Love it or Hate it: Facebook

by David Holub

Love itI get the usual criticisms of Facebook, that people carefully curate their lives, only showing off the triumphs, photos that brag of the mountains they’ve conquered, the breathtaking vistas they’ve ruined with their eye-rolling yoga poses or the plates of food they needed to show the world. Facebook has also been accused of allowing us to live in bubbles and cocoons of the likeminded, echo chambers where our political beliefs and worldviews can stay safe and protected, not to mention the flimsy likes and other passive agreements and attaboys and girls.

But this is why I love Facebook, this massive social experiment when the internet is still in its infancy. Every day on display are all these people – people we are close to in the real world, casual acquaintances and sometimes all but strangers – working out the tension between what we deem public and private, how much to share and what we each think warrants attention, whether it is a diversionary cat video, a link to a news article or a sharp rebuke to someone’s comment.

Even with people I’ve only met in person a few times, I like to see what they think is important: Wow, you post a lot about cheese. Wow, that was quite the rant in which you defend Trump’s braging about sexually assaulting women. Wow, I’m starting to think Crossfit is kind of a cult.

Sure, we’ll look back on Facebook in a decade or so and laugh and say “Remember Facebook?” But for now, it’s the shiniest mirror we have to see ourselves in these weird times.

— David HolubHate itFacebook is good for staying in touch with people you’d otherwise have forgotten about, or getting back into touch with old friends and lovers. It’s useful for scrolling through news and funny memes, if you’ve “liked” enough reputable journalism pages and you’re not friends with too many angry, racist or sexist users.

But people – millennials, in particular – seem obsessed with putting forward faux public presentations of themselves on social media, and Facebook is the worst offender. Posting all the highlights and humblebrags, flaunting romances and vacations. It’s often insincere, carefully curated, and contributing to a misunderstanding of what other people go through. Living your life looks very easy on Facebook, giving the mistaken impression that other people’s existences aren’t as messy as our own.

Twitter is more for interacting with people you don’t know (I use it to keep tabs on writers and filmmakers I respect and admire). Instagram is Image King, with very little room for arguing; mostly users post pretty, artsy, filtered shots of ambiguous things with lots of hashtags. Facebook is for sharing your life with the people you supposedly know, like those you went to high school with, work at the same company with, met at a party, whatever. I’m not saying everyone on Facebook is lying, but very few users (at least, not those with a modicum of self-respect) post confessions after being dumped, turned down for a job, or feeling sad for no reason. This kind of stuff would really bring us together, but it’s not quite socially acceptable.

— Anya Jaremko-Greenwold


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