I have a Facebook life that I live differently – I think – than my day-to-day, face-to-face life. I check my Facebook account several times a day, looking first at “Notifications” to see who has been talking to me, and/or what those who I have identified, somehow, as important to me have been posting, and whether I should respond. I almost always “Like” those who have commented on my posts, and I notice how many people have liked or reacted to them, sometimes checking the names. It gives me pleasure when I look at the profile pictures of those who, by choosing to read and then use one finger to tap a virtual button, acknowledge my existence.
I long ago gave up the need to read everything that gets posted to my account. And long before that, I’d figured out that what I see on my account, is what I see, and other people don’t see any posts by any of my “friends” whom they haven’t “friended”. So my “friends” who post something highly opinionated and/or rude don’t offend my other friends who disagree or would be upset. So my, as I think of them, “strongly flavoured” friends can educate and entertain me by supporting me in my opinions and/or amusing me in a way that I don’t have to display to those of my “friends” who respond differently. In any case, I can play in the “Settings” and set it up so I don’t see the posts of someone who is too rude or opinionated for my tastes without the active, identifiable hostility of “unfriending” them. A strange kind of privacy.
I have to confess that I’m influenced by the Facebook posts I read. Topics, like some family information that I used to avoid, I’m becoming, in a limited way, a little more open about because I have “friended” and am influenced by a number of people who are quite open about their lives. I almost always am a little oblique, a little hidden, posting a picture of a bouquet my father gave me rather than talking directly about him.
I am quite introverted, and Facebook gives me social interaction with control. I can read posts and choose whether to respond, or not, and when to respond. I still feel some social demands, like it would be rude of me not to “Like” some posts or comments, but I can take the time to consciously choose my response, so it’s not so psychologically draining. And Facebook gives me the gift of seeing the interests and some of the life experiences of some of the people I connect with socially, and this enriches my face-to-face interactions with them.
One of the aspects of Facebook that I find addictive is the sense of being connected in a meaningful way with people I don’t have any, or much, physical contact with. I have “friends” in England, and their posts and links give me a sense of what the situation is there now with the impacts of the vote to leave the EU. I have “friends” in Europe and the United States who I like feeling tenuous connections with, even if it’s just in “liking” their flower or animal images, and occasionally receiving “likes” from them.
So Facebook is part of my life now, and influences my understanding of what people and the world are like, for good or ill.