Ten years ago, when I had just graduated high school and moved into my dorm at Florida State, there was a new social networking site that had been created specifically for college students called “The Facebook.” I vividly remember a group of my fellow FSU freshmen and I rallying together to get “The Facebook” to add fsu.edu email addresses to its approved network of students.
Once we finally got on “The Facebook” (feels so weird calling it by its first name) life was never the same. All of a sudden, we could now live out all of our college experience not just in real time, but also on the internet for everyone else to see/comment on/like/validate.
That’s right — validate.
If your roommate told you she’s started dating someone, you would ask, “Well, is it Facebook official yet?” implying that her relationship wasn’t “real” until it was made public on Facebook. Similarly, if you got a new job, you would count down the minutes till you could get on your profile and update it to inform your friends of your latest career endeavor.
It’s as if those of us who have been conditioned to do life with things like Facebook and Instagram have replaced the old adage, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?” with a new one:
“If it isn’t on social media, did it really happen?”
(I am just realizing that I’ve written this before. But whatever.)
I guess it goes without saying that this way of life — blurring the lines between the internet and real life to a confusing degree — can cause some serious issues. For me, those issues have manifested themselves in a few ways: becoming envious of the lives of my friends appear to have based on their posts, getting offended and upset at things people post on Facebook to the point of ruining my in-real-life days, offending/upsetting others with my own posts, and (most notably for this post) struggling with what to post and what to keep private.
There are certain things I experience that are so special to me that I have to fight the urge to post them. One example I can think of right off the top of my head is those moments in the morning when Dan and I are awake, laying in bed, before Dax wakes up. Another example is all the sweet moments I have when nursing Dax — private for obvious reasons. And just this morning — the inspiration for this post — Dax ran up to a sleeping (and, therefore inappropriately dressed) Dan, poked him and said, “Dada, waffles, please.”
Because those moments are so precious to me, I want them to be “real”, and because I am part of the Facebook generation I have to remind myself that, even if they never see the light of social media, they are no less real than the pregnancy announcements and relationship statuses that are currently populating my newsfeed.
In recent months, the idea of removing myself from Facebook has been extremely appealing if, for no other reason, it allows me to get a handle again on the preciousness of all moments of my life, regardless of their publicity. (Though if I did ditch Facebook, I would have to find a viable alternative place to post pictures of my son lest the rest of my family have my head.)
Does anyone else have this struggle?