Are perpetually happy online personas a big lie or simply a matter of protocol?

September 10, 2012

Status update: “Posing with the Beaver!”

One of the wonders of social media is that it allows us to present only what we want of ourselves to the world. Wrinkles, warts and divorces remain hidden. We put our best face forward and keep ugliness and negativity far from curious eyes. We show only virtues and rarely defects of body and character. Frankly, we are being more than pleasant. We are presenting idealized versions of ourselves: who we aspire to be versus (perhaps) who we really are. Facebook is the textbook example but the myriad other microblogging platforms provide ample camouflage as well. Duh, you say. Why would anyone want to share anything less than bliss in his or her personal life let alone Tweet about it?

The dilemma (if dilemma is even the right word) is that everyone is living a kind of virtual lie and one that grows bigger and deeper with every status update and adorable photograph we upload. Say a gal posts only sugar and spice and everything nice; her idealized self, the woman she hopes to be and wants others to think she is. But what if that same person is, in fact, seriously depressed or even suicidal? Is it a kind of betrayal to her friends and family to be falsely presenting all that positivity? Is it dangerous? On the other hand, is bad news better left unsaid? Does it fall under the category of “too much information?”

Status update: “I ripped Bob’s face off for betraying me!”

I don’t know the answer. After all, I’m just as shiny and happy on Facebook as you are. I post photographs of my adorable children just like you do. I am happy. We are “totally enjoying dinner at Café Louise!” Or I am “so looking forward to Lily’s dance recital tomorrow.” And so on. The bitter argument I had with my spouse last night is never communicated. My disdain for dance recitals is avoided like the plague. God forbid my numerous Facebook “friends” think I have challenges at home or am anything less than a perfect husband or father.

Et tu?

When I scroll through your Facebook pages I rarely see anything but delighted and happy people. Sure, you post snarky comments about this politician or that pop star but when it comes to you and yours you are as positive as a Disney Princess.

Status update: “Gary may be gay but our love will last forever!”

Some people are braver than others: like the man who shares his battle with cancer or the woman who opens up about her struggle to land a job. So, yes, there are plenty of examples of self-disclosure taking place online. Yet, the vast majority of us don’t “go there.” Our Facebook pages are like a fifties-era sitcom. Sis and Johnny love school and sports and going on vacation. Father’s knows best. And mom is always “That Girl!”

I don’t expect any of us will change this “Life is Beautiful!” approach to social networking but I am calling bullshit. Life is messy and complicated. Relationships implode. People get sick and die. Children are maladjusted. In the end shit happens all the time. Just not on Facebook.

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160 Responses to “Are perpetually happy online personas a big lie or simply a matter of protocol?”

  1. This reminded me of a post I’d written a while back in which I crafted alternative Facebook status updates, or the stuff I *could* have said: http://writingthroughthefog.com/2011/12/12/notes-on-virtual-life-part-vi-facebook-status-updates-and-what-i-could-have-said/

    I like how you end this: “In the end shit happens all the time. Just not on Facebook.” Nicely put!

  2. TJ_Smoov said

    I’m at the age where I have a young child, as do most of my friends. But I discovered that my childless friends get annoyed by the “perfect child, perfect family” status updates. So, I actively attempt to portray parenthood as both an incredible experience and a soul-crushing experience. Because it is.

    • Steffan1 said

      TJ- I totally see how the childless masses would quickly resent the endless perfect family updates. Yet, they ought to be careful w/ all their “awesome” vacation photos as well…

    • thejellyfarm said

      Finally! Someone who says the truth. I’m single and nearing 40 and TBH, I’m a little sick and tired of the ‘perfect family’ pictures and crap updates. Facebook is not about reality. It’s a myth of who people think they wanna be. Thnx!

  3. I am going to give you a perspective from the South. The overarching problem appears to be that of unwed mothers bragging about their bastard children. No matter what age these mothers are praised for their accomplishments (on facebook). I see so many unwed teen mothers place mirror shots of their pregnant bellies on Facebook. Only to be followed with oh I am so happy or oh you look so good. It is quite ridiculous. Once upon a time those were shunned at having babies out of wed lock. Now they are encouraged not only by media but by their peers. Even worse these pregnancies are often followed by weddings. Many of which are adorned with camouflage. What do we say. What do we do. I wish to tell them that a life of higher education and a pursuit of a career would be better but they are content with having bubbas baby.

  4. My Facebook friends and family are a mixed bunch. Maybe it’s because we’re mostly Australian and English, but those that are going through shit (mostly relationship break-ups) do tend to lay it all out there for all to see. The good, the bad and the ugly. There are quite a few that seem to have ridiculously perfect spouses and children, and it does get annoying at times, but they are balanced out by the ones that put every little sordid detail of their sorry lives online.

  5. JL Walker said

    I love your analysis.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and, though I am definitely guilty of this in some way just as much as the next guy, I think it has to do with the number of FB friends you have. The more friends you have, the more you may be guilty of this because you are putting your best face forward for the masses to see. This makes sense because I am not the same person amongst a bunch of long-distance acquaintances as I am when I’m with close friends and family. I know people with a larger number of FB friends who seem to be their perfect selves on social media and conversely there are people who have a very small number of connections who are more open and more “real”.

    I would rather get the real-deal status updates from friends, but it’s a more private matter.

    Thanks again for your post, it’s an interesting issue in these times of new and changing social habits.

  6. Kavi said

    Interesting post…& people on FB generally project themselves as eternally happy – work wise, kids wise, marriage wise, pet wise, exotic vacation wise…because that’s what we want the world to see :-D Spot on & congrats on being FP’d!

  7. And conversely, it makes it all the more uncomfortable when your friends share something honest and unpleasant. There’s always the awkward moment when you see that “xyz has changed their relationship status to single” and you realise the bubble has been burst. I guess it depends what you use these platforms for, though the norm for facebook does seem to be to broadcast a rose-tinted scrapbook of one’s life. Your post hits the nail right on the head.

  8. I think any short form media invites this kind of slice-of-life bullshit/inanity. I find with blogging, the best writing is from those that do “go there”. Of course, nobody wants to read “my life sucks” 24/7, either. Very funny status updates with the pictures!

  9. http://broadsideblog.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/exhausted-and-overwhelmed/

    Yesterday I said “the hell with it” and posted this blog about how worn out I feel these days.

    Lying is boring. Reading lies is boring. Authentic communication means talking honestly about who you are and what’s happening in your life. I’d be happy to see less photos of skinned knees (?!) or people’s pets and a lot more reality about their emotional state. Perky = zzzzzzzzzz.

  10. Jean said

    I’m not on Facebook and don’t need to be. It’s a feat just to get my siblings to respond to me by email. Phone calls reveal more.

    As for personaes, yup some of us do have a happier face on the Internet. There is the terrible reality that employers and co-workers (who really don’t know me) would probably judge a person more harshly if they knew alot of what the person really thought of ..them..or other issues which could be sensitive to them. Or more commonly I would be quite misunderstood no matter what I said on xxxx issue.

    Self-disclosure on the ‘Net to a pile of strangers can be a drug to some or therapy for others to solicit the opinion they want to hear, need support. I have mixed feelings: it doesn’t really address real psychological problems vs. a counsellor or good friend face to face who is supportive but tells the truth.

    However some people are really isolated because their good lifestyle and positive values are the minority within their immediate community,so it’s good for them to even have nominal contact with the outside world.

