This post is directly prompted by this article on narcissism, insecurity, and Facebook (hereafter FB). It got me to thinking about several different things. What I post on FB, why I post it on FB, and what I look for in others’ posts on FB. I disagree with this article some, but I think that is also because I treat FB friends in what seems to be an unusual way.
I am only FB friends with people I know in real life. Period. And generally, the word “friend” or “family” (hopefully both!) must be applied. I don’t want a bunch of strangers or I-met-you-once-at-a-thing “friends” on my FB. This is a tool for me to connect to people. Both people I see/talk to regularly and even more, it allows me to keep in touch with the people I can’t see regularly. A dear friend in Canada. A cousin or two on the west coast. People I can’t imagine not having in my life in some form or function.
I purge my FB friends list pretty frequently and over my FB tenure I’ve slowly crept up to about 120 people who are pretty much safe. I know I’ve never cracked 200 “friends.” I’m not that social.
First, I do post things in my life to let those who are not local (or at least I don’t get to meet with/talk to often) to keep up with what’s going on. Even if it’s just a little picture about my cats, or a plant or the latest changes in my ongoing home-improvement attempt(s). I want them to see it not for their approval but to know they are important enough in my life I want to include them.
Secondly, I do like to post my opinion (you know, similar to the reason I have a blog where I can rant on politics, religion and whatever else). This will include articles like Ruth Bader Ginsberg or Elizabeth Warren being bad-asses in Washington D.C. I know I do some of this for approval that I am not a crazy person. But I have enjoyed more than one debate with people who are far more conservative than I am and can actually be intelligent about it (up until the point when they say something like “poor people are just lazy.”)
Similarly, I use Facebook to stay connected to people I can’t talk to very often. A different rant on how we fill our time with work, commuting, and living adult-like lives explains why letter-writing is not terribly useful anymore. I don’t mind when I find out on Facebook that the friend I only see every 6 months or so got engaged. I love seeing pictures and videos of life-moments, whether it’s children, pets, plants, or events. A picture of a child standing the first time and the picture of someone who just finished a mud-run allow me to celebrate with my friends when I can’t see them all the time.
Even people in Atlanta, sometimes our schedules just don’t match up. They work weekends or nights. The one weekend they are free is the weekend I promised to visit my parents. Facebook allows me to stay in touch with people globally, allows me to connect to friends and family in ways that took hours and hours of time before.
I struggle with Facebook. It’s lack of privacy. There is a sense of invasion of privacy when random people try to send me friend requests (or worse, people I’ve known and don’t want to know better). I struggle with what I want to share, what I feel pressured to share, and the “image” of Barbara. I want to be authentic, but I also know it’s inevitable that I will limit embarrassing moments and highlight the qualities I am proud of.
But don’t we all wear personas at work, church, specific personas for specific groups of friends, and one for family? Does that make the Facebook persona any more narcissistic than the persona of the popular kid/adult in school/work? Does that Facebook persona make someone MORE insecure or more likely to see validation? How different is the person with 5,000 Facebook friends from the [fill in activity] in high school who wants everyone to love them?
I think the article makes it sound like Facebook made these people narcissistic and insecure. I think they were narcissistic and insecure and Facebook gave them a new platform. I think Facebook also gave these researchers a lot of data that before had to be tediously gathered. I do agree that Facebook doesn’t replace face-to-face meetings. Nothing can match a hug for love and acceptance. I don’t like that the article makes it sound like Facebook has little-to-no possible positive or healthy use.