L A Times writer Meghan Daum is one of my favourite columnists and I usually agree with most of what she writes, but I found today’s piece about Facebook–“I ‘like’ me, I really ‘like’ me”–to be off the mark. Frankly, it made me wonder if I’m just living in a different Facebook world, or maybe I’m just naive.

She contends our relationship to Facebook has changed, that it used to make us feel connected to the world, but now it makes us feel bad about ourselves; it has become an advertisement for our insecurity. We’ve become a culture of curators and show-offs, hand-selecting our most triumphant and photogenic moments and presenting them as everyday occurrences, an unmitigated, unapologetic opportunity for public relations. “It’s a forum not for sharing but for bragging.”

She goes on to list the ways in which we do this. There’s the “humblebrag,” boasts that are loosely disguised as self-deprecation–“Spilled coffee inside my Maserati. What a dope!” The chest-thumping-masquerading-as-self-esteem she calls the “empowerboast. “Feeling so good about myself today. Realizing that I am beautiful and wise and deserve to be loved.” The mom brag, the posting-of-hot-photos-of-yourself brag. “Always, and often inexplicably, these posts will be showered with ‘likes’ and approving comments that also manage to be competitively boastful–‘When I was in Moscow I couldn’t tear myself away from Winzavod. Very cool.'”

She asks the question: “Is bragging about yourself actually a form of appreciating–or even respecting–yourself?” but then concludes that as a culture we can’t distinguish positive thinking from hubris. “We tell ourselves we’re not bragging, just putting out good vibes. We’re not putting the spotlight on ourselves, but rather spreading the light around so that others, too, will flourish in the glow.” That’s crap, she says, “These aren’t good vibes. They are advertisements for our insecurity. Posting a brag, humble or otherwise, and then waiting for people to respond is the equivalent of having a conversation in which all you do is wait for your turn to speak. That is to say, there’s nothing to learn from it, but we all do it occasionally.” She ends by resolving to stop posting on Facebook.

Her assessment makes me wonder who her “friends” are, or did one of them just piss her off? If it weren’t for FB, I wouldn’t have re-connected with my school friends in Zambia 11,000 miles across the ocean, I wouldn’t have connected with a group of women writers who now feel like family after we all met in IRL (in real life) in Santa Barbara in August. Here’s my blog about the meeting. I wouldn’t have a forum where, loner me, can put myself “out there.” With all its faults, Facebook has helped make the world a smaller more connected place.

What does Facebook mean to you?

8 thoughts on “Connected

  1. I completely agree with you, Rossandra! Facebook has rekindled so many wonderful relationships with old friends who I thought were lost forever. And then there’s all of my new cyber friends (you’re in this group) whom I feel like I’ve known forever! Perhaps the writer has a bit of a chip on her shoulder and is just being grumpy!

  2. Wow. “Bitter — party of one.” I wonder what got into her. I completely agree with you. Perhaps we’re just fortunate to have amazing FB friends, but then we attract what we put out, don’t we. (Boast intended) 🙂

  3. Like you — and Jessica and Jayne — I think she mostly misses the point. What she calls bragging, I would call sharing. And most people I know don’t do it out of insecurity. She may have point with the ‘like’ thing — but even there I see it as a way of letting someone know you read what they’re sharing, even if you don’t have the time (or inclination) to leave a comment. I still marvel at how Facebook brought me in touch with the likes (ha ha) of you. 🙂

  4. I have to agree with you and all – Facebook has re-connected me to so many friends and introduced me to so many more. I agree with Deborah that it is sharing, and that if we know our friends, they’d agree that it is not in boast but in sheer happiness, which is a hard commodity to come by, that we post. My favorite is when people post about losing weight. I always have come back with “funnel cake will help you put it back on.”

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