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?