Years ago my initial relationship with Facebook was practically forced upon me by a friend who was always more tuned into and accepting of technological advances than I was. Once pushed into the social media world, I did find it interesting and was not opposed to posting pictures from my private life. However, as my season of life changed and I found myself with four little ones and a husband who was seldom at home due to insane work hours, my attitude towards Facebook dramatically shifted. When scrolling through my friends’ posts, I observed happy family after happy family after happy family. The posts were all smiles. Life was all good. Everyone was happy. Meanwhile, within my own four walls, I felt like I was daily drowning and barely surviving.
Additionally, one day when back in my hometown, I encountered someone who told me they loved seeing me on Facebook. This was a person who was merely an acquaintance back in my growing up years and I felt very uncomfortable that this person knew anything about my private life. However, was I not to blame? It was at this point that I realized I needed to severe my ties with Facebook. The discontentment battle was destroying me and and I wanted my privacy back from people who were not actually in my real world circle of friends. Without much of a fight, Facebook and I easily parted ways.
Five years passed. I felt free. I felt good. I felt like I had made a very wise choice. Then came the summer of the chicken pox invasion, which prevented my son and I from making our annual trek to the Midwest for him to attend camp with his best friend. He was incredibly sad. So was I. Reluctantly, I reopened my Facebook account so we could follow the camp for a week and see pictures of all that my son was missing including his best friend. By this period of life, I had also started my blog and was contemplating if I should use Facebook as an avenue to share posts with more people. Tentatively I carefully stepped back into social media but not without significantly trimming my “friend” list to attempt to maintain some measure of privacy.
When Covid hit, I suddenly recognized the value of the seemingly surface connections. Joining the private group, What do you see from your window?, I was amazed at the ability of total strangers to truly connect through a picture. We were all so incredibly isolated across the globe, yet, an individual could post a picture of something that captured their attention and it would then capture my attention. That little group became such a lifeline during those hard months of quarantine and total disruption. I looked forward to seeing what people would post and enjoyed strangers connecting with my own posts. Now that life is more normal, I no longer rely on that group. But, those strangers helped me persevere and I am grateful to the many who participated.
For all that I love about Facebook, I still wrestle with this complicated relationship. Not long ago I was down for unpostable reasons. When considering to post some “happy” pictures, I finally refrained, feeling like an imposter. Once again I was faced with trying to understand this bizarre social media world. Am I a fake if I post a happy picture while actually feeling overwhelmingly unhappy? Often I have evaluated what others post and how I react to it to better understand what would be beneficial for me to post. I love seeing all the happy pictures now from other people, which perhaps would have tempted me to be discontent years ago. Next, I noticed how I am in real life. Recently I had a bad headache all day and yet I was also meeting up with people all day. Did I go around announcing at the beginning of each conversation that I had a really bad headache? No. My goal was to seek to engage in conversation and try to be as present as possible. I ended up not saying anything to anyone but my husband that I had a headache. Was I being a fake? No. My struggles are not required to be public information.
The same is true for Facebook. We all have struggles but we do not need to air them out for every single person. If we are to assume when looking at happy pictures that it represents every single moment of that friend’s life, we are being naive. For me currently, I enjoy seeing happiness posted on social media and posting my own happy moments. That is not to say I do not appreciate people posting their struggles also and that I might at times choose to post a harder moment. However, Facebook does not represent my whole life any more than a conversation in real life represents everything I am dealing with at the moment.
When engaging in the Facebook world, be careful of your temptations, the impact of your posts, and your motives for your various actions in this strange arena. Use it as a tool to encourage and connect and glorify God. And if you need to take a break, walk away. Facebook should be a blessing to you. If it is a burden, something needs to change.
For now, Facebook and I are friends. On second thought, make that frenemies. I haven’t even discussed my frustration with the Facebook aspect of blocking, unfriending, referring to my friends as fans, and dealing with knowing how many likes I have or do not have on any given post. Praise God, Jesus is coming back one day and complicated relationships will be a thing of the past! Meanwhile, I will strive to be grateful for the brief connection experienced when I see my friends’ posts about their kids, their pets, their delicious restaurant dish, their vacation activities, their memories from eight years ago, or maybe just a few words that reveal they are struggling. And, I will conscientiously be remembering that behind every post is a billion more moments of reality left unposted. Hopefully, others will do the same for me.
What a great read. I like the part where you delineated between posting happiness or unhappiness.
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Thank you for the feedback!
Oddest thing – I can’t do Facebook bc of my tendency to offer advice and ponder the situations of others asking for advice instead of applying the same level of mental rigor to my own problems and issues. It’s a lot easier to think about others problems than my own.
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Thank you for your transparency!
I can relate to much of what you talked about here! I was off Facebook for over a year back in 2016, then I started my blog and got back on late 2017. With time, I decided it wasn’t worth it. I got if again in 2020 and haven’t looked back. I pray you find what’s right for you and your family! It’s definitely a struggle and I don’t think there’s one specific right or wrong, it just depends on what’s best for your walk with the Lord. God bless!
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Thank you for sharing! It’s encouraging to know I’m not alone in the struggle.
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