  11. 30dee said

    Perhaps social networking is just another of the many games we have agreed to play and should remain as it is. As sickening as the perfect worlds and personas we create may be; I’m not convinced that a true portrayal of ourselves to the world is healthy. Before people were able to present themselves to hundreds or thousands of followers/friends; people had a selected group of friends and family who knew them (and probably still do). It is in front of these friends that we lay ourselves bare to be seen for who we really are because it is only there where we would find genuine compassion and involvement in the realities of our lives.
    We all have different reasons for creating our profiles and accepting the invites that we do. I do it because I have met many interesting people through life – I remain interested in their viewpoints and opinions and it is only through my network that I get the chance to see how they think and comment as life changes them. This type of relationship results because of a mutual agreement – they are happy with the extent of my intrusion; as am I. There are many of my contacts that I have not been in individual contact with once – but it is because of this unspoken agreement. We are not willing to pretend that we are friends; we acknowledge that we have drifted apart and lost track of each others’ lives – but in creating that virtual contact I acknowledge too that the real encounter that led to the virtual relationship was significant, that the interest is genuine and accepted, and that the respect for a persona is still present even if a person does not play the role of close friendship in my daily life. I have people that know me – an educated guess tells me that they do not really read my status updates; they phone me and have coffee with me and drop in for a visit.

  12. Catalina said

    I believe the reason why most of us don’t post negative or even entirely truthful updates on social networking websites is because some of these accounts have our real name and identity, and our real life friends have access to them. I don’t know about other people, but when something important happens in my life, I want to tell my friends in person first, before I (if i ever do) announce it to all my Facebook friends or Twitter followers.

    But I have also seen people who do post about their struggles and problems, but more often than not they do it either entirely anonymously or using a nickname. This happens usually in discussion forums or other websites which give us the chance to be anonymous. I think quite a lot of us find it easier to talk about our problems if we’re given a mask and a hidden identity for a while.

  13. eldamien said

    I actually do have a pretty fantastic life, and I’ve been very fortunate in love and my career, so I’m pretty perpetually happy.

    • I presently live in the B-I-B-L-E Belt. In my facebook land, no one has ever had a sip of wine. A martini? Scandalous! Photos of people dancing at a wedding? For shame! I find great entertainment from some status updates and the ensuing comments as I gulp down my Sam Adams. Congrats on FP!

      • There are a lot of legitimate arguments against living your life “large” on Facebook or any other social media. Just ask Duchess Kate Middleton. Regardless of where you live (whether on a “private” balcony out in the open air, or the “Bible Belt”) some things are best really not hanging out there for all the world to see. It isn’t that you’re “ashamed” of them, but that they really are no one else’s business. So you keep them strapped down and inside behind the drawn drapes. That’s common sense – not necessarily any “moral” compunction. My rule of thumb is, if I were at a networking event, would I really walk up to a stranger, introduce myself and then proceed to say [or show them a picture of] whatever that is I might be tempted to write or visually post on social media? If not – then it doesn’t have any place in cyberspace, either. Or as my parents used to admonish, “Would you really want to wake up and read or see this on the front page of the newspaper?!” Really? Just think twice.

  14. I find this super interesting, because my biggest pet peeve about Facebook is people complaining, especially about their young children. And that’s something I’ve heard from most people I know as well. I wonder if there is a bit of an age/gender difference going on here?

  15. You are right. I will not give others example. I also do this in Facebook to get a lot of likes and comments. I don’t know is this right or wrong. I just give this type of status as a fun.

  16. free penny press said

    I left Facebook (aka The book of faces) a year ago because of the daily “fakery” of people..I felt myself falling into the trap of being “shiny & peachy” every day.. Life is not “shiny & peachy” every day and the folks that act like it is are very delusional..It’s rather pathetic if one thinks about it..I’d rather blog or twitter about reality !!
    Great post & Congrats on the FP :-)

  17. Very True!!!But,that’s what most of us are like..

  18. I often post exaggerated statuses about being ‘slighted’ or how I’m upset or annoyed that are laced with self-deprecation / satire / black humour / sarcasm / plain jokes, just because I find it amusing to be well, a bit of a dick. No one is getting hurt and people always tell me that I’m their ‘funniest friend’ on Facebook. The other day though someone commented with “Omg why do you always post this stuff? Like you always act as if you’ve been wronged and it’s the worst thing in the world”
    Guess not everybody gets other people’s humour.

    Which brings me to my point – if you post anything with a complaint, no matter how mild, the entire brigade of social media comes down on you with cries of “get over it! stop looking for attention! Why do you have to be a downer? etc etc” and that really deters people from saying when they’re upset or admitting the truth and saying “I’m not doing so well.”

    Besides, who doesn’t want to rub how great we’re doing in the faces of the people who were mean to us in high school, or who didn’t think we’d ever amount to anything? Sweet, status-ey satisfaction.

    Great post :)

  19. Zaziu said

    I think that when it comes to Facebook and other social networking it is all about peoples ego. They always want to make themselves liked by everyone and therefore just tell them how great their life is in an attempt to make other people jealous of them, or want to be them. At the end of the day, people just like attention and we are all guilty of it. Its the same for people who only post negative comments, I just think its all attention seeking. I know it sounds pretty nasty but its really just part of being human in this modern era, where it seems the more “friends” you have on Facebook equates to how good you are as a person.

  20. I do get a lot of “happy” statuses. But I also get really cryptic “I hate the person but cant say the name out loud ’cause he/she is on my list”. The latter annoys me more. All disappointments are hidden away. They find their voice in blog posts and Twitter rants.

  21. edgeledge said

    Plastic people in there plastic lives, judging those who live a real life. Sad really, but that is where we are now. I like your writing style.

  22. clhaden said

    I think it’s our job to spread happiness (not in a hippy sense.) Social media is such a big platform and most of the population uses it, so I don’t think it’s a good idea that people spread their misery for the rest of the world to see and share. Considering most of us, if not all, want to achieve one thing in life i.e happiness I think it’s a wise idea to keep your social media accounts as positive and uplifting as you can. Expressing happiness is like a domino effect, it inspires every one else to be happy.

    Yes things in life do happen, but it’s about to shifting your attention on to the good things, as you’ll only attract more things to be happy about.

    Every one has their own definition of what makes them flourish and happy. Personally seeing my friends and families children, holidays trips etc inspires me to do more with my family etc etc.

    That’s why I turned off the news and TV many years ago. I’m oblivious in my happiness within social media, and that’s where I’m staying, .

  23. lukejax said

    Finally, a post about this. I’m sure that the presentation of the idealised version of ourselves will come back to bite us in the bums. And for the time being this shows through our unrealistic expectations of body image, relationships, and life. I for one constantly worry that I look rubbish, have no friends, and am not doing half as many exciting and aesthetically pleasing things as other people on my news feed. So many people today are unnecessarily causing themselves misery and depression from comparing their lives to the benchmark set by Facebook. We need to reach back to a time before Facebook, where despite there being very little compared to now, people were by and large happy with themselves.

  24. My Heathen Heart said

    Excellent post!

    Could it be possible, do you think, that ‘happy happy happy and perfect’ might simply be a sign that humanity is fed up with bad news, shitty bosses, even shittier, dead-end jobs, snarky siblings, disease and illness, tragedies, neighbours from hell, the quagmire of debt, and loveless relationships?

    Perhaps social media provides a breather from focusing on negatives 24/7.

    Just sayin’ :)

  25. This is very true… thanks for the reminder to keep it real. I always benefit from knowing I am not alone in life’s struggles.

  26. Stephanie Raffelock said

    As a writer, you hope to present the authentic voice, worts and all. As a FB persona, you are correct…happy, happy, happy and it is boring, as another comment stated. But then where is the line with too much information balanced with something compelling enough to read? I don’t know. I seem to flounder on a good day. Good post. Thanks.

  27. rastelly said

    I don’t face book – I blog – I chase a career in entertainment -
    I also don’t talk about myself where total strangers can read
    it. Though my fiction isen’t always sugar coated.

    I have ways of dealing with the dark side of life that are
    highly unconventional – I also have stroung opinions about
    how others choose to deal with it – (I believe many aspecs of
    our culture that are ment to show respect, are highly
    disrepecful -)

    In short, I can’t talk aboult things that bother me witout getting
    political – I can’t get political without being insulting – I want my
    work to reach everyone – not just the few who share my personal
    beliefs. Cancer seems to be a common problem – as does
    any other bodily or mental ill – it’s a problem others readily understand – or at least agree is terrible –

    Some problems are very personal – to the point where others might laugh at you for even thinking that they constute problems.

