For awhile I was on Facebook a lot. I mean A LOT.
And one of the things that you have to learn to deal with when you put yourself out there on the Internet is to let the criticism go. Everyone out there has an opinion, and they feel free to express it—even if it isn’t kind, thoughtful or even remotely cordial.
It really doesn’t bother me what strangers say. They don’t know me. Haters are always going to hate, and people who aren’t important to me personally aren’t worth getting upset over.
But when it’s someone close to you…
Yeah, I had that run-in recently, and I discovered just how much it could hurt.
Opinion Does Matter… Sometimes
This wasn’t a stranger, it was someone close. Someone I thought knew me. Knew me well. Their opinion mattered.
It was like catching a conversation between two people you know as you walk by and realizing they’re saying not nice things about you—it stings.
It started with the girlfriend of a friend of mine. Her opinion was that I seemed to be looking for sympathy frequently. Big deal. She doesn’t know me. Whatever.
Until he agreed. And then he repeated it to someone else. Someone else who knew me.
You know how that goes…
But we’re not children, or young people with nothing better to do than to cut into each other. We’re older, supposedly more mature, and besides these people KNEW me.
It got me thinking about what I post. Am I looking for sympathy? I started second guessing myself. Again, if it had been strangers, I wouldn’t have given it another thought. But at least two of these people have known me for over 20 years. Is that how they see me? Is that what I am putting out there in the world? Do I seem like some sort of pathetic whiner that needs people to feel sorry for me?
Because, in my heart and in my head, the answer is a resounding NO! But if that’s how I’m coming across…
What’s the REAL deal?
So, I did what any smart woman would do. I asked another friend. A really good, call-it-like-it-is, no-holds-barred friend. You know the type. They’ll tell you when you’re messing up or are full of crap. I think everyone needs at least one friend like this in their lives. She’s the best. She doesn’t sugar coat it, but will lay it right on out there.
So I knew when I asked, she would tell me the honest truth, even if I wasn’t going to like it. As I said, the best kind of friend.
Her answer to me: No! You don’t post stuff looking for sympathy, but you do post the real deal. As she pointed out to me, I don’t just post the glossy, life-is-wonderful stuff. I also post the isn’t-this-crazy, this-is-ridiculous, and my-kid-is-driving-me-crazy stuff. (I also post the isn’t-my-kid-wonderful stuff, but that’s not what we were talking about here!)
As we got to talking about it, we started talking about how most people only post the good things. They don’t give a real picture of their lives, but rather just what looks good to the outside. And let’s face it: In real life not everything is great and wonderful.
To Facebook or To Fakebook… That Is The Question!
So, I got to thinking about it. Really thinking about it.
Did I want to change my posting habits, so that these people would think my life was all sunshine and rainbows? (Even when it isn’t? Especially when it isn’t??) Do I, should I, dress up my life so that I only share the good stuff? Turn my Facebook into more of a Fakebook?
My answer: NO.
Here’s the deal. I am a what-you-see-is-what-you-get person. I don’t hide the bad: I roll it right on out there. Everyone who knows me, knows my crap. The good, the bad, the ugly, the fantastic, the insane, the beautiful, the gross and the crazy that is my life. I am who I am. And my life is what it is. I have never felt a need to put on a happy face and pretend things were great when they weren’t, hide the ugly truth, or be anything other than just who I am.
It’s what I want from my friends, and would hope they would want from me. I want my friends to know and accept me for who I am, warts and all. The people who I care about, I accept for who they are. They don’t need to pretend everything is great when it’s not, and I think the sign of a true friend is that you don’t have to pretend with them.
So, to my “friends” who think I am seeking sympathy or attention: I’M NOT. I’m simply writing honestly.
I’m going to keep posting about my kid throwing up in the car (twice in one day), the dog nearly dying, and my son’s penchant for climbing—everywhere, all the time. Those stories will post alongside my daughter’s fantastic band concert, how cute my youngest looked on his first day of school and the exciting college scholarship.
That’s my life. My REAL life. And if you can’t handle it, well that’s too bad.
Not that it really matters. I unfriended you, anyway.