I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
November 2, 2012
Y’all, we need to talk. Girlfriend to girlfriend.
Here’s what you need to know about me: I am a complete and utter fool for Facebook. I love the fact that Facebook has made it possible for me to keep in touch with everyone from my 87-year-old grandmother to longterm blog readers to my kindergarten classmates to my neighbors and my kids’ teachers. I love having the ability to stay up-to-date on everyone’s lives by simply checking my Facebook news feed a couple of times a day. I love that I can let my friends know I’m thinking of them simply by checking the “like” button on their status updates. I love that I can keep up with all my friends’ birthdays. I love being able to share photos and funny things my kids have said, and to ask for advice or referrals from a large community of Facebook friends. I love, love, love Facebook and I have to admit, I’m a little suspicious of people who refuse to get on the happy, shiny Facebook train.
But… Something Has Happened. And now, I’m worried that I’m doing Facebook all wrong.
It started when one of my oldest friends suddenly went missing from my Facebook news feed. I checked her page and realized that she’d closed her account. Worried, I e-mailed her to find out what on earth had happened, and she told me she had simply gotten tired of all the bragging. “Every time I read my news feed, I just feel so empty inside,” she wrote.
I read her words and gasped inwardly. See, I have always thought of my Facebook page as the one place where it’s literally All About Me. I have learned over time not to promote myself on this blog too much because I realize that most of you come here not to see every single video I make or read about every little thing I’m doing. You come here to be entertained. I get that. That’s the same reason that I visit other blogs- and I also get annoyed when those blogs become too self-promotional.
Facebook, on the other hand? Totally different. If I visit your Facebook page or keep you in my news feed, it’s because I want to know what’s going on with you, whether you’ve won an award or bought a new house or had a baby or divorced or broke a foot or all the other things we like to share about ourselves on Facebook. And I assume you feel that way about my Facebook page as well. So if I’m going to be on TV, I let my Facebook friends know what time to tune in. If I make a video, I post it on Facebook. If I’m somewhere amazing like the White House, expect to see photographic evidence on my Facebook page. I assume that if I’m in your feed, you WANT to know this stuff. And if you don’t want to know it, you can quietly unsubscribe from my updates and we’re all good.
But now that I’ve read my friend’s e-mail, I can’t shake the fear that I’m coming across as a…
And no one wants to be a braggart.
So I’m putting the question to you, my fellow Facebook users. What, in your opinions, is the proper way to use a Facebook page? Is it fair to view your page as the one and only place where it’s okay to, you know, talk about yourself? Or is this kind of thing just completely annoying? Because I sort of see my friend’s point, and I think that’s why her e-mail has stayed on my mind.
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No comments yet? I guess this is where people are maybe worried about what they say and how it might come across.
I like reading about the things going on in some people’s lives, but I too am about to kick Facebook to the curb, because I also dislike the enormous amount of bragging I have to read about – like a couple who are taking their kids to Disney World for the 3rd time this year (and they go every year for two weeks at a time), or the woman who constantly brags about how amazing her kid is, and doesn’t talk about much more than that.
And a lot of times, these are the people who never like a thing I post, or comment. So it seems like they use Facebook just to brag about themselves.
If I really sat and thought about it, if I kept Facebook (I am still iffy) and got rid of everyone who annoys me more than those who make me happy to see their updates, I might un-friend half the people I have as ‘friends.’
Or maybe it’s just burn-out. Who knows.
Most of the discussion on this post is going on on Facebook – HA!
I have learned to make a point to “like” updates after I read them, because I find that people really appreciate knowing that you’re paying attention. I guess Facebook is best used as one big give and take- sort of like real life!
And might I suggest that instead of unfriending people, you just unsubscribe from their updates? They’ll never know and they won’t be offended that you unfriended them. I routinely cull my news feed list so that it only contains people I really want to keep up with. Let me know if you need to know how to unsubscribe and I’ll tell you how. 🙂
I know, but the last time I joined in, I had someone in my figurative face because I happened to have an opinion that differed from yours. That won’t happen again.
