating thing you can do in the 21st century. Personally I like to believe I’m one of those more mature Facebook users who can separate weak-chat from chaff-chat, who uses the social network purely for life enhancing reasons, but in truth I’m kidding myself.
For sure I love the banter, the sharing of funny stuff, moving stuff, crazy stuff. I love bonding over a cat leaping like superman out of an open window before falling to the ground like Wiley Coyote. I love the support I can show to other people going through difficult times. The understanding, the connection, the commeraderie. However, the reality is I’m no more immune to that “other” stuff than they are. The stuff that makes you feel bad about yourself, unfulfilled, not quite good enough. The stuff that sees you compare yourself to other people over and over again.
I have an old friend on Facebook I haven’t seen for nearly 2 decades who’s become my “what if” friend. Single, living abroad with the body I once had (pre-kids), the career I lost, the clothes, the social life. I can’t help but compare and contrast and come up short. In reality, this person is probably looking through MY profile and crying over MY husband and MY kids. Stupid irony.
Then there’s the friends I’ve lost touch with. The ones I see in photos posted by their other friends looking happy and smiling – that is happy and smiling without me. And it tugs at you. They’ve chosen to spend their lives with these other people and as silly as it is, it feels like rejection.
I can count on one hand the number of Facebook friends I continue to interact with in any kind of meaningful way once the Facebook honeymoon period is over. Those early days of comparing and contrasting and measuring myself up, with nothing to show for it but a black mark on my soul. The “There’s yet another friend that’s doing better than you” Facebirthmark.
So it’s clear then, if I value my soul and my sanity I should hang up my Facebook hat and start living my life in the REAL world where REAL people live, not with the better versions that are carefully constructed and lived out online.
Let’s be honest here, I am pretty great, but I’m nowhere near as great as I appear online.
So what do you think? Is it about time YOU saved your soul from Facebook self-destruct?