So, a person whose opinion I used to highly value told me that my Facebook posts pointed to a pattern of attention seeking behavior. He told me this on more than one occasion, and accused me of attention seeking behavior in other areas of my life. Eventually my paranoia got the better of me (I didn’t want to be annoying people…) so I had my therapist look through my Facebook posts. I was pleased to learn that she found nothing wrong with my posts. All of this got me thinking about what the purpose of social media is. Facebook is the only social media that I actively participate in. I have a blog, but I’ve never really understood Twitter or Instagram or any of the others. I have a Pinterest account, but I don’t use it very often. My main motivation for posting things is sharing. I don’t count likes or comments. I assume that the majority of my friends are at least slightly amused by the things I post. I also assume that if they don’t like what I post, they have the option of ignoring my posts, not following me, or unfriending me. I try to keep up with Facebook’s privacy BS and make sure that my posts can only be seen by my friends. I don’t think I post anything on there that a prospective employer would find offensive, but better safe than sorry. If there’s something that I want to share with a specific person, I post it to their wall or I PM them. As far as I’m concerned, I’m using Facebook the way it was meant to be used.
Now, I have to tell you, I’m in my thirties. I’m not sure if this makes a difference in the content of my posts, but it could be relevant. There are a few people that I have unfriended because I just couldn’t take all of their whining. My last friend purge got rid of seventy people. I kept asking myself why I was friends with these people. Some of them had over a thousand “friends”! I know there are a few of my “friends” that I’ve never met in person, but most of them I would recognize if I ran in to them at Wal-Mart. I have a Facebook page for my business, and it annoys me when people don’t create a separate page for their business and instead use their personal page for promoting their business ventures. I will share my business pages status updates, but not excessively. I am also “friends” with several pages that just post funny things… not sure what those pages are categorized as. I’ve thought about starting my own, but I just don’t think I have time to admin something like that. I casually observe some of the things that my younger friends post, and sometimes it makes me really happy that Facebook didn’t exist when I was in high school.
My main rule for myself when I share something is to stop and think about why I’m sharing it. Do I think it’s funny? Do I think it’s important or relevant? Would I bring it up in conversation if I was out in a real social environment? Do I think that my friends will appreciate it or need to know about it? If it’s something that I should bring to a therapist, then it’s probably not something that needs to be shared with 300 of my closest friends… I don’t overshare things about my child. I feel like he deserves some respect for the fact that he doesn’t have any say in what I post about him, and I don’t want him to have some kind of huge on-line cache before he’s even old enough to have his own page. Or vote.
I can see how other people use Facebook to validate themselves. I have seen people post some things that make me think that they should be seeking professional help. I have also read posts that made me think “Why did they feel the need to tell me that?” Some of the posts are obviously people fishing for complements or attention. Would they say these things out loud, in public, if they were in a bar? (and sober) I feel like everything I post or share is something that you could expect me to say or talk about in public with my friends. Then again, I admit that my filter is non-existent and I have little shame. So, perhaps, that person who thought my behavior was a cry for attention, was just not comfortable being around the real me.
That being said, social media is just that, it is socializing. If you want to vent, do it. If you want to share, do it. If you want to proselytize, by all means, go ahead. It is my choice whether or not I read what you’ve written or just keep scrolling. If I unfollow you, it just means that I want to keep open the option of cyber stalking you at my convenience. If I unfriend you, that means I either think that you can’t handle my witticisms, or I no longer care to subject myself to your musings. That is all it is. If you don’t like hanging out with someone at a party or some other social gathering, then you try not to hang out with them. End of story. The same can be said of social media. Use it how you see fit, and if you don’t want to see every Snark-e-card that someone posts, then either get over yourself, or move on.