    A teenage girl who looks like she was ripped off the cover of
    tiger beat seems to fish for complements by complaining about
    how ugly she is – this seems to insult a more avarage looking girl . . . who may insult her for it out of jealuosy –

    The beautiful girl may be severly depressed, unable to she
    that she is beautiful – beauty means a lot to some people – just because it seems shallow to you does not give you the right to
    berate a person that just might have real problems -

    and this will happen – people will acuse eachother of being
    superfical and start comparing scars to a point where others
    are made to feel like they are worthless –

    The world is full of human vultures and flies that gnaw at wounds should you choose to bare them – not that I judge these people
    most have problems of their own.

    Those who are able to turn a blind eye to what others think of them – may be able to reach out to others in their situation – so
    I guess there is something to said for bearing one’s soul.

    A person hideing behind a happy facade may be truly happy -
    though there may be a struggle in their past they have overcome – still similar problems may not be so similar -

    I woulden’t feel comfortable giveing advice over the internet even if I was a licensed shrink – you simply can’t see the patient’s situation well enough -

    Though some people may feel better simply knowing they are not alone. This is a compelling observation – sure to attract much disscussion.

    an intersting read – these are interesting times.

  28. GiRRL_Earth said

    I loved this post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    Recently, I have read a few blogs about this very topic, as well as listened to a recent radio story on NPR (90.9 WBUR) On-Point with Tom Ashbrook. The piece was entitled, The Age of Braggarts. http://onpoint.wbur.org/2012/08/20/braggarts
    If you have a chance, check it out.

    In addition to all of your points above (which I complete agree with), my other favorite aspect of FaceBook is the passive/aggressive jabs people take. For example: one of my (former) friends is mad at someone, she will post passive/aggressive comments which are intended for the party in-the-know. Rather than be an adult, pick up the phone and call the person she is upset with, she continues to post biting comments. Eventually, it came down to my blocking her updates and eventually un-friending her (in real life – not virtual).

    I am no longer on Facebook. I deactivated my account 4 months ago and I do not miss it.

    p.s. I may re-blog your post on my blog and of course I will be sure to link it back to your blog… I’ve been eager to blog about this very topic.

    N.B.
    Another terrific blogger, has also blogged about this topic. His name is: Michael Sacasas at The Frailest Thing: http://thefrailestthing.com/2012/04/10/facebook-as-rear-window-what-hitchcock-and-gadamer-can-teach-us-about-online-profiles/

  29. You nailed it. Thanks for this post.

  30. This is a fabulous post — and that’s NOT just me giving a virtual high five to the Beaver! I think there will be oodles of research down the line that shows Facebook actually works to disconnect us in ways we’ve never before seen. The idea that we feel compelled to show our “best selves” while we might be dying inside has to have a serious consequence to our psyches…one that will probably only reveal itself as we hit a certain number of years of exposure to “Heading to Disneyland” updates or gym check-ins…

    Me? Sure, I have my fair share of perky status updates about my kids/fiance/life. But that’s why I love my blog so much — it allows me to show my snarky side to anyone who wants to subscribe, instead of just the people who felt compelled to friend me and now passively roll their eyes at my updates!

  31. I don’t know if my facebook acquaintances are uncommonly glum or strangely forthcoming or if it’s a difference in national/regional character, but I see a fair amount of “I forgot to pay the water bill and now I can’t put out the fire in my hair” in updates. Lost cats, failed souffles, kids bearing up well during vacations interrupted by transmission repair; it’s all there. I wonder how this difference comes about….

  32. euphoranyc said

    You have a great point actually. In my experience, however, the majority of fb negativity comes from complaining. About what? Anything at all. From the terrible bagel from DD to how “people hate me”. You see it all. Yet, most of the fb statuses are fluff. This may have much to do with the fact that our fb “friends” are about 90% aren’t actual friends. If our friend lists included our top 3 friends then status updates would be totally different. Who wants 400 extra people to know about their problems? They won’t care anyway…

  33. I always understood social as being next to civil. I treat my social media “friends” the way I would treat my irl “friends”, not by placing all my dysfunctional crap at their feet but by making the time shared light hearted with a few personal insights.

    But then I utilize my blog to let go of my angst. No one that I know of, irl is watching. :-) It’s always easy to dump your dysfunctional crap at a strangers feet then it is people who actually know you and will hold it against you later on down the road. LOL

  34. :) I love this subject. I read another FP post about it by Truth and Cake (Selective Truth and Social Media: TMI or Not Enough?) — you’d like it!

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thinks it’s BS. I’ve actually heard the remark, “Don’t air your dirty laundry,” several times when people post personal stuff.

    You’re right, I’m pretty sure that was the same mindset of the 50′s.

  35. fireandair said

    Depends on who you’re reading, and while this may be sensitive to say, how old they are. I’m middle-aged and have been online since Back in the Day. My peer group is fairly open in terms of age, but I’ve found that the older one is the more honest they are about themselves online.

    I think sometimes people are using their online personae to sort of “try out” new versions of themselves, to see what they might become. Once you settle into yourself and know who you are, you stop doing that. You stop needing to.

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  37. Marie said

    Obviously we don’t hang out with the same circles… My favorite blogger/twitterer/facebooker is Abby who is constantly posting hilarious updates about her failures, but does it in such a fashion that you always want more. I cringe the ones who always post “Oh woe is me” type of updates and blog posts. I cringe and stay away from them, as if their attitude is a form of plague that will be transmitted to me electronically.

    Those who are always bright and happy and perfect? They bore me. Even the queen of etiquette and politically correctness (Martha Stewart) was arrested and sent to jail, and I’ve loved her more for it than her knowledge of cake recipes and color matching. Nobody can EVER be that blissfully hap-hap-happy and live forever after. If that person does exist, I will find him or her and do whatever I can to suck that ooey goodness away and keep it for myself.

    p.s. I love a post like this that stirs up discussion and debates ツ

  38. Totally agree! You nailed it!

  39. madhaus7 said

    This is a very interesting point and a great topic for a blog post. It’s certainly worth commenting on how being falsely positive on such a high level might affect one psychologically. However, I’m not sure if anyone else found the post a little too positive about Facebook itself.

    My feed is filled daily with people complaining about their life, as much as posting positive things. I’m younger, (22) so maybe that has something to do with it. But there’s always at least a dozen or more girls who flip-flop between statuses about how they’ve met the greatest guy in the world and how if he wants to cheat on her than that’s “just f***ing fine you a**hole!” Not the mention all of the over the top, racist, homophobic, hateful political posts I see constantly. My feed lately is a hostile place to be and I’ve been avoiding Facebook for the most part as a result.

    If you could, send some of those phony positive statuses my way.

  40. Yes, you have very effectively summed up why I came off Facebook. I’d rather live a real, at times difficult life than present a phoney shallow version of it on line. Thanks for this post.

  41. Marissa said

    Great post. I’ve been thinking about leaving Facebook for similar reasons and working (in my head only so far) about my reasons. Now I’m feeling a little more inspired to actually write it. Thanks!

  42. I love this! This is something that is thought about or spoken vocally on a daily basis! I think it solely depends on the person reading it. I myself do not want to hear bad news and drama but I dislike when a person judges someone but their going through the same situation only they haven’t voiced it. I think this was a very smart topic to write about and it was done with class. Looking forward to seeing more of your stuff.

  43. Reblogged this on JustClaribel and commented:
    Couldn’t have put it in a better way!

  44. S.C. said

    I understand what you’re saying here. The only time we get the whole truth about people on Facebook is when they drunk-post.

    Since I’m single, I have no reason to be on Facebook – no pictures of kids, no gushing over how great my girlfriend is, etc. All I do is work, and I’m not interested in reading about other people’s personal lives, so what’s the point?

  45. Social media allows our alter egos to take over! Anyone you want to be, you can be! Your daily flaws are covered and even though you might be in the worst mood in real life, on line you are a beacon of joy because, well, thats what people want!

