As is my poor habit of a morning, not long after waking up, I logged into Facebook today. It’s another habit I need to break because, like alcohol, it never fills that void within me which prompts me to search externally for a ‘fix’ to make my seemingly boring or uncomfortable present more palatable. In fact, like alcohol, it very often causes me to feel worse.
Each morning, I scroll through depressing news feeds filled with the latest information about narcissistic politicians, environmental concerns, terror related incidents and crimes against the vulnerable-children, women, the elderly, the LGBTQI population, refugees. It leaves me feeling helpless, hopeless and angry.
I read through posts of friends outings, holidays, social occasions- the recordings of happy moments in their lives, which do not reflect my life. It leaves me feeling lonely and acutely aware of all that I do not have and the result is that I feel less than, deprived, a loser. I haven’t been on a proper holiday in almost 2 years, I don’t have ‘Mummy’ friends who I spend weekends away with or go to boozy lunches or dinners with seemingly every week, I don’t have a partner who will pose willingly with my perfectly dressed, photogenic children in front of whatever fabulous place we happen to be visiting on any given weekend. I don’t have a great new job or house or car or anything to humblebrag about.
It’s not that I don’t like seeing my friends happy and enjoying their lives, of course I do, but where are the pictures of burnt dinners or dirty kids or the posts about how shitty their jobs are or how their partner forgot their anniversary and they’re feeling angry and hurt? The fact is, we don’t want to reveal those aspects of our lives, we chose instead to project a sanitised, perfect, socially acceptable version to the social media world. That’s fine, it has it’s place and I’m certainly guilty of doing the same thing in the past, but continually choosing to present our lives as perfect doesn’t leave any room for meaningful relationships to flourish. I’m not saying we need to air our dirty laundry for all to see- there are people who do this and it’s annoying and pointless and often just another way to get attention- but some sort of balance would be nice.
Then there are the sexist or racist or homophobic or just generally hateful, ignorant as fuck posts-unfriend, unfriend, unfriend. These posts are actually kind of good- they are so blatantly offensive that it’s a simple choice to cull their authors from my ‘friends’ list instantly; my exposure to their hating is immediately gone.
And then there are the many, oh so many alcohol related posts. Photos of someone sitting somewhere with a large glass of wine or a cocktail or a beer featured prominently in the background. (Extra points if it’s a shot of a cocktail coupled with a gorgeous sunset, yes I’ve done that). Status updates proclaiming “It’s wine o’clock!” or ads such as this or this and hilarious memes like this one are plentiful, especially as the weekend approaches. At times, it seems as though the whole Facebook world is merrily drinking away their woes or celebrating anything and everything with booze. And in the Facebook world, there are zero negative consequences of drinking. Nowhere to be seen are the pictures of last nights vomit or status updates detailing that awful booze fuelled argument with a loved one. Alcohol in Facebook world is fun, chic, and all of the cool kids are doing it, with impunity.
I’m not sure what the solution is. I certainly don’t plan on starting an anti-alcohol crusade on FB or even outing myself as a problem drinker. But part of me cringes when I see certain people post repeatedly about how they’re getting their drink on- it makes me wonder if I’m not the only one within that circle with an alcohol problem. I strongly suspect I’m not.
I like being able to see other people’s good times, observe their children growing and view their travel photos. But it feels superficial and there’s a deep sense of being on the outside, looking in. A casual observer, not an active participant, in other people’s lives.
I’ll keep it for now, but I think the time may be drawing nearer to when Facebook and I break up.