If a person shares that they something did well, are they being "self congratulatory?" Are they trolling for praise? Or are they just happy that they had a personal victory and they're sharing the moment?
If someone posts about an annoyance or disappointment, are they being a "downer?" Should they keep their shallow, First World problems to their damn selves? Or are they wisely letting their frustrations out so that they don't fester?
To the original question -- "Does anyone do Facebook right?" -- a woman snidely responded, "High school never ends." Just because she was being bitchy doesn't mean she wasn't right. Those adolescent feelings of vulnerability and that need for peer approval never really go away, and social media just exacerbates them.
This week I saw a post by a friend of a friend, a woman who took a selfie of herself at the beach. You can't see her face, but you can see her tummy, bikini bottom, legs and bare feet. Her body is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Yet she wrote how nervous she was, posting this picture to share and preserve her happy, peaceful moment on an empty beach.
"It's hard because with every picture you post you're hoping someone will like it and say something positive. However your gut tells you someone in the world is going to hate and criticize how you look. So here's me conquering my everyday anxiety and
thinking I look nice in this picture."
My friend Amy posted the perfect response to this woman: "The only thing wrong with this picture is we can't see your pretty face."
But by admitting that she wants someone to like the picture and say something positive, is she begging for approval? Is she pathetically trying to compensate for some hole in her soul? Or is she courageously making herself vulnerable?
I don't have the answers. But I'm grateful to the woman -- someone I don't even know -- for raising the question. This stranger has made me more thoughtful and empathetic as I scroll through my feed.
Social media makes it easy for each us to be a distant, almost anonymous audience member in a cyber colosseum, giving our thumbs up or thumbs down to the poor schlubs who share their lives with us.
I must remember that each of us is doing the best that we can, and that it was a person who wrote that post I find it so easy to mock. A fellow human, not a cartoon or bot. Just someone expressing themselves and looking for validation.
While I'm sure my current moment of kum ba yah will wear off and revert to elitist, impatient eye rolls in the future, I must restrain myself from actually commenting. My nasty comments could harm the person they're aimed at and, I've learned this week, they also diminish me.