I have been putting off this post for ages. The whole topic has been bubbling at the surface of my mind and I have felt ill-equipped and simply too exhausted to go deeper, to poke around in the muddiness that is social media and more specifically Facebook.
I have one thing I know for sure. I have a severely complicated, possibly co-dependent relationship with Facebook.
It’s the big room you can’t leave. As Amanda Hess depressingly puts it:
“Facebook is the living dead: the most popular, least relevant social network where teenagers and adults alike gather out of fear of missing out on things that don’t even make them happy.”
It’s as vital as life, maybe, but also as irritating.
The thing with Facebook is this : no matter which way you play the game you will get it wrong. You share good times and photos = you are either grandstanding or playing your highlights reel. If you share bad times you are gently reminded that Facebook is not your diary and rather keep the messy bits out the public eye. I find the safest bet is humour, discretion and a very thick skin; none of which describe your average teenager! For this reason I feel a large Facebook profile is a disaster for a youngster still finding their way in this world.
About a month ago I began my own little experiment. I kept my Big Profile but also opened another one in my maiden name. On this, my Small Profile, I only have my family. I wanted to use this profile for day to day postings. I would keep my Big Profile as a hub, to be checked weekly, to keep up with friends and acquaintances I have established over the years.
The first thing I noticed is that I was able to post freely to my Small Profile. I didn't have to think about what I was posting. Was it too braggy? Was it an overshare? Would 'this person' be upset because I went to 'this party' ? I had not realized the mental gymnastics I put myself through before I posted a status or photograph. The people in my Small Profile are 100% for me. They know me and there is no chance of grandstanding or busking my way around it!
The next thing I realized is that I missed my large (usually annoying and boring) newsfeed. I felt out of the loop. I also felt a strangely irresponsible - what happens if someone posts something 'really important' that I should know and I miss it? What happens if the school posts? (I immediately went and added the school to my Small Profile!)
Bottom line is that I felt somewhat anxious. Not a good sign.
This did eventually pass though and I was free of that anxiety; I didn't check Facebook 10 times a day or first thing in the morning. I felt free. Even a little superior in some bizarre way - Facebook did NOT own me after all!
For this reason I felt justified to 'pop in' to my Big Profile once a day, just to check in. I told myself it was my downtime, my reward and and I deserved a little voyeurism. Guess what happened? Slowly I began to get sucked back down the hole and was checking my Big Profile up to 5/6 times a day.
Where does this leave me in my boundary issues with Facebook? I still have no idea but I am not giving up until I find the 'undo' button that leaves me in a guilt-free, inter-dependent relationship with Facebook.