Faking It On Facebook

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Image credit unknown

Do Facebook posts seem a little too unrealistic at times? A little too saccharine sweet? A little too ‘everything’s happy and wonderful all the time’?

I’ve been struggling with Facebook lately and it has me considering this: Are the selves we present on Facebook our real selves? Or are they the version of ourselves we want other people to see? Sometimes when I scroll through my page, I have this perception that everyone has it altogether except me. I want to show my true self, but I don’t want to be the one Negative Nelly complaining about not living the life of her dreams.

In Sheryl Paul’s recent post Delete Your Facebook Account: A Revolutionary Act, she writes, “The bottom line is that very few people – if anyone – tell the whole truth on Facebook. Most people present a skewed slice of their life which is inevitably their “best”, most polished self. This creates a fantasy world where the message is: Nobody struggles. Nobody questions. Nobody has anxiety. Nobody has depression. Nobody doubts.”

I definitely struggle, question, have anxiety, depression and doubt, but I’ll be the first to admit I don’t always share my true feelings on Facebook. When I’m feeling lousy I generally tend to stay away…or at least not post anything. I don’t want to be perceived as “that person” as my friend Jina says.

But some days I just want to say fuck this shit! I’m feeling lousy so could you all stop drinking the kool-aid and let me have my moment? Don’t you ever feel lousy too?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting everyone air their dirty laundry or use Facebook as a place to be nasty to others. But I appreciate honesty. We all have difficult times in our lives. Our marriages fall apart, our kid gets kicked out of school, we battle life-threatening illnesses, we make big, scary changes, things don’t turn out as we expected. Is it really so wrong to let other people see our fears and disappointments? Why do we feel compelled to hide those parts of ourselves?

I, for one, would like to see more realism. And that starts with me.

My commitment with this blog and in all areas of my life is to be more authentic, more real, more me. But when I don’t feel safe to share how I’m really feeling (on Facebook or anywhere else), I’m not being authentic. I’m being the version of me I want you to see…happy, positive, together. The version of me I think you won’t judge.

But that’s not the real me. At least not every day. I have many ‘good’ days. But some days are hard, frustrating, and downright shitty! What if we could all share a little more of our real selves with one another?

I do love that I have so many positive people on Facebook. And I mostly enjoy their inspirational, upbeat and positive posts. But some days they just don’t resonate with me. And on those days I have to choose whether to be honest about where I’m at or just stay off Facebook for the safety of all concerned.

Today my tea had the best advice: “Appreciate yourself and honor your soul.” For me that means appreciating and honoring even (or especially) when I’m sad, depressed, unmotivated, irritable, or just plain shitty. And part of appreciating and honoring is being vulnerable enough to be honest.

Thanks Yogi Tea! I’m doing my best…on Facebook and everywhere else.

……………

I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jina Sheldon
    Feb 12, 2013 @ 13:40:09

    Shannon,

    You nailed this perfectly. I think, and this is me speaking from experience, people are afraid to air their dirt and people judge them. Keep it real. XX

    Jina

    Reply

  2. Meagan
    Feb 12, 2013 @ 14:43:02

    I kind of disagree. I don’t feel like it’s appropriate to put highly personal things (positive OR negative) on Facebook for the most part. So no, I’m not going to beat my breast and proclaim my woe, to me that is something I share with people who are close to me. Not everyone on Facebook necessarily fits into that category. The thing about Facebook is that it’s social media – when you post a message it goes out exactly the same to everyone on our friend list. That’s not how we talk to people face to face!
    In addition, I strongly believe that positive begets positive. The more ‘navel gazing’ I do about things that aren’t right in my life, the more that becomes the only thing I can see in my life. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to have a bad day. It’s okay to say, I’m sad – I’m having a bad day. Everyone does – without lows how would you know that you were having a high! Just be wary that that not become your mantra, because with words you frame your beliefs and with your beliefs you frame your reality.

    Reply

    • Shannon McDonough
      Feb 13, 2013 @ 09:22:25

      Thank you for disagreeing with me, Meagan. Whenever I post something there’s that fear that someone will disagree. Now I know it’s not that bad :) And as an aspiring writer, it’s something I need to get used to.

      I think for me it comes down to intention. If I choose not to post something on the internet because it’s private and I don’t want to share it with the public, that’s one thing. But if there’s something I want to post, but don’t because I’m concerned about what other people will think of me, then that’s a problem for me. I believe if I have the courage to say what’s really on my mind, other people who feel the same will realize they’re not alone.

      This is not about focusing on negativity, it’s more about acceptance. Often I fight my low moods or negative thoughts, believing I “shouldn’t” have them and that just seems to cement them in place. I judge myself for not being happier…it’s a downward spiral. It’s far healthier for me to accept where I’m at and be honest about that. It may not work for everyone, but it’s key for me. And something I’m still working on :)

      Reply

  3. Valerie
    Feb 13, 2013 @ 07:18:12

    Some posts your intuition tells you this is not completely reality. I post when I truly have something to share with friends and family. Whether it’s an event, moment, good, not so good..I just want to share. That’s what I want to see from my friends and family. Honest and from the heart.

