Wednesday, February 27, 2013

the Facebook fallacy

Let me start by saying that I enjoy Facebook very much.  I've found it a fun way to get to know people I meet and to reconnect with those from earlier periods of my life.  I love it as a way to share what's going on with my life and my family with those far away.  My friends' remarks in this medium make me laugh, encourage me, touch me, and sometimes bring tears to my eyes.  FB is an undeniably popular mode of communication.

Of course, it has its critics.  There are those who say that FB limits our interactions with others to superficial exchanges, though I must say I don't agree with that.  I feel that my own relationships have been strengthened as I've gotten to know my acquaintances better - perhaps because I am such an introvert.  It is true though, that people are often more bold and even reckless with their words at times when they are online.  Something about being behind a computer screen can do that to people.  It's important to measure what one is saying and consider how it might come across.  As friendships have grown through this avenue, surely some relationships have been destroyed by it.

And of course, there's the temptation to make oneself look good.  To share only the happy times, to make it appear that everything it perfect and that you actually have it all together.  To "airbrush" the side of your life shown to those FB friends - showing none of the warts or blemishes in your life.

This is the crux of my post today.

You see, I find it a bit of a challenge, deciding what to "put out there."  If I post sweet photos of my kids and news about what I'm doing in the kitchen, it might appear that everything is smooth and peaceful in my home all the time.   If I mention that we're struggling with math one day or express frustration about how the morning is going, I'm often feel that I'm grumbling.  (I've actually had someone say, referring to Facebook, "It sounds like you're having a really bad week!"  And I had no idea what they were talking about.  I walked away from that conversation wondering if I was becoming a whiner.)

Just how honest should we be?  How blunt?   I'm fairly sure no one wants to see photos of (or even hear about) the unflushed toilets that drive me absolutely insane.   I am thankful for my life, and grateful for the opportunity to I complaining if I talk about how much I didn't want to educate my children this morning?  Do I mention the bickering children, or does that only spread negativity and bring everyone down?  These are the things I wrestle with.

I've gotten the impression more than once that people gather from my Facebook "persona" that I'm this fantastic, awe-inspiring, super-organized woman with the patience of a saint.  I assure you, I am not.  And I don't desire to present this image of myself either.  What I am attempting to do it accentuate the positive and focus on the good things - all the gifts in my life.

I read an article this week which stated, in a nutshell, that everyone should just stop lying on Facebook.  It spoke about lies of omission.  My question is, how do we find that balance?  That balance between this...

"Blessed." from November 2012

...and the surprises I discover in the toilet each and every day.

I want honesty.  I want transparency.  But is letting loose with how (extremely!) frustrated I am at my kids' constant messes the way to do that?  Or going on and on when I'm feeling discouraged and upset about how the day has gone?  I'm truly not certain.

For now I plan on continuing to try and strike that balance.  Finding humor in the tough stuff, delighting in the blessings.  And being honest about the fact that I fall short just the same as everybody else.

What do you think?  How do you define the word "honesty" in our interactions online?


Ol' Dad said...

First a disclaimer: I do not nor have I ever done FaceBook.

I doubt if everyone is supposed to share every little detail of their life publicly. Who has the time? Who cares?

Your blog posts are good. they share some of your experiences - both good and frustrating. It looks like you could just post what you choose to let others know, that is, what you choose to disclose about life's happenings or your thoughts.

Mindy said...

I do use my blog to move toward transparency. But there seems to be a perception that the things people share on Facebook contribute to a falseness, a facade that our lives are perfect.

I've heard from several people that they find me really impressive on FB, which leads me to wonder what kind of an image an I (subconsciously or not) projecting?

Kathleen said...

It is a tough balance, but I think it is no different in person. When I meet people casually, not for a long deep conversation, I'm probably not going to hang out all my laundry for them. Am I lying because I don't share my struggles? I don't think so. It's just not the time nor the place. Before Facebook came into existence, I have had women share they thought I was an organization queen and the most amazing mother. Ugh! Of course, if they had spent some time with me, they would soon discover, I DON'T have it all together. I dropped my 1 week old baby down the stairs, I'm ugly with my kids more than I would like, and sometimes I just don't make dinner because I don't feel like it. For what it's worth, I think you do a wonderful job of balancing the 'being real' with the inspirational. Keep at it. You're right where God wants you.