    Everybody wants to think that life is great and wonderful and then we sit back and wonder why ours isnt when it seems like everybody elses is! Life is hard and it takes a lot of work. If social media gives one a chance to pretend it is something different for a bit, I guess it does its job.

    Afterall, who wants to follow along with someone who is always bitching and complaining and taking negative?! kind of like the guy above :)

  46. I guess it’s part of the cyclic nature of things. Early entertainment (movies and television) showed idealized versions of people and families. Anything vulgar or unpleasant was either avoided or re-invented. Couples were shown sleeping in separate beds; stay-at-home moms wore heels in the house. Now that we entertain ourselves by watching voyeur-vision aka social media, many have resumed the charade. In my experience those who spend the most time tweeting and facebooking about their activities usually have the least going on, those who spend the most time posting happy thoughts are the most depressed. Social media has a well-deserved place in current culture, but just like everything else people will use it serve their needs more than the needs of others.

  47. Tara said

    I think this is why I hate Facebook, and tend towards blogs. Facebook feels like a popularity contest. I think that was why it was so hard to connect my bog to my Facebook page. Before, I’d never let anyone I knew read my blog. They didn’t even know I had one, because I was so raw on it. When I connected it, it felt like I was coming out of the closet, or something. And I must admit, my blog has suffered…

  48. Interesting viewpoints.

    I’ver always thought of FB as general conversation between old friends or people I may know. As if we were all standing around at the same party. You hear things here and there and enter into conversations you think are more interesting.

    While I can see the point you’re trying to make (and the majority of people here seem to agree), I treat posting as tossing out little bon mots to elicit more conversation if people are interested in talking or laughing. Just as at a dinner party I wouldn’t open with personal stuff about the “fight with the wife” or “my job is so hard on me”. It seems, for lack of a better word, rude.

    If the conversation turns to a serious subject, or someone asks me my more personal feelings I’ll share, but to me posts are little announcements you make to get things started.

    I, for one, would never discuss intimate details of my life on a bus over a cell phone so why would I do it on FB? When I ask someone in the hall, “How are you?” The last thing I want is a diatribe about how miserable they are so I can feel “connected” to them. Sure, tell me about your life, but keep your edit function on.

    Is that me being “fake” or just conscientious of others not really wanting to get bogged down in whatever I feel is the most important thing in the world to me at that moment.

    For some reason these day people seem to think that because you can reach more people you should vomit up all of your intimate details so they really “know”.

    My guess is Emily Post would disagree. And she wouldn’t think you were being “fake” just well-mannered.

  49. chimericalacts said

    This was great, and in fact, Psychology studies have shown that we estimate our Facebook friends to be MUCH more happy and satisfied with life than we ourselves feel. :)

  50. Fascinating post.I would rather side with the reality than live in the shadow.Regards

  51. Your facebook is like your company newsletter. No reason to make a big deal about the oil spill! We’re selling a brand here, after all.

  52. misslisted said

    One had to be brave and strong to be “real”. It’s taken me a while (I’m 46), but I strive to be real on-line. I often have a moment of regret or terror when I tell the truth about my feelings, but in the end, people often thank me later. And sometimes, on-line “friends” on facebook or my blog will come up to me in real-life and say “wow, thank you for your updates on facebook, I really appreciate them”, and I had no idea anyone was paying atttention.

    Because I’m a yoga teacher, and I have lots of yoga friends on facebook and such, I see a lot of non-stop happy nonsense, and I wonder…real life as you said, is messy and full of all kinds of stuff, it is not a manic stream of happiness.

    Thanks for your post.

  53. misslisted said

    That should have read “One ‘has’ to be…” sorry for the typo.

  54. joneypie said

    I posted something these very lines on FB this morning. I can deal with anyone complaining about their life or being completely upbeat and happy all the time. However, it is the ones that are blatantly lying that annoy me. If your children are the center of your universe, by all means post every pic you have and I will like every single one of them. There are just too many that make themselves out to be something they are not. That is what gets me. I know you’re out drinking every night while your mom takes care of your kid, don’t go on about how your child shaped you into the human that you are today. I feel sorry for your child!!
    Sadly in this day and age, no one wants to admit fault and it comes across in person and in social media. We all just need to grow up and be real with ourselves and others or nothing will ever change.
    Great post.. congrats on Freshly pressed!!!

  55. You’ve definitely hit a nerve here!! Don’t worry…God knows all of our hearts…so who are we fooling anyway!?! We’re all human…with baggage and issues!!

  56. LOL I just was noticing this myself, and wrote a post about Facebook personality differences. Of course my observations are more comical than educational like yours. (I <3 fartsounds) It's amazing to me how some people in their mind (conveyed online) and in person are totally different people!

  57. sqeekchair said

    Reminds me of the time when email was first available to the average user launching lunatic proportions of identities that, well are absurd fantasies more akin to B-rated porn films with that plastic plant in the corner and large print, window curtain type bedspreads with cheesey music playing in the background.

    Examples of email handles:
    “Sexymermaid@aol.com”, “Freshbuns&aol.com”, “tacomuncher@aol.com”
    “bigdickthedawg@aol.com” “Terminator666@aol.com”

    These addys’ were falsetto’s, virtual lifestyles, any employer beyond theater ticket ripper or valet would reject.

    More than a virtual addy- It was a chance to personify, even remotely, subconsciously what we yearn, desire, and want to be apart from the mundane life of daily routines.

    Craig’s List- Best example of personal ads, ever!

    The men’s section comprises of dissatisfaction with “less adventurous” wives in the bedroom, and seeking “discrete, drug&disease free fun”- right. Cheap photo’s of their dicks- wow. How original- I’ve never seen a dick before.
    That’s the most insanely idiotic wish I’ve ever heard. If that were possible- Maury Povich, and Teen Mom would have never launched their pewtrid after-birth on pop-culture.

    Women’s section: Lonely, divorced, “Cinderella Syndrome” single mothers looking for a man who is Labrador, Golden Retriever, or lap-dog to support her 747 worth of baggage because dead-beat father is unemployed, drug-addict, in prison, or M.I.A.

  58. Facebook isn’t called “Face”book for nothing!

    I have seen “pray for so-and-so” or condolences to a relative or “Pray for me I’m going in for surgery” posts, but the norm is, “Hey here’s a photo of me and my friends out at a fancy restaurant and you’re not!”

    To be honest, I would rather go to a place that has a party atmosphere, than a morgue…

  59. i think i’m usually a lot more concerned when certain people feel obliged to constantly remind you how happy they are..sadly that is what social networking has become..a platform to air our happiness (apparent??)…and maybe annoy people with posters…great post!

  60. davewakefield said

    This theme must be at the forefront of alot of people’s minds, I have posted about it and read many others in the past few weeks. Great writing. Especially “calling bullshit”!

  61. Very true. As I think someone above mentioned, we don’t necessarily expect to see the whole truth on Facebook. But it’s so far in that direction that anyone who *does* post the more gritty and unpleasant realities of life gets shunned or even ridiculed. People seem to find real sentiment embarrassing in this context. Perhaps the most obvious and commonplace examples of this (amongst younger people anyway) are statuses posted after break ups. Pretty much any reference to a break up, or being sad about it, gets the postee pretty much labelled as a bit of a weirdo, or clingy, or desperate. It’s sad, because sometimes when you’re really at rock bottom it’s very hard to reach out to anyone, and something relatively inoccuous on facebook can alert friends to the need to make contact and help the person out. But sadly, it seems that 99% of the people who see such statuses will just cringe or laugh.