Certainly a point to ponder. I suppose I use FB as a news feed – sometimes the good, sometimes the bad or ugly. Each one of us has something to offer our friends. Might be compliments, might be helpful hints, perhaps a word of encouragement. All of us don’t lead exciting or newsworthy lives, but I am always interested in what my “friends” are doing…or they wouldn’t be MY FRIENDS. There is always the DELETE button, FB friends. Keep on truckin, Lindsey. Maybe the rest of the world just needs something about which to “brag”.
Allow me to personalize the generalization, and comment specifically on ME reading YOUR Facebook– I totally want to see that stuff! Every time your sweet face pops up on my page, I think about how long it’s been since you and Elizabeth and I have grabbed dinner together, and I silently vow to make that happen so we can all catch up, but in the meantime… I love reading what’s going on with you, and to see pix of the kids, and hear how the new ventures are going. And yeah, it is sometimes easier to check someone’s FB page than it is to take the time to go read several blog posts. If I’m just not that interested in someone’s life, or if someone does indeed seem overly self-aggrandizing, I just skim (or skip) their FB post and move on.
Thanks, Tori! I want to get together soon, too! I miss you both so much.
I do the exact same thing! Tons of pictures of me and the fam, quotes, and opinions… if you don’t want to see it, just keep on scrolling. Facebook is faboo! Besides, how else am I supposed to keep tabs on everyone? It’s a great way to toot our own horns without having to be all up in people’s grills… like that annoying girl in highschool….
Honestly, very good questions. It prompted me to wonder. I went and scanned my feed. It looks like I use it the way I do kind of like conversation, which means it’s somewhere between 60-80% about others and about 20-40% about me on any given day. I share a lot about what’s going on, things that might amuse, things that might inspire, things to do, and sometimes things I am doing. I share a lot from others, too.
I figure the proper way to use Facebook is however you are as a person. Just as yourself. We talk about ourselves, we talk about what’s going on and we talk about others. JMHO
Julie, I’m glad you commented because I love your Facebook feed.
This conversation is helping me realize that there are a lot of gray areas with Facebook- i.e., how honest are you when things aren’t so great? How often do you share funny or interesting information? How much do you interact with others? Etc. I’m feeling a bit more relieved now…
I get what she is saying. Some people seem to use Facebook as some sort of personal PR and there’s time when it becomes a little much. I may even be guilty of this as well. It never bothers me, however, when someone is promoting or updating folks to their blog on FB, for some reason. (Uh, maybe because I used to blog and I appreciate good writing!)
With that said, I tend to only post goofy thoughts and occasional news or pictures for my family. I have had people assume they know me and know my life from my rather odd FB statuses…when, there can be a ton of stuff going on that I don’t share at all.
My biggest concern is that I see a lot of people NOT connecting with their loved ones in the same way (with a phone call or in person), because they assume they know what’s going on with you from FB. Hmm…and now I think I may have my own blog post a-brewing! LOL!
Ha! I have been thinking about this topic for a while and finally sat down and wrote it out.
Most of my relatives aren’t very active on Facebook, but some of them assume they know everything that’s going on in my life because they occasionally read my blog, which is really just snippets of my life and hardly the whole picture. And I have to admit, it sort of hurts my feelings when family members act like they’ve been keeping in touch simply because they check my blog from time to time, even though they almost never bother to contact me in person. Blehh.
I’m with you. FB is your own space, and you get to decide what you want to tell people about you. But, I think it is also important to remember that you cannot compare your behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reels.
I certainly don’t think there’s one right way to “do” Facebook–some people use it to tell all about every move they make and every breath they take, and some people (me) just update when something newsworthy or funny happens. I quit using it for a while when two guys I’d known in high school both commented separately within a short period that my life looked “so perfect.” My life is faaaaaaar from perfect, and it made me really uncomfortable that someone would think it was even for a minute. I don’t post the bad stuff, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.
But to get back to your question: I do enjoy reading people’s updates and knowing what’s going on in their lives, so I think the way you use FB is completely appropriate. If someone doesn’t care to read it, they can unsubscribe. But I do think people should keep in mind that they’re only reading the shiny happy things that happen to people, and they don’t see the messy kitchens or marital arguments or kid tantrums that happen offline.
