The Duplicity of Facebook

We’ve all been there. You’re scrolling through your Facebook feed when suddenly you see an update from someone you went to school with. You haven’t seen the person in years, but you used to be quite friendly. They have uploaded yet another snapshot of their seemingly perfect life; this time, they are in Australia. A few weeks ago, it was Thailand. They stand looking at the camera; tanned, smiling, content. You feel that familiar pang of….something. Envy? Maybe a little. Regret? Perhaps. You’re sitting in bed and it’s raining outside. Why did you not travel? But there’s a more apt word to describe how Facebook makes you feel….

                                 Inadequate

Facebook has made me feel inadequate on numerous occasions and I hate that it has. I wish that I could have risen above such petty and unnecessary feelings, but it can be tough when you are experiencing difficulty in your own life. 

  
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Facebook is a strange place. I am Facebook “friends” with my real life, close friends. I have also been Facebook “friends” with people that I have a very tenuous association with in real life; that girl I met in a bathroom once in 2012, a guy that was friends with my secondary school best friend, the woman who used to groom my dog, and several people that I haven’t seen in person in years. To be honest, the majority of my Facebook friends are people I don’t know all that well. It is made up of people from my past, girls that I went to school with whom I have inevitably compared myself to from time to time. 

  

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Most of the time, I am happy with my life. I am proud of my achievements, I have wonderful friends and a great fiancé. But when I logged onto Facebook, I started to question all of this. Niggling doubts started to creep into my mind, and that old feeling of inadequacy came back. My friend from secondary school has a great job and is making double what I do. My other friend just swam with dolphins in Miami. My old coworkers just all went on a weekend trip to London. My old best friend is insanely popular and gets an average 200 “likes” per status update. My childhood neighbour is out every weekend, posing for photos with different people each time. They all seem to live lives that are more exciting, more successful and more fulfilled than mine. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not some jealous psycho buried in a sea of Doritos and cyber-stalking my friends. I don’t resent any of them their happiness or success. I just often felt a little…

boring.

I didn’t swim with dolphins, or lie on beach in Australia watching the sun set, or lick tequila from the belly button of a Tahitian stripper. Most of the time, I’m sitting on my sofa, with a fleece blanket and my cat, by the light of a lavender scented candle (strawberry if I’m feeling adventurous).

 

We’re not even this cool…

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I started to actively avoid Facebook. I noticed that it was actually affecting my mood. And it seems I’m not alone. A 2013 study showed that one in three people felt worse after logging on and scrolling through their newsfeed, and they also felt more unhappy and dissatisfied with their own lives. 

That’s a whole lot of unhappy people, right? Well the good news is, for me at least, I have been able to let most of the inadequacy and envy go. I can now log on to Facebook and feel okay. I mean, I’ll never feel amazing because there’s always some duck face selfie to make me want to jump off the planet but I don’t feel like crying into my Doritos (er, I mean, kale salad) anymore. 

But Jane, how did you achieve such inner peace and self-acceptance? 

Well, since you didn’t ask….

I didn’t. 

I still have doubts and insecurites, but I’ve come to realise that so does everyone else. 

Including my seemingly perfect Facebook friends. 

To show you what I’m talking about, I shall tell you a little story. I went to school with a girl, we’ll call her Rachel. Rachel has always been a bit of a character; she’s spontaneous, wild, unpredictable. A few years ago, she left a very good job here to go and live in Australia, alone. I remember the admiration I had for her decision; I would never be able to do it. Her Facebook page was full of wonderful pictures. She appeared to be having the time of her life, and I used to breathe a wistful sigh of envy as I looked through her photos. One day, I got talking to her mother, whom I met in the supermarket. I asked about Rachel, and told her that it seemed that she was living the dream. Her mother looked confused. She told me that Rachel was calling her everyday, crying down the phone. Rachel was lonely, homesick and hating her experience over there, she told me. She desperately wanted to come home but was too embarrassed to admit it to everyone on Facebook. You might think that I felt some sense of relief, but I didn’t. I pitied Rachel. She had been a great friend of mine and I hated thinking of her in a far away place, lonely and full of regret. I got talking to her (privately) on Facebook, and she told me that she was crying herself to sleep every night. I convinced her to come home, and she’s been better since she did.  