  62. What you say is quite true. None of us want to present ourselves sans edits on the social network, which I think is healthy for two reasons. First, sharing our true sleeves online to friends whose requests we accepted solely out of courtesy, makes us more vulnerable than we can control, if it were say a one-to-one conversation. There are people out there who just don’t need to know if you broke up with your boyfriend. Secondly, I’ve found that the sheer act of posting something cheerful on fb, has lifted my mood plenty of times. I am not saying it’s the best solution for something as serious as depression, but cheerful thoughts however momentary, do take care of the minor blues.
    Very well-written post. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! It’s a well deserved one :)

  63. Good post. I like the analogy about people representing themselves like a “fifties era sitcom”. That has always been the overall impression that I get out of it. People need to be called out. I’m tired of the image that people display of themselves in public. It takes away from what it means to be a human. I think it all boils down to lack of real self-esteem. Oh, and don’t DARE call someone out on it though, or you’re likely lose a friend, or better yet, some former high school acquaintance that you could otherwise care less about. I hope social media evolves, but more so, I hope that we evolve further. It’s time to stop acting — leave that for Hollywood…cheers!

  64. Reblogged this on MY RIGHT TO BITCH and commented:
    Great post on social media, and how people use it to represent an idealized version of themselves. Check it out.

  65. That’s why we have blogs. Facebook is for ‘friends’ and ‘family’ and (shudder) work colleagues – the eternally judging fraternity we feel obliged to keep in contact with via social media.
    I prefer to use my blog as a sounding board to get things off my chest, good and bad. Exactly WHY I do this though is the mystery. I guess it’s like keeping an electronic diary to mentally dump and record occurrences and dealings. It’s also a way of reaching out for company when you’re not physically able to… and what a way to meet interesting new people that you never would in the physical world. Wouldn’t swap it, or them, for quids.

  66. Dan said

    Either I don’t understand the happy protocol or I refuse it. My last blog entry discusses grief. My grief in particular — that I’m mostly over. I find the sad living among the compulsively happy an interesting dichotomy. The sad are like aliens among us we don’t recognize. I personally hate the phrase “too much information.” It’s like saying, “I wish you would shut up.” I like what Chesterton said about grief. It’s at the end of my last blog entry if you want to read it. Shameless plug.

  67. Cafe said

    I don’t think that anyone has an obligation to post the not-so-nice aspects of themselves or their lives on public forums like Facebook. It would just be like someone going to work and putting up a positive attitude even if their whole life is in shambles, because around certain people and in certain contexts that’s what many people do.

    If someone chooses to share the not-so-great things, that can be a positive thing if others are moved by it or it causes others to change their perspectives on things. But it is their choice.

    Even though Facebook is supposedly a forum for family and friends, we all know that’s not usually the case — how many of us have at least half of our “friends” list filled with people we barely know (anymore) and probably will never see in real life?

    I think it’s one thing to post up whatever it is you want to present to the world, another to be constantly putting up an ingenuine facade around the people who it MATTERS to be genuine around (you could do the first and not the latter).

  68. I don’t expect to get the whole truth in a thirty second blip. That said, if you are going to say you’re miserable, even on a blog, you better be a good writer who can say it in an interesting way. Otherwise, I think people want stuff that makes them laugh.

  69. Audrey said

    I really enjoyed reading this. I think it’s an important point because I believe words have power and if you keep saying the same thing, whether it’s in your head or on your FB wall, you’ll start to believe it. The thing is, it can cut both ways – if you wallow in all the sad/depressing/horrible things in your life, you’ll believe that your life is nothing but sad, depressing and horrible. But if you keep a little perspective and remind yourself of the good things and people in your life, you’re going to believe that you are pretty darn lucky. The problem is, no one’s ever that objective about their own lives are they? Thanks for an interesting read and congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  70. Couldn’t agree less. Totally makes sense.. but hey… think about there is so much sadness around in the world, every news paper you open, every news channel you watch..every single life that you observe and of course our own lives.. there is so much going on…. but social networking sites will give us a place to project positive aspect of life and not spread the negativity.

  71. Reblogged this on chryzalynmaeysao and commented:
    exactly!! i am always stressed whenever i am in facebook.. really, it is like, when you want a juicy comment, you can always get it at facebook.. i only made facebook as a photo album where i can store all my amazing pics and i am the only one who can view it except of course to the peole who were with me in the picture!

    this is really an eye-opening, let me share this one in my facebook!! thanks for englightening!!

  72. Drew Pan said

    If anything, I think people frown upon negative updates, because nobody likes to read about whinging or someone being upset. It’s the whole “airing your dirty laundry” thing, so I guess people feel obligated to be nice on Facebook.

  73. mono said

    I love your post topic. It’s something that has been on my mind too. I much prefer authenticity. It might depend though on what kind of relationships you have on facebook – if your facebook friends are really your friends or just shallow acquaintances. I think we are more likely to share with friends, and less likely to do the big sharing with people we don’t know well, or people we just know through business. I mostly have my friends (and not so many business acquaintances) on fb for that reason. And I do know some people who just try to accumulate as many fb friends as possible (whether they actually know them or not) and those friends are pretty limited about what they share. Probably for good reason. And… congratulations on being Fresh Pressed! :-)

  74. sporadicblogger said

    Oh you articulated my very thoughts! On facebook it is kind of creepy how nothing is ever short of awesome.

  75. I keep Facebook for friends and family. There are no business connections on my FB, although some former business acquaintances have also been friends for a long time. The point is that with one or two exceptions (good friends of good friends), all these people know me IRL – or knew me a long time ago. It is very much a WYSIWYG situation, and a lot of “real” conversations go on photos and on status updates. The chat function is used to help each other out of depressions, or for shyer friends to tell me how really, really thrilled they are with their latest achievements; the chat function seems to serve to reinforce connections in the more public forum. Family and friends are spread all over the world, although most of us started out in more or less the same place. One or two of my FB friends do give a “bright and shiny” picture, but then, I know them, so it is okay. One or two complain more than others, but because I know them, that is okay too. When one cousin died in his early forties from a heart attack last year, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to post messages to his wall (as well as express condolences via telephone and letter, as we used to do before Facebook), quite possibly because of the basic honesty which exists among us.

  76. Yes shit happens all the time, well apparently not on facebook, this might be because human by default thrives positivity and social networks are perhaps a window from where they can peek to a perfect world or let people see a tiny bit of your perfect (or rather imperfect) world!!

  77. Anami Blog said

    This is very true… we create this illusion of being perfect and happy all the time. the funny thing is that despite knowing It’s fake most of the time, people still get jealous and frustrated by finding their ‘friends’ always on holiday, always in a perfect shape with the perfect smile on their faces. I don’t think social media is a tool for being honest. real things happen in real time, in real space between real people… not online…

  78. Maybe it’s a nationality thing: we in Britain are sarcastic and moany all the time online and in real life! And if people share our moans by liking the comment or saying something encouraging it makes us feel less alone :)

    However, you don’t want to read that sort of thing all the time, and I’ve blocked ‘friends’ who just annoy me by always appealing for sympathy or wanting people to join in the bitchiness.

    We have our fair share of cute cats and naked babies on facebook with lovely comments about how happy they all are, but isn’t a lot of this thinly-veiled escapism, comments by people who don’t post about real life because they are avoiding facing the truth of their failed relationships and depressing jobs?

    Isn’t online status update stuff just a means of showing off how well you’re doing and how much cool stuff you’re doing offline? And if you sound like you do nothing but mope on facebook people stop reading! So you have to sound happy to be popular.

    The same goes for real life. How many people avoid supposed friends who do nothing but bitch or moan about their jobs all the time? It’s just easier to lie about how you’re really feeling online!

    • sqeekchair said

      I don’t think FB posts are specifically made to sound happy and to be more popular.. it is an intriguing question on the virtual need for social acceptance, as a replacement for an “IRL” unmet needs for social acceptance.

      Showing off in photo’s how great their lives are, sitting at exclusive restaurants, concerts, and being tagged by others about their 4 star career lives just pisses me off. I rarely comment on these lurid posts.

      Validation- “look at me, world! I’m on-the-go; important!”

      Reality: I cannot enjoy the moment of being here without screwing around on a phone to communicate with people are aren’t even here!

      I’ve seen groups of 5 people at a table- every one of them are screwing around on their phones! Saddening! Can’t come up with a topic of conversation to the people in front of you, but you sure can FB or Twitter.

