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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Facebook for the Rich and Happy

I am sick and tired of seeing the life of the rich and happy pop up on my Facebook homepage. I am not poor anymore or terribly unhappy, but I’ve come to despise the happy faces that stare at me uninvited, advertising to the world the incredible fun they are having just because, let’s say, it’s Tuesday.

Most of us mortals live pretty mundane and insignificant lives. In a good way, I mean. We just carry on, going about our business. We get up in the morning, spend most of the day working, take care of the kids if we have them, make dinner, go to the gym, talk with family and friends, meet people, study something, take the dog for a walk, go shopping, watch a movie, and do it all over again the next day. You all know the drill.

But the rich and happy people who appear on my homepage when I decide to see what’s going on in the world, which petition to sign, where the next protest is going to be, or which calamity happened somewhere – they are clueless, totally clueless of what their very annoying posts are doing to me.
As a matter of fact, I started noticing – without resorting to scientific research – that the happier people look on Facebook, the more miserable their non-Facebook lives are. There is an almost direct correlation: happy face on Facebook, troubles at home. Now I catch myself worrying about my Facebook friends who seem too happy, their smiles too wide, announcing to the world how fabulous they are doing, going to Hawaii again or climbing Kilimanjaro.

Some cases in point: Not too long ago I realized that I was very annoyed at one of my Facebook friends. She is not rich, but she was happy. She used to post happy family pictures with friends sharing dinner at her home while playing instruments, beautiful pictures of her artwork, bowls of fresh organic vegetables collected from her garden, exploding sunsets she saw on evening walks with her partner. You see where I am going with this. I met her one day at a party and without much ceremony asked her what’s the deal with her Facebook posts. Why is she trying to make us all feel so bad about our mediocre lives, bragging about her beautiful family, beautiful home, and fabulous hobbies. I felt like a total loser each time I saw her posts. I wanted to unfollow her.

“Oh, no,” she said. “I am totally depressed. We need to talk.”

The next day she called and I found out that she was going thru a terrible crisis. She was considering going on anti-depressants. “Really?” I asked.  “Then what’s all these happy pictures about your perfect life?”

“What else should I put on Facebook?” She responded.

“Don’t put anything,” I said. “At least you won’t make us feel bad about our boring lives.”

The way she reacted made me realize that she did not connect her Facebook persona to her person. There was total disassociation between the two. Of course I do not expect her to confess her troubles to the world and ask for advice on this platform. But please, stop the charade, people.

My twenty year old daughter would say I am an idiot believing anything on Facebook. And she is right. But as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, maybe, but not on freaking Facebook. Because Facebook is its own universe where a picture is worth nothing at all.

Another case: I have a Facebook friend from the southern hemisphere. I will not divulge the country, let’s just say it’s a country that is still evolving, and when you happen to have money in that country, I guess it’s customary to show it to the world. I don’t know about his level of happiness, but from the pictures that show up on my homepage, I have to tell you that he lives a charmed life. He and his second wife go on vacation more than anyone I’ve seen, apart from the British Royal Family. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone on Facebook to check on how the latest executive order is going to destroy the planet or the lives of poor children and immigrants, and I see in front of me a picture from Paris, or Provence, or a famous painting hanging in a very famous museum, or a close up of a plate with food we see only in our dreams, or a photo from the window of a hotel room overlooking this Riviera or that ski resort where they go gallery hopping, or wine tasting or downhill skiing, or whatever the fuck they like to do. And the woman, she is always smiling above a cup of perfect cappuccino, and her eyes are hidden behind designer sunglasses. And it is the man who does the posting, tagging the wife for all to see.

And underneath the photos I read comments about how beautiful this place is, and how gorgeous that photo is, and fabulous this and that, and how happy they must be visiting that place – so many times the same bullshit, I want to puke. And then I think, they probably never have sex. Something must be wrong in those pictures. They are hiding something. He probably hates her children from her previous marriage, so he takes her on vacations to Europe, to Colorado Springs, to Boston and California, and spends thousands just to be away from home so he doesn’t have to spend one more minute visiting her annoying mother or listening to her scream at her ex-husband on the phone. I know it. Because the happier you look on Facebook, the more miserable your life is.  

I prefer living among mere mortals, who post a smiling face occasionally because something good did in fact happen in their lives. I want to know my friends are happy. But not THAT happy.

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