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Facebook Isn't Always Real Life

Updated on August 8, 2014

Ah, if only we really led the lives we and others portray on Facebook. Where we always look perfect and happy. Where we are always traveling to somewhere exotic or attending the coolest concert. Where all the food we prepare is gourmet and gorgeous. And most importantly, all our relationships could not be better.

I resisted joining Facebook for years because I didn't see the point. My friends kept sending me invitations that I would ignore. I felt like they could just call me or text me if they wanted to see what I am doing. I finally joined as a joke when one of my best friends joined the same day. We mocked all the "My life is so perfect" photos and posts and went in the completely opposite direction. I would laugh out loud as I would post "How's that oozing rash you had last night? Still full of puss?" on her wall late at night. Hoping tons of people would see it before she realized it was there. She would return the favor by posting on my wall that she had gotten the rash from me and would up the game by adding I had a STD or something. This went on for weeks and people started following us just to see how crazy we were willing to go. Friends would post photos of their precious children all ready on time for their first day of school and I would post status updates that read something like "Here I am again, last one through the carpool line and still in my pajamas embarrassing my children to death!" It was a fun hobby for a while.

Then my friend moved and I realized that I was checking Facebook way more than I really should. I was getting caught up in everyone's somewhat fake personal life. I poured over wedding photos of people I really didn't know that well and felt inadequate eating my turkey sandwich alone at my desk as I saw huge groups going to the latest bistro for a delicious lunch and posting all about it. The worst is seeing parties of people you thought were fairly good friends having huge parties you didn't know existed. Why wasn't I invited? You couldn't help but wonder.

The biggest reality check came shortly after I saw a sweet post a husband made about his wife. He posted a cute picture of her and said something like "My beautiful girl, I'm so lucky!" The kind of post that makes you wonder why you didn't meet this wonderful man first. The couple is now separated and currently going through a divorce. I mentioned the post to the woman saying I thought their marriage was so good and she said "You can't believe everything you see on Facebook, those are the lives we want to have."

Those were really important words to remember. Now I try and look at Facebook differently. I realize sometimes people are posting photos and updates to maybe make themselves feel better or more important. Or to try and paint a picture of what they really want their life to look like. Or they are lonely. I try not to compare what they are doing to what my life is like because it doesn't matter. If I see someone post really personal sad things, like a parent's death or illness, I try and leave a positive message because I realize they are struggling and maybe don't have the support they need at home so they are turning to Facebook as an outlet for their grief. I know how that feels. I'm guilty of doing this as well. On my dad's birthday a year ago, I posted a Happy Birthday message to him since he has passed and I had no way to do that in person. I got some very nice messages back from it and it felt good to know someone out there cared.

Face bragging and more...

I still don't like looking at photos of the magazine-quality food people prepare for their families and I have to resist the urge to joke and post my own lame taco night spread with iceberg lettuce and a big bag of cheese as toppings. The polar opposite of gourmet dining! But let them "face brag" as my son calls it. It is not hurting me in anyway.

I have succumbed to the depths of "face bragging" when my one son made an elite soccer team and scored dozens of goals. I was so proud and felt the need to share. I didn't really think it through, that maybe one of the readers of my post might be a mom of a kid who didn't even make the team and this might make her feel bad. I hope not.

My new policy is just to shoot for entertainment value. I will try and only post items that are humorous or making fun of myself. Or put up a feel good positive quote I come across. If it can brighten someone's day, then that's a win.

A cousin of mine who lives very far away just had a baby and posts lots of photos of her adorable new offspring. This made me see a whole new benefit to Facebook. I don't get to see the baby in person for a while but how awesome that I get to follow his progress the first few months through the Facebook posts. Maybe Facebook isn't really as bad as all that if used correctly. Just make sure your "friends" are really your friends and not competitors trying to vie for who has the most glamorous life out there.

So sign in but don't take it all that seriously and you'll be alright. Then go out in the real world and enjoy actual face time with real friends!

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