Saturday, April 28, 2012

My Un-Facebook-Able Life

Talking to my mom on the phone this week and in my motivation seminar yesterday, the topic of relationships and Facebook came up -- and particularly, the idea of Facebook as a potential source of bad feelings.  My primary observation is that it's easy to use Facebook to make yourself feel good or, especially, bad through the process of social comparison. 

Last night, I checked in and was reminded that a friend of mine from college is dealing with cancer in his family and found out that the mom of somebody I went to school and church with as a kid has recently died -- sad news (but thank god it's not my family member with cancer or my mom who died, right?).  But once you get past the inanities (one high school friend who likes to share a million music videos in a row, people expressing a general TGIF attitude that I can't share because weekends don't mean the same thing for me at all), what's left is pretty much dozens of posts about people doing or having just done sort of or very interesting things, usually with other people. 

That's not my life.

There are some people whose life has this flavor more than others.  My sister's life especially does, since she lives in like 3 places right now (both coasts and smack in the middle), is always traveling, and her main passion in life (dance) involves collaboration and frequent performances.  She doesn't have children, but her grumpy old cat and sweet new puppy more than ably fulfill the "awwwww" niche (and personally I'm not crazy about kids anyway).  She's beautiful and her husband is a brilliant photographer, so the photographs are great.  She has a smart phone that makes it easy to share with us the strange and wonderful things she sees and does while she's out and about all over the country (and beyond). 

Do I sound envious?  Really, I'm not.  I love my own life, as un-Facebook-able as it usually is.  I spend a lot of time alone, reading and thinking and writing, or in the lab, where I have to mentally put on the white lab coat and exert self-control to deal with other people in ways that violate social norms.  I frequent the same half dozen places in this town, often on a regular schedule.  All this partly reflects my nature and my preferences, and partly is just a part of life as a grad student/academic. 

But looking at Facebook, even I occasionally get that feeling, which I understand is quite common, of being left out of some big, exciting Life that "everyone" else is having.  People don't post a photo of their desk at work with the comment, "Yep, it's a weekday so I'm at work, filling out forms."  People tend not to share, "In five minutes I'm going home from work and watching TV all night like I always do."  I have never seen anyone say, "I went to a party Saturday night but it was actually pretty boring and annoying.  I should have stayed home and organized my sock drawer again instead."

I love it that Tam sends me photographs from her daily (grad student) life - the huge white desk in the library with her especially horrifying math book, paper, pencils, and eraser laid out; lunch in the cafeteria; an undergrad wearing especially ugly shoes.  It's like seeing a somewhat different version of my own world with its little points of interest.  And of course, as with seeing my sister's life on Facebook, I do like the feeling of having a better sense of where she is and what she's doing.  But there's also something very intimate about it, which Facebook doesn't provide, and for some of us, I think the "this is all for public consumption, something I am sharing with you and my 200 other 'friends'" nature of Facebook doesn't meet our needs well at all.

So anyway, here I am:  sitting in my home office, surrounded by books and print-outs of journal articles and pieces of paper where I have jotted down research ideas, facing a wall covered with pictures of bunnies - including my own sweet buns on a homemade birthday card from Leo (I think he got help), wearing mismatched striped & floral pajamas and a pair of Texas Aquarium socks with sharks on them, hungry, thirsty, and thinking I should see if Robert is ready to wake up and have breakfast, the exact same breakfast I have every morning.


Tam said...
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Tam said...

I have seen someone post that they went to a party and were bored, but the reason people don't usually do that is that it's a huge faux pas, given that it's bound to get back to whoever threw the party, who is almost certainly no more than 1 degree of separation away from you on Facebook. So you can basically only post positive or boring things. Or political rants, if you don't mind offending that half (quarter? whatever?) of your friends.

In other news, I am apparently incapable of posting a comment to a blog today. This does not bode well.