Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sometimes I just don't care about every little thing you have done.

Recently I have noticed that a scroll through my Facebook news feed no longer updates me with important milestones of my friends, or amusing or interesting comments and observations.  Now it has become an hour-by-hour run down of the lives of people who feel the need to record any activity they have participated in.  Are we now in a world where something only actually happened if it has appeared in someone's Facebook status? I am beginning to see lives as a series of short statements, check-ins or still shots (and the occasional video) rather than a discussion or dialogue.  I am beginning to feel that a gym class is only calorie-burning and rewarding when five of your 'friends' have congratulated you for it.  That a dinner and conversation with friends at a nice restaurant is not really happening unless Facebook friends (who I only ever 'see' through a news feed) know where I am and what I'm doing.  That I shouldn't feel like I'm looking 'pretty good' unless I have been validated through 'likes.'  If I have accomplished something (like cooked a delicious meal, finished a shift at work) I now realise it is really only an accomplishment when I have recorded it on my status (and maybe with an accompanying photo).
Life, it seems, is now being seen through the news feed and profile pages of Facebook (and increasingly, Twitter).  When people plan on going for a nice romantic evening with their husband they are not enjoying the private and intimate time together, they are thinking about how they can write a status of how wonderful their husband is and let everyone in on their intimate evening.  Instead of ringing family and friends with some good news, they are hoping 100 other people they never speak to or see will 'like' it.  Watching a gorgeous sunset is an opportunity to take numerous photos and to post the best one.  As people witness something amazing, devastating or amusing, they are immediately wording a witty or emotive status in their mind.  We feel that 'liking' someone's status or photo is valuable communication and makes us feel we are connecting to that person.  If someone doesn't 'like' our status or photo we feel insulted or miffed at their snobbery.  
I guess I see some advantage to a status-rich life.  It saves actually having real conversations with people.  It has taught me to be economical and bland with my words - not enough characters to create an image or proper description.  It allows me to be selective in what people see I am doing with my life (and how I look - I would never post an unflattering photo of myself).  I also don't have to waste my time in expressing my moods.  I just need to write it in a status and people can then deal with it.  And a few 'we're here for you,' or 'we love you' from 'friends' can be enough to shake me out of any sad or depressing mood.  I think my problem is that I just don't think anyone wants to, or needs to, know so much about each other's lives.  Many of the things people put in statuses should be reserved for people who you see or speak to regularly.  Or maybe a yearly newsletter of your life if one must publish their daily movements.  
That witty, observant or major milestone status seems to be a thing of the past and I miss them.  They are lost among recordings of exercise, good and bad moods, complaints, bragging, cheering on football teams, what is on TV, what time one wakes up, when one can't sleep, how hungry one is, how thirsty one is, what one has drunk (and how much), how cold or hot one is, how fantastic one's husband/boyfriend is (usually for things every husband/boyfriend should, or does, do) goes on.  
However, these I can deal with.  I can skim and scroll past them.  Sometimes even appreciate them (with a lazy but effective 'like').  What I find hardest to read, what really does concern me, is the rise in 'Mummy Statuses.'  I'm not labelling them - they do enough of this themselves through their constant, hourly updates of what they and their child is doing.  Quite often accompanied by a photo (or series of photos).  I am seeing a world of mothers who a 'mothering' through Facebook.  It seems that whenever their child does something their mother is planning how it will be presented on their Facebook page.  There is no need to share milestones like first steps with those close to you, the whole Facebook world needs to know first.  It seems these mothers need to remind the world that they are a mother, that they are raising a child (usually a brilliant child) and that every little thing a child does is special and amazing.  And of course it is important that they remind us all how wonderful it is to be a mother and how much they love their child.  In case we weren't sure about it.  Those discussions that have long been reserved for between mothers (and I am sure are important and necessary conversations) such as how much sleep or number of naps throughout a day, how cute they are holding a book and how much they weigh are now opened up to all of us, even if we do not want to be a part of it.  The solidarity between mothers has extended beyond the mother's group or specific online forums to include everyone and anyone.  This may seem cold and heartless but I am blaming an increasing desensitising of excitement over the children of my friends on a saturation of these child-focussed statuses.  I am reading so many of them that those that really deserve a status mention get lost among the trivial and the bragging.  
I am not suggesting that people don't write statuses (I still write them) but I am just suggesting that people refrain from being so quick to status update everything.  Just take a moment to think about why you are posting a status.  Who would really want to read it?  Can they receive the message via another form (SMS or in person)?  And think, if someone else wrote that same status, would you want to read it?  A little bit of filtering before posting would ensure that statuses have more purpose and relevance.  And then maybe we go back to enjoying the moment for what it is, not what it'd read like in a news feed.

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