Fayetteville, N.C. — When news surfaced recently that Facebook was experimenting with how news feeds affected readers’ moods, I must say, there was a part of me that wasn’t surprised. I think I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with social media, and recently, I’ve been examining my feelings, particularly about Facebook, even more.
And once I really stopped to think about it, I guess I was surprised by what I actually found: no more love, no less hate, but a whole lot of, well, moodiness.
If my life is going great, and the kids are good and the job is fine and oh, look, we just went on a fantastic vacation, then I find that not only am I happy to share those things on Facebook, I am also more than happy to hear it from others on social media.
No, I don’t think anyone needs to see your daily selfies taken from the driver’s seat of your car. Nor do I need a regular report on what you had for lunch. But, in general, I love hearing about others’ lives, especially when it’s people I wouldn’t otherwise run into. Facebook allows me to keep up with them. Total love.
But, if I’m honest, seeing all the fabulous pics from exotic locales and hearing about how perfectly wonderful everyone’s lives are going doesn’t feel as good when things in my life are not exactly ideal. It’s not that I’m not happy for others. I really and truly am.
It’s just that I have sometimes found myself looking at Facebook and going, “Wow, I wish I could afford that trip” or, “Gee, do their kids ever have a bad hair day or just flat out refuse to pose for a picture?” Not feeling as much love.
And the absolute worst is the few times I’ve been on outings and I’ve been obsessed with finding the right photo … not because I’m overly-concerned with the preservation of precious memories, but because I’m thinking about how many likes it will get on Facebook. Yeah … this is pretty much hate.
So, I’ve done all of this self-examination, but to what end, I am not sure. I thought maybe I would take a social media break, and I did so around July 4. I barely made it a day before I was dying to see what everyone was up to. Sigh.
How do you feel about social media? Have you ever taken a break?
Jennifer Joyner is a mom of two, freelance writer and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in 2010. Find her here on Wednesdays.