Thursday, January 27, 2011
Facebook Readers Beware
I had a discussion with my husband the other night about Facebook and people's posts. Yeah, sure there is that one "friend" who always posts about how rotten life is, but for the most part, people's profiles and posts on Facebook are glowing. We hop on and look at friends pictures of their beautiful smiling families and friends, the awesome pictures of their new houses, cars, vacations, and wonderful things they are doing. We read about what a great time they had at a party or the wonderful meals they cooked or the awesome promotion they got. It all seems picture perfect.
Unless, of course, you know the whole story. Like the friend of mine who posts beautiful pictures of her children and vacations. Wow--what a great life from her Facebook posts. But I know the dirty little secret that her husband is an alcoholic and is verbally abusive to the family. Or the glowing pictures of my sister's family and the fun and crazy posts her children make. Yet I know the family is in crisis and bordering on divorce. And I could go on...
Facebook is a mechanism that allows people to show what they want about their lives. How does that impact us, their friend, the reader? (Note that I used the term "friend" loosely in this post because many Facebook friends are just simply acquaintances.) If we aren't guarded, it can have a huge impact on our thinking. Believing that what you read is the full reality of our friend's lives can be dangerous for us. It is very easy to come to the faulty conclusion that other people have a much better life than we do by reading these wonderful posts. Not only are we exposed just to the people we have contact with, but hundreds of so-called friends and their lives. It really can seem like "everyone" has a better life than we do and we may begin to question and wonder what is wrong with our lives. We compare our houses to theirs, our lives to theirs and everything they have looks better. We begin to believe that we don't have enough, aren't good enough, don't make enough money and so forth. Having these beliefs can lead to feelings of sadness, loneliness, depression, and worthlessness, especially if we don't have anything "great" to post.
We need to remember that we don't really know what someone's life is based upon their Facebook status. We only know what is on Facebook, and I would venture to say that very few air their dirty laundry there, nor do we want to. I mean, really, do you want to read a post that says, "My husband came home drunk tonight...again." Facebook status aren't necessarily untrue, but they just don't show the whole truth in someone's life.
So remember, as a Facebook reader, it is important to take what we read with a grain of salt. These posts are just a snapshot of our friend's life, not an unabridged autobiography. Don't compare your life with theirs. They may have the beautiful house, the beautiful family on the surface, but they may really be wishing they have the life you live.