That Devil Facebook
My mother thinks Facebook is the devil. She might be right. She thinks you don’t need to have everybody “knowing your business.” I have a different issue with it. Facebook is a fake, a fraud. It only shows one part of your life, usually the touched-up part. The perfect family vacation, the perfect anniversary dinner with the perfect husband, the perfect honor roll recipient. Our brightest and shiniest moments. Perfect, perfect, perfect. But there’s the problem. Life is not perfect. It is not always shiny and bright. Life is real, and Facebook is not. By documenting the attractive views of our life, are we eliminating the character of who we really are, and are we creating an unrealistic portrait of our lives? Are we defining ourselves by the shiny snapshot?
Workgloves and Wasps and Bowls of Ice Water
My latest Facebook post showed a roaring fire, my mantel perfectly decorated for fall. Caption read: “First fire of the season. Perfect day for it. Makes me happy!”
It was a lovely photo describing a lovely PART of my day. Here’s what I didn’t post on Facebook. While I am proud that I can build a fire by myself, it makes me a little sad that I have to. But I don’t share that part with the world. People look at my post and think what a happy day, what a happy life. Parts of it are happy, of course. Other parts, not so much.
On that first fire day, I kept a good attitude about having to do it all. I was in a good place, but things took a turn. I was going to stack some more wood on the porch and grabbed my gloves from the pile. As I put them on I thought, “There must be pine needles in these gloves.” Not pine needles – wasps. And, I’m allergic. I didn’t share that scene.
So one part of my day really was picture perfect. That’s the part I documented. Later in the day looked like this: me sitting on the floor with my hands in bowls of ice water. That didn’t make the Facebook cut.
As we scroll through our feeds looking at our friends’ perfect days, we need to remember that everyone is doing the same thing – showing the best, the funniest, the most flattering parts. We all have the wow moments, but we also have the wasp stings. We just don’t post those.
A friend of mine says we are suffering from Facebook-itus, the disease that causes us to think everyone else’s life is better than ours. The easiest cure, according to my moma, is to get off that devil Facebook. I’m not ready to go cold turkey, but I do try to keep it all in perspective.
Permanent Marker Memories
Years ago, before social media was a thing, Christmas cards were the way to show off. I loved sending Christmas cards as much as the next person. I have one of my picture-perfect cards tucked away in a memory box somewhere, but I wish I had documented the behind-the-scenes scoop that tells the real story of what we were that day. That is what I want to remember. My pre-teen son had drawn a big smiley face on his neck with a permanent marker. In the photo, a turtleneck and band-aid hid the shaningans. But those very shaningans are what I miss now that is he grown and living on his own.
My daughter was just a toddler and had smeared thick white diaper cream all over her needlepoint stocking. Finger painting, she said. I turned the stained side of the stocking towards the mantel so that only the perfect side showed for the camera, but some Desitan is still there. That stain made me mad years ago, but now I’m so glad to see it. It’s one of the first things I look for when I start pulling out the decorations. On that day which seems like yesterday, she was fingerpainting. Today she’s researching colleges with the best design programs. Before I know it, she will be away at school. I’ll be so thankful to pull out that stocking and remember the day she finger painted with ointment.
Cropping Out the Good Stuff
I would like to think I am going to be more real in my posts, but who am I kidding? Vanity, thy name is social media. So old man devil keeps his hooks in me a while longer.
But I’m on to him, that master of illusion. Facebook shows us the shiniest parts of our lives, but not necessarily the best, and certainly it doesn’t give the big picture. Sometimes the best memories are also the messiest. Sharpie markers and Desitan smears. Nobody tells great stories about perfect mantels. No good story ever began with, “Remember that time when I was little and the bow on my head was perfect?”
The good stories, the ones we tell over and over, begin something like this: “Remember the time the dog ate all the pork chops, and we had to go to the puppy emergency room?” or “Remember the year the Christmas tree fell over and fell over and fell over, and moma snapped and threw it over the porch rail?” Nobody posts a photo of a tree face down in the dirt. But those are the stories of us.
Our ability to edit is giving us a beautiful collection of memories. But that’s all it is, an edited collection. Our photos are beautiful, no doubt, but beautiful doesn’t always mean meaningful. Beautiful doesn’t always mean real.
My moma is always right. Facebook probably is not good for us. But, we think we know best, so we continue feeding the beast that is social media. I am going to try to remember that for every perfect photo, there is something that has been cropped or edited. Sharpie smiley faces and diaper cream designs. Bloated beagles and crashing Christmas trees. That’s the good stuff. That’s the real deal.