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Validated by Facebook
Mom with a View

Validated by Facebook

I was shocked to discover how much I care about what people say about me on Facebook.

by

I planned an event recently. There were a lot of details involved and people attending, and I was very anxious that it should go well. The details had kept me awake at night along with concern about the catering, the programming, the social environment – you name it. I was so relieved when the day finally arrived, anticipating a long-awaited good night’s sleep after the event.

Thank God, all went well. The room looked beautiful, the food was delicious and served elegantly, the programming hit the spot (my husband was one of the speakers so I am a little biased!) and, judging from the constant chatter in the room, the goal of creating new and deeper relationships was also achieved.

Many women approached me to tell me how much they enjoyed it. And my experience seemed to bear that out. And yet I wasn’t satisfied. I was appalled to find myself checking out the comments on Facebook to see what people said. It seemed that only with a barrage of favorable posts would I feel truly at peace about the success of the event. And sleep would finally come…

I couldn’t trust my intuition. I couldn’t trust my experience. I couldn’t even trust what people said to me in person. It was only real if it was on Facebook. Wow! I have been seduced by the power of the medium. Even though I don’t usually post myself, I was chagrined to discover how dependent I am on what people say there, how it even seemed to replace the actual person-to-person connection.

In fact, I was mortified. I have been railing against the destructive influences of our society’s Facebook obsession and here I found myself an all too willing participant. It was an insight about how powerful it can be and it was time for a reality check. I realized that I need to pull back even more from what is already a very minimal involvement.

I realized how insidiously Facebook worms its way into our consciousness and takes hold there and affects our perspectives. I know that, for many people, experiences, events, occasions aren’t real unless they are posted on Facebook. I always considered myself immune to that. And I consciously and self-righteously refused to post anything personal.

But it didn’t matter. I was still caught in the web. It was a real moment of illumination for me.

I imagine there are some readers out there already itching to respond to this piece and tell me that I am overreacting, that it is my own shtick, my own neuroses, my own insecurities, that are responsible for my response. Of course that’s possible.

But I don’t believe it’s just me. If I look at people’s posts (oh right, I’m not going to do that anymore!), if I look at people’s need to post (there were murmurings at my Friday night event about what a shame it was that they couldn’t take a picture and post it on Facebook!), if I listen to everyone’s response to what they see on the site (as reported to me), then I don’t think I am alone.

Our experiences can stand by themselves. They are not dependent on reading about them the next day. Certainly our relationships are not. They exist in real time, in the moment, in the personal connection and not in the words on our computer screens.

I was surprised to discover how much I had been affected by the power of Facebook and I’m stepping back even further. The risk is too great and the reward isn’t worth it.

It was indeed a wonderful evening with wonderful women. And I don’t Facebook to confirm that.

November 12, 2016

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Visitor Comments: 4

(4) Leah, November 18, 2016 3:50 AM

What's Facebook???

Ok, ok, so my response title is exaggerated, yet it's my point. I deactivated my account. I was almost never on FB. One person's test is not the next person's test. I get it. Here is a favorite quote: Chazal tell us: " One becomes a prisoner of the person whose approval he seeks." Awesome amd powerful perspective.

(3) REY, November 17, 2016 2:40 PM

IT'S F.B. C'MON U SHOULDN'T LET IT DEFINE U !!!

N/A

(2) Nancy, November 17, 2016 12:46 PM

Cutting back on Facebook time

Facebook can certainly be a very useful tool. I have obtained information there which I would not have gotten otherwise. However, it can also suck a lot of time from one's day. It is a real treat to refrain from being there on Shabbos. Perhaps the answer then is to limit the time one spends there.

(1) Avigayil, November 14, 2016 12:03 PM

Facebook as Validator

I applaud your resolve and commend you for acknowledging the oft-unconscious pull social media has had on you as an individual, even if only a minimal pull as is clearly the case. That takes guts. I think it will also give others the inspiration and impetus to rethink the importance they place on FB being a source of personal validation. Social media forums are not the medium by which real and meaningful human interactions take place and are nurtured; hopefully people have begun to realize this on their own.

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