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March 9th, 2014

CHRISTINA — DAY 5: The perfect life

Lenten Facebook Fast

 
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Anyone who’s on Facebook long enough soon realizes a trend. Yes, “what’s trending” but also a trend in the content of a newsfeed, for instance. It’s almost all good. It’s funny, it’s exclamatory, it’s sentimental, or perhaps even just neutral. Whatever it may be, it’s rarely ever bad. If it is bad, it’s somewhat risky. Yes, there’s an element of vulnerability in telling someone (or everyone) your bad news, but there is added vulnerability, here. Those who share bad news on Facebook can either find support or sympathy or sometimes judgment: “he shares too much,” “she’s being a Debbie Downer,” or “that was too much information.” Sure, some people have these same judgments toward someone who shares that same information in everyday life, but the judgment seems to be heightened particularly on Facebook. Why? It’s as if we’ve all subscribed to some unspoken rule that all must seem good, all must seem well. Perhaps this idea of projecting “the perfect life” isn’t entirely new, it just has a new face(book). The neat suburban home with the pristine yard and all the trimmings of a typical life can mask some uncomfortable realities, for instance.

Since I’ve gotten off Facebook, life is just more…balanced. Sure, I’m talking about being productive with school work, not wasting time lagging around on the Internet, etc. But given that my Facebook usage is down and my actual face-to-face time is up, I see a lot wider range of emotions: sadness, frustration, anxiety or uncertainty, anger, doubt, and happiness, in what I would imagine are more realistic proportions. Perhaps this is all a bit dark of me, but I sometimes wonder what being inundated with a false sense of reality can really do not only to us as individuals but also to us, the human community. How do we feel when everyone has a seemingly perfect life and we know ourselves to be struggling? Do we share our bad news with others or keep it inside?

I often wonder about these things. I often wonder what the Facebook newsfeed would look like if it reflected life, as it really is.

 
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The Author : Christina Gebel
Christina Gebel holds B.A.’s in psychology and theology from Saint Louis University as well as a Master of Public Health in maternal and child health from Boston University. After college, she spent two years as a full-time volunteer at a faith-based organization in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys writing, photography, performing standup comedy, and serving as a doula and Lamaze childbirth educator. She currently resides in Boston working in the field of public health and serving as the Executive Co-Chair of Catholic Extension in Boston.
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