Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Faking It On Facebook

 The picture I posted to Facebook this past weekend.

Over on the Jewish parenting website Kveller, a recent post titled We Need to Quit Telling Lies on Facebook has racked up an astonishing 93 thousand (no that is not a typo) Facebook likes. I've been reading Kveller for quite a while now, and you all know I'm a Mayim Bialik fan. I really appreciate the Jewish perspective on parenting, and I find many of the columns thought-provoking and challenging. But I am not among the 93 thousand who agreed with this piece.

The article details a regular day in the life of a mother and her two children, the version that gets Facebook'ed and, well, the version that does not. The good parts are presented for the Facebook universe to like, comment, and either adore or secretly abhor. The bad parts are kept off of Facebook, and in this case, saved for blog fodder. Over the years, I've done that more times than I can count, too.

Most of the time though, my worst moments get composed into a pithy status update, and then deleted, the cathartic act of typing and deleting being enough for me. Even though I have this online presence, and I think over the years I've become more honest about it all, I am still guarded and value my privacy and that of my family. So I don't put all of the bad moments - the messy food faces, the mega-tantrums in a restaurant, whatever - out in great volume. And I don't blame you for not doing it either. Anyone who has had a child, or known a child, had a job or not had a job, been soaked in a rainstorm or caught a bad cold, basically, anyone who has been a human, gets it. Life is not easy, and sometimes it helps to commiserate about it online. But most of the time, and I think for most people, we keep a lot of it to ourselves. But I don't think that means we're being fake.

Because when the going gets rough, we do post about it. We post about our parents or children being hospitalized, and prayers and good wishes are sent. We post about sleep issues and tantrums when we're at our wits end and need advice. We post about sore arms from shoveling snow and the meals prepared that no one liked. And then we post about the moments of "frolicking in a field of red poppies" because they are beautiful, glorious moments and may be the first time the family has had a successful outing in weeks. Or maybe the photo captures that fleeting moment in a less-than-successful outing before a child started whining that his feet hurt. But I know that on Monday morning I'll be missing my child again, and staring back at the frolicking photo and remembering the happiness of that one shining minute. The collection of commiserating likes I might get on more realistic (maybe negative) post won't be the thing I want to recall.

Nearly three years ago, I posted "It has been a very difficult day, much harder than I expected. Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers - please keep them up." The comments I received after my back surgery meant so much to me then, and they still do now. Facebook has helped to deepen my relationships, and I've learned more about the people who mean something to me. And even if all I've learned is that my friends tan well while on their tropical beach vacations, that's not being fake - it's 100% genuine emotion I'm feeling. Happiness for them, of course. May we all be able to share the good things in life with each other, so that when the bad things come around, we all still care.

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