The fabulous life of a Facebook user
Guess which social-networking site with 500 million smiling faces is on the cover of the May 31 issue of Time magazine?
That’s a lot of smiley faces. But then, people in photographs are almost always smiling. We like to put a coat of varnish on our lives before we put it out for public consumption. The Homo erectus with the happiest cave drawings earned the envy and respect of his tribe and an automatic promotion to alpha male. This in turn gave him access to the juiciest cuts of mammoth meat, and Mrs. Erectus the most fashionable strips of fur.
And so the public-relations industry was born. Wherever you turn there is news about the stupendous success of Tom, the glamorous wedding and even more glamorous divorce of Dick, and the jet-setting life yet simple human touch of Harry. Forget about any chance of feeling good about your ordinary life. A life tragically bereft of awards, champagne receptions, groupies, and regular appearances on chat shows.
Eventually, thought, most of us figure out that these celebrities live in a kind of parallel universe. There really is little correlation between their lives and life on Earth. And once we see them for the fiction that they are, it becomes a little easier to deal with. Sure, they’re having fun, but are they even real? Phew, we can finally get back to scratching our armpits and cutting coupons.
Until Facebook, that is.
Now it looks like all your friends are living the high life. They stick up daily pictures of themselves in pseudo-celebrity mode. Smiling by the pool, smiling on the slopes, smiling crookedly with drinking buddies, smiling for no reason at all. J, who is job hunting, just came back from a Mexican holiday where she recorded every little minutiae on camera. It is heaven, you should totally go. By the pool, on the beach, with a pineapple, at the buffet, next to the little fridge full of beer. D really got pissed on the free beer hon, lol! J & D also hugged, kissed, and looked so in love. Awww... you guys look so cute together. Awww, thanks hon... you really shoulda been there... it was awesome.... xxxxo.
Keeping up with the Joneses has suddenly been elevated to the next level. It is not enough that you somehow manage to get through the day without killing your boss, your partner or yourself. Your life must now be a non-stop carnival in 3-D technicolor, recorded in blurry smartphone photos for all to see and admire. Fewer than 10 likes and comments on a pic means that you really need to rethink your PR strategy and get some eyeballs. Next time try and be cuter, saucier, less ignorable.
The same with all those posts that people put on their wall. Drank too much with P and gang after the game last night... woke up with a ginormous head, lol. Really? Thanks for sharing!
Narcissism has its points. An occasional glance in the mirror keeps us from setting out to conquer the world with snort on our face and spinach between our teeth. Learning to love yourself is the greatest love..., etc., as George Benson, Whitney Houston, and myriad self-help books never tire of telling us. There are, however, limits. Boring your dinner guests with a holiday video is a long way from your interpretation of The Fabulous Life Of... as a one-actor play. All for the entertainment of your 1,500 Facebook friends, most of whom you’ve never met or are likely to meet.
To experience this in the real world just take a trip to the playground. A hundred frenzied little tots screaming: Mommy, Daddy, look at me... look at me... look at me...