Facebook is for Happy People.

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Facebook is for Happy People.

I remember facing the great tragedy in my life (which we now call The Catalyst) and wishing I could share it on Facebook. I needed people to know. I wanted people to know.

Andrea is feeling hungry.

I haven’t eaten in 3 days and keep sobbing uncontrollably so could someone bring me a burrito and just rub my back?

Andrea is feeling devastated.

I wish I were dead. I can’t breathe. I want to be in a big dark cave and be covered in a big thick blanket where I can just cry and scream as loud as I want.

Andrea is feeling ruined.

I cannot believe this I cannot believe this I cannot believe this I cannot believe this I can’t believe it I can’t believe it

But Facebook was for Happy People.

Look I bought a house look I booked a national tour look how cute I look in my new jeans.

Right?

Believe me, I don’t begrudge Happy-News-Sharers. I too love to share my Happy on Facebook.

We’re engaged! We got a kitten! It’s snowing!

But there’s a disproportional amount of Happy to Sad.

I’m sure it’s a lot to do with defense mechanisms and coping behaviors firing off to keep us “looking like we have everything under control” and making other people think we’re “living the dream.” But I can’t help but think we’d be better off if we could be a little more sad on Facebook. If we could be a little more honest about our circumstances.

I know life can get intense. I know things can get dark. That they can get scary.

But I know I’m not the only one who’s had a Big Sadness and didn’t know what to do about it.

Maybe it’s not the right thing, to be Sad on Facebook. Maybe Facebook is too big or too impersonal or too something else now for all this Sad.

But maybe it isn’t.

Maybe we’d be better off it we stopped pretending everything was fine and let people know we were sad. Maybe we’d connect more deeply and love more truly. And maybe, just maybe, we could learn to share each other’s burdens and encourage one another.

I can’t speak for all, but when I was in the thick of My Great Tragedy, I felt like Facebook was for Happy People. And I didn’t feel like I could say I needed some support and lasagnas, some praying hands and people-reaching-out. I didn’t feel like I could update that status when I couldn’t stop crying and didn’t know what to do with myself. And I couldn’t let you know that I was really, really sad.

I know it’d be terrifying and awkward and weird if Facebook was a place you could be messy and broken and honest, and I’m the first to admit I’d be scared if Facebook became a place where you could be Sad.

But I guess I’d be more scared if it didn’t.

 

 

What do you think? Is there room for a bit of Sad on Facebook? Or would it get just too messy? And is it too late to change how we use Facebook? And while I’m asking questions, what do you think IS the right way to let people know your Sadness or Tragedy or Struggles?

I’d love your thoughts.

 

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  • nancy

    i feel you, as i’ve been through a decent amount of great sadness too, that very few are aware of. however, what stopped me from sharing on Facebook wasn’t that i didn’t want to be real and transparent with my friends, it was that my Facebook feed is also full of acquaintances, people that face-stalk me (just like i face-stalk them in return) and we never talk, don’t live closeby, and only occasionally (or never) comment on anything posted by the other. is it really appropriate/smart to blurt out everything to everyone? i don’t know. i’ve held back. Facebook isn’t for lovers, i wish it could be and i’ve often thought of getting rid of great aunt so and so and that guy from high school who for whatever reason friended me. it would make me so happy to ONLY stay connected with those with whom i share actual love, but i don’t. something stops me from downsizing the feed to the people i really want reading it, and so that keeps me more quiet than not.

    i do think messy/broken/honest is the best, though, and i try my hardest to be that real with people who are sincerely listening instead of observing from afar.

    love this article and the thoughts in it, andrea. <3 i think you're super.

    • http://andreaenright.net Andrea Enright

      I’m so glad to hear from you. Boy is this a big topic. Ready for some rambles? Cuz I’m just typing and things are coming out. First, I’m right there with you, everything you said. I withheld sharing for the exact same reason- because my facebook friends seemed so vast, full of random people, childhood friends, etc. And you’re right, is it a good idea to share EVERYTHING?

