Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? — Freddie Mercury
In the last month my Facebook friends have left comments on my photos or status posts such as “you guys have so much fun I want to be adopted into your family” and “you guys know how to enjoy life.”
I also received this text message:
I worry about this sometimes.
I wonder if the photos I’m sharing make it look like my life is perfectly wonderful and I don’t have a care in the world. I wonder whether people may think I’m posting these to intentionally make that exact impression. My Facebook persona is that of a happy woman who is enjoying life. Why do I feel guilty for being that happy woman?
My second reaction to these comments, after a brief bout of guilt for having a good time, is to deny it.
No, it just looks that way I’m really not enjoying myself at all.
But why should I pretend? Over the last five years I’ve learned that when an opportunity presents itself, you have to take advantage of it. If you want to be part of a community of like-minded people, you have to take part. When an invitation is extended, you accept it and see it where it leads you. (If you keep turning down invitations, chances are people will stop inviting you.) Last weekend we spent a day on a sailboat. This is something neither of us had done before and had trepidations about doing it. But we graciously accepted the invitation and spent a lovely day on the water with great conversation and beautiful views. (That is, when I didn’t have to focus my eyes on the horizon with my hands tightly gripping the rail.)
On the flip side, I also know that it’s not too hard to make your life seem difficult. I could complain about work, or the weather, or whatever the frustration of the day is each day. And I do on occasion. But it’s really not my nature. I’m an optimist at heart so even though I know that misery does love company, I would rather gather round me optimistic and happy people. This doesn’t mean I won’t commiserate with my friends when appropriate, or comment to give a word of encouragement. I’m a realist as well so I know that we can’t just keep thinking/posting happy thoughts and everything will be all right. I just want to avoid contributing to the drama.
In the “real world” my life is not all sunshine and flowers. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ve certainly read about some of the drama in my past and my more recent frustrations so you know that like most of you, I have my share of worries and problems. I’ve written about Facebook before – about leaving it and then coming back – and I’ve debated whether I share too much of my personal life. In the end, I returned to Facebook because I missed my friends and family. I felt like I was missing out on something.
Since coming back I’ve enjoyed seeing all the baby pictures, post updates from distant friends, and I’ve used it as a source of news. One of the features of Facebook that I’ve taken advantage of is being able to promote and support causes, organizations, and companies that I believe in. I’m not in the marketing department by accident. I’m a marketer and I believe that social media is a great tool to spread awareness.
So when I’m posting pictures from my favorite bar or restaurant, or letting my friends know how much fun I’m having with my Zumba friends, at least half the reason I’m doing so is to offer a testimonial or endorsement. I’m not so delusional as to think that my small circle of connections is going to make a difference, but I do believe in the power of word-of-mouth. If I can convince one of my Facebook friends to go somewhere or try something, then maybe they will in turn become a believer and provide their own testimonial.
For example, did you know I’m participating in the Movember campaign to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues? I’m part of Kaeser’s Mo Bros and Mo Sistas team and would love it if you could donate to our team. I also really enjoyed seeing how the Teal Pumpkin Project campaign took off for FARE, not just because my sister is a key member of the communications team, but because my nephew suffers from a peanut allergy and my step-daughter suffered from an egg allergy as a child. These are wonderful causes and should be supported and promoted. Social media is a great way to do this.
The other reason I’m sharing what I do is to share a little bit of my life with those I don’t see very often.
I know I don’t call or write, but this is what I’ve been up to. Show me how you’re doing.
I’m not bragging – I’m sharing. And I love it when you share with me too. So tell me, any of you have similar frustrations or feel like you’re leading a double life: your online life and your real life?