Social media sites are not real life

By Erin Kircher

Contributing Writer

“I was just looking through your Facebook the other day, and it seems like you’ve been doing really well!” These were some of the first words I heard after recently running into a person who had gone to my high school. I didn’t know if I should feel flattered or uncomfortable; I hadn’t talked to her in years.

Facebook makes people vulnerable in an unconventional way.  Our Facebook pages are open to scrutiny or admiration from a wide range of people—many are not close friends, but rather distant acquaintances.

What’s particularly unnerving is that this high school acquaintance probably received a false portrayal of my real life. My profile is a series of selectively chosen aspects of my life that I decide to include—most commonly, pictures that I find to be more attractive and in which I appear to be having a great time. I do not think I am alone in being so selective.

Creating a Facebook profile page is an opportunity to form a unique persona in which you can leave out the ordinary or negative parts of your life. Rather than just being a way to connect with others, it has turned into a way to impress others. However, some personal aspects of your life might be better left out.

Facebook offers so many ways to express yourself, from your religious beliefs to your favorite kind of music. However, how much profile information is appropriate before you reach information overload? I tend to stay on the simplified side.

Facebook etiquette is especially complex when it comes to relationships and dating. These matters are confusing enough without the added stress of publicizing them. For instance, the moment you click “It’s complicated” for your relationship status is the moment you invite a large network of people to meddle in your personal business.

Then again, some people claim that if the relationship is not on Facebook, it is not official. It is truly embarrassing that many people use Facebook, a superficial form of identity, to define the legitimacy of a relationship.

Research has actually shown that Facebook can play a role in relationship failure. According to an article by PR News Channel, “The newest divorce Facebook study shows that one in five marriages are destroyed by the nation’s most popular website.”

Now, it does seem like a hefty claim that Facebook is the major reason for these marriage failures. The couples in this study surely must have had other deep-seated problems.  Still, there is something to be said for the negative impact Facebook can have on an already unstable relationship.

Not only does Facebook put pressure on a relationship through publicizing its status, it also has the potential of leading to trust issues. For instance, according to the above divorce Facebook study, Facebook offers connection to so many people that the temptation to reach out to old exes or potential new partners increases. Evidence of affairs has been increasingly linked to Facebook.

Facebook can be fun and relaxing, but it can also cause unnecessary drama. I suggest not putting so much importance on this persona that is your Facebook identity, and rather spending more time focusing on the person you really are.

The same holds true for relationships. What a couple has is between those two people, and does not need to be solidified by any public approval or complicated by public judgment. Remember that Facebook is not real life and so should not dictate it.

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