 

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The Rachel situation taught me a lot. I realised that there’s a reason that some people constantly post about their seemingly wonderful lives on Facebook. It’s not always to brag or to be smug. These people are often very insecure and unhappy. Their posts and pictures scream LOOK AT HOW GREAT MY LIFE IS….NO REALLY, IT’S GREAT. They often have an emptiness or a void in real life, and being accepted or envied on Facebook is what they hope will fill it. It is very easy to convince people that you have an amazing life. A post about a party here, a picture of you at the beach there, and hey presto, your life is amazing. I don’t want to come across as cynical or bitter; not everyone who posts pictures of their holidays or nights out is making a statement and let’s be honest, we all do it at some stage. But we do all have that friend (or friends) whose Facebook page is a collection of smug gym selfies, condescending quotes about happiness, constant exotic location snaps and check-ins at all kinds of bars and fancy hotels. I realise that I’m probably not doing a great job of convincing you that I’ve let the envy go, but I have. I’ve figured out that on Facebook especially, appearances are very deceptive. Not everyone is as happy or fun as they are letting on. Your friends are sharing with you what they choose to share. You don’t see the struggles, the tears, the fights. But they are there, just like yours are too. 

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Finally, I have learned to stop constantly comparing myself to my Facebook friends. Despite the fact that I don’t intimately know all of them, I genuinely wish them well. They are on different life paths to me, and we have different life goals. While it’s natural to experience envy from time to time, it’s ultimately damaging to let it consume you. Facebook is probably the biggest source of resentment and envy for many people, so remembering that there are stories and a deeper truth behind all those posts and pictures is very important. 

So take that, inadequacy. I am perfectly adequate. Except when it comes to complex maths but…

  
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37 thoughts on “The Duplicity of Facebook

  1. Purpleanais says:

    Facebook really is fake, it’s acting. Most people live the life they wish they *had* while on Facebook. You *are* perfectly adequate and you don’t need to have swam with dolphins with the shots on FB to *be* adequate🙂

    • janeybgood says:

      Exactly. You’re right; it is acting. It took me a while to figure it out. I have some friends whose lives look like movies. I’m always disappointed when I meet them and they seem so dull in comparison. But I probably do too haha🙂

  2. The V-Pub says:

    I don’t have Facebook, but my wife does. This means that I experience being inadequate by proxy. You have no idea how many times I’ve had to hear that ‘so and so’ just came back from Vietnam. I don’t even want to go to Vietnam!

    • janeybgood says:

      Haha, that’s the problem with facebook, it makes you think you want things you really don’t. I also feel a little voyeuristic knowing certain things about people that I barely know. Kudos to you for no Facebook though🙂

      • janeybgood says:

        I have two facebook accounts, two Twitters and one wordpress and it is very difficult to keep up with them all! I do dedicate most of my time to WP though. And my Twitter for my blog. I probably should cut some of them out!
        No wonder your blog is so well written!

      • The V-Pub says:

        OMG! I can barely write for one! And thank you for your compliment! Honestly, I look at your blog and I’m simply amazed at how entertaining it is. It was only after reading your blog and Amanda’s blog that I found my direction. So, see? It’s all your fault! 😀

      • janeybgood says:

        Yes you can! I was over snooping through your blog today and I was just amazed by how well organised every thing is and how well written it is!
        Aw that’s lovely! Thank you🙂 I feel like my page is the blog equivalent of Walmart- full of madness! Haha!

    • janeybgood says:

      Oh I can’t even imagine how annoying it must be to use as a parent Michelle! Again though, it’s all a front. You’re the best mom (I’m sure haha)!

  3. Erika Kind says:

    Yep, this FB issue! I am on Facebook because of promoting my book. Unfortunately I cannot only have my busines page but have to open up a private page first. Altthough I have to say that all the persons I follow are positive, silly and acutally funny. But all this selfie posts and what they eat and where they bought their drinks… oh no. That is not my world. I am barely on FB only for leading peeps to my blog and for announcing events I organize. But that’s it. No, it’s really not my world. A lot of fake and men who think a woman on FB is just waiting for them… urgh!

