First printed in New York Newsday, February 7, 2016.
The Facebook Inc. logo is displayed at the company’s office in Manhattan. Credit: Bloomberg News
I first used Facebook in 2008 to reconnect with people from my past. My college sorority sisters and I can credit Facebook for the first reunion we had had in years. I used it to communicate the news of a family death, which was much easier than sending out 30 text messages or emails about the services.
I had been “inboxed” by a few men trolling Facebook to see whether I wanted to date them. I live on Long Island. These men lived in Montana, Nebraska, Florida and even England. I’m not sure whether they were desperate for a date or were beginning to work some kind of scam.
Somewhere around 2013-14, Facebook began to morph into Facadebook for me.
I was irritated by daily posts with photo montages about the food people were eating, and by people “checking in at George Martins in RVC, NY.” A quick look on that couple’s page would tell you they live in Merrick, so any good burglar could calculate the time needed take to rob them blind. I also saw “Staycation getaway long overdue!” from a couple announcing their check-in at Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa. Take your time Mr. Burglar.
A woman posted, “I’m so lucky because I married my best friend 15 years ago and we never fight about money and we never go to bed angry!!”
Really? You’re that happy? All the time?
Another woman wrote, “Here I am with the love of my life!” (Read: not married, but wants to be, so she’ll post a public declaration of love. That way if he does leave, he looks like a jerk.)
Someone posted a picture of an aborted fetus on my timeline to show his view on that issue. Sigh. (Yes, Facebook, I am sure I want to block this person.) It doesn’t matter whether I agree. It shouldn’t be on Facebook.
There are also messages such as, “Share this post if you hate cancer” or “We need 1,000 likes to save this baby.”
First of all, cancer is cancer and no one likes it. Second, does anyone really think that there are surgeons in sterile garb, scalpels poised in the air, hovering over a deathly ill baby and waiting for the thousandth “like” on Facebook to start operating?
It’s a façade. I picture a young hacker twisting his long mustache and laughing somewhere in his crazy room.
The truth is, it’s your page and you can post what you want. I post things I find inspirational or funny, or to promote my artwork, but those posts are few and far between.
I am a happy person. I do not feel the need to post every emotion on Facebook. Nor do I feel the need to change my relationship status. I have had a few serious relationships and lived with two different men since I began using Facebook, and I have never once changed my relationship status. Why? Because my happiness does not depend on whether I am in a relationship. Nor do I care whether people think I am happy. If you know me, you know.
While Facebook can be used effectively as a communication tool, the door is wide open to all sorts of messages. With the genuinely hopeful and positive posts come the façade posts of how people wish their lives could be or what they want people to think.
But the ever-loving point is, as soon as your personal happiness does not depend on another person’s viewpoint, you transcend it and shazam! Happiness can be yours.