On the Bus #6 – My Fabulous Facebook Life

I’m back on the bus.

After an exotic trip to Greece for a writer’s workshop with the singers and memoirists, Judy Collins, Shawn Colvin and Patty Griffin–and then another trip to Europe—this time to London where my husband had his first international art opening and I got to attend a party at a castle (technically it was a party at a folly which is the term used for a small castle which was still bigger than most apartment buildings in New York), I am back on the bus.

I have quickly learned that sitting in the last seat typing one’s blog right next to the bus bathroom is a great equalizer.

I’ve had a lot of people who follow me on Facebook including some of my best friends for many years tell me how amazing my life looks and how jealous they are of me.

It’s an awkward thing to be told. I mean, yes, I know how blessed I am–not blessed in the religious sense like that I think Jesus wants this for me instead other people who kind of bug Him. (I never understand when actors thank God when they win a Tony or Grammy or Oscar. Did God enjoy their performance or song over the ones who lost? Did He like Bette Midler’s version of Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly more than Patti Lupone’s portrayal of Helena Rubinstein in the new Broadway musical War Paint? All I know is I’m asking St. Peter for tips for the best shows in Heaven when I die.)

So yes, I’m blessed and lucky too. But I don’t walk around thinking I am better than anyone else. Quite the contrary, I often stumble around under the weight of my inferiority complex.

The issue I think is Facebook.

On Facebook I tend to not take pictures of the less than fabulous moments in my life.

Like when the fire alarm is blaring repeatedly and endlessly in our hotel room in London and my husband is looking at me with rage because I’m not as upset about it as he is and I would prefer to pretend it is not happening hoping it will eventually stop on its own, and I’m looking at him like he is certifiably insane because he is overreacting over a stupid fire alarm—we don’t usually stop and post a selfie. On a side note–If there ever is a real fire in our hotel room, he and I will most likely be too annoyed with each other to really take any rational action so please divvy up our kittens between yourselves and perform a lot of eulogies at our joint funeral about how fabulous our lives were before they were cut short by the tragic fire where our bodies were later found either tenderly embracing or trying to strangle each other.

I did once take a phone video of my husband when he was angrily overreacting about a traffic jam and threatened to post it if he didn’t stop yelling, but I think that is technically referred to as a blackmail threat rather than a status update.

Facebook is confusing.

Do we post things because we secretly want people to be jealous? That is not a positive emotion to be focused in your direction so I don’t think that is why I do it. Okay, I will admit that I want the high school jock who called me a faggot to be a little jealous of how much better my life turned out than his so I’m not entirely innocent. Parents: Don’t let your children peak in high school. Let them struggle and flounder socially like I did and then peak in their 50’s. It leaves a lot less time for life to go downhill.

Facebook is like Christmas letters where everyone posts the best things that happened to them and gingerly skip over the struggles with alcoholism that their wife went through, or the 8½ months of depression that kept them lying in bed every evening eating Hostess Cherry Pies and watching Frasier reruns. (I had a lousy Christmas Eve 5 years ago when I was stuck in the city by myself and read a Facebook post that said I should look to my right and then to my left and be thankful for the people surrounding me. I looked at the lamp to my left and the 17-year cat with matted fur to my right and burst into tears.)

To be perfectly honest, I have posted a lot more about my weight loss than I did about my years of slow weight gain so I suppose I am pretty much trying to brand myself to the Facebook audience as a success. You are lucky I didn’t post about me obsessively and compulsively counting every weight watchers point each bite I took. That was a special treat reserved for the poor folks who were lucky enough to share a meal with me.

So, is Social Media bad? Our country is currently run by someone who tweets his “Presidential” agenda impulsively in the middle of the night. That person seems to get high by throwing bombs into the ether and watching everyone react. Do we all get high by seeing how many likes we get on a picture? My friend Will often laments that hot guys can post a shirtless selfie with the update “I ate a banana today” and get 678 Likes while the rest of us have to labor over a well-crafted and witty update to get 12 Likes.

Is it unhealthy we tweet and update our lives without any shading or nuance? I don’t know the answer. I found an old TV guide with an article from the 60’s written right around when I was a 6-year-old glued to my TV roughly 8 or 9 hours a day watching reruns from The Brady Bunch to Green Acres to Gomer Pyle USMC to Petticoat Junction. The headline was “IS TV WATCHING RUINING OUR CHILDREN?” The article was sure kids like me would grow up to be antisocial and dumb but I think I turned out okay. At least it looks that way on Facebook.

I think we all want to be known and liked. And hopefully we all have people who know and like the authentic people we really are. I hope the people I hold closest to me know the me who is funny and generous and petty and controlling and loving and annoyed and sad and full of wonder.

As far as the Facebook me, I hope he is not too far off from the guy in real life.

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Keith Hoffman lives with his artist husband, dog and two cats in the small town Lambertville, New Jersey 72 miles outside of New York City. He has completed a memoir entitled The Summer My Sister Grew Sideburns.

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