Facebook is a magic mirror: It reflects an "A-plus" version of ourselves.
I want to live the life I have on Facebook. That girl has her shit together. Her profile photo reveals casually perfected makeup. Her background picture shows a world-traveler, a carefree woman staring into the sunset. Recent status updates vary between humorous one-liners and self-promoting article updates [this article included].
Then there's me. My usual makeup routine consists of mascara and chapstick. My clothing: Whatever I plan to wear to the gym later.
The real me spends most of my time on my sofa, writing articles or working on my first book. I know it will most likely be a glorified doorstop. My avatar believes it will debut as a New York Times bestseller. When I can't type anymore, I give up and let Netflix keep me company.
There's a Facebook Suburbia, a quaint neighborhood of one billion where everyone trims their lawns and keeps their cars clean. As mom said, always present your best self. But at some point, we have to open the garage door and let the neighbors see our crap.
Some may say this is a cynic's view. But when do we cross the line between presenting our best selves and falsification?
There are days when I think I'm ahead of my peers, but they are rare. When I check out my friends' profiles, I see people running marathons, moving to a cool places, or posting photos of their fun nights out.
The thing is, I'm sure there are other twenty-somethings who look at my profile the same way I see theirs: She must have the life.
When I speak to these friends in person, however, we're always surprised by our mutual bewilderment. Many have fallen into their current positions. Some are paying off debts, while others are working a filler job until they can get to the next step.
Behind the doors in Facebook Suburbia there seem to be a lot of twenty-somethings crying into the teddy bears they are too embarrassed to admit they still own.
Life may permanently be 70 degrees and sunny on Facebook but in real life, there are rain showers and the occasional monsoon. In fact, our Facebook escapism may be making those storms worse.
A recent Economist article notes a study that shows "the more someone uses Facebook, the less satisfied he is with life" because using it is, "associated with jealousy, social tension, isolation and depression."
Think about it. No one's vacation album shows pictures of the trip ruined by real-life storms. Instead, you see "snapshots in time:" life on the beach, margarita in hand. Another study tells us that, "the most common emotion aroused by using Facebook is envy."
It turns out that we're all thinking the same thing, but we can't see it behind the façades of our computer screens.
Mirror, mirror on my Facebook wall, where's the reality of it all?