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December 1, 2014 7:26 PM   Subscribe

What's On Your Mind? No one is as happy as they present themselves on Facebook (because everyone lies). Counterpoint: That's okay.
posted by quin (33 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's remarkable how no one was depressed and self-isolating while maintaining a fake outward appearance of enthusiasm before computers.

(rolls eyes)
posted by belarius at 7:45 PM on December 1, 2014 [24 favorites]


Of course it's self-pitying and dramatic, and the idea of an addiction to likes is absurd, but some of this definitely rings true for me. It's a big reason that I don't have a facebook.
posted by Oxydude at 8:36 PM on December 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Most of the people I am friends with on Facebook are cynical middle-aged guys (as am I) who argue and kvetch incessantly about politics. It's kind of fun. I don't think anyone is trying to "present" a perfect life behind a mask or anything.

Maybe it's just a difference in how different "cohorts" use FB? Because I haven't seen anyone take a picture of their lunch recently.
posted by Nevin at 8:37 PM on December 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


I feel like I've seen/heard this take on Facebook before. (Not that I don't agree with it.) (Also not to say that we didn't curate our private lives for public consumption pre-Facebook.)
posted by Lyme Drop at 8:59 PM on December 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I mostly post amusing or happy things to Facebook because, I don't know, that's just what you talk about with people in casual social settings. You save the deep shit for more private conversations. And what's the video guy supposed to post, "Dumped my cheating bitch girlfriend"? That'll come back to bite him in the ass in some future job interview.

I did post to Facebook not too long ago that I was struggling with some intransigent post-partum depression that was not clearing up as quickly as one might hope, and I commented that I felt sort-of weird posting only happy things to Facebook when I was feeling so sad, and people were just so kind and supportive. I don't think anybody hid me from their feed; in fact, lots of people went out of their way to private message me or text me or call me to let me know they were thinking of me and rooting for me and to ask if they could do anything to help and did I want to go see a movie and drink wine or have them take my kids to a movie so I could have a nap? And really, people were similarly supportive and helpful when I posted things like GUYS WHY WON'T MY BABY SLEEP EVER and BABIES ARE HARD I THINK I AM DOING IT WRONG and whatnot when I had my first and was in full parental panic mode.

I've told this story before, but my "worst offender" friend for posting these banal "Date with my wonderful hubby tonite! #soblessed" types of updates is actually in AA and sober maybe 4 years now? And one of the reason she posts these is that she's actually trying to tell HERSELF how many good things she has in her life to be sober for. It's not so much that she bragging about her great life, but that she's getting affirmation from her friends and family that, yes, she has a lot of really good things in her life that are important enough for her to exert the monumental willpower to stay sober. It's kind-of a form of accountability.

(Actually the one person -- really just the one! -- I find depressing on facebook is a stage mom who is living out her own theater dreams through her one child who can be pushed to act and posts about her daughter basically daily, while her other, who is too shy to act, is left out of her posts for such lengthy periods of time that I actually wondered if he had died and I had missed the post. But no, eventually I figured out that her daughter acting is the most important thing in the entire universe to her, in a way that is sort of sad and scary.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:02 PM on December 1, 2014 [29 favorites]


"Not having a facebook" is a total non-starter for me. I'm a 20-something in NYC; I can't not have a facebook.

I mean maybe, but then I would also not have a social life. I know that sounds patently absurd but it is my life.

This wasn't a particularly new thing to say about facebook. And it wasn't particularly true to my lived experience on facebook or off. But I know how cold the world gets when your online world is bigger and more vibrant than your fleshy social circle .. if harshly mediated and persistently distant. So this speaks to me.

Social media really doesn't satisfy a need for connection that is no longer being met by other social paradigms for young people in urban America.

I guess I'm just asking preemptively for the sans-facebook crowd to refrain from gloating this time around.
posted by an animate objects at 9:13 PM on December 1, 2014 [10 favorites]


I mean maybe, but then I would also not have a social life. I know that sounds patently absurd but it is my life.

