As you know, I’ve been struggling greatly with my depression recently but if you are my friend on Facebook, you probably wouldn’t have been able to tell without me confessing it to you. Why? Because I’ve been posting some very positive status updates.
Facebook is a bizarre beast. We don’t want to see constant negative status updates from friends and family but when we post nothing but the opposite we begin to believe that everyone else’s life is better than our own when nothing could be further from the truth at times.
Mum brought me up with the belief that if you don’t have anything nice to say then you shouldn’t say anything at all. I confess, I don’t always follow that rule too well but when it comes to Facebook, if I am depressed and struggling, I won’t post anything simply for the sake of adding to the digital noise. However, if something funny happens that day (such as me trying to stabilise a guy on the bus from falling on me only to end up pushing his crotch!) then I’ll share it because I found it amusing. Or if I have a bit of good news then I want to share it with my friends and loved ones. It doesn’t mean that I’m not still depressed. It simply means that I’m sharing something ‘fun’ or ‘positive’.
The problem with this train of thought that everyone follows is that it creates a skewed view of our world and each others’ lives. Just because I laughed from embarrassment about the bus crotch incident, it doesn’t mean that my depression is cured or that that one happy thought will help me through the rest of the day. It simply means that in the moment I had something not depressing to share so I did. But as I said, if we all follow this rule, we sit there subconsciously (or consciously) believing everyone to have a more fun, carefree life than we do. That they aren’t depressed or have money and family worries. That they’re fine. And we so readily accept that as truth because we’re all too busy hiding our depressing secrets to be able to take on anyone elses’ problems. Oh the irony.
There is a balance to be had and it pisses me off that we are not encouraging it more. Though many may not agree, I would like my ‘life on Facebook’ to be a relatively accurate account of my life; both the ups and downs. That doesn’t mean that I’d post a status saying I was thinking of ending my life but if I’ve had a tough day because someone close to me died or I’ve had an emotional day for one reason or another, I’m going to share it whether my friends and family agree with it or not. And when I get good news or something makes me laugh, I’m going to share that too because here’s a shocker – even depressed people can smile and have fun but that’s another article for another day.
I had a friend recently who ranted about something ligitimate on Facebook the other day (and it was a relatively composed rant I should add) and she was scorned for it. Newsflash! We’re allowed to get pissed off at things and want to rant. It doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate the little things in life, that we are ignorant of wars and poverty or that we don’t love our friends and family. It means we’re pissed off in that moment and we want reassurance and support. We’re human! Who knew?!
Of course, some people are generally happy most of the time and have no major issues in their lives so I’m not saying that we should be trying to make mountains out of mole hills but just don’t accept each others statuses as whole truths because we are complicated beings. I have one friends who purposefully ‘checks in’ to places with her friends on Facebook so that people will think she is much more social than she is because she worries people will discover she suffers from mental health issues. I’ve had some awful days lately but I was still posting about lunches with friends and photobombing Korean group photos because even though those moments didn’t cure me or cheer me up, I appreciated them in that time and wanted to share that with the people that know me.
I wish we felt that we had the freedom to be honest online. I’m not saying we should be announcing a dirty weekend when your boss is a friend but I wish we could use social media as a way of marking points in our lives accurately instead of consistently trying to impress and ‘out do’ each other. Facebook feels like the ultimate poker face. One person bluffs that they’re happy, then their friend posts something similar and before you know it, we’re all living in a modern day digital Truman show declaring how much we love our lives when we’re secretly just pushing our shit further under the rug because the neighbours are coming around and we ‘can’t show them the truth’.
Some people think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration. But as time goes by, what is true is revealed, and what is fake fades away – Ismali Haniyeh