Social media have become an important part of our daily lives. We have learned to substitute occasional conversations with distant friends and family with regular Facebook likes, we go to social media platforms to find out what is happening in our community and in our country instead of opening a newspapers, and we have learned to seek entertaining content on social media whenever we are bored instead of turning on the TV. We have also learned to treat our social media accounts as a place where we can tell everyone we know about our major and minor successes without coming off as bragging. Social media have come around not so long ago offering this new way of communication and keeping in touch and were very fast to incorporate these new practices into our social lives.
As social media were gaining their popularity, I was one of the first people to jump right in, sharing almost every good moment of my life with people in my friends list and commenting and liking the posts of others with unbelievable regularity. However, just at the time when living like this has become usual and normal, I have experienced the real awkwardness and annoyance of this way of leading my social life. It took one post to make me practically stop sharing my life on social media.
When I first discovered Facebook for myself I fascinated and excited about two things. The two things I spent most of the time on social media doing. And at the same time, the two things I would never admit doing if someone has asked me about them back then.
Firstly, I would spend a whole lot of time examining in great detail the pages of other people, zooming into their photographs, reading all the posts, and all the comments on their pages. And these people I was basically stocking were not my friends. In fact, I think I have never looked through the Facebook page of any of my friends with such interest and attention. The people whose pages I studied so carefully were either my crashes or people I envied for one reason or another. I tried to know as much as I could about the people who presented romantic interest to me and about those whom I perceived as my enemies in a way.
The second thing I feel a bit uncomfortable to admit was spending an inappropriately large amount of time looking through my own page and trying to make it look better or trying to see again and again how much did other people appreciate me. I would go to my Facebook page, go through the posts I had on it and do minor corrections to make them look even better, funnier, prettier. I would carefully look over all the pictures on my page, filtering out the ones I did not like, and making an occasional comment under the ones featuring the best of me so that It would appear in the feed of my friends. Whenever I posted something I would check the website or the app literally every few minutes, monitoring carefully who liked and who commented on my post. And again, at that time I was sharing almost every pleasant or pretty moment from my life. If I had something beautiful for lunch, I would share it. If I met some of my friends for half an hour, I would snap a selfie and share it. If something good happened, Facebook was the first one to know and telling everyone else. Needless to say that I was craving the positive feedback, likes, and comments about everything I did my Facebook community has supplied me with.
One day, however, the excitement about getting lots of comments and likes on notes of how great my life has changed to the great awkwardness that has forced me to stop sharing so excessively about my life. This happened one day when I posted a picture with the person I liked a lot after our first date. The picture was very cute, the capture was flirtatious and open to different interpretations, and my date seemed to be excited about this first picture together just as I was. However, my Facebook community made this post turn into the one I deeply regretted. Firstly, my friends who knew how worried I was before this date, decided to share this detail publicly. Secondly, my date’s ex decided to tell the story of their messy break-up in the comments. Thirdly, my grandmother decided to make her hopes for me getting married soon public. And top of all of these, my date’s father said that we were too young to be going out together.
In just a few hours, an innocent post has turned into an uncomfortable comment-discussion with and between people who were not even supposed to talk to each other for now. In a moment, Facebook has turned into an awkward dinner party with my closest friends, family, distant relatives, acquaintances, exes, and classmates trying to have a conversation together about my personal life. Clearly, my new relationship was not strong enough to survive this mess and the first date has turned out to be the last one. More importantly, however, I have realized that by sharing so much of my life on Facebook I grated all these people the right to talk about these personal matters which I would never allow in real life. Thanks to these few minutes of utmost awkwardness, I stopped posting excessively on Facebook. And I am happy that I did.