You bring up another interesting subset of Facebookers, though– The ones who overshare about their misery. Don’t we all have a person or two in our feed who use Facebook only to complain and gain sympathy for their troubles? I don’t mean sometimes, I mean EVERY SINGLE UPDATE. 😉
Poppycock! (Yes, I said it!) Those who accuse others of bragging are usually working through something of their own. Bless them for it, because we all go through tough times, but don’t take it to heart personally. Furthermore, you shouldn’t confuse sharing your enthusiasm with bragging- they are not one and the same. I think that you have both an inspiring blog and an inspiring FB page.
That said, your friend is entitled to his or her “break.” I would be sympathetic and understanding without fearing that you are somehow to blame because you’re not.
Thanks, Tracy. 🙂 She’s a really wonderful person, so the fact that she saw things the way she did made me question my own judgment.
I don’t view your page or my other friends’ pages as bragging. FB is simply a way to give a shout out about what you are up to. Are there times when I want to roll my eyes when I read someone’s update? Sure and I am sure that I get the same response from time to time. Are there times when I skip over someone’s post because I am not in the mood to read what exciting thing they have done? Sure. I know there are times when I am down in the dumps and seeing someone getting engaged, married, having a kid rubs me the wrong way but those are my issues. My mom briefly deactivated her account when my half sister did something to hurt her feelings. I told her not to be silly, ignore her because FB has given my mom a connection to friends and family that she normally doesn’t interact with all the time.
I think the only thing that gets on my nerves when it comes to FB is vaguebooking. I don’t take the bait on those updates and simply keep scrolling.
One of my friends said she allows herself one Vaguebook post a year. LOL. I thought that was hilarious!
That’s awesome! Sadly, if I posted anything vague worthy my mom would be calling within two seconds of the post wanting to know what was wrong. LOL
Whenever people complain about bragging on Facebook, it makes me wonder why they are friends with braggers in the first place or why they read when it’s so easy to hide people’s posts from your feed.
But I wonder if your friend might need help? Either all her friends are show-off braggarts in which case she needs new friends who aren’t show-offs; or she is insecure about her own life, going through a rough time, or even possibly depressed. Feeling “empty inside” because your friends “appear” to be having a good time or “appear” to be enjoying their lives is not normal. Are you sure she’s okay?
This chat by the Washington Post’s Internet columnist offers some interesting insights on Facebook bragging vs sharing:
I think the only thing you should worry about is the volume of posts. (I don’t follow you on Facebook so I have no idea what you post) It’s annoying to me when several people post so often that that small group monopolizes my feed! Even if I like them and their posts, I end up having to choose the “show only important” posts so I don’t miss stuff from friends who only post once a day or less.
I think my friend was just being honest about how she was feeling- She’s one of my favorite people in the world and I really respect her judgment, which was why I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what she had to say. And I think there’s some truth to her words. Through a certain lens, many Facebook can make you feel that way. I just hope MINE aren’t among them! 😉
What I’m learning as I get older is that when we complain about someone or get annoying with someone or get frustrated with someone, it’s almost always about what is going on inside of us more than it’s actually about that other person.
So, if I had a friend who said to me “I can’t stand everyone bragging so much! It makes me feel empty!” I would really stop and be concerned about my friend and what was going on with them. I would want to make sure that friend was ok, because it would seem if they said that then maybe they aren’t in such a great spot. And I don’t mean that in a snarky way at all. I actually have a friend who is kind of like that…….she boycotts FB routinely because she gets so annoyed with everyone…….but in reading HER updates, she’s actually really unhappy and not in a good place in life.
And so I agree with you….my facebook page is for updates about me and my kids and my sweetheart because that’s what I like to see on my friends pages. I go to see what the people I care about are up to. I WANT folks to post the little things that go on in their day and pics of their lunches (seriously….I love those). My old roommate moved far away and I haven’t met her two kids but I get to see them nearly daily on FB and I love it.
