Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's Not Me, It's Me: Maybe It's Time I Break Up with Myself

Dear Myself and I,

I apologize. I didn't invite us here just for coffee, though we admittedly make a mean homemade mocha.

What good is pretending? Something has changed between me, myself and I, and to quote Matchbox 20, I don't know how to get it back to good.

Truth is, I'm simply not as enamored of myself as I used to be. Thanks to Facebook, I have grown tired of me.

Indeed, we were fabulous in 2008, when Facebook was a relatively new concept. Remember how we used to chuckle at those losers on Myspace with all those silly picture-quote posts, hearts and winky faces? We were so above that immaturity. "What?" we'd scoff, "Are we still in high school?!"

But Facebook was different, wasn't it? It was so clean, fresh and professional. We actually knew the people who sent us friend requests, and we celebrated the day we had 50 friends. Fifty! We. Were. Somebody!

We were not inundated with requests for virtual boards for stables or henchmen for mafia wars. We truly used Facebook to connect with those we had lost touch with through the years: our high school classmates, our college pals, our former neighbors. And it was good. We still felt the electricity when an old friend sent a request or when someone we admired commented on our updates.

Even then, with our small circle of friends, it took us a while to trust Facebook with our personal information. Initially, we refused to post our photos because we had been taught that putting photos of ourselves and our children on those intertubes was a bad thing.

We didn't post our family vacations or our kids' toothless grins or -- get this -- even our fabulous desserts. Cover photos were reserved for magazines. We never -- and I mean, never -- would have considered setting up and posing for our profile pictures. Or "enhancing" them. Or standing in front of our bathroom mirrors with our phones. We weren't that vain.

Soon, however, our friends began to post their fabulous vacation photos. With some hesitancy, we followed suit. Then our friends weren't even really our friends, but our friends of friends, and that was okay, too. And then that guy who knows that girl we sort of knew from that one dude who is friends with that person who went to college with our distant cousin sent us a request, so hey! The more the merrier, right? We were all about connecting. We rationalized it by that whole "sea of humanity" thing, I guess. And who doesn't want lots and lots of friends?

Before long, we completely shrugged off our inhibitions. We forgot we were members of a real family; of a real community. We wanted the wittiest updates, the funniest comments and the most "likes".

We became needy. We began to measure our self worth - not by our successes in the actual world - but by our popularity in a virtual one. No wonder we began to feel insecure in time: He didn't like my post on his wall? Why not? Why didn't she respond to my message? Why didn't I get invited to that Facebook event? Why didn't anyone like that new profile pic? Should I take it down? Do I look old in it?

 Oh, wait. I'm getting personal.

Speaking of personal, we also forgot we ever valued a thing called privacy. We build six-foot fences around our yards, yet we reveal our most sensitive, precious information online every single day. We share stories about our friends, "tagging" them in awkward photos. We expose our family members' most embarrassing moments (disclaimer: I still enjoy that). We even share bedroom stories. We maintain an online scrapbook of our  lives, now called a "timeline." We are open books, relinquishing our rights online because everyone else does. That makes it okay. Is it even real if it doesn't happen on Facebook?

We also tell everyone our problems, though we are annoyed by the loud talkers in the grocery who share their life stories on the phone as they shop.

How did this happen to us? When did we change? When did capturing moments for Facebook become more important than the moment itself?

No, no. Don't blame Mr. Zuckerberg for our narcissistic society. Hell, he's brilliant. It's not like he misled us. He named it FACEbook, after all. He's the wizard behind the green curtain, no doubt chuckling at our utter fascination with ourselves and our dependence on constant feedback. We are unable to leave the beauty of our reflections, even as we declare our outrage about format changes and lack of privacy.

But like all good things, relationships take work to survive. Even relationships with ourselves. Now that the novelty has worn off and fatigue has set in, where do we go from here?

I still go through the motions: a daily (hilarious! super witty!) status update or two; a post about the kids' latest activity or honor; an occasional profile pic switch, if I'm having a good hair day and a trick of the light creates the illusion of cleavage...

But I'm also admittedly growing weary of the ME-ness of it all. I'm finally tired of myself - at least my virtual self. So Myself and I, maybe it's time we get over ourselves, break away from the reflecting pool and rejoin the real world. What's it like out there without "likes" and "tags" and "timelines"?

I hope we find out someday, but first, I have to post this blog on Facebook. I hope people like it. Sigh.