      I know both sides of the spectrum can be bad. OVER share, and you can give unhealthy people too much info on the details of your life. You can get bad advice, make bad decisions. Hurt people around you… UNDER share, and you can feel isolated, like the only Sad on in a world of Happy ones. You can feel depressed and alone and wither.

      I know the answer is the middle- that balance- that wisdom to know what to share and when, and the humility to know when to ask for help (NONE of which I’m good at!)

      Like I said, I’ve never been good about asking for help or support, so I guess for me personally, some sort of avenue to do that on social media might have helped me. Then again, it might have made things way worse. I don’t know. But I needed support and didn’t know what to do about it.

      I know this is a deeper issue than Facebook. It’s a flaw. It’s pride and fear and other things. But I couldn’t help but thinking the masks we put on our social media image has play a part. We live in a highly edited, highly sterile media world where we can perfectly craft our online images. And maybe the problem is that we’ve let that philosophy spill into REAL life, where we edit what we tell people face to face- whether to make us look good, or to avoid awkwardness, when really we could use some help.

  • Cory collins

    Andrea. I dealt with stage 4 breast cancer on facebook. You dont have to go crazy throwing up every intimate details but you can say enough that the people who Really care will respond and reach out to you. Please share the mad, glad, happy AND sad. People need to know when to pray or be needed as a friend for counsel, comfort or casserole. You are loved in good times and bad young lady. Don’t ever feel isolated in your pains. and Some Facebook cleaning out couldnt hurt anyway.

    • http://andreaenright.net Andrea Enright

      Cory, wow. Thank you for sharing. I think it’s true, we don’t need to give up all the details, but enough to let people know you need prayer can be so helpful. I’m still finding the balance, but I want to give myself room to be more vulnerable on Facebook. And thank you for the words of encouragement! And true- some Facebook cleaning might be in order! So, so good to hear from you.

  • http://www.buriedhopes.com Rebecca

    I really love this and am glad you linked to it on RHE’s post. I wrote a blog post this morning and linked to it on Facebook, and once I had a few comments I realized “Oh, that was a really sad post.” I honestly hadn’t realized how sad it was. And then I freaked out because Facebook is for happy things. But I left it up because I think we need some sad stuff on Facebook.

    But then there is also the feeling that you are just an attention-seeker, which totally happens on Facebook, so doing the sad thing well is hard.

    • http://andreaenright.net Andrea Enright

      Rebecca, I’m so glad you found this. I think it’s an important conversation to have. I’m glad you left your post up. It takes courage to be vulnerable, and even sad, in front of people. And you’re right, there SO IS a stigma that you’re an attention-seeker if you share your struggles publicly. But I really do believe small acts of courage, and small acts of vulnerability, could change how we use Facebook.

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  • http://quettandil.blogspot.com Marcy

    Ohmygoodnessyes. Clicked on the link from your latest blog post, and I’m probably going to share this post on Facebook, because it’s just so perfect, but even that literally has me worrying that people will take it as kind of a passive-agressive way for me to tell them on Facebook that I’m sad.

    Because it is. (Except for the passive-agressive part.)

    Well, I guess if they want details they can just read the comments, including mine here… >_> Oh crap, leaving this comment just got scarier. Crap.

    Er’hrm.

    I miscarried literally two days before you published this. Now I have postpartum depression/mood swings. “Mood swings” is probably the more accurate descriptor, it isn’t constant. But that doesn’t seem to convey the real lows, “depression” is better for that. It’s definitely hormonal, but I guess I don’t need to give you all the details of how I know that. :)

    Um. Oh, and a month after the miscarriage we moved a thousand miles. You know. Like you do. We know some people up here, but… yeah. Ouch.

    It’s weird, normally I don’t… really have a lot of boundaries? About what I’m willing to tell people, at least in writing? See above. But this whole thing has been so hard to find the words for. And my husband’s more private, and it’s his story, too. But aaah. It feels like (at least on the Bad Days) being quiet is killing me.

    I mean, I have said things, a couple times. It’s not exactly all a Big Secret. But I think I need more. (Oh yeah, a “couple times” over the course of five months isn’t exactly a lot. Right.)