I was the last of a group of people I know who signed up on Facebook. Actually, my old friend who swore up and down she would never, ever join Facebook was the last one, as she just joined last month.
For years, the site seemed silly. Like that old site MySpace – I saw it as a place for self-centered narcissists to show off.
But then I signed up to job network. It was kind of fun at first. But the networking didn’t get me anywhere. It did get me in touch with 98 people, and 80 of them really I have zero desire to be in touch with.
While talking with a business associate, she told me she doesn’t know how to have a social life in this city, saying everyone seems over-stimulated in this town with everything from our too-crowded subway commutes and competitive workplaces to the over-use of technology. She finds most people would rather go home after work, become hermits and go on to Facebook (or some dating site). She and her fiancé got so fed up with the Facebook thing that they just deactivated their accounts. “It brought me back in touch with people from grade and high school I normally would never want to have any contact with”. “Then it makes you envious of other people, and think everyone has it so good”. Here was a seemingly have-it-all 30 year old summing up my thoughts exactly.
It’s the same problem I have with the site lately. Don’t get me wrong- I want good for everybody. (Everybody who is good that is.) But I can speak for all my friends- looking up an ex on Facebook and seeing their ever-so-happy photos with their wives/husband and kids, can make you feel not-so-happy. Ten years ago we never would be seeing these (rather disturbing) images in our faces. True, it is one’s own choice to actually look – but show me one person who has not given into the curiosity and I’ll show a guy who has never said a stupid thing in his life. (haha). After all, it’s only normal that mostly all of us overestimate the happiness of others based on the posted photos.
And this isn’t just for people who are already miserable. The business associate is a perfectly happy girl – a fiancé, everything else seems to be going for her.. She just got fed up with the FB bullshit. The braggers, the show offs but most of all the lack of real human interaction. To me, there is nothing like sitting face-to-face with a friend having a real conversation with laughs. I just don’t get that connection feeling from on-line. Facebook to me is causing a disconnect from reality. I see my colleague who is obsessed with the site and his 487 “friends”, show me photos of girls all the time. (Like I care??) He then says he only gets to the phone with these girls. In the past year only 2 of about 200 have led to an actual date. I tell him to get out more in the real world. He doesn’t listen. Like millions others, he loves the site. He admits it is his “social life” after work.
What is disturbing to me is this colleague re-visits his past on a daily basis, and tells me about it. See, this isn’t good for people like myself who have that past memory portion of their brain much too enhanced. Then he gets down about the past people popping back into his life only to fade away again. Do we truly benefit from re-visiting our pasts? Like the woman I know who reconnected on FB with her high school sweetheart – they both left their unhappy marriages- only to find themselves single once again 3 years later. I’m sure there are good reunited stories too but I bet the not-so-good outnumber them. I’ve always found the past is better left there. Out of sight, out of mind. Facebook just keeps rubbing things you might not want to know, hear about or remember in our faces.
All this aside, my decision has been 99.5% made this week to sever the FB ties. Since the many 30-something friends who are now mothers have continuous conversations about their kids all winter long. And not in a good way (although there is that girl who posts photos daily of her “oh so handsome” 5 year old son and how he is going to be a “lady killer when older”). The mothers have been complaining about all the snow days. How they are cooped up in their houses (huge by the way- they post all the photos), with their kids driving them absolutely nuts. They're bored. They don't know what to do. Oh, pleeease!
Surely in the old days this must have gotten to some mothers too. But we didn’t all air this annoyingness all over for people to read. When did sitting home with your family making hot chocolate while snowed in for a day become such an unbearable thing?
The thing is we don’t know how good we’ve got it. Or how easy our lives are here in the States. Instead many of us choose to not see that and to bitch and moan. Blow tiny things out of proportion.
The old “friend” I dropped would send daily status updates on all the negatives of her morning commute, her job, her annoying and "stupid" co-workers. Then there were us unemployed people on there wishing if only we had a job to go into in the morning.
I think of a friend who is wishing she could have kids, reading all that complaining about kids day in and day out.
But the one who really gets me is the one who complains about her lazy husband…And the one friend on both our lists who lost her young husband. Are people so blind and clueless, or are they ignorant or cruel?
Maybe it’s a whole combination. Better off I don’t know. Surely my generation, and especially the younger have become much too self-absorbed. Myself included.
What I do know I’m a lot better off when I just focus on my own life. Somebody told me that years ago – Don’t be concerned about others lives and don’t concern yourself with the past. And years later it’s probably the best advice I can take. After all, the grass is always greener….