Ah Facebook, you saucy minx. Every time I try to leave you, you tempt me back with your siren song of LOL cats and ambiguous, attention-seeking status updates. It was fun in the beginning. I will always remember the butterflies in the pit of my stomach brought on by each new friend request; the illicit thrill of discovering the fate of ex-boyfriends and high school mean girls I’d never want to actually speak to in real life; the exotic holidays we went on together (well, other people went on them and you showed me the photos). Good times. Unfortunately I’ve learned a few harsh lessons lately and I’m not sure I can trust you anymore. It’s not all your fault, I’ll admit. It’s the combination of you and human nature that causes the trouble. Facebook doesn’t hurt people; people hurt people. But Facebook allows them to do it faster and with greater force.
You have bestowed upon me many gifts, Facey. I have stayed in touch with overseas and interstate friends – I’ve watched their children grow, congratulated them on new jobs and sympathised with their daily crapulence. I may or may not ever have gotten around to sending these same friends an actual letter; and if I had, it would have been an anodyne précis of the year that was rather than a more honest outburst about the little things that make up a big life. Your virtual community has increased my real world friendship circle. I like that about you.
You’ve also given me the gift of knowledge. Sure, I have to sift through an awful lot of inspirational quotes about finding my inner rainbow before I get to the actual ‘knowledge’, but from world news to emergency services updates, you can really keep me stimulated when you’re in the right frame of mind.
Unfortunately, I’ve found out that you’re not always faithful. You don’t always show me the newsy updates I crave, but palm me off with cheap advertising instead. I miss out on new posts from the people I care about and instead get many, many reminders about more people you think I should be friends with when I’ve never even heard of them (and some of them look highly suspicious). I wish you wouldn’t make decisions without consulting me. I wish you’d respect my privacy settings.
But as I said, I’m not blaming you for everything. The fact is, you’re revealing things about me and my friends that make me uncomfortable. You force us to be honest about where we are at any given point in time, for example. No longer is it possible to let someone down gently by telling them you’re too sick to come to their Tupperware party if you’ve been tagged at 2am sipping pina coladas in a Viking costume. People are very quickly aware if they have missed out on an invitation to the party of the year and that’s not a nice feeling. You can take us straight back to the playground, Facebook; make us feel like we haven’t been picked for the team.
You force us to admit that we have more in common with some friends than others. Just because you’ve known someone longer, or you see someone more often, or you’re related to certain people, it doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily bond over SongPop. You make it all too obvious if our politics, our childrearing or our radio station of preference does not align with those of our friends. There are things I wouldn’t discuss at a dinner party that I’ll still ‘like’ when you offer them to me. You make me forget my manners.
And, worse still, you make me forget my grammar. I throw up random updates that are easily misconstrued thanks to autocorrect and lazy comma implementation. I don’t get a chance to explain myself.
You bring out my green eyed monster by flaunting my friends’ holidays and kid-free weekends and exquisite cups of coffee and brilliant photography and weight loss secrets. I’ll admit I still experience envy and lust and greed and sloth and pride – even with all those rainbow cats telling me not to.
This week I heard about someone who had been really hurt by the combination of virtual thoughtlessness and real world bitching. It can’t be the first time this has happened inadvertently thanks to my relationship with you, Facebook. So I think we need a break. Just let me take a breather. I’ll be back soon, I promise. No, really, it’s not you, it’s me.
Well, no, it’s probably you.
How’s your relationship with Facebook these days? Do you go through bouts of Facebook fatigue?
ps. Who am I kidding? I’m a junkie. I’ll be back for a Facebook hit by this afternoon.
pps. I’ve also just realised I could replace ‘Facebook’ with ‘wine’ throughout this post and it would mostly still work. Cause for concern?