In general, it seems that most people on Facebook try to keep it light – giving the highlights – most of the good stuff and not a lot of the bad. When they talk about the past, it’s usually to recount a funny story or post an old photo. And, as one might imagine, many of the bad experiences tend to fade away and become distant memories, while the happier memories stay top of mind.
But, once in awhile, someone posts something that is so personal, so emotional, and so specific that it causes you to think more deeply about the past and also consider the larger implications of all this online sharing.
Recently, on our Facebook high school class group, a former classmate revealed that he had been bullied day in and day out for years. The experience was so traumatic, that it defined his entire life and led him to make specific choices about his career, and to get his kids into martial arts. Across multiple posts, he gave a pretty good picture of what it was like to basically live in fear, every day, never knowing when the next attack might be.
I didn’t know this guy, but I really feel for him, and I’m sorry that he had that experience. I think it’s brave to share that level of detail with the world. However, it was kind of a shocker to read this on Facebook. What happened to the kumbaya moment we were having, the warm fuzzy? It’s clear from some of the subsequent comments that his posts made a few people uncomfortable. After all, who wants to remember the bad stuff?
However, what it does reinforce is the notion that Facebook is real — very real. Yes, you can post funny stuff, poke people, give virtual gifts and see how your movie selections compare with others, but at a fundamental level – it’s really not about that. It’s a narrative of you and your life. Depending on the extent to which you are willing to share, this narrative may include some not so nice memories. Naturally, the more you share, the more you get out of it. The bottom line is that it’s quite simple — it’s real people connecting online – you can really only be yourself, so you might as well do just that, even if it means sharing the good, the bad and the ugly.