I gave up Facebook a few weeks ago during one of the more stressful months in my life. I don’t miss it at all. After some reflection, I think being off Facebook has been good for me and has helped decrease my overall anxiety level. I have been moved by an outpouring of support from friends, many of whom expressed that they also think Facebook can be detrimental to the psyche.
The problem with Facebook, one of my friends told me, is that it’s a highlight reel of people’s lives. It only shows the positive aspects instead of the daily struggles. Why? Because people are only compelled to share uplifting or funny things on Facebook. That’s the content that gets the most likes and comments, after all.
Being off of Facebook, I have come closer to an understanding of my own narcissistic nature. I’m not a complete narcissist (not the kind of self-absorbed jerk people hate), but I now recognize that I have narcissistic tendencies.
I grew up in a somewhat political household. Many of my relatives have served in public office and were absolutely wonderful people that you could depend on. I was raised with the idea that perception is everything. Perception is reality. You don’t reveal the less than pretty parts of yourself ever, because it affects people’s positive perception of you. Positive perception = votes (or likes!).
It really matters to me what people think of me. That is why it took me so many years to reveal to people, even close loved ones, that I am diagnosed with anxiety and depression and I struggle with it daily. In the Irish Catholic household I grew up in, you simply didn’t talk about those things.
I suppose it’s no wonder I pursued public relations and marketing as a career. Because I worry so much about perception, I have a knack for knowing what people think about a particular thing and how best to adjust that thinking (if needed).
Anyway, on Facebook, I think my narcissistic nature took over. I began obsessing over how many likes or comments I got on posts. Getting likes made me feel, well, liked. I like it when people like me! It satisfies my narcissistic nature.
I learned that most people don’t like serious and/or depressing posts. After all, they are driven to social media to escape. Many people are on social media during work hours for that very reason. People are on social media to be entertained. If you’re not entertaining and positive, you unliked, unfollowed, and sometimes unfriended.
We all hear the same complaints. “Ugh… I’m so tired of Tim’s depressing posts. Why can’t he just lighten up?” or, “I unfollowed Jill today. Her political posts are so annoying!”
And I totally understand. I’ve done it myself.
But then that sort of attitude forces people to make their lives appear to be all sunshine and roses. And due to how Facebook organizes your news feed now, most of the things your friends see are the sunshine and roses of your life. Those posts get bumped up in the news feed because they get more likes, comments, and shares.
But life isn’t all sunshine and roses. I feel that we really need to address that in social media. Lately there have been more news stories about people who have committed suicide and left family and friends wondering, “Why? She seemed just fine.” The most troubling story I saw was about star athlete Madison Holleran, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania who took a running leap off a parking garage in Philadelphia. Her Instagram documented a happy, healthy, and successful college student. Hardly anyone had a clue how much this girl was struggling, and therefore couldn’t help her.
A photo from Madison Holleran’s Instagram account.
In the past few weeks, I’ve thought of what I’m going to call “social media truth posts” (hashtag #socialmediatruth) that tell people what’s been really going on in my life:
- My husband and I have absolutely no savings right now (due to the recent drama with our Jeep that I detailed in another post).
- I weigh more than I’ve ever weighed in my entire life, and I’m really embarrassed about it. It has to do with a number of factors, but mostly because I’ve been doing a lot of stress eating lately and I’m on medication that increases my hunger and slows my metabolism.
- I can’t fit into most of my clothes anymore and can’t really afford to purchase more clothing, so I’m wearing essentially the same outfits to work every week.
- My face has exploded with mini, pus-filled volcanoes (acne) that are also due to stress. It is so humiliating that I can barely look at people I work with and hope they don’t interact with me.
- I am probably more depressed than I’ve ever been in my life (more on this in a future post).
However, there have been some positives:
- We purchased a 2013 Nissan Versa to replace the Jeep. It’s a very nice car, and has been very reliable so far. We are already saving a lot of money on gas.
- My husband has been incredibly supportive as we’ve gone through this rough patch.
- I feel like I’m connecting with family and friends on a more real level (outside Facebook).
- My anxiety has gone down significantly.
- I’ve been reading more! In the past couple of weeks, I’ve finished Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren.
Just for fun, I’m sharing this picture with you. It’s what I would post to Facebook with the #socialmediatruth hashtag. It’s me after applying a Proactiv mask to the areas of my face where I have acne right now. #nofilter #soglamorous
And here’s a picture to go with my positive statements: our new car in front of our favorite liquor store, Lincoln Liquors. It’s Baby Nissan’s first trip to the packie!
So there you have it: my real life with all of its ups and downs. Maybe you can relate. If so, I’m glad. And I invite you to share your ups and downs with me too. Feel free to comment or message me (just don’t message me on Facebook, because I’m not checking it at all).
I might come back to Facebook someday, but not for the time being. When/if I do, it will be my goal to be as honest as possible with my posts, and show my world outside of the one that is seen with rose-colored glasses (Hashtag #KeepingItReal).