Way back in that ancient era known as the ‘90s, a friend told me that she often felt a little jealous after watching the then-megahit NBC sitcom Friends. The reason? The lives of those TV characters rarely appeared boring or lonely or disappointing. I recently stumbled over this thought-provoking post on Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish site that poses a similar problem for today’s social media age: Does Facebook cause unrealistic envy?
Blogger Stan James suggests that Facebook has become a place for members to post selectively edited, misleadingly blissful and unrealistically exciting versions of their lives. For many, it’s become an arena for bragging, extreme social competition, and dishonesty by omission.
Your reaction might be: “Well, duh.” But James’s point is that if the Facebook phenomenon replaces close, long-term, friend-to-friend conversations, the result will be a vast distortion of reality that hinders us from talking about life as it’s really lived. Here’s a suggestion to save Facebook: Be a little more honest, people. Talk about the restaurants that gave you indigestion, the TV shows that bored you, the partners who betrayed you, the children who disappointed you, etc. etc. Talk about anything that keeps it a little more real.