The 2013 version of “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” could be: “If I take a family trip to Disney World and don’t post it on Facebook, did I really go?” I’ve often declared how thankful I am not to have grown up in the age of Facebook. My adolescent hormones would never have been able to handle seeing my ex-boyfriend tagged in a photo with his new girlfriend while I sat home and watched Dallas with my parents. And yet, being a mom with this monster we call Facebook parading around me all day?! Well, that can be just as traumatizing an experience.
Obviously, I’m not oblivious to the many benefits of Facebook. I almost certainly wouldn’t have reconnected with an old camp friend had I not posted a real-time picture of my kids at the Boston Children’s Museum. And let’s face it, there’s a good chance this very article you’re reading right now probably came into your life via a friends validating “like” on this mega-website. But I doubt that I’m the only one who is woefully aware of Facebook’s debilitating side effects.
While it’s unlikely Facebook would cause the same level of serious depression in mature, well-adjusted adults as it would in hormonal teenagers, I’d have to be a robot not to feel a tinge of emotion upon seeing my so-called friends having fun at a “mom’s night out” that I wasn’t invited to. And I’d be made of stone if I didn’t feel the smallest bit of disappointment and disbelief if I were to post a truly amazing picture of my kids hugging a baby lion in Africa only to receive a total of 7 likes while some other – perhaps cooler – mom posts a pic of her kids eating chicken nuggets at the local diner and literally gets 242 likes in under 6 minutes.
I consider myself to be a very happy person, and I promise I don’t give nearly the amount of thought and attention to Facebook as this article might suggest. But admittedly, it’s hard not to simultaneously roll my eyes and get a little nauseous when someone posts, “I have the best life and husband in the world and I have the most amazing, adorable, sweetest, smartest,
And try as I may, I can’t seem to squash those feelings of guilt when I see pics of my friends running the marathon for charity or going zip lining with their entire extended family while my kids are sitting on the couch watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse as I check email on my iPad. Let’s just say, I end up having a newfound appreciation and respect for those few Facebook friends of mine who actually have the security in themselves to post comments and photos that don’t make them seem like the shiniest-happiest people on Earth. And to the rest of you? Please don’t de-friend me. I love you and I love the photos of your kids. Really, I do.
The addictive quality of Facebook can’t be healthy for us either. I curse my iPhone for not refreshing fast enough after I post a photo, as I wait in the carpool line for responses and forget the thousands of more productive ways I could be utilizing my time. And forget the fact that the article I’m reading off of someone’s Facebook wall is all about how I shouldn’t be on Facebook but rather giving my undivided attention to my family. I know I’d be healthier keeping my Facebook habit under control and yet, I keep checking it anyway – in much the same way as I keep eating my kids’ mac and cheese leftovers even though I know I’ll never lose those last 5 pounds.
If you’re like me, you marvel at the few remaining moms who don’t even have a Facebook page and envy those who have a page but have enough willpower not to use it very much, if at all. Meanwhile, you watch with frustration as your closest friends be-friend your friends and gush over their pics while barely squeaking out a simple ‘like’ for yours.
An otherwise romantic date night with my husband gets a bit tainted after reading about our friends enjoying a double date night on the town with, and I quote, “a great meal with great company” – end quote. “Why weren’t we invited?” “Aren’t we ‘great company’ to have ‘a great meal’ with?” I ask my husband. And there’s always the poor innocent couple who gets tagged against their will in such a post and unintentionally hurts everyone’s feelings as a result. Seriously, with one misused “Lol” or forgotten birthday message, the Facebook wall is like a minefield waiting to take down the healthiest of relationships.
All that being said, however, it’s very reassuring to see how happy all of my friends and acquaintances, old and new, are doing now. I’m genuinely happy for us all that life has turned out so darn well! It’s nice to have tangible proof that the nerd from High School eventually found love and success while the hottest jock got fat and bald in true John Hughes-movie karmic style. It’s also good to know that almost all of my High School graduating class managed to get college degrees and have satisfying careers. This perspective that everyone turns out relatively ok is especially comforting to me as a mom who spends so much of my emotional energy worrying about my kids’ future happiness. So, despite my complaints and tirades against you, I still thank you, dear Facebook, for providing me with a place to organize my favorite photos, brag about my kids at the risk of being incredibly annoying, post my articles, get back in touch with long lost childhood friends, kill some time in the carpool line, provide me with a few laughs, feel connected to fellow moms both in and out of my community, give me some great ideas for things to do with my family and make the world feel a little bit smaller and cozier. For all those things and more, I still really ‘like’ you.