If you update TOO much or are TOO chirpy and annoying or are TOO fake and phoney……thats what “unfriend” or “unsubscibe” are for. It’s the nature of the internet and FB…….people are going to over share. People are going to be annoying. It happens. If it causes one to be unhappy? That speaks more about their heart than about anyone else being too braggy.
I hate Facebook for the reasons you love it. I hate when friends think that they are “keeping up” with me by simply looking at my Facebook page (I don’t put the important things in life on there, just as I don’t talk about personal or private things that I would tell friends on my blog). I hate that when friends think that clicking “like” means that I think they are thinking about me and not just taking the easy way out (not even a comment?)
(Please don’t think this is against you, as the rest of this will probably show. I just have had a very bad experience with it due to people using Facebook as THE only friendship tool. “Oh, you’re not on Facebook? It’s not worth my time trying to keep up with you then.”)
To me, real friendship (not just acquaintances, which are different) is much more than that, but so many people have fallen away from real communication and use Facebook as a placeholder for true thought and cordiality. When my grandmother was dying, I emailed close friends before I made the flying interstate trip, and they called me or sent a card to let me know they were thinking of my family. That isn’t something I put on Facebook, because not everyone on there wants to hear that stuff, and I was pretty broken-hearted from it for a good long time and didn’t want that public.
So…I think Facebook does tend to make some people put a shiny sheen on their lives, as most don’t want to put the “drama” of life’s foibles and failures and tragedies in such a public place.
For those reasons, it’s just not for me. I know that others use it different and other people’s friends may not be as tech-happy to allow it to completely replace true human contact, and to those people, I say more power to them! If it works for you, use it!
I tend to agree. It’s like the mommy bloggers who only show the clean and pretty corners of their house, the perfectly behaved children and the hand made blah, blah, blah and I end up feeling like crap about the mess and the chaos and the struggle to parent with any sort of grace. It gets a gal down! But I don’t see that as a reason for others to change, but a reason for me to temper what I read and see with sanity and understanding and to post about the awesome stuff as well as the crappy. My friend posted this on her blog and then it got put on the Art House blog. It began a trend amongst bloggers called Messy Mondays and I occasionally post pictures of the mountain of laundry or the horror of a kitchen sink. Kinda cathartic.
I think there are several factors that make the difference. If you want to only post the super positive then by all means do so, just not all day every day. When someone posts with great frequency it comes across as braggy if everything is all “Look how great my life is.”
(Side note: if everything is doom and gloom, I don’t want to read it, either.)
Pictures are great, they don’t offend me. But again, if its a constant barage of photos it gets annoying.
But you are right, if someone doesn’t like the way you post Facebook has made it so easy to not follow every post from without defriending them that its on them. If you can’t learn how to use the tools Facebook gives you, then don’t complain. If you need help, just ask for it in your status and the answer will be magically yours and most likely from the person you are trying to hear less about.
I have a friend who was having a really hard time a while back (breaking up with her dead beat baby dad) and I found myself refraining from posting about my life and the good stuff going on out of fear that it would make her feel worse. She had never even said anything about my posts,I just felt so bad for her. I finally told my husband how I felt and he assured me that I should be proud of our life for we work hard for where we are at and we too may have rough patches as well. Facebook can be a great support system as well as a quick way to catch up. I love Facebook. Being a stay at home mom it really helps connect me to the outside world since it can be hard to get away these days. So with all that being said. Be proud and share away!
I feel the exact same way you do. Please don’t change how you FB! I also try to mix it up and try not to brag but if something wonderful or funny happens, I’m going to share. I think FB is different things to different people and I’m guessing that your friend didn’t feel like being bothered with other peoples lives for whatever reason. And that’s ok.
I have people that don’t like my political postings either because they disagree, they don’t like to talk politics, or they don’t follow politics at all. I respect that but I also expect them to respect MY Facebooking too!
I am responsible for my own comfort on an airplane, so I bring earplugs. I am responsible for my own comfort at a coffee shop, so I bring earbuds so I can focus on work instead of inane conversations. I am responsible for my own comfort on Facebook, so I unsubscribe from friends who annoy me on my news feed. You’re right, this is what Facebook is for. People are responsible for their own comfort. If, like your friend, everybody bothers them, they should quit Facebook altogether. That’s okay too.