Would you use a social network that was guaranteed not to divulge your information and post content with third parties outside your friends circiles... including to the network provider itself?

Would you accept some modest reduction in friend-discovery for that guaranteed?

Do you imagine you'd post more openly or honestly in such a social network?

Assume this network had tools for helping you migrate your facebook content into it, and for inviting your contacts into this new network.
posted by clarknova at 9:31 PM on December 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Would you use a social network that was guaranteed not to divulge your information and post content with third parties outside your friends circiles... including to the network provider itself?

Would you accept some modest reduction in friend-discovery for that guaranteed?

Do you imagine you'd post more openly or honestly in such a social network?


Facebook does almost everything wrong and I would abandon it in a heartbeat if I could take my connections with me.

But I'm perfectly comfortable being open on facebook. I share, with discretion, whatever I want to share. I don't care what facebook knows; nothing I've ever typed into a computer is truly private, metaphysically speaking.
posted by an animate objects at 9:46 PM on December 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


I mean maybe, but then I would also not have a social life. I know that sounds patently absurd but it is my life.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but it's easy to have a social life without Facebook. Unless of course you are into marketing or something... if you are married or with a long-term partner, it's VERY easy to have a life without Facebook.

I stopped using it a few years ago because everytime I wanted to post something, I self-edited myself because "Oh X might see that and be offended," etc. etc. or I certainly couldn't post anything half-interesting about drugs or sex.

I certainly have a Facebook account. I don't see much reason not to. There are probably a variety of other useful services that require one, much like a Google account or Adobe account, etc. But I don't see much point in using it anymore. I still use it, but less than an hour a month. Less than fucking email, for god's sake.

Would you use a social network that was guaranteed not to divulge your information and post content with third parties outside your friends circiles... including to the network provider itself?

I honestly don't care too much about the privacy aspects (probably b/c I don't share much, and nothing I don't want to make "public") I would actually use a social network (again) if and only if it had a bitchin algorithm that showed me a better feed than I can curate myself with a quick look through MetaFilter + Twitter. I don't see it happening.

Relevant to the FPP, I have several Facebook friends who nag about people posting "negative" stuff, so I can see how the posts in general skew positive.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:54 PM on December 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Social media really doesn't satisfy a need for connection that is no longer being met by other social paradigms for young people in urban America.

Wait, maybe I'm reading this wrong. But who still thinks Facebook is used by young people in urban America to satisfy a need for connection?

Or even that it's used ONLY by young people?

Or ONLY in America for that matter? (The viral video linked was created in Norway)
posted by FJT at 9:55 PM on December 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


I spent the weekend hanging with a kid who is pretty under the poverty line in Cambodia, and one of the first things he did when he borrowed my ipad was log-on to his facebook account and start watching music videos.

I have come to think of Facebook as The Other Internet - so many people who are not highly-educated and/or technical use it as their primary online experience, the way AOL used to be, except it's global now, not American.
posted by viggorlijah at 10:37 PM on December 1, 2014 [4 favorites]


I wish Facebook would just crawl off into the corner and die.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:48 AM on December 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


Facebook is pretty awesome for being a self-updating address book. I doubt I really know many old friends' phone numbers or email addresses anymore, but people tend to hang on to the same Facebook account.
posted by Dysk at 1:48 AM on December 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


People lie about themselves in life too, not just on Facebook. It's just easier on Facebook to misrepresent yourself. A lot of people use Facebook in ways that you or I might find annoying or egregious. But then, they're probably like that in real life too.

I've had lots of disagreements with people about Facebook - apparently none of the 50 or so people I interact with on it regularly are my 'real' friends because Facebook is not a platform for real relationships, Facebook is only for display, etc. But I hardly ever post about myself on Facebook so clearly it isn't about display for me.