  79. ashanam said

    I don’t think everyone does post only positives on social networking sites. Facebook is how I came to know about the death of a friend’s father not too long ago, as well as a number of beloved family pets. I also see people’s small, but real frustrations there, as well as their hopes and fears. But, yes, it isn’t the place for airing dirty laundry or endless griping. And there are also those few who do only like to share where they ate and where they went. The dynamic of endless positivity is not universal. It may depend on who your friends are and maybe how many you have–the more you have the less comfortable you are likely to feel, as a lot of the people getting your status updates are people you don’t really know.

  80. rmk said

    I try to be careful about what I post on Facebook, because frankly there are some things that everyone doesn’t need to know, and that are too personal.

    I also try not to post anything on social media I wouldn’t be okay with an employer seeing, so in some ways it is quite a guarded approach but it’s also not the same as me in person. If I have a problem I will talk to a close friend. I don’t want that girl I went to sailing camp with in junior high to be able to see it.

    It may be superficial but it only serves a certain function. I share photos, get invited to events, and post links I like. It is not a therapists couch, and it’s not coffee with a close friend.

  81. Well put. Another question is; what happened to real life? Is this online social circus an escape from reality? humhum

    • sqeekchair said

      For many, it is an escape to create whatever character you want to be but can’t or won’t in real life. Passive-aggressive types thrive on the internet because they can hide behind a computer screen. I’m a blogger- no hiding here!

      Think Las Vegas- perfectly acceptable to live-out your fantasy life over the weekend and then bake cookies with grandma.
      IF your life is so depressing that living a temporary “fantasy” life eases the strain- get a better life.

      Why not zip-up a suit of anyone else or thing you want to be- over your entire person? In time, you must remove it.

  82. Mrs P said

    I met my husband through a dating forum. What I most liked about the forum was that it gave you the opportunity to communicate a bit more deeply than the usual heavy social veneer that is part of any dating scene.

    Sure, everyone starts out being socially perfect but eventually you get to know the real personalities. Sometimes some deep stuff came out like someone’s experiences with PTSD from battle fatigue written by a normally brilliant poster. You connect on a level that is much more meaningful, yet not the daily drama that you would find in the rag magazines. It is actually what makes the whole thing appear intimate.

    People who blog are more willing to be intimate. It takes a lot of guts to blog about the negative stuff. It’s raw, it’s real and far more interesting that “look how cute my dog is”.

    Thanks for calling the BS – I wish more people would.

  83. The problem is, you are your social network. Fact is, I’m never using facebook due to the evolution of computer to twitter relationships. the much needed knowledge of computer circuitry was overated, but now we have browsers and computers for the uneducated clas of our electronic world. due to all the gigantic photo resolutions, and the larger social site pages, I’m sure my stereotype of some folk is a good one. Understand the UI and stop demanding better browsers! right clicking on the page will prompt a certificate option of page size in your internet browser. this is where to begin you cyber journy.

  84. jimshortz said

    I know it’s petty, and that, yes, people can change, but I get annoyed at reading the pious status updates of folks I knew in college to wallow in absolute depravity. As my own blog reveals, I’m not perfect, but I’ll at least own it.

  85. I hardly use fb anymore but I found there were some people who were forever putting up negative statuses, quite a few were vague. Stuff like “really peeved off atm” (except with a lot more swearing) and when people ask “what’s the matter” they say “don’t want to talk about it” – well don’t put in on fb then!!!!!!! Maybe it’s just me who gets annoyed at that because I’m nosey and if someone is happy to tell the world something’s wrong they should at least have the decency to tell us what’s wrong rather than acting insulted because you’re prying. Maybe they just want the attention?
    Ok, rant over :D
    Of course most are happy go lucky all the time which is unrealistic but perhaps they don’t want the world to know something’s wrong. That sort of info is for friends and family, not just anyone who you added on fb – most of them aren’t friends, they’re hardly acquaintances.
    Great post, congrats of fp :D

  86. My wife and I had a discussion the other day about how I am always so negative on my own blog. It’s the truth though. I am quite negative in my blog and my Facebook. She, on the other hand, is quite nice, happy and fluffy on her Facebook.

    What it came down to for us is base personality and what we use the social media tools for. I use them as a trial ground for writing, creating and as a way to get my frustration of the whole process out. I include some positive stuff but for the most part the majority of what my focus is on is a difficult journey for me and I don’t want to cover that up. I want to feel it, process it and share that with others. They can take it or leave it.

    That does not make it right or wrong. It makes it simply what it is. From what I can tell, people are the way they are on social media because it is the way they want to be for themselves or the way they want others to see them. Either way I don’t think we have the right to judge the way others are on social media because we cannot know the reasons they are he way they are. It is no different than interactions outside of social media.

    The big question is whether or not we are comfortable with the way we are portraying ourselves.

  87. I feel like on social media, everyone is essentially making their own brand. Even on a personal profile you are making a brand for yourself. These profiles act as a public statement about what you like, what you stand for, and who you are – all managed and controlled by you. And let’s face it, when talking about ourselves… we’re all a “bit” biased!

  88. Rohini said

    Awesome post! Hit the nail on the head.

    I must admit I am sometimes annoyed with people who post about their bad moods, fights and breakups with cryptic quotes- its almost a cry for attention with all of their friends posting hope you are ok, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
    I almost prefer the rose tinted happy pictures to that!

    But I agree- most people imagine you have the life that you portray on social networking sites- I spent 2 years looking for a job and was miserable too. But I never put that on facebook, only the holidays and fun pictures. So no one believes that I had any issues in the last 2 years!!!

  89. When I got divorced, my online persona was out of control. I posted so many self-shots and was constantly taking pictures of my clothes, the women I was dating, anything in an effort to scream, “I’m OK! I can get along without you!” But, of course, my attention-whore phase was a rather transparent effort to shield my pain and incredibly low self-esteem. I find that people who are confident with themselves do not need to constantly show the rest of the world how happy they are.

  90. mgueldini said

    I loved the text, another point that makes me wonder is the extent to which we expose our life or point of view. I have a blog in which I write about everything and people questioning me as im so happy, are comparing my life them, but the intention is not to this and show what I spent experiences good or bad and maybe help someone with this.

  91. J Lawrence said

    People seem so desperate for everyone to think they have such amazing lives, if people can be natural, the world would be a better place.

  92. momopolize said

    I attempt to be a “mostly tell the truth” facebook poster. I found it pretty easy to tell the good, and the bad. But not the ugly. It seemed like my facebook friends appreciated the honesty, which made it easier and easier to throw in bits of the ugly also. I finally posted a note that “put it all out there” so to speak, and the response was overwhelming! It was about my struggles with lyme disease, which I am usually pretty private about – but it felt good to vent. I think people saw it as refreshing to see something other than the sugary sweet “my life is perfect” statuses. Not to say I still don’t post that type of status sometimes also. ;) I ended up posting that note on my blog recently. http://momopolize.com/2012/09/07/my-sick-and-tired-list/

  93. 27roots said

    I loved this blog. I laughed out loud a few times…. It is so true and so aggravating. You have inspired me to make my next status update as follows: “I got pregnant unexpectedly a few months ago- sorry, no cute “we are expecting!” announcement… Ive been too busy puking, crying over Oprah re-runs and watching my ass get wider. But surprise anyway!

  94. Lila said

    I like and dislike this post, is that ok? Does it negate my pressing the “like” button on it? Should I tell you that I ate a piece of chocolate filled with praline and crunchy wafer fifteen minutes ago and it tasted awesome? I don’t know. But if you go to my blog, you’ll probably read a few things about my not so awesome life experiences in the form of poetry or rant-astical prose.

    I think there’s a time and place for everything, and since this is the Information Age, the reality is that things can get a little out of hand on either extreme with such info transmitting power (especially when everyone has this power). There is an etiquette to everything, and with information, there’s a time and place for sharing certain parts of.

