Thursday, October 20, 2011


Facebook. The ultimate work time-waster. The ultimate stalking tool. The ultimate photo sharing/inside joke zinging/event planning tool. The ultimate Thief of Joy?

I joined facebook in the early days , before it became the all-encompassing monster it is today. It was in the days before walls, or photo-sharing, or "liking." Scrolling back to the first days of my page, it's funny to see how much things have changed. The early days are mainly my best friend Fluff and I writing back and forth that we miss eachother, making jokes that would be inappropriate for facebook consumption now, and having pretty personal exchanges that would be better suited for emails or personal messages.

I can't remember if no one else could see our pages, or if there were so few people on the fb that we didn't worry about who would be reading. I actually wrote this to her in 2006:
"Don't talk shit about my cleavage. I bet yours is gone now, you skinny motherfucker. Damn coxswains."
Ahh, the days before my parents and my boss were my friends on facebook. The days when "online reputation" was a phrase that didn't mean anything.

What I'm saying is, if I look back at the first days of facebook, my profile and interactions were a pretty accurate representation of me as a person. I can remember what was actually happening in my life by looking at old posts - break ups, starting a shitty job, being staffed in a role I absolutely hated. My separation anxiety from being away from Fluff is palpable, as is the pain of that huge breakup.

Fluff and I didn't think about whether anyone else was watching what we were saying. We openly joked about being lesbian partners, which was a running joke when I moved into her bedroom for a full semester to escape an evil roommate. I'm not saying that now we would really care if people took that stuff seriously (not that there's anything wrong with that!), but it's just not something either of us would probably post anymore, with the newsfeed, mini newsfeed, and activity alerts for your entire undergrad community.

It's not bad that we've learned to be more private with our lives. We use chat and gmail for the personal conversations for the sad/real stuff now. But the end effect is that my page looks more like a glossy ad for my life. If I look at my page now, it sort of looks like I just watch football? And go to weddings. Yes, football and weddings. That is my life according to facebook.

There was an in-between period between over-sharing and my current football/wedding-centricity in which I was only sharing happy/good/fun things with the world. I shared all the fun stuff and not so much of the "I f'ing hate my job and need a change" stuff. When I realized I was myself editing my life for public consumption, I really cut back on posts. At this point, I really only put inane stuff up there. As an introvert with 515 "friends," there are just a lot of things (good and bad) that I don't WANT to share with these people.

The problem with the negativity filter is that I often forget other people are doing it as well. And since comparison is the thief of joy, it's hard to be happy with what I have when I'm staring down the glossy ads for other people's lives on a daily basis. Some go beyond the "editing" and go on full self promotion. These pages read like an aggressive campaign to make sure everyone is jealous of your life. It's like Ja'mie King is real. HEY EVERYONE LOOK AT HOW MUCH FUN I'M HAVING!

So how exactly do you self promote on facebook? Here'a a handy list!

1. Only allow photos of yourself with your hand on your hip to be posted: How do you even remember to do this every time a camera comes out?

2. Continually proclaim your spouse/boyfriend/significant other to be the greatest person in the world: aaaaand how great your relationship is. Definitely post a picture of your engagement ring. If you can add some picture of you kissing/heavily posed at each event, bonus points. Every wedding is basically a prom, right?

3. Post extremely braggy/boastful happenings in your life and follow up with "I am so blessed/lucky": Attributing positive things in your life to blessings and luck doesn't change the fact that you are actively rubbing these blessings in the face of people that are perhaps less fortunate than you. I'm really happy that your parents made the down payment on your home and/or car for you, but I don't really need it rubbed in my face as I toil away to pay of my 60k in student loans, thanks.

4. Post extremely braggy/boastful happenings in your life and attribute them to how amazingly talented and smart you are: I think this one speaks for itself.

5. Life is stressful! Being a grown-up sucks. It sucks for everyone. But I bet it sucks for you the most!

6. Post your Glamour/Bikini shots: These are the best. I really could do without the bikini shots, coworkers, but never stop with the glamour shots and awesome engagement sessions. They are so good. Never change.

I have come to the conclusion that facebook is the ultimate thief of joy, because inevitably I start comparing. It helps to put things in perspective by realizing people are presenting their facebook lives and not their real lives. And ultimately, as my real life gets more and more complicated, facebook seems less and less appealing... and maybe some day soon I'll stop using it so often. But for now, it's sort of like a car crash, and I have a really hard time looking away.


  1. The first days of our walls are basically an open love letter between us. Perhaps I should print them and collage them into my diary so I can remember our love forever!