Facebooking is a spectator sport.
We post to elicit laughter, empathy, sympathy and sometimes even envy. It's the equivalent of taking a microphone into a crowd of semi-familiar faces and saying, "Hey! Look at me! Look at my life! It matters. I matter." On Facebook, we aren't just someone's obscure memory. In my case, the girl in college with the bad choice in men and questionable shoe game. And you, you aren't the boy with two left feet who couldn't get a date in high school. We are reborn and reformed with the click of button into perfect manifestations of what our life could become. The guy who got the girl. The girl who got the job. The couple that got the baby. We are living, breathing individuals with thoughts and experiences and most importantly lives requiring acknowledgement and validation. Some lives are pristine and brilliant. They glow and radiate the minute you hit 'enter'. The career. The family. The house. The money. The quasi-celebrity born from likes and comments. While others are messy and tragic, filled with grief, divorce, pain and illness. But, it's all life, right? The beauty and the mess.
Looking back on the last decade my life has been selectively shadowed by Facebook, I'd say some of my happiest times were spent outside of the blue and white gaze, no 'likes', no 'comments' but some silence, some quiet, and love, locked behind close doors with people I could touch and could touch me back who asked me how I felt despite the punctuation or the camera-ready smiles that polished my most perfect day.
I haven't been on much lately. At first, the decision came unconsciously. My public page gets all the social media time I have and before I could even put in my personal account's user name, I was usually half asleep. Lately, its been more of a choice. I realized the time it took to tailor a perfectly crafted post, how the best days were punctuated with little lies and half-truths, re-takes and edits, yanking me away from beautiful messy moments just to prove I had them.
I realized the majority of my time spent on my personal page was spent gazing at my own memories, getting so lost in their beauty and the comments that I forgot the truths. The fall at the ice skating rink. The poop incident at the zoo. The mean mommies at the school picnic. I'm happy. Perhaps undeservedly so at times. But I'm also alive. My heart has been shattered. I've cried. I've felt pain. I have mourned. I've been lonely. I've failed. I've been homesick. I've been misunderstood.
I began to envy that girl who faded away into a memory. The girl who transferred out of your school in 4th grade. Who rapped her speech in the Student Council election. Who stuttered her way through a Political Science presentation in college. Who left the neighborhood for law school. Who had the thickest New York accent that girl from Texas ever heard. I missed her. She had no audience. No spectators. She was no spectator. Mere existence was its on validation. In all its tangled glory.
Recently, I was scrolling through my feed and I could only wonder about the half truths, the white lies, and the pain behind what I was reading. The loneliness behind a 2am post. How many outtakes it took to get to the perfect picture. The depth of a wide smile. I wanted to reach out an touch something and nothing seemed real. It all seemed crafted and tailored. Sauteed and sauced. For public consumption.
Buried between these posts would be uncomfortable pain. The "Why would she put that on Facebook?" posts of a friend nursing a heartbreak. The friend who just buried his father. The friend who was just diagnosed with a serious illness. The pain that's too real to hide anymore. The kind that soils old pictures and pleads for prayers. Laying bloody beneath baby announcements and job promotions. Dirty humanity that called foul on perpetual-happy.
I wondered what it would look like if instead of posting thoughts on the latest trending topic, someone posted, "I need a friend." If instead of captioning a baby picture with ruminations on blessings one wrote, "He finally stopped crying." Instead of posting another office selfie, asking "Do you see my beauty?" If instead of posting you only live once, someone said, "I'm afraid to die."
I wondered what raw human moments we miss by trying so damn hard to look our best.
Just some rambling thoughts. I was supposed to write about a memory.