Telling Facebook how you feel

“Please tell me it gets better. You don’t need to mean it.”

I clicked “share” and off it went to Facebook, a wan little cry for help on a Sunday where I’m sick, dealing with disappointment and haven’t slept well, and the thought of having to face an entire new week makes me want to weep.

But yes, I’ve done it again. Oversharing on social media, or at least letting Facebook and/or Twitter know that all is not hunky dory. Several of my mentors have called me on this over the years and warned me against doing it, largely on the grounds that it will put clients off.

Why do I share things on social media? Surely, you ask, I should confide in someone specific offline? Aren’t you just an attention-seeking narcissist using technology as a crutch? Maybe I am.

But if you’re interested, this is why. Maybe you do the same.

a. I’m not asking anyone specific for help. When you ask someone specific for help offline, you burden them with obligation. They have to take on your angst, and that’s not fair. See point b:

b. The people who respond are those who feel able to. People who offer help are not required to. They do it voluntarily. That decreases the chances of resentment or the potential that I may turn into an energy vampire.

c. I am not actually asking for help. More often than not, sharing something isn’t a request for a solution; it’s the sharing itself that eases the burden. I’m looking for a sense of connection with others, not necessarily a DIY fix to my messy, chaotic life.

d. Sharing makes it less lonely. And yes, sometimes a response is all that’s needed. If nobody had responded to that status update, I’d have felt worse than ever. (Thank you to everyone who did respond; I do appreciate it.)

e. I want perspective. Both for myself, from others, and vice versa. If I’m not having a good day, and I let others know, then they have a better sense that their own imperfect lives are ok.

f. I share the good moments, and the bad ones are just as much a part of real life. I refuse to be one of those annoyingly smug people who create the impression that their lives are fabulous, though I’m careful to acknowledge good things when they happen.

I’m very aware of the danger of doing this, of the potential to abuse the kindness of others, and to try their patience. It’s very easy to turn into a social media energy vampire. I am also uncertain as to the impact of the public sharing of emotions, since these can be contagious. Then again, the people around me deserve a break, and Facebook can be a sort of emotional Faraday cage, dissipating large amounts of negative emotion over a wider network and allowing it to earth itself safely.

What is your view on the sharing of negative emotions on Facebook? I’d love to know what you think.

 

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One thought on “Telling Facebook how you feel

  1. pm1956

    Well, I don’t “do” facebook (too much of a time suck), but…
    I think that thing about putting off potential clients is BS—potential clients will want you because you are creative and produce results, not because you are “normal”.
    Attention seeking? Well, who on Facebook isn’t? But no one can think that you are seeking the kind of attention that you get from the various stalkers, trolls, etc. And your behavior clearly doesn’t match the attention seeking aggressiveness (or aggrievedness) of other classic attention seeking types.
    I wouldn’t be paying attention to you if i didn’t find you (and some of the reactions you engender) interesting, and i find you interesting because you are honest and open (relatively speaking–I know you don’t share everything, but you share more than most).
    I think some of the reaction you draw is because you are stepping out of line–you are not doing what everyone else does, you are violating the norm for sharing/presenting only the positive, etc.
    I think that most people go online to seek validation–they want to find that they are not alone, that there are others like them, that the choices that others make and the things that others do is a reflection/validation of the things that they do and the choices that they have made. Obviously, based on some of what you have said above, you do at least some of that as well. But you are not one dimensional in that way. And some of those who complain clearly are—because your behavior is not a validation of their behavior, and so some of them get upset. The most obvious examples of this are when you have talked about relationships and sex.
    One of the reasons I find you interesting is exactly because you make different choices than I– you do things differently. I am looking not so much for a reflection of myself, as insight into others (not you specifically, but you as an example). And, if you are looking for insight, honesty and integrity are pretty important.
    Personally, I’d rather be able to trust you than agree with you (and I think that potential clients would agree also).

    Reply

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