Recently, as I was scrolling through my News Feed on Facebook, I came across an extremely lengthy post. You all know the type of post I’m talking about — the long-winded one that talks about someone’s multistep journey, that details all his or her hard work along the way, that resulted in some amazing new opportunity for him or her. I could see the hundreds of likes begin to rack up, and as someone moderately interested in this person’s life — and therefore moderately happy about this person’s success — I too clicked on the small thumbs-up.
I continued to mindlessly scroll, until I suddenly realized the post I had just liked left me thoroughly annoyed. My first instinct was shame. There was no reason somebody else’s success should irritate me. But after thinking about it a little longer, I quickly found that it wasn’t really the content of the post that had frustrated me. Rather it was the post itself — the way it expressed this success — that made me close Facebook for the day.
It is weird to say I became jealous of how someone else “shared” his or her success. Over-sharing every aspect of our lives is a common, current issue, hardly a groundbreaking one. A simple look at anyone’s smartphone apps easily demonstrates this. If we’re not posting to Facebook, we’re tweeting. If we’re not tweeting, we’re changing the filter of a photo on Instagram. And if we don’t want the photo to last forever, we’ll Snapchat it. We are in the age of sharing — sharing particularly good meals, summer vacations and everything else one can imagine.
Yet despite all this over-sharing in almost every facet of our lives, my greatest issue with Facebook — and social media in general — is mostly the content we are sharing.
After I finished reading my Facebook friend’s post, one of my first thoughts was, just how long did it take her to write this? Posting something as simple as a music video takes at least ten minutes for me. I cannot begin to fathom the amount of time required to craft such an eloquent post that you knew all of your friends would potentially see.
The same difficulty can be said for the group photo that my friends and I posted to Instagram, after deciding we looked just uncaring enough by the 27thpicture we took. Although I don’t have a Twitter, I imagine tweeting is even more challenging. With such little space, the perfect tweet is more evasive than the perfect selfie.
But at the same time, despite my gut reaction, I realized that everyone faces these same dilemmas. Everyone frets over how to depict his or her life in the most optimal way. Simply put, while on any social media, what you see is not what you get. Though this is less than groundbreaking, it gets to the crux of why I will constantly debate whether I want anything to do with Facebook.
It’s hard to remember that nothing on social media is real when people try so persistently to make it seem so. Thinking you know a person after reading what is virtually a novella on his or her Timeline is understandable. In their posts, they emanate the very best parts of themselves. But this is undoubtedly because the Internet is the one place you can emanate those parts of yourself without revealing others. Only on the Internet can you truly craft who you “are” to the rest of the world on your own terms.
Other forms of social media are no better. A satirical Instagram of Barbie, under @socalitybarbie, mocks the disingenuous face of “authentic living” that many people tout of their pages, with photos of Barbie walking along the beach, artfully holding a leaf after a morning hike or writing a book titled “How to Live Authentic.”
I am not asking anyone to post the worst parts of his or her day, spill his or her deepest feelings or share unfiltered photos online. Social media has created the unspoken right of revealing exclusively the parts of ourselves we want the world to see, a world seen through rose-tinted filters. These bits and pieces are what we consider the best, so naturally things will be left out. But at the same time, we should be cognizant of the medium we are interacting with. And if there is anything to remember about social media, it is this.
Lea Trusty is a politics major from Saint Rose, La. She can be reached at email@example.com.