Since the inception of my Facebook account in 2008 I’ve questioned its role in my life. At first I only friended or accepted requests from close friends, keeping my account fairly small. Now I see it as a way of keeping in touch with friends near and far, and as a social media tool. While my opinions regarding the efficacy and necessity of this outlet in my life have vacillated, I’ve consistently struggled with an aspect of Facebook that I find annoying: The phenomenon of oversharing.
As always, I will throw myself under the bus before delving into my observations about others. I’m guilty of showing off my kids (and myself) whenever they happen to be dressed up, have received awards or accolades, or even just make it to the bus on time. I proudly display my vacation pictures and rationalize that my friends will be seeing these eventually. In the old days we got together and looked at physical photo albums. Now we participate in each other’s vacations in real time. When I got my puppy, one of my friends (a dog lover himself) poked endless fun at me for the innumerable photos I posted daily of the new love of my life. When is all this sharing too much?
A friend recently addressed this topic in a very public way on his Facebook timeline. He gave me permission (in writing of course!) to share his post:
“I’ve noticed that there are a few “woe-is-me” people (attention seekers) on Facebook who are always having a problem or issue with some or other matter and posting about it. It’s always the same people and they’re forever having issues. We don’t want to know about your daily grind. Facebook should be positively informative and entertaining, not annoying. It’s become a platform for moaning and showing off. I for one don’t need to go onto Facebook to read about how someone’s steak was burnt or that someone’s spouse is a bitch/bastard. Those are not matters for Facebook. To those people, get a grip. Stop buying into the drama.”
The sentiments expressed in this post are not unique to my friend. I’ve unfollowed friends who have the need to report each trip to the grocery store and whether they scored a successful parking spot. I’m not particularly interested in knowing when someone has been waiting for the doctor for an hour and is “feeling annoyed,” using the inevitable emoji. A friend recently shared that she was appalled that our mutual friend posted that she was enroute to the emergency room with her mother. She couldn’t understand what purpose that post served, and felt it was an invasion of the mother’s privacy. What was she hoping to gain from this public post? She received a slew of comments ranging from “hope she feels better soon” to “OMG what happened?!” I was also annoyed but not puzzled by the emergency room update, as I had been hardened after learning about the death of a neighbor’s parent via Facebook. At the time I was shocked — now I’m used to seeing these posts and rationalize that they’re a way to get the word out and show or gain public support.
I agree that your marital strife does not belong on Facebook. I also don’t honestly care if your steak is too rare or overdone, regardless of what you paid. Hopefully the live company around your dinner table can provide the requisite sympathy. I’m also irked by reports following a visit to the pediatrician’s office regarding the progress of a child’s latest virus, but recognize that young parents in my friends’ circles do care and comment.
I recently fractured my finger while trying to use the salad spinner (you can’t make this stuff up). A few days later I bumped into a friend who noticed my physical therapy strap. She was more shocked that I didn’t post it on Facebook, than she was about the dangers of salad spinners. Why would I post about that? It’s just not my thing.
I don’t feel that Facebook should be only positive and entertaining. It has become a news outlet of sorts, and a way to share information and garner support for causes. Many social and political platforms gain momentum, and recognition through social media, with overall benefits to society. The ALS awareness ice bucket challenge is one example. My barrage of Stand With Israel posts, is another. Admittedly, I’m tolerant and interested in these posts until I come across one that I strongly disagree with, causing me to miss the detailed potty training updates.
We all use and view Facebook differently, and we have options: ignore, like, comment, unfollow or unfriend. And lately I’ve seen more and more friends exercise these choices. There will never be a consensus on the proper use of Facebook. We will all just have to agree to disagree and continue to conduct our personal profiles as we see fit.