Sunday, December 18, 2016

Facebook's Version, or Why I Bought a Selfie Stick

I recently did something that I vowed that I would never do. I joined Facebook.

When Facebook first came out, I was already in my mid-twenties and working three jobs by then, so I had neither the time or the interest to join the site. Maybe if I had been a few years younger and enjoyed taking dozens of pictures of myself, posing with a pout and tight clothes in front of my bathroom mirror, I would have joined.

Side note: I'd love to friend all of you on Facebook, but I prefer not to reveal my real identity on this blog. Also, I like having a secret online alter ego, kind of like Batman except without the cool car and the superhuman strength (unless you count obsessiveness as a super power, in which case I AM Batman).

Also, based on what I've heard, it always seemed like there was a lot of Facebook drama, with people saying stuff like, "Why does your relationship status still say 'single'? Do you not care about me at all?" or "They're still mad at me because I unfriended them, but it's like, I don't want to know what they're having for lunch every day! That's what Instagram is for!"

But I finally decided to join because most of my friends in Small Town are on it, and they often organize parties and other get-togethers through Facebook. The only way I would find out about any of these events was if they invited me or if I texted them to find out which bar we were meeting at. I always felt like I was out of the loop.

Speaking of feeling out of the loop, one of the first things I saw on Facebook was New Girl's page. She'd posted pictures of the big Christmas party she hosted recently, and tagged several of my friends, who were invited. I know that it's her party, and she has the right to invite or exclude whoever she wants. But I must admit that it did hurt to see pictures of practically everyone in our social circle at the party and to know that she deliberately excluded me. (See what I mean? Drama.) That's why I didn't even try to "friend" her online. I already tried that offline and it didn't end so well.

Seeing those pictures made me feel like I was the high school wallflower all over again. I can't say anything about it to Small Town Guy, though, because although they're not dating, they are close friends and his picture was all over her page.

Speaking of high school, I sent friend requests to a couple of old high school friends. It was interesting to find out what they'd been up to since graduation. But then several other people from high school sent me friend requests. I realized too late that my profile would show up on those other people's Facebook pages, as well as the "people you may know" list.

Although I accepted their requests, one of the other reasons I didn't join this site before was because I didn't want anyone I went to school with to see me, at least not until I was thinner, more successful, and married to an Abercrombie and Fitch model.

When I looked at my old friends and classmates' pages, I was struck by how "grownup" everyone looked. True, it had been more than seventeen years since we'd seen each other (God, that makes me feel old.). But it was more than that. They posted what I think of as the Facebook version of their lives, with their beautiful wedding portraits and pictures of their smiling children. Their updates included posts about parenting, breastfeeding, and the best place to buy a mattress.

While all those other people were traveling around the world, getting married, and having children, I was working, attending graduate school, and yelling at my loud neighbors (the last time I asked them to keep it down was at 2 A.M. on a Wednesday night. They said, "Oh, are you sleeping right now?" And I was all, "YES! Why aren't YOU?")

That's partly I have few recent pictures of myself. The other reason is I don't like the way I look in pictures. My lack of pictures made me feel inadequate, like I had less to show for my life than theirs. I know that's not true, because I've accomplished and experienced a lot of things too. It's just that I spent more time documenting these things through writing than through pictures, and I have a stack of journals and blog posts to prove it. That's why I like Twitter and blogging better, because there's no pressure to post pictures; the point is to express yourself through words.

I bought a selfie stick, though I was embarrassed to ask the people at the store if they sold any. I had trouble using it; I kept accidentally taking pictures of the side of my face or forehead, and my arm got tired holding it up. I only managed to get one decent picture of myself. Then I discovered the "filter" option, and I ended up looking like a cast member for The Real Housewives. How do Millennials do this all the time?

What about you? What do you think of Facebook? If you're on the site, did you ever deal with any drama with friend requests or Facebook posts?