Life is Messy: Facebook Impostor Syndrome

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Do you have Facebook Imposter Syndrome? I read a post on Facebook recently, which spoke to something that’s been on my mind for a while now. We humans have developed some amazing tools for communicating with people -- from cell phones to apps to social media. At a recent graduation party, I heard several people commenting on something they saw on Facebook. I was amazed at how interwoven this social media app has become in ordinary conversation.

While many things are written about the downside of using Facebook, this one today struck home. It was focused on how some people put their shiniest and best life in their posts, often positioning things to look better than they are. In real life, things are not always perfect.

We lose our job, our car, our house. We get sick, we get angry, we get sad.

Life is messy.

Yet, on Facebook, everything’s great! We finally quit the job we’ve been hating! We are moving! We’re purging toxins! It's the Facebook Impostor Syndrome.

It’s easy to portray a false life, hiding my pain from those folks that probably wouldn’t know anything about me if I didn’t post it to Facebook. It’s not that some people don’t post the bad stuff -- in fact I’ve got a few Facebook friends who ONLY post the bad stuff. I have learned how to manage those friends (have you ever hidden anyone?)

Personally, I’m an extraordinarily positive person, in my real life AND on social media. My role in many people’s lives is to inspire them -- and not just on Facebook. I love seeing the positive side to things and am often the one who can see the true opportunity in an otherwise dismal situation. It’s my gift!

And of course, bad stuff happens to me too. Years ago a friend commented that I only post the good stuff about myself, and hence I set an intention to be as real as possible with my social media posts. There is a risk here, in divulging too much information. Some may misinterpret my post as a cry for help. Some may thrive on my juicy details (which is always creepy). There is a continuous balance to be struck, maybe more-so for one who does life coaching for a living.

So, I was thinking...what purpose does using Facebook serve for me? I want people to know me. I want them to understand me. I want them to like me. Facebook is a perfect venue for this! I’m fortunate to have a fairly large following. When I post something good, I get many “likes” and comments. My ego LOVES this attention. I find myself checking back to see who likes my stuff, noting missing “likes” too. Talk about creepy!

It’s time for a new strategy for Facebook.

Facebook

It’s definitely become an addiction of late - and thus I’ve intentionally backed off from it. Yesterday I deleted it from my phone. The deep pull to check it when I’m meant to be having a conversation with someone is too compelling. I am committed to being present and I have allowed this addiction to get in the way of that.

Because seriously? Who needs to know which restaurant I’m eating at, and why on earth would I really want them to know?

I get to see into the pain that’s happening in people’s lives every day. I know how challenges change people, and help them grow. I know that rough spots serve a distinct purpose. I don’t have to read about it on Facebook to intuit that it’s occurring everywhere, in everyone’s life.

For me, Facebook still provides value. I keep up with friends and acquaintances that I wouldn’t ordinarily see on a regular basis. I enjoy seeing photos of their children, trips they are taking, and other important milestones in their lives. And sometimes I learn about tragedies occurring in their life. I offer encouragement and condolences, positivity and inspiration.

Even though I may not always be getting the whole picture, it’s still a net positive for me. However, I will be making some changes to the way I use Facebook. Here is my new strategy:

1. I will limit Facebook time to 5 minute increments a few times a day. It’s so easy to open it up and get sucked into the vortex of other people’s posts. Before I know it, an hour has passed. I’ll be setting a timer to stay on track.

2. I’ll be eliminating from my list the peripheral people I don’t actually have a relationship with. I will keep those connections that are important to me in real life, and release the others.

3. I will make an effort to have more real, live connections with those most important to me, rather than relying on Facebook to inform me. Using Facebook to stay in touch allows me to be lazy. Either the relationship is important to me, or it’s not.

Would it serve you to create a Facebook strategy? Has the use of Facebook embedded itself into your life in unhealthy ways, like it has mine? If so, why not make your own plan?