Are You Living a Great Life… On Facebook?
“I aspire to be the beautiful, together person my Facebook profile suggest I am.” Unknown (most of us)
I only want to show the good things in my life when posting to Facebook. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that; I’m not trying to hide anything. However, I do catch myself posting with the intention of wanting my life to look better than it actually is. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life but it’s not perfect and I do wish it was as good as my Facebook profile would suggest even though my Facebook profile sucks! When I started this site, I started it with the intention that the GREAT LIFE is not supposed to be perfect. Living the GREAT LIFE doesn’t LOOK any particular way… The GREAT LIFE is sometimes lived with lots of fear, uncertainty, and vulnerability. There is risk, but there is also the daily reward of presence when you live and allow yourself to be seen. Our Facebook persona often doesn’t allow us to be vulnerable or to be really seen. Lets be honest, who wants to see that?
Many people have carefully crafted messages, and post only the best pictures. Some of us use Facebook to promote ourselves professionally and wouldn’t dare post the pictures of a fun night out for fear of what our clients or coworkers would think. Facebook allows us to show our best side. Even when that side is not very good. Pictures with a spouse suggest a happy loving relationship that in reality is lonely and disappointing. Pictures of a new car don’t show the stress of financial insecurity and crushing debt. Christmas pictures show happy family, but really it’s just a couple drunks, a drug addict, spoiled kids that only want more, and someone on the verge of a breakdown. There’s nothing wrong with what you don’t show, it’s human.
Facebook for most of us is what TV use to be like, showing only the best of people. When I was a kid TV was an example of how life was supposed to be. Shows like The Brady Bunch, Family Ties, and The Cosby show use to set an example for family life, and often set the bar high. To me those were lives that I couldn’t relate to. They existed in another world that did not remotely look like mine. Certainly nobody I knew had relationships with their family like that, nor did they solve life’s difficult challenges in the time it took a sitcom… Then came shows like Rosanne then Married With Children and most of us could relate. Families struggle in a lot of ways. We loved those shows because they didn’t set the bar very high, yet they still had the values we all share, love for family, even when it’s hard to be around them. Then reality TV came and showed the darker side to people, self-serving, greedy, vain, unconscionable… Still these shows are popular because we see people do and say the things we wish we could if we were raised by wolves.
Facebook gives me an opportunity to show you my life’s version of The Brady Bunch. Which again, I don’t think is bad. Just so long as I remember that when I see your profile, I remind myself that you are showing me the best version of your life, not the whole realty.
In my work it’s not uncommon that people talk about looking a friends social media profiles and feeling envious. I admit, I can relate. Early this year I did a lot of “compare and despair” seeing what I perceive as these perfect lives the people I grew up with. I had one friend in particular who had the life I wanted. He had a wife and a daughter and just two weeks after his son was born he suffered a major stroke and died. When I saw his posts on on Facebook, I saw a perfect life; I didn’t see the stress he may have been under at work. I didn’t see his stresses or struggle. I didn’t see health issues that led to his death. He was just 39 years old. I’ll never see the pain his death caused his friends and family. We don’t share that on Facebook.
The point to living a GREAT LIFE daily, is to learn to live in today, to not regret, to not live so far in the future that we aren’t present, and most important to live your own life without shame, regret, or envy. While Facebook and other social media make a poor substitute for a real life, it’s also a place where those who are courageous enough to be vulnerable inspire others to live more authentically. Despite what I might see is great about your life, I remind myself that today I have more than I could ever need. When I begin to feel that what I have is not enough, I pray for the courage to truly live my own GREAT LIFE… not just one on Facebook.