    The thing with facebook is that it is a public conversation; you don’t say everything in public (if you have taste, that is). When we go to the washroom for instance, pardon me for this example, we don’t share what we do there with anyone (generally); because it’s not only inappropriate and no one wants to know about it, but really, it’s because privacy is valuable. Everyone knows that everyone has problems, not everyone wants to know about them or needs to learn the details of them. We all have this right to privacy.

    We have a choice about what we share and do not share with others, and while being grateful is not being fake, ignoring the bad and not dealing with it, or rubbing in everyone’s face the fact that “your life is perfect” is. Does this mean that blogs used to vent about life’s frustrations are only written by ungrateful, pitiful people? I don’t know.

    Doing everything in moderation is key, but since we’re human, it’s pretty difficult to do.

    • Tend to agree. These medium’s are public. If we want the closer stuff we can visit, ring, email friends for the more private conversations. Then we have all the other clues (visual, voice etc) to gauge what is real more easily.

      • Lila said

        I have to say that facebook is also a massive type of self-marketing, with every status update acting as an advertisement for how valuable you are socially. No show-off update on facebook will mention miseries, the same way no ad or commercial will talk about the fine print.

  95. The good thing abt sharing happiness and positivity on Fb is to boost yhe loving energy among our fb friends; although most of the rusty hearted ones would bear envious intent. However showcasing love n harmony n happiness on our fb somehow act as a benchmarking tools that give us constant hope of happiness to aspire to. So as a personal benchmarking tool i would always be reminded of my aspired happiness, so we try not to be upset on petty things to maintain that happiness. As we all know the universe does conspire with our deepest an intention.

  96. T said

    Another group to think about is those who are spending more and more of their waking lives reading about other’s seemingly flawless lives: namely, teenage girls. All of them are at an age where they are trying to find themselves and they are (by virtue of their age) personally convinced that they are fatter, uglier, less popular, less witty, less fun, less involved than anyone, only to have all that affirmed by the social networking that they can’t leave alone, even to sleep. “All the other girls are doing it” has taken on a whole new meaning as we have adolescents comparing their personal weaknesses and inner insecurities with the happy, happy, happy that their peers are putting out there. It’s a recipe for serious depression that didn’t happen as consistently back in the days when knowing what your friends were doing 24/7 was not even possible, let alone the norm. Parents would do well to put some limits on the constant updating and update checking (like “no computer or phone when you’re supposed to be sleeping”). Everyone needs some down time, and especially teenagers need a time for introspection and real-life growth instead of a barrage of unhelpful (and often inapplicable) peer comparisons.

  97. This is honestly the best post I’ve read until now! Thank you!

  98. Like others who have posted on here, I too try to be an honest facebooker, however being an Emergency Nurse, with kids and a Husband thats a policeman, we have very stressful lives at times and some sad and confronting stories. I guess I feel a social obligation to tone down what I post on FB so as not to distress or disturb the masses on my page with the confronting things we deal with in our lives. However because of this I do feel like a fraud at times and wish that I could publicise to the world that the fairytale is just that, a tale!! Keep up the great writing :o)

  99. [...] be completely honest, which another blogger says is rare in social media in his very interesting recent post, here is my [...]

  100. It’s not just online! I stopped reading the alumni notes in the quarterly magazine from my business school because I got tired of the wedding/baby/promotion announcements and the tales of international travel where impromptu classmate reunions were held and (most commonly issued phrase ever in alumni notes) “a good time was had by all!”

    Not that I begrudge any of these people their happy life events, it was just a very unbalanced picture of my classmates during periods of my life where I was struggling with infertility, job stagnation, and suburbia.

    You’ve got some nice posts here and congratulations on getting Freshly Pressed!

  101. Yvonne Mays said

    I thought I was the only one. This is great. I quit Facebook and twitter may be next.

  102. Yvonne Mays said

    I thought I was the only one. This is great. I quit Facebook and twitter may be next.

  103. MED said

    A most deserved FP! Very well written.
    You just caused me to do something I wouldn’t have done. My latest Facebook now reads like this:

    “We should all read this [link to your post] and maybe start being a little more honest about our not-so-perfect lives.

    I’ll start: I’m living with my parents working a part-time job that has nothing to do with my future career (assuming that ever actually starts) and I’m trying to live without one of my best friends because he’s pissing me off. In addition, I’m struggling with 1) the way my religion views homosexuality, 2) how I can accomplish things by myself without needing someone to be there with me, and 3) whether I’m really supposed to be in Ocala working and saving money or whether I should pack up and just go somewhere. Anywhere.

    Don’t get me wrong. Today’s going to be a good day and tomorrow is, too. But not every minute is fantastic. Some of the hours are frustrating, confusing, embarrassing. And that’s normal, and it’s okay. Now go do something awesome so you can post new pictures of it! :-)”

    Let’s see how it goes over, shall we?
    Thanks!

  104. That’s very true of Facebook. I know the miserable truth about a couple then feel insane when I see their smiling embrace on the Facebook profile photo. I think that’s why I don’t check it regularly except to keep in touch. But, with most blogs, I find the opposite. People sometimes don’t even put their own picture on their Gravatar. With blogs, I feel like we’re walking into a confessional, revealing shocking truths. I just published an entry that felt good to write but painful to post.
    Congratulations on an honest, well-written perspective.

  105. I am totally guilty of this idea of perpetuating a fifties-era sit-com life lol
    Though I have to admit that I do this because I’m torn between the fact that I don’t want to be that annoying person who complains, via-status change, every six hours, and I don’t want to tell the world any of my personal problems (since out of my 300 friends i’m close to maybe 5)…

  106. mikafry said

    So true! Love this. Your post does a great job of capturing an interesting social phenomenon. For some reason, my FB page is mostly roses and happiness. It’s in my blog that I reveal (and perhaps even celebrate) warts and all. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  107. - “Look at how cool I am!”
    Most Facebook profiles resemble the ego. Which is fine enough; people want to feel good about themselves, even if it is through a not-entirely-accurate representation of themselves shot in the best possible light. The trouble arises when the public makes value judgement based on these misrepresentations. Who and what are you really liking?

  108. Being June said

    I’ve wondered about this myself, but never managed to articulate this vague unease. Nice job. On the dark and musty side of the social media coin, I’ve also wondered if folks don’t “get real” because, while it’s easy to create a happy-go-lucky persona, it’s just as easy to judge quickly and harshly and without face-to-face conflict. It might look like virtual Mayberry, but you’re well aware that the bullshit you mentioned lies just below the surface, poised and ready to pounce. Great post.

  109. maybe people have enough of the shit happens in their life that they want a refuges

  110. please take the s off of refuge

  111. I don’t like Facebook. Once I was going through a rough time and literally had nothing good (about myself) to post (I never started in with posting stuff about my kids). Tiring of all the posts about fabulous dinners out and weekend getaways and trips and parties, I posted that I was still smiling from a wonderful weekend and can’t wait to do it again. I got “likes” and congratulations then felt so badly I took it down. It wasn’t true. I’d likely spent the weekend crying and cleaning alone. Later I completely sanitized my page of anything personal and rarely post or look at other people’s pages. I guess it’s a case of — if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all. And anyway, if my kid wins a race or something I don’t feel the need to post it to random people I went to college with. Ugh. Now I feel a Facebook rant coming so I must stop. Loved the post, congrats.

    Unrelated, we have come full circle with the 50′s housewife in dress, pearls and heels. Reality TV women always wear high heels, to shop, take care of children, clean, have coffee, etc. They wear full makeup and usually fake something (hair, nails, eyelashes, tans, spanx) at all times. It’s really a throwback. Women are now expected to be completely made up, and girdled in and in heels all the time. But in this day and age, if you aren’t “Facebook Ready” you run the risk of looking really bad on the world wide web–immediately.

  112. I try to be as real about what is happening in my life as i can, good and bad, on social media and my blog

  113. Kymlee said

    awesome post. I’ve often thought about this, in regards to FB, when I’ve tried to be myself, not necessarily airing dirty laundry so to speak, but being frank about my day to day struggles, health concerns, motivation and such, I actually got yelled at by numerous “friends” and family members for “being too negative…”

    So being a normal person with normal struggles and dilemmas equates to being a negative person and therfor unworthy of friendship or to be bothered with… online and occasionally in person?

