Facebook and the Distortion of Reality

Facebook. It’s an amazing tool: one that allows you to track your social life in real time, to forever capture the amber days of your youth. Pictures of that awesome barbecue? Check. Status update bragging about that celebrity you just met? Check.

Oh wait, Becky had people over and forgot to invite you? Check. There are pictures? Check. They all look happy and youthful? Check. You’re going to die alone?? Check, check, check.

Newsflash: you’re not going to die alone. And why not? Well, maybe you will. In fact, everyone technically dies alone, but we won’t get into that right now. What I mean is, when you get down on yourself for having a lacking social life, don’t.

Because the awesome pictures—how much fun those ladies are having? All 43 pictures of them taking shots at the bar and really living in the moment? You could bet your paycheck that those pictures took at least a minute each to get ready for. You know, shuffling around, adjusting their clothes and their hair, getting their facial expressions right. Most of their time having fun was spent trying to look like they were having fun.

God, Lisa, you’re so judgmental, you might say. How would you know how long it took them to get ready for those pictures? Well, The Pose, of course. You know the one I’m talking about: hands on their hips, one leg bent, head cocked in order to hide the alcohol-induced double chin.

I mean, this is what’s wrong with the whole social networking thing. People spend ample time crafting this perfect image of what they are, and it has almost no basis in reality. It’s the playground of the try-hards. The amount of time it takes some people to write a status informing us that they’ve just seen someone get hit by a car is laughable.

And sure, it seems like it’s no big deal that there is a large faction of our generation wasting their time making sure everyone on the internet thinks they’re perfect. In fact, it is kind of funny. I mean, these women all look kind of like space aliens. Or a support group for sufferers of weak spinal columns and hip dysplasia.

But let’s think about this on a deeper level: we are pathetically and unapologetically shallow. All the time we spend thinking about how to impress people who don’t matter? We could think up ways to promote literacy or to get homeless people off the streets and into the job market. Or we could, you know, invent a toilet that wipes for us. Important things.

There’s this weird assumption that if it isn’t on Facebook, it isn’t real. The whole “pics or it didn’t happen” thing started as a joke (thank you, Reddit), but it has turned into a mantra for us. You know that you met Kristian from Tallest Man on Earth, even if you don’t have photographic evidence. And yet, it doesn’t seem legitimate, if you will, if other people don’t comment, “OMG jealous!”

You know what that translates to? The life you live is not real, is not important, is not acceptable unless other people approve of the things that you do. And it’s dangerous to spend most of your time thinking about how you look to hundreds of strangers you either haven’t talked to since high school or borrowed a pen from once in class. “Dangerous” may seem like an exaggeration, but I’m being serious.

Let’s take it from another direction: our view of what is normal is so fucked up by the media—everything from the rampant photoshopping and overbearing dominance of this idea that skinny means healthy to the idea that Facebook has any bearing on our day-to-day lives—that we are killing ourselves. When you think it’s a good idea to go on a juice cleanse or to eat only grapefruit in order to lose that last ten pounds, you have a problem. When you feel the need to take more time to pose for a picture than it takes to go to the bathroom, you have a problem.

This pose—and the importance of Facebook as a whole—plays right into our collective self-esteem problem. Facebook is fake. These magazines are fake. But we still spend hours and hours trying to live up to these expectations. You may be ugly on the inside, but you’re not so bad on the outside, even without putting your hands on your hips. So cut it out. Make a weird fucking face at the camera. Slouch. Look like yourself.

In fact, go read a book. Just stop Facebooking so much. Becky’s a bitch anyways.

4 Comments on “Facebook and the Distortion of Reality

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