She’s the first thing you see in the morning – that is, after you snooze the damn alarm five times. She’s the one you casually troll at work when you’re bored, or at night after you’ve tucked in the kids and you just want to unwind without actually having to think. She’s a mindless way to pass (and waste) any extra time you have. But at the same time, she’s an incredible wealth of knowledge… about everything you shouldn’t give a shit about. She’s also a snotty little bitch. More on that in a second.
I don’t know if Mr. Z realized or envisioned the monster he created when he launched Facebook. I just remember being a sophomore in college and somehow learning I had access to this “elite” (insert my 32-year-old sarcasm) network of people. Online. Everyone else was doing it (well, students at the other 25 colleges and universities that had access). It was a fun and new addition to AOL Instant Messenger.
Wishing a friend Happy Birthday on the internet? How cool! Poking a guy to flirt a little? So harmless. I also loved reconnecting with friends from high school. Except for that time a bunch of us met in St. Louis to celebrate Mardi Gras and one of my guy friends from high school posted a pic of me drunkenly flashing my everything to the camera while smiling like a lunatic. Facepalm. Don’t worry, he had a heart and took it down once I explained to him I was applying for jobs as a TV reporter and really couldn’t have THAT sort of image on the internet. For like, forever.
Long story short, I remember when Facebook was fun and – for the most part – innocent.
When I got my first TV job out of college, I remember my boss strongly suggesting I delete my page. It “wasn’t appropriate for someone in the public eye to have their private life online in such a public way,” she said. I was 22 and had just landed my first grown up gig. With a real, steady paycheck. I wanted and needed that job and my social (media) life wasn’t worth an argument, so I obliged.
That was 2006. I actually did a news story back then about companies not hiring qualified college graduates after a scan of their Facebook profile showed anything but a potentially hard-working employee. We’re talking before privacy settings, people.
My, oh my, what we just didn’t know.
Fast forward 11 years and here I am. Back on the Facebook. Spending way too much time absorbed in what other people are doing and how they’re doing it. Wanting to be a better mom because – my God – she spends more time out drinking than with her kids, or that one is such a train wreck… airing all her sad shit for the world to see and hoping her 700 “friends” feel sorry for her. Then there’s that guy, still pissed off about the election. And posting about it every 5 seconds.
Even worse? We now have Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat (I’ve yet to cross over to the dark side on that one… but I’m close) and probably some other new time-sucker that just came out on the app store last week. We show off happy little snippets of our lives, as if everything is perfect. As if our kids don’t drive us insane. As if we don’t have constant mom guilt. As if we think people honestly give a crap that we just ran a half marathon. Or that our dog died. As if our kid’s preschool graduation (with high honors) really matters. As if our career is what we always dreamed it would be. As if we don’t sometimes get scared or mad or crazy because adulting is more stressful than we ever imagined. As if we’re living the freaking dream. One damn Boomerang at a time.
"Perfect Pics" I recently posted on Instagram. But they don't necessarily portray reality.
That, my friends, is why social media is such a little bitch.
It creates unrealistic expectations… of ourselves and other people in our lives. It drums up comparison zones and insecurities that didn’t even exist until we saw that picture of our “friend” and her flawless marriage or her perfect body (nevermind the fact that she took 10 different shots at 6 different angles to get that #winning pose).
We used the timer on my camera and propped it against a rock and one of our water bottles after a tough run on Mother's Day. These are just a FEW of the unflattering outtakes that never saw social media because I just didn't feel like they were good enough. How many unposted "outtakes" are on YOUR camera?
Trying to get that perfect shot... of a happy baby & her mama on Memorial Day. She cried through the whole thing, and looking back, why did I need my husband to take so damn many?
Social media also brings stalking to a whole new level of crazy. Did you know you can use the FB messenger app to see the last time someone was on Facebook on their phone? Soooo when your friend tells you she’s not ignoring your text, but has just been so busy with the kids and hasn’t had her phone on her for, like, 3 hours… you can use that little feature to see that she’s Full. Of. Shit. Because she was just online 47 minutes ago. Ugh. (Yes, I stalk people on social media. Don’t act like you’ve never done it in your own creepy little way).
A friend of mine – we’ll call him Jake – recently pointed out how tough it is to meet and date new people in this evolving age of social media. Jake is in his late 20s, has a bachelor’s degree, a good job in IT, owns his home, loves being active outdoors and enjoys sports. He’s a smart dude, he doesn’t smell bad and he’s really, really sweet. (Maybe I should write his next Match.com profile?)
“You have no idea,” Jake told me the other day. “Every girl I meet has to have her phone within 12 inches of her hand or her face. If we’re at dinner, it’s interrupted by constant notifications that can’t wait until later. If we’re trying to walk in the park or have a decent conversation, she isn’t even looking at me because her phone is more important. It sucks.”
He went on to ask how he’s even supposed to meet a girl the old-fashioned, face-to-face way when chicks just walk around buried in social media all the time. Wow. Point taken.
How did we get here? Seriously. As a society, how did we get to a point where, instead of unwinding at night to TV shows like Love Connection or The Tonight Show the way our grandparents did, we’re falling asleep to the tune of bullshit – both fake and real? Why are we choosing to absorb it so willingly? And were we better off without it?
Then there’s the giant can of worms about never being able to truly unplug. You know what I’m talking about – the ability to work or be on call virtually 24/7, thanks to the evolution of texting and email. What an inconvenient convenience when it comes to interpersonal communication.
I don’t have any solutions or insightful wisdom about this societal shit storm in which I am a willing participant. Maybe it’s like a 12-step program, and admitting we have a creeping/stalking/comparing/selfie taking/attention-whoring problem is the first step toward actually having real, uninterrupted interactions with other human beings again?
So keep “liking,” “loving,” and “omg-ing” before you screen shot the post and send a snarky text about it to your BFF. While you’re at it, be sure your phone is at the perfect 45-degree angle above your face before you take that next selfie. Jaw lines, ladies… jaw lines! And even though you already know you look good, all those comments and likes from your “friends” serve as a sweet little positive reinforcement. It's all 100% genuine... right?
I mean, hey, if the snotty little social media bia who gives us a daily complex and causes us to overthink everything we thought we knew about other people and ourselves, why wouldn’t we fish for a little pickmeup every now and then?
I'm a mom to 3 beautiful, spirited, elementary school-aged humans, I'm addicted to running + strength training, I have no filter & I work full time in the corporate world. But behind the scenes of all that is where it really gets interesting...