At least that’s certainly what you’d be forgiven for thinking, if you took a quick look at my Facebook feed.
Mid December and it’s all in full swing. Office parties, clubs, socials… People are dressing up in pretty frocks, splurging on cocktails, dancing in shoes they can barely walk in and tucking in to seasonal menus with the best friends in the world. The gurning selfies have an extra layer of glitter and sparkle this month even if they are a little out of focus due to the ‘bar libres’ and dark nights.
The groups you never seem to be quite part of, full of people you know but not quite well enough for anyone to, you know, actually tell you when they are all going out. The loose associations that shift and reform and seem to be something applying to just about everybody else… They’re all out there with their shared-contributor Facebook albums, best friends forever, and aren’t we all having an amazing time. Oooh, this photo’s SO embarrassing, look at us, we’re crazy we are!
how about the ones taking the chance to travel and get away from it all at the end of the year, checking in from their southern-hemisphere retreats free from the madness of the sales and the shopping and just relaxing in tropical climes having the holiday of a lifetime… thank you for sharing, “wish you were here?” Of course we do, and that’s why you’re sharing really isn’t it. Hope you are having a lovely time.
Well, I am sure they are, it’s December and everyone has worked hard all year. Who doesn’t deserve a chance to let their hair down and party, or indeed escape the whole lot. But just remember, Facebook is not real life. Don’t get the two confused, and you can safely have fun with the rest of them.
We don’t show our real complete every day lives on Facebook. Even the most prolific sharer in your friends list who regularly regales the world with the most mundane details of their breakfast, reading habits, sleep patterns and symptoms still organises and curates to a certain extent, after all they have to put their phones down to actually eat the breakfast.
I just hung the laundry out on the terrace, but I didn’t stop to tweet about it or instagram the undies swaying gently in the breeze – it’s boring. If the threatened storms trash the terrace this weekend though and up-end the drying rack and cover the tiles in bits of next door’s tree, I might decide that is dramatic enough to take a picture.
Look, I am saying to my friends in the UK, we get serious winter weather here sometimes as well. It’s only of note because it’s unusual, after all (quick humblebrag) it is normally gorgeous weather here… which I why I don’t post pictures of sunshiny beaches all the time (although I might post some of the kids being cute for the attention of those who love them, or of the first sunny day after the winter). Friends in Spain and warmer climes get it too, because it’s the contrast and the unexpected… palm trees damaged by storms are unusual. And remember that time a few years ago when Montgó had snow on and everyone on Facebook posted identical pictures within moments of each other?
Whatever people share they have chosen for that purpose, to convey something they want to say to others about themselves. Even when we share things our friends will find interesting such as links to things to read, we are really saying ‘I found this interesting because it says something about me and my values and interests and I want you to know that about me, even if it’s just to confirm that we are like-minded’ (or in some cases the opposite).
Most people – and goodness knows there are exceptions – don’t post the boring and negative stuff. Or if they do, it is for specific passive-aggressive purposes of their own which bear little relationship to the content shared (we have talked about ‘vaguebooking’, the ‘oh go on ask me ask me ask me what’s wrong!’ brigade before and we all know people who do it). Some people don’t mind if their Facebook friends think of them as tragic, hard-done-by, serially unwell or unlucky… but heaven forbid any of them should want to come across as boring.
So just remember all of this if you are staying in tonight in your fluffy slippers with a nice hot drink, whilst your feed fills up with party after dinner after drinks night after city break. Because the whole world isn’t actually out there partying without you every night.
Most of us are stopping home watching something embarrassingly bad on TV, making a boring dinner, sorting out the housework and trying to get the washing dry. When we do or see something slightly more interesting momentarily we will undoubtedly rush to share it and hope we’ll be the first to do so, but we will pause to present and curate it first because that’s how it works. The map is not the territory, social media is not real life, and if you are staying in and keeping warm then you are not the only one.
Happy week before Christmas everyone!
Costa Connected, for Costa Blanca News, December 12th 2014
Casslar Consulting SL