    Reply

  4. bri
    Feb 13, 2013 @ 10:26:04

    Shannon, I love you and what you are about.
    I was trying to come up with a way to say what I was thinking about this blog, and then I read what Meagan wrote.
    She just about summed it up for me.
    I, personally, use facebook to share with those people that I know are going to want to ‘listen’ to what I have to say. It is a massive social adventure.
    I have over 300 ‘friends’. But only a handful of those are people that I would actually consider associating with in my day-to-day life. Let alone let them know how miserable I am.

    I post pictures to let my real friends and family have a glimpse into our lives that they might not otherwise have. I make posts and tag the people that need to see it, and make sure that it is something that I wouldn’t care if I said in front of the world. I use it to promote causes or businesses that I want to support.

    I am on the Social Media team at work. It has given me a lot of insight into effective posts and intentions.

    Think about who your intended audience is and what you want to get out of it. I’m not saying keep your feelings to yourself. Or that you need to be afraid that ‘people’ are going to judge you. But who are you trying to reach? What are you accomplishing? Does it benefit you or anyone else.

    To me, facebook isn’t any different than picking up the phone, writing a letter or walking next door to your neighbor. You are just working with a much, much larger audience that is more disconnected from actual connections than ever before.

    And now, after saying that Meagan summed it up for me, I have managed to write more than anyone else… go figure!

    I could go on and on and on on this. Social media is fascinating to me.

    I still love you and what you do, agreeing or disagreeing. It doesn’t matter. It’s all about perspective and appreciating each and every one.

    Reply

    • Shannon McDonough
      Feb 13, 2013 @ 13:46:40

      Hmmmm…what is my purpose for posting on Facebook? To share whatever’s going on for me at the moment. I noticed recently that sometimes I hold back out of fear of judgement. But I know if I’m thinking it (or feeling it, or going through it) someone else likely is too. If one person realizes they’re not alone in this world because of something I post or something I write on this blog, then I feel like it’s worth it.

      My goal with this blog (and my life in general) is to be more authentic. And I hope in some small way that will inspire authenticity in others. Sometimes that means saying things other people might not like. My intention is not to hurt anyone else, but be true to myself.

      Thanks for ALL you wrote and for being a part of this conversation. I love you too, girl!

      Reply

  5. Meagan
    Feb 14, 2013 @ 12:35:03

    Feels like it would be a good discussion over a glass of wine.

    We were talking at work the other day about how there are things that it’s appropriate to communicate via email, and there are things you need to pick up the phone on. But there are also some things that shouldn’t be discussed unless you can be face to face for the discussion. It’s so difficult to read nuances when you can’t see face and body language. I think maybe that is another way to say what I’m thinking? Because for example, it would be easy for me to interpret what you are saying as ‘If you don’t post things when you are feeling bad, you aren’t being authentic’……or to turn it around, ‘you are being fake’. I don’t think that’s your intention – I think your intention.

    But it’s a fascinating topic and would be fun to explore more! I agree with Bri – social media is really interesting, and people are still trying to figure out hot to navigate it, what’s okay, what isn’t.

    I appreciate your being open Shannon – good thoughts!!

    Reply

  6. Liz Barnett (@WomanlyWoman)
    Feb 17, 2013 @ 21:59:48

    I think you have it exactly right! We all need to be more authentic. I think for me, I still try to present myself online in a similar way I would in person. I don’t upfront tell everyone about myself – every detail. But if you really want to know, it’s actually all out there on my blog (http://www.WomanlyWoman.com) . You just have to dig to find it. ;) It’s in the archives. But on the homepage of my blog you would have no idea that I have even mentioned anything personal. I have decided in person AND online I am just going to be who I am and if that doesn’t work for one of my readers or someone I know in person, then they can make a choice as to how to deal with me. I think you only get yourself into more trouble if you present yourself in a way that isn’t authentic.

    Reply

    • Shannon McDonough
      Feb 19, 2013 @ 14:23:35

      For me it just feels better and freer to be who I am and say what I’m feeling. But it’s also important to me because I know there are people out there who have those down times and may feel very alone…like they’re the only one. If one person reads my blog and feels like someone gets them, then I’m glad I’ve shared my life in this way. Not everyone is going to like you. But the right people will love the real you :)

      Reply

  7. Liz Barnett (@WomanlyWoman)
    Feb 18, 2013 @ 10:28:36

    Last night I was thinking about this topic and couldn’t remember the website where I had seen this – but I remembered it today: http://www.brenebrown.com/authenticity-definition

    Reply

  8. Liz Barnett (@WomanlyWoman)
    Feb 18, 2013 @ 10:29:10

    That link is a downloadable image that you can save to remind yourself that you practice authenticity.

    Reply

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