    • janeybgood says:

      Most of the people I follow are great too. But there’s always those few people! I do often find myself getting irritated by it and then I have to question myself. I have learned to see Facebook for what it is: a front. It’s like a window, where you get a quick glimpse into someone’s life, but nothing more.
      Thanks for commenting! I hope Facebook does help you to promote your book🙂

  4. Jessie Reyna says:

    I would LOVE to get rid of my Facebook, but I live too far away from family and friends to do that. It’s my source of communication for those who can’t work a cellphone. It’s so true that FB is just a total mess now. I usually find myself angry because of horrible comments between strangers that make me rethink adulthood. I 100% get what you’re saying. I also can’t help but think “you’re lying” when I see a status that says, “I LOVE MY LIFE. I’M THE HAPPIEST I COULD EVER BE!” They are trying way too hard.

    • janeybgood says:

      I also can’t get rid of it because of the fact that I’m living far away from my friends. None of my family are on it though. I totally agree; it’s often strangers that annoy me the most! I see a lot of ignorance and narrow mindedness and it gets me down.
      And it’s true, no one could be that happy. If you were that happy, you would live in the moment instead of posting it all social media.
      For the time being, I guess we’re stuck with it🙂

  5. Melvin says:

    I am married and a father of two.. I have friends who are still “living the dream”, “seeing the world” and “partying till dawn”. I’m very happy for them, luv seeing those pics and sometimes miss being so spontaneous. But I think if you feel secure in who you are and you really value what you have, it’ll bring you back to reality. A good wife and two great kids.. wouldn’t switch it for anything!🙂

    • janeybgood says:

      That’s very true. I look at what I have and it makes me grateful. That’s a lovely thing to say about your family too, they are very lucky to have someone who appreciates them so much🙂

  6. Cats at the Bar.org and Back Home in Bromont.com says:

    I don’t find it all that surprising. No one is going to post how crappie life can be. For example everyone wants to read how fun my cats are, they don’t want to know that i forgot to get cat litter and all the shops are closed and even with all the windows open (and its -5 out) and I go to bed with my eyes watering and a cloths-pin on my nose.😉

    • janeybgood says:

      Haha, I have the same problem with one cat so I can only imagine what it’s like for you guys😀 I guess what I’m saying is that some people feel the need to convince the world that they’re happy when they aren’t. Maybe I just have very smug friends haha!
      Your cats rule, so I would never envy them. Except maybe the fact that they have really cool toys.

  7. carlygolightly says:

    I love Facebook for keeping up with real friends and family as I move around a lot and sometimes I see things that other people are doing and feel a bit jealous. I travel heaps but when I see pictures of people getting married and buying houses and having babies and achieving stuff I feel a bit inadequate. So the grass is always greener.

    • janeybgood says:

      That’s a very good point. I haven’t been able to travel because of health issues, and it always made me a bit sad but the girl whom i mentioned in the post above told me that she envies my relationship, and I had never even considered the fact that I would have something she might covet.
      The grass is always greener is a great way to look at it. I think it often makes us feel like we want things that we actually don’t want or need.

  8. jaque says:

    I have a facebook account that automatically log on everyday except that my facebook account is different from yours. How?. I check the latest trends on fashion, news, uhm. .viral stories, amazing architecures or art whatever so there are like ten newsfeeds from magazines etc before a friends status which I barely notice haha. Plus ( it may sound strange) it’s where I kept myself updated on my relatives or family’s birthdays or any special occasion. It also comes handy when I’m lazy to go downstairs and so I message my sister or whoevers down there online to bring a cup of water haha. Perhaps we should just exploit the use of fb on another area rather than the usual. It sound more fun that way. In case some friends got married or is living somewhere, I bug their lives by inviting myself over theirs or adding myself on their list of friends to visit when they came back. I don’t know but I really enjoy the facebook world my way.:-)

  9. AdiC says:

    Just yesterday I got to know that a friend’s year old marriage is on the verge of breaking. And I remember the countless FB wedding posts and pictures she’d put up. I was wondering what she must be thinking about FB now.

    • janeybgood says:

      That’s very sad. It just shows that we just don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. Facebook is awful when you’re sad or embarrassed. Thanks for commenting!

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