In general, for me, Facebook is a good thing. The close friends I grew up with live thousands of miles away from me now and I get to see them once a year if I'm lucky. Facebook allows me to see what they're up to and participate in discussions and still feel like I'm part of the group. Of course that is no substitute for a real friendship but it does help me not to feel so disconnected from them, and it means that when I do see them on my yearly or every-other-yearly trips to the homeland we don't feel like strangers. I'm only one of millions of people who are separated by distance from people they love. That's just the world we live in. Facebook and other communications technology make maintaining those kind of relationships much simpler. I remember when people used to sneer about email, too, and mutter about what was wrong with old fashioned letter-writing. But for me, anything that makes it easier to connect with people you can't see regularly is a good thing.
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:27 AM on December 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


I definitely only put positive stuff on Facebook. It's not that I'm bragging, just that I don't want to bum people out. No one wants to read about your bad day.
posted by octothorpe at 3:47 AM on December 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


I definitely only put positive stuff on Facebook. It's not that I'm bragging, just that I don't want to bum people out. No one wants to read about your bad day.


Right, which is why you complain about your bad day on your Blogspot blog.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 4:46 AM on December 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Some people do use FB as a support network, but as they like having 'friends' and 'likes' they can get dragged into upsetting interactions with people who are not their friends which has the opposite effect to the support they are looking for. They are edge cases though, and they tend not to only post positive things, but to seek reassurance.
posted by asok at 5:31 AM on December 2, 2014


I don't care what facebook knows

That's exactly what FB's counting on. They don't care either.

My Facebook persona is primarily photos of my dogs and I don't really care that Facebook or anyone else knows that.

Almost anything else I withhold from the social network that actively holds the idea of anything private in contempt and whose founder's first principle is the pithy "They trust me -- dumb fucks."

Which isn't to say that anything else about me won't get out some other way, but I still won't let FB be the way it gets out.

The idea that people also shared things about themselves selectively before FB, so big whoop, ignores the multiplier effects of having that information disseminated as widely as FB can disseminate it -- and all the other multiplier effects of sharing private information in the networked world.
posted by blucevalo at 6:00 AM on December 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've had a Facebook since 2003 and only started using this year. It's fun! I get to see pictures of my high school friends' kids, which, surprisingly, I really enjoy seeing. I keep up on my cousins' lives even though I haven't seen them in years. And I share pictures of my kids' halloween costumes and our superbright LED Christmas lights and get a bunch of "likes," and it's all very cheerful.

Much less awkward than when I see any of these people in person. I wish I were better at doing the "cheerful small talk" thing in real life, because in person I'm a total over-sharer.
posted by OnceUponATime at 6:14 AM on December 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I feel like I'm often guilty of doing this with my written journals, which are 100% for my eyes only. I'm documenting the things in my life that I'm happy about, because that's the stuff I want to remember.
posted by jbickers at 6:14 AM on December 2, 2014


I have spent the better part of a month with my main facebook page deactivated. I'm trying to figure out whether I'm too concerned with what other people think about my life or being influenced by other people. I spent WAY too much time logged in and I think I wondered if I was logged out of my life in the non-internet world. When I told Mr. Lyndsy about deactivating my page, his response was something along the lines of "but Facebook is your life." Ugh.

However, I started a new account because it is the way I communicate with a lot of people. I have connections only with the people I regularly talked to on there and whose lives I am interested in enough that I regularly think, "Oh, I wonder what's up with X."

It's been a liberating almost month.
posted by lyndsy at 6:59 AM on December 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


It kind of blows my mind that people don't realize that as an edited medium, Facebook is most likely to feature posts about what makes people happy in their lives. Partially, because that's what healthy people tend to want to focus on/remember, and partially because when people are down, they generally don't want to bring others down with them.

It's not lying, it's not bragging, it's just being more positive. And there's nothing wrong with that.

It's one thing when someone who is generally positive/interesting who posts something sad because they are sad and they want people on the internet to know it and maybe reach out and connect or help or whatever we can do. But I've defriended (I think it's more honest than blocking) more than one person who was a constant Negative Nancy on Facebook.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:59 AM on December 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd never given this issue any thought until it spilled out on to me a year ago when I chatted with an old h.s. friend over my rarely-used fb. I was shocked that her account of her life was so at odds with the super-happy, super-positive display of family and work moments that littered her account.

