The Alternate Universe of Facebook

parallel-universesDo you have any idea how long it’s taken me to figure this out? It’s sad, really, considering I am usually fairly attuned to the way people behave. If I’m in the same room with you, either overhearing your conversation with someone else or having a conversation with you, I’ve pretty much figured you out in the first 15 minutes.

But Facebook? Not so much. Sure, I know all about the fact that people tend to only post the best of themselves and their lives, but it never really dawned on me how totally and completely FAKE some of it is.

I already figured out for myself over a year ago that posting anything about my children was crossing a line. I completely stopped posting pictures or anything else about my children other than a few random snippets of conversation perhaps once a month or so, only if it’s funny and relevant. But invading their privacy by posting pictures of them or updates on their lives was where I drew the line. My children are their own people, not my trophies or puppets or pets to show off to the world. They have their own Facebook (which I discovered they rarely ever use), their own jobs, their own social circles, their own lives. If they want to post pictures of their lives, with or without their parents, that is their business. It’s not just an issue of privacy, I think it’s a very primal issue of separating the personhood of your children from you. They have a right to their own personhood. It’s not mine to advertise to the world.

That much I figured out on my own, without either of them asking me. It just kind of dawned on me as a revelation, I suppose.

But relationships. That was hard to figure out. Marriages, relationships, families. That took a while.

I think it started with the normal…. eh….. conversations that mothers and daughters who are close on a friendship level typically engage in. She and I are notorious for talking shit about people catching up on the latest news on a fairly regular basis. That is when I started noticing that the things she was telling me about certain people just did not jibe with the image some of these people were perpetuating on Facebook. This perfect little family image, with the perfectly dressed children, and their perfectly wholesome quips and stories of their pleasant little family life, all of it, ALL OF IT, was completely fucking FAKE.

The husband’s sweet smile in the typical “heads touching” selfie? Yeah, not a smile. More like “GET. ME. THE FUCK. AWAY. FROM. THIS. BANSHEE.”

The mommy/son hug pic- Little son with the seemingly wide-eyed sense of innocence and a little Mona Lisa quirk of the lip (his own arms curiously dangling at his side)? Yeah, more like “SOMEONE PLEASE FUCKING HELP ME!”

The perfect, professional, matching-outfit, family picture in the mystical wooded setting of their own backyard? Translation- “We’re $80,000 in debt paying for this shit and my bitch of a wife keeps charging her blow-outs and manicures on my maxed-out credit cards I’m working two jobs to pay off.”

Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone, I am sure, but to these particular people, it did. In every way imaginable.

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The resemblance is uncanncy

And then there were the private conversations with people who seem to seek me out for advice (Sometimes I seriously feel like Augra from The Dark Crystal). The ones who plaster their Facebook pages with cutesy little couple pictures and baby pictures. And then she calls me in tears because she refuses to have sex with him because she knows he’s cheating on her with a girl who works at his office. They have two children together and are having trouble paying their mortgage and, even though she’s 100% sure he’s cheating, she is curiously not asking me whether she should leave him. She’s asking me how to make her marriage work even though he’s cheating and she refuses to have sex with him. How THE FUCK do you respond to that?

And then the nail in the coffin. The very, very close friend of mine who called just to talk, and we ventured into the subject of his marriage. And the fact that his wife gets angry if he doesn’t “show her affection” on Facebook, or respond to her posts, or post sweet things to her wall. I was, I suppose I should be embarrassed to say, blindsided. But that wasn’t the end of it. Apparently, if he’s not working hard enough to paint her as the wifey goddess that she is, she also logs into HIS Facebook account and does it for him. She (and I hate using such a throwaway word, but it’s relevant in this situation) LITERALLY posts “affectionate” things to her own account from his account. I honestly did not know that shit happened.

HOW FUCKING COMMON IS THIS? Can anyone please tell me? How could anyone be so insecure that they take a virtual paintbrush and paint a virtual Nora Roberts novel all over their own husband’s Facebook account?

My husband and I rarely ever communicate meaningfully on Facebook. Why would we? We’re together almost all the time. If he wants to send me something funny, he usually does it in private message because, more often than not, the shit we share with each other is so graphically inappropriate it would probably get us shunned by our entire families. Whether or not he responds or even acknowledges me on Facebook has never even crossed my mind as something I should be concerned about. We’ll post a few pictures every once in a while, if we’re doing something interesting, but we sure as shit have nothing to prove. And saturating each other’s Facebook feed with testaments of love and light and magic and tender moments of affection demonstrating our eternal love to one another? Yeah, that’s the real life equivalent of “Get a fucking room, dipshits. We’re so fucking over it.”

We have our own moments. At home. In the real world. In private. Where they belong, because that’s where they mean the most. If you think those moments belong in public, it means you need other people to see it in order for it to be real.

So yeah, the idea that the lives of some people on Facebook are so completely fake, not just tweaked a little here and there or a little exaggerated, is absolutely new to me. How could I have allowed this ignorance to go on for so many years? But why would it ever dawn on me that some people are so insecure that they demand their spouse SHOW THEM AFFECTION ON FACEBOOK?

WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT EVEN ABOUT?

All I can do is laugh now. I never know who is real and who isn’t. I’ve had a bit of disdain for people who prance their children all over the Facebook stage for a while now, but the fact that I now have to question the reality of every single person I am not intimately acquainted with is just fucking BIZARRE.

That’s when I realized something else. Several of the people I am intimately acquainted with, who happen to be married or in serious relationships, AREN’T EVEN FRIENDS WITH EACH OTHER ON FACEBOOK. They don’t post anything about each other. If you were to read one particular friend’s Facebook page, you wouldn’t even know she’s been dating another of my friends for the past 4 years, or that they just got engaged, or that they’re getting married in 7 months, or that my husband is officiating. SHE DOESN’T POST ANY OF THAT SHIT. When I compare the two different types of relationships, it’s really a gigantic slap of reality right in the fucking face.

Now it’s just a game to me. Another game, just like figuring you out in face-to-face social situations.

Make no mistake. I am blind no more. And I think it’s fucking hilarious.

and SAD.