What I use Facebook for, people who get upset with other peoples’ posts, and your reasons for being on social media
Recently, a friend of mine was “scolded” by her morally upright friends and family for some of her “wild” Facebook posts – photos of her drinking and smoking. They warned her that the world would think terribly of her and that she must stick to posting photos of her latest bowl of pho and of the autumn leaves changing. That she was being perceived as a wild slut. Also, I’ve seen a lot of posts from friends lately who are so upset by Facebook that they are going to have to check out for a while. Here’s what I’m thinking about all of this:
I view social media as a form of self-expression – a way for me to be completely open, honest, and transparent. And at the same time, I am able to mold and shape that self-expression in an artistic and thoughtful way that is still honest. My posts are a way to combine reality and art in a public forum. It’s a grand thing really, to be able to do this. Social media is catharsis for me. That’s why I am careful about who I friend – I don’t friend co-workers or family or people I think would not understand the extremes of my personality or self-expression. They will easily misconstrue my posts. The people who respond to my posts negatively or judgementally or argumentatively, I delete them.
I see people, and this happens to me sometimes too, getting frustrated and upset their experience with Facebook or the responses to their posts. Anything you see from me on social media is a true expression of me and where my head is at that moment – or I wouldn’t have posted it. I’ve had phases where I eschewed selfies and I’ve had phases where I posted a lot of selfies. And I am sure there have been some who have been irritated by my “selfie” phase. I post a lot of photos of my dog. (If you are ever irritated by dog photos we weren’t meant to be friends anyway.)
There are a lot of posts of me going to shows and of me out on the town with friends and a lot of posts of me drinking gin and and about sex and men and even sometimes smoking and partying. Of me traveling the world to snorkel, swim, and scuba dive. Because that’s my lifestyle. If I posted something else, it wouldn’t be honest. It wouldn’t be me. My posts aren’t to celebrate self-destruction or self-glorification. Jesus Christ, I ain’t 12 years old. No my posts are part of my free and single lifestyle – the way I am currently choosing to live my life.
My posts reflect what is happening in my life – the good, the bad and the ugly. If I was always knitting and baking cookies or had a baby, well, you’d see endless photos and posts about that. But I don’t do those things. No, I go to shows. I love heavy metal. I drink gin. I swim and dive. I read a lot. I love Russian literature and Japanese and Chinese film. I am in the dating scene right now. I am getting laid now and again. I like to write. I have the sense of humor of a perverted 15-year-old boy sometimes. This is who I am. And my social media activity reflects that and is a lens for those activities and ideologies.
I love my family. And I love my friends. But at the end of the day, it’s my fucking life. And I cannot and will never let anyone dictate what I do or how I do it. In fact, unlike my girl friend, I cannot even fathom what I express about myself on social media being an issue. If one of my family members or friends told me that my posts were too “wild” or “immoral,” well, once I stopped laughing I would tell them to go fuck themselves. Period. Then don’t look at my posts. Delete me. Unfollow me.
I’m going to express myself however the fuck I want to. And the type of people I am friends with, for the most part, are eccentric, creative, wild, free, artistic, have similar interests, etc. and understand what I am doing with social media. Those people do similar things, and many of you fascinate and entertain me on a daily basis. (Also, I need social media to keep track of the shows I want to see and where I want to dive next.) So many of you have similar lifestyles. Or, maybe you have settled down, but HAD a similar lifestyle and you understand what I am expressing. It’s funny, when I go out, most nights, there’s always someone who comes up to me and mentions how much they enjoy the things I share and express on Facebook. And although in no way do I need validation for any fucking thing I do, it makes me feel good that somehow my self-expression meant something to someone else – high brow or low brow. I like knowing that what I put out in the world makes someone else feel good. Or better. And, okay, at the end of the day, social media is a purely self-indulgent, selfish, giving, and sharing exercise for me – and I am fascinated by how words and photos manifest those states of being, of thinking. The process of the ego and the id in the world.
What is social media for if it’s not to be a true expression of who you are? No, no, no – it can never be a full expression. But what is? It’s not possible. I’ve thought long and hard about this. We’re in a new era of sharing and understanding ourselves in relation to one another – now through this bizarre lens that isn’t going away. You may say, but we’re not supposed to KNOW that much about one another.
Social media may evolve or morph, but it’s not going away. If you don’t use it to parse out and create something that is utterly true to who you are, what’s the fucking point? Social media is indeed, in 2019, an extension of ourselves. Deny it all you want. But it is. It’s a new way to connect and communicate with the folks around us and friends far away. People we’ve never met or didn’t know before. In fact, there are people in Raleigh I’ve known through going out for over 10 years and I’ve learned more about them through Facebook than I ever did before and cultivated deeper friendships based on some of the information I found out which piqued my interest.
I use social media to express my psyche – insight for myself and those around me. And the psyche is not a clean, ordered, moral place. It is the opposite of that. And people who claim to constantly live in a clean, ordered and moral place or who care about how perfect their lives look to other people, well, I don’t want or need those people in my life. It’s not honest. It’s not genuine. And I want to live genuinely. The noble and the cowardly. The high brow and the low brow. The cool and the absolute idiocy. The wise decisions and the really stupid, dumbass shit. And everything in between. And I want to express it through this incredible medium – through articulation I come to understand myself and the world around me better. If you construct your life in a way that leaves the worst out, then I’m not being honest. And that is not a life that I am going to live. Ever.