"Facebook is deception" she said.
posted by riverlife at 11:10 AM on December 2, 2014


Facebook is deception for those who feel a need to deceive.

Two of the most untrustworthy, borderline-whackjob* pieces of work I know have facebook pictures that are decades out-of-date (not to mention several stones lighter).

As a small side-topic, it's fascinating to me what people choose for their online pictures. I understand some folk - teachers, maybe some cops - have professional reasons for avoiding accurate name & pic accounts, but then there are those who choose for other reasons to have flowers for their profile pic (always a woman), or a cartoon character (nicely ungendered in my crowd), or a favorite animal (always someone into bestiality) (kidding) (I assume).

One friend explained it defensively to me by saying, "We aren't all photogenic!"... which continues to say a lot about her self-esteem, sadly. I can't fix that.

I'm honestly warmed by the faces of people I love when I see them by their comments on FB; it feels more like the post is "in their voice", I guess. But, to each their own.

*OK, only one is borderline. The other hasn't been seen on this side of the border since the lizard people first put fluoride in our fish tanks.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:22 PM on December 2, 2014


Nevin said: 'I haven't seen anyone take a picture of their lunch recently.' - I have - but mostly to say it's too fattening and they shouldn't be eating it. And yes, my friends are also middle-aged skeptics who continually ask ourselves: 'How did we get on Facebook?'
posted by McMillan's Other Wife at 1:46 PM on December 2, 2014


Maybe it's a male/female thing? The only time my FB contacts post photos of their lunch is when they go to some out of the way BBQ joint in rural Texas.
posted by Nevin at 2:42 PM on December 2, 2014


Right, which is why you complain about your bad day on your Blogspot blog.

An here I thought LiveJournal was Geocities of Angst.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 5:14 PM on December 2, 2014


I have a theory that a good portion of FB posts are revealing: whatever you're posting about is what you're most anxious about. If you post about how great your relationship is, you're worried about your relationship or want to display you have one/a good one. If you post about food, you are obsessed with what/how/how much you are cooking, and want to display domesticity/or that you get out really you do. If it's all about how much you're exercising, traveling, happy ... the less you actually do any of those things, and want to portray yourself as doing more than you actually do.

The more happy you portray yourself on FB, the more I feel the clock is ticking til I hear about your divorce or how you just entered rehab.

(This has borne out in my anecdotal personal studies.)
posted by RedEmma at 3:09 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Reading this thread has made me realise that I and by far most of my friends don't use Facebook like apparently most people (or most people in mefites' friends lists) do. We don't generally post about our own lives - we use it to share links to interesting things, promote gigs or events that we run, that sort of thing. It ends up reading more akin to Mefi ("best of the Web" and comment threads) than what I see described here.
posted by Dysk at 3:02 AM on December 4, 2014


Some of my friends/family do post links on Facebook but what they post resembles what you'd see on chain email forwards a few years ago more than what you'll see on Metafilter.
posted by octothorpe at 5:11 AM on December 4, 2014


I suppose a little more accurately, my Facebook feed looks a little like MeFi, AskMe, Projects, and Music rolled into one. It's rare that I see something genuinely awesome on Mefi which doesn't also crop up on Facebook.
posted by Dysk at 5:20 AM on December 4, 2014


I was at my best friend's house playing euchre during Uni and one of his roommates walked in with a bunch of friends from rowing. We were finishing up our game in the living room and overheard the most ridiculous conversation from the kitchen.

The rowing crew were talking about how to get the most likes on facebook, how many likes their various posts had gotten, how they were obligated to like their bro's posts, and even talked about something called "pity likes."

I was kinda aghast. We still tease the roommate about the conversation mercilessly.
posted by Strass at 6:18 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I know it sounds ridiculous, but it's easy to have a social life without Facebook. Unless of course you are into marketing or something... if you are married or with a long-term partner, it's VERY easy to have a life without Facebook.

Depends on what your social life is. Mine revolves around live music and small DIY gigs around London and the South East. If I wasn't on Facebook, there's a lot that I wouldn't find out about.
posted by MattWPBS at 7:20 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


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