BRACE yourself: I am the final outcome of a technological phenomenon called Facebook. From my journey to South Africa to what percent of milk fat I pour over my Cocoa Puffs, my Facebook profile announces it, every minute of every day.
Relevance? Forget about it. Truth? Toss it out the window along with all things genuine, my friends, because this is the era of the millennium kids — not only obsessed with our appearances (thank you, Hollywood), but with the perception of our virtual lives.
Like the 1.2 billion other Facebook users out there, I post status updates thinking they are witty. I upload pictures when I think I look sexy, when it looks like I’m having the time of my life, when I’ve been to a foreign place and I want to show the world how cultured I am.
I work this hard solely to prove to my peers who I am. If we’re going to reach the root of my behavior, why would I need to prove something to others? Typically, that would stem from insecurity. Why would I feel insecure? Because my life lacks adventure and accomplishment. Why would I feel this way? Facebook.
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When asked about Facebook, my dad snorted, “Facebook is virtual masturbation: self-pleasure, self-gratification that means nothing.”
Many have agreed that it has bred an epidemic of narcissism; but for me, it has not fueled self-love. Instead, it has fueled an obsession with other people’s lives — a quiet competition that I always seem to lose. It fuels self-loathing.
On a daily basis, I absorb the perfect lives of my peers through the monitor. But rather than feeling happy for them, I feel low. After a decade of using Facebook, I’ve come to the realization that much of my life, decisions and goals have revolved around what people will think of me — the very opposite of how I’ve always grounded myself.
If you have not succumbed to self-loathing via Facebook, good for you. I used to be that way too. Facebook once was about keeping in touch, and collecting photos and memories. But over the years, I’ve devolved into someone obsessed with what other people have and, even more pathetically, what I don’t have.
If you have ever felt the same, listen to me now:
Facebook is a facade. It is a collage of happy pictures and broadcasts in the span of years, even decades. It is everything good — beauty, bliss, success — without the bad. The profiles of our peers unintentionally lead us to believe that they have it all figured out, when the truth is, no one does. And that’s OK.
I am not saying Facebook is wrong. Simply put, Facebook is wrong for me. It has made me lose sight of who I am, what I want and what is important.
After playing her a song I wrote, my mom sipped on her celebratory sauvignon blanc and whispered, “You could really make it, Tess.” So naturally, I pictured it. One of the first things that came into mind was how my peers would react when I posted my success on Facebook. After achieving my dream, that was the first thing I saw myself doing: proving to my Facebook peers (strangers, essentially) that I did it.
If you work toward a dream and the thrill of realizing it is to prove to others that you did, was it ever really your dream?
I have eight handwritten diaries dating to when I was in the third grade. Those status updates weren’t for anyone but myself. In those moments, they were 100 percent me.
And guess what? A lot of them are not about confidence, happiness and adventure. A lot of them are about sadness, confusion and heartbreak.
With that said, I am committing virtual suicide and closing my Facebook account.
Tessa Brooke Stephens, 23, studies journalism and music, and currently waits tables. She writes about societal trends impacting young women. She lives in Renton.