And for the record, I never find you annoying on Facebook. I enjoy your posts.
Well, let’s see here. Interesting topic. Proper way to use a Facebook page? First of all, no nasty flames toward anyone else — but that goes without saying and I’m sure none of us wise women do that. Talk about yourself? Well heck ya! Lindsay, I think you would know it if you were being excessive. Like six or seven posts every single day about what sort of cereal you ate for breakfast, how your headache medicine isn’t doing the trick, yada yada yada. If you are just being moderate in your use of it, then what’s the harm? People who complain about what their “friends” do on Facebook ought to get a life and get off the computer. Personally, I really like seeing pictures of my friends’ children and I usually wish they’d post more of them (especially in cases where my friends live far away). Could be that your friend is just having a low period and needs to get herself off Facebook for a number of reasons.
And one last thing — have I ever wanted to unfriend somebody? Yes and I’ll tell you who and why. This person is my stepbrother’s wife. My stepbrother and his wife virtually never, ever keep in touch with me, which hurts my feelings since I would be more than glad to be friendly with them. Then one day this woman posted a photo of herself with some distant relatives of hers and the caption was something like “Thanks for visiting guys! If it weren’t for you, I’d have almost no family at all!” And I was like, What?! I felt so hurt that I unfriended her that day. But she still shows up on my daily news feed by the way, so what’s that all about?…
Interesting topic. I know that a lot of people use Facebook as a PSA and a lot of times those PSA’s aren’t exactly true. Painting a picture of someone’s life that might not be the reality. But these are the same people that would tell you those things if you were having a face-to-face conversation so, I don’t see a big difference.
I guess as a writer I feel the same way that you do. I use it to tell people how I’m feeling or what I’m doing. It’s not always positive. It’s not always good. But I find that when I share, people relate. It happens on my personal timeline as well as my fan page.
You should be proud of the work that you do. And you should definitely talk about it because your friends will want to know that. When I see someone talk about something positive I’m genuinely happy for them. That may not be for me and I know that what’s for me will come in time. It’s my job to celebrate my friends and share in their happy moments as well as be around when they’re not-so-happy because I’d want the same. It sounds like your friend may not be at a place where she can do that yet.
I’m one of those suspicious people who has never had any desire to “facebook.” It seems like a huge time-suck to me; I’d rather spend my limited time doing other things. I’m essentially a very private person and it mostly feels like oversharing. I truly don’t want to know every little detail of others’ lives–and I don’t see why they would be interested in the minutiae of mine. This doesn’t mean that I don’t care about other people. I have many friends in real life and most of them facebook. I’ve listened to tales of ended friendships, misunderstandings, and affairs (emotional and physical).
I’ve enjoyed your writing since nearly the beginning of this blog, but I’ve never confused you with being a real friend or acquaintance. I hope you have a wonderful life, but I have no interest in reading your facebook page. I’ll also never be one of those readers who sends you hate mail when you don’t post regularly.
Well maybe I’m crazy but I think of you as a friend! 🙂
So, I love FB (I just friended you. Don’t know if you remember me but you reviewed a book I wrote years ago and you were one of the first people who introduced me to the blog-o-sphere. I use FB as a professional forum more than anything else. That is, I don’t post anything on FB that I wouldn’t broadcast NPR. But I love and expect people on FB to brag. I want to know all the awesome things they are doing, the book deals they’ve signed, the puppy they just got. Here’s another FB question – what do you do when a real-life friend un-friends you on FB and doesn’t tell you why? Hiding one’s head in the sand (which is how I’ve been handling it) and avoiding parties where said friend would appear doesn’t seem like a, uh, very mature way to proceed…
I dont have a facebook page and have no desire to have one. It just seems like a grown up popularity contest, high school all over again. Why would a grown person be offended if I “friend” or “un-friend” them? It just seems like a lot of drama to me. But thats just one person’s opinion……..
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