    Good points you’ve made. People place far too much value on perception and not enough on reality. Too bad perception is a lie and reality is every facet of truth…

    but I digress.

    also, congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    xo
    Kymlee

  114. EverdayLivingPNW said

    I tend to dive into my online life to get away from the criticism and negative attitudes I have to deal with on a constant basis in real life. So, ya I think on my blog I want to eventually bring out “warts and all” as stated earlier by mikafry, I think I am going to keep all my comments positive…

  115. The elephant in the room :) No one ever talks about how Facebook is essentially one giant lie that in real life would only be possible if everyone were constantly on X. Although…when people do post “real” statuses, the general reaction seems to be “no one wants to see that”…which is sad, considering that running from real life just makes you more depressed. Anywho, I’m rambling. Great post!

  116. Alexandra said

    The question needs to be asked who wants to log onto facebook or twitter and read through loads of negative statuses? Life is hard enough as it is, without being bombarded with other people’s negativity. A distinction needs to be made between those who choose to try and be positive (even though their lives are equally full of challenges) and those who are just boasting on-line or projecting a fake image. It’s fairly obvious when people aren’t being genuine about the state of their lives anyway, and anyone who gets fed up with seeing pictures of happy families probably needs to re-examine their own attitudes rather than the person who is posting a happy pic.

  117. [...] article, Are perpetually happy online personas a big lie or simply a matter of protocol? written by, Gods Of Advertising, makes you question your own online [...]

  118. Great post. I acknowledge that life is messy, and I have no desire to spend time crafting an online identity that is a highlight reel of positive thoughts and emotions. I think too many people waste incredible amounts of time creating this fantasy online..I can’t imagine that it makes people feel good about themselves, either, constantly reading others updates and wondering why their lives aren’t as fulfilling or “happy” as the front others put up.
    http://www.mindfulstew.wordpress.com

  119. I resemble this post and have often thought that I’m presenting a “Pollyanna” lifestyle on my blog. It’s really not what I intended my blog to portray. However, at this point, I would rather not have our “warts” out there in cyberspace. I don’t want to subject my family to an embarrassment that could surface years from now. Private matters should be kept in the family and not slapped up for the world to see.

  120. I totally love the fact that you phrased it as calling Bullshit! A great reminder of some old friends of mine that I dearly miss. I had to deal with unemployment for not quite four full years and I have blogged about it. My current post is also revealing of my private struggles. Thanks for writing this. It gives me encouragement.

  121. I see a dichotomy in my Facebook news feed: there are people like me who only post interesting articles and share occasional milestones and there are the others who are overpowered by the need to share that the barista completely screwed up their caramel macchiato…again.
    I agree: life is more harsh than the online personas reveal. But that’s how people are. Even in life, there are some prima donnas who bemoan in public every mosquito-bite and others who will only admit under torture that their girlfriend has left them or that they’ve been laid off.

  122. nice post. at first it made me think about myself because i do those things on Facebook but in reality, i am just a potato. but in the end, i think about the people who choose to keep what is unnecessary for the world to know. people judge.. that is why.

  123. mehtaworld said

    I won’t say its a lie but its also not a protocol. It is a natural human tendency the way people behave online.
    We all love to share our happiness with the world. For sorrows, its the best restricted to family and really close friends – you would vent out your frustration about your shitty boss to your wife, fiance, friends or family members but you won’t (shouldn’t) put that on your FB status message, right?
    People visit social media to forget about their sorrows and see what’s good happening in other people lives. It’s a good way to increase optimism when life is filled with tensions, frustrations, discontentment and sorrows. If something good is happening to someone else, it can happen to you as well.

  124. mirrormon said

    I absoluety love ur post…. i m not really that much of a facebook person, probably change my status once a year for some attention… but u know what i have actually been recently thinking if i shud share my wordpress posts on facebook or not?…and then i decided NOT, because it ll be ‘too much information’… i was laughing when i read you….but sadly i always advocate honestly and being whatever I am… although i m generally a private person, i dont even share good news or good moods on my facebook, but I dont like the fact that I had to give such a hard thought to publishing my posts on fb… the people on my list are those i hardly consider friends…and yet i m concerned ‘ wud i come across as depressed’ ‘wud they be able to figure out what exactly happened’….
    but guess what dear guess you what!!… u gave me courage by writing that, and i totally poured my heart out here… and seriously i ve been recently on the road to becoming that person who doesnt care about what people think of her… and i like this road… i have chosen this road… so why am i trying to block my way myself…
    well i ll try not to..
    and coming back to the point… GREAT post, it made me happy:)

  125. Rebecca Irons said

    Thank you so much fir communicating my thoughts on this matter. While i do attempt to keep my wall positive, i will post statements to indicate i’m not having a goid day or moment, without going into explicit detail. The few freinds that post life as is, are the ones i choose to interact with more, not those who like every status, and post soley “happy stuff”

  126. It’s the “Everyone else is happy, I have to look happy too else I’m a loser” mentality.

  127. When a friend of mine kept her FB wall private and clean, I asked her why and when she replied, “Because I don’t want people to know too much about me”, I told her, “Don’t be silly, FB is not for you to show your true self, it’s for you to craft an impression you want others to have of you.” Haha!

  128. I have blogged about my cancer, unemployment – and today, politics. Guess I hit the trifecta!

  129. Very true and always thought provoking. You never know what other people are going through (unless they spell it out). Great post :)

  130. Facebook is better used as a starting point for all the conversations you want to have. It’s a great tool for sharing pictures of your new house, cat or job, of announcing changes in your life, or vacations, or new projects you’re proud of. There is then the option for people to see those and choose whether or not to start a real conversation with you either in person or in private messages. Personal can’t exist when a large group of people are the recipient.

  131. Great post. Tell it as it is.

  132. seakist said

    Well, on the flip side of the coin, I am a very happy person who left Face Book because I was so sick and tired reading about other people I know are happy people too but all they did was bitch and complain about shit. Scrolling down the feed was one disappointment after another. And because I’m 90 percent happy, minimal people responded to my positive posts, yet the 10 percent time I’d complain, I’d get 99 people telling me to “chill” (people I hardly knew but friend-ed me because of whatever reason) … My life is good because I’ve made it that way. Yeah, I lost loved ones through death, had health issues, had business downs, but you get through it and concentrate on good stuff. I feel sorry for people who just want to bitch all the time. Bitching only leads to more negative things … and that’s a fact!

  133. Reblogged this on inkfilledsky and commented:
    This is an interesting take on the ever happy friends we seem to have on Facebook. I barely post on there, because I feel like I have nothing to say, or that I don’t want to share negatives for various reasons (like privacy). But is the happy persona a myth we project to convince ourselves (and everyone else) that everything’s fine?

  134. cristyparkersmith said

    For God’s sake, put down the Kool Aid and get off of Facebook! Meh, on second thought never mind. Facebook is the new cigarette. It says right there on the pack that it’s going to kill your real life but people just keep buying it.

  135. I see your point exactly. I wrote a similar piece about a year or so ago: People Watching http://wp.me/p1mkTn-1g

  136. Wow, your post is soooo insightful! Exactly the kind of topic I needed to read about! What you wrote is the kind of thing I had difficulty putting into words, so thank you for enlightening me.

    I definitely feel that disconnect between “real” feelings and the “happy” feelings I portray online. Often times, I wish my Facebook friends would ask how I’m REALLY doing so I could share with them my sadness or depression. But, I realize that sharing my sadness with them hardly makes a difference to me or them in the cyber world. Perhaps, I’m overly optimistic, but then again, I’d rather be happy than sad.

  137. This is the right blog for everyone who hopes to understand this topic. You know a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a fresh spin on a subject that has been discussed for ages. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!

  138. I really like it whenever people get together and share opinions. Great site, continue the good work!

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