It’s Hard to be You on Facebook

I consider myself an authentic person.

That’s not to say I think I’m perfect, or fabulous, or tremendous. I feel like I am very familiar with me, and I would like to think that my exterior represents a real version of who I am. I’m  outgoing, cheery and consistent in mood. I’m honest and kind and sensitive. I say please and thank you.

I am always at a loss what to post on Facebook when I’m feeling worthless, miserable, prickly or morose.

Most of us live parallel lives – the real human animal and the online version of our personality, expressed in the words we use about ourselves in profiles on any number of social media sites.

The status update is a seductive trap. Products and services use it to pimp themselves. Many people post inane things like “I like cheeseburgers!” While not acute, it’s certainly harmless, and easy to skim over. We who live on our social pages know there is a timeline represented in our frequent updates; the series of check-ins with our people throughout the day.

We like to use our status updates to tell our folks when we’re proud, when we have accomplished something, or when we have visited someplace cool. We tweet our delight (or disdain) from a concert or street party. Foursquare confirms that yes, we did pick up a caramel latte at Starbucks on Fillmore at 4:21pm.

I couldn’t wait to post yesterday afternoon that my first startup company officially crystallized. I was excited and I wanted my “friends” to know how good I was feeling.

There is nothing wrong with any of these microbursts of joy and pleasure. What I’m trying to get my head around is this: If I am indeed as authentic as I claim, I have some responsibility to share my not-so-fabulous moments with my online community, yes?

Here’s an example:

John Scott  is feeling bluer than blue.

 

This virtually guarantees the following series of responses:

“Sorry sweetie!”

“Have a beer.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Isn’t that a song?”

Sometimes it’s worse; the more earnest among your friends may lay down a tale of their own woe, and tag it with a quotable quote.

Expressing sadness or weakness, however subtle, is often avoided because of the risk a potential employer might grab a glance at your profile and say, “Oh, not good…”

It’s easier to just appear happy all the time.

If only I could post “I feel like crap” and every response would be

“OK….”

“OK….”

“OK….”

I’ve always hoped the pages of this memoir show the times when the less than fabulous me rears its head. This has been (in my head) a fairly raw account of many adventures, moments and discoveries. My words are authentic when I make macrolevel exclamations about my resolve. It’s not BS when I say I will achieve dreams and ambitions. It just feels odd when status updates are not balanced with a little humble, a dash of failure or a splash of setback. That’s what our lives are – ups and downs, twists and turns.

Maybe it’s just assumed by all who participate in social media that profiles and status updates are to be taken with a grain of salt, to not be ingested with any gravitas. Maybe there’s an unwritten rule that says, “Have fun with it and don’t take it seriously”.

I guess it’s instructive to remember that your “real” friends and your closest intimates can read between the lines skillfully. There’s probably a whole hell of a lot of secret code embedded in our status updates, plainly viewable but understood by only a special, select few.

I’ve tried to reveal the honesty I believe is within me by posting things like

John Scott

John Scott is channeling his old buddy Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Into every life rain must fall.

A “real” friend told me yesterday, “Your post made me happy; I love rainy days and walking in the rain…”

I explained what that post actually meant:  I was feeling completely inconsolable, and hoped the rain would wash away the pain.

Thankfully, she didn’t advise me to have a beer.

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