I chanced upon this article, Please Don’t Envy Me by Rebecca Lammersen just yesterday and because I spend what is probably quite an unhealthy amount of time on Facebook, a lot of what she was saying struck a few chords.
First though, for at least the last half a year, I’ve made a conscious effort to (mostly) post happy, uplifting things on my Facebook page. I take such pains with it that I think sometimes think it’s more an act of careful curation than random postings (as random and odd as I may often seem yah!)
Having come from painful places, Facebook became my happy go-to place—a place for reinvention, for my heart to lift in my chest, for me to breathe a little easier. It was a place to escape but it had also become a sort of virtual mood board and boost book. It has been affirmation and dreams and a space for laughing a little at the curveballs that life has a sick propensity to keep throwing at me.
Then, I read that article by Rebecca and while I do agree with so much of what she says, I don’t totally think that ‘sharing the highlights of our lives’ is necessarily only and always about wanting validation or applause from the people who will read it. I don’t post stuff to make people feel jealous or envious, or conversely to make anyone feel bad about their own lives (definitely not!).
Sometimes, truly, it can be a little world of make-believe for those few moments throughout the day (and a wee hope that it might put a smile on someone’s face so they too can start creating/curating their own beautiful Facebook space).
So, this is what she says:
People use Facebook to share the highlights of their lives. Just as a child proudly parades her masterpiece of crayon scribbles in front of her mother, hoping for the applause of oohs and ahhs, we tout our accomplishments to hundreds of virtual friends, awaiting the thumbs ups and comments, searching for the same thing—validation that we are doing a good job—we are important.
Facebook is a platform for creating and sharing the life we want people to think we live. Anyone would be envious of a life free of pain, sadness, loneliness and heartbreak. The duality of life evaporates as we begin to dissolve into the monotony of perfection.
This is the cause of our envy.
(I want to make it clear that I am not hating on what she’s written. The article is insightful and beautifully written; I’m just trying to think about it in a different way.)
God only knows that my Facebook wall has also seen my fair share of ranting and pain and a desperate wanting for some connection, no matter how remote, during those really awful, bad days. Some of my heart-ripped-open posts caused so much alarm that people from 8 time zones away were calling my family to find out what the f**k was happening to me. Attention-seeking? Need for validation? A really damn loud cry for help? Oh yes, all of that. The fact I needed Facebook to feel like a living, breathing-in-and-out human was pathetic enough.
When I climbed myself out of that raving pity party, when I realised that every moment was a new mini choice, I decided I would start by creating new choices every time I hovered my mouse over a new Facebook status update. I would create a new reality for myself—one I would be proud of, that would make me laugh to myself in the middle of the gym like an idiot, that I could maybe look back on a few months later and think, “Oh yeah! That happened” and feel my heart lift up like a balloon.
So in a perverse way, I have Facebook to thank, for being a space for me to now journal the positivity I wish to remember, enjoy and further manifest for the future.