Friday, July 05, 2013

Me & Facebook: Part IV - The Never Ending Reunion

I haven't really been interested in an attending a formal high school or college reunion.

There are definitely certain friends and acquaintances who I would like to reconnect with if I had the chance. Some I have seen and spent time with since college, others I haven't.

But generally, anything I would hope to get out of a high school or college reunion I probably have gotten out of Facebook.

In my last post in this series I talked a lot about how Facebook for me (and many in my feed) seems to be about posting and sharing pictures of your children. And the reality is, this is the phase of life those I graduated from high school and college are currently in.

Perhaps you're feed looks different.

There are a lot of good things about reunions, but there are also some negative stigma to these gatherings.

One of the things is that people are concerned about how they are presented, where they are in life, and do what they can to put on a good face. Facebook is no different. Because of the day-in-day-out nature of Facebook some of this is eliminated, but Facebook can also seem disingenuous. I can look at someone's pictures and comments, but I get a much better sense of how they are in person. Facebook can create a false impression - largely in part because the person is posting often through the lens of how they want to be perceived.

On the other hand, this "good face" that is presented is not necessarily awful - I think in general Facebook is a better place when it's positive. If people posted all of their troubles, concerns, struggles, and trials not only would Facebook be a downer, but it also might not be an appropriate place to share these details with the scope of the audience.

I hate to admit it, but sometimes I see someone I'm friends with on Facebook, particularly females who's names have changed in marriage and I wonder "who is this person?" There's only a handful of friends in my Facebook profile who make me scratch my head on occasion, but it's worth considering when you post all types of details of your life whether the audience...a very wide audience in many cases is appropriate.

Another thing I hate to admit, is that there are certain people in my Facebook world who I unintentional watch their life in a fishbowl. My wife and I might be having a conversation and we might say "Did you see what that person said today." And we discuss a "Facebook friend" without the friend being included in the conversation. Not just that, but there might not be a context (natural or unnatural) where I will even talk to this person at all, and yet I know about things in their life that are very real and personal.

I wonder who reads my Facebook post or comments and think things about me in ways I can't imagine. We like to think that when we see those thumbs up liking our post that there is a general consensus that is positive about us, our lives, our families, our hobbies and so forth. But we must acknowledge that there are the comments that are written and those that are thought and spoken offline.

This is a reality, and we pretend it's not true. Some of these offline thoughts might be judgmental ("Whoa, he's getting fat/bald/unhappy"), but there are also thoughts of hurt, loneliness, and disappointment that occur offline. Life brings curve balls with careers, families, and relationships and I can think of many examples where people have shared feeling hurt over something someone else (or people) posted on Facebook.

I hesitate to write real examples for someone to read this and realize that they have hurt feelings or that their hurt is being exposed here. So I avoid the examples intentionally. But I think you can probably think of examples when you've felt down after a time on Facebook. If you haven't, you've certainly heard people who have been down.

For those who are perpetually down of fixated on watching certain people's lives through the fishbowl of Facebook, Facebook becomes a never ending reunion. For all the positive things that come at a reunion, the negative comes as well. And sometimes there's probably a point where we all can deserve a break from the reunion.

Maybe it's just me who feels like I need a break from the reunion. It's not a single reason - but I think there's something that's fitting for me to spend time with the people I want to spend time with. Pick up the phone if I want to share something, and be focused about what and who I'm sharing with. If I have a cute picture of the kids I want to share, maybe I text it to a friend or two instead of the hundreds of people in my Facebook world. I don't expect I'm skipping the reunion - just considering not going to the reunion every day or so.

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