October 19, 2019

This is Me (or is it?) — The Facebook Paradox

My sole Facebook friend (acceptance required, as she is my stepdaughter) has lately been  “pinning” her life on Pinterest. It seems she's discovered yet another way to collect and display her “likes” and interests … in place of actively engaging in her life. I could be sounding overly harsh, but her other online passion is to comment daily on her heavy TV-viewing habit.

My stepdaughter is not alone in maintaining a pretend persona through Facebook and other social media applications. Still, it was disconcerting, to say the least, when I caught her in the act — after a weekend visit from up North to our home in Fort Lauderdale.

She made no particular plans for this visit, claiming she simply wished to spend time with her dad. So we took her along on our usual activities. This included reviewing a retro bar's grand opening (complete with antique car show out front), an open-mic music night at the local cafe, a stroll along the art galleries of tony Las Olas Blvd., lunch at our favorite Indian buffet, and an open invitation to use our car keys at any time to visit the beach, some 15 minutes away.

She decided to get sunburned in our front yard instead. And other than enjoying a couple of home-cooked meals and sneaking outside for cigarette breaks, she appeared truly bored by all of our endeavors. As in … repeatedly checking the time and asking when we planned to leave, bored. As in … constantly engaging her iPhone no matter what we were doing and where we went, bored. And when we finally returned home, she seemed relieved to plop down on the couch and watch cable TV for the rest of the night.

So you can imagine my surprise upon logging into Facebook a few days after her visit (to look up a client for a short write-up) to be met with a stream of my sole Facebook friend's “Having a great time in Fort Lauderdale” photos. There is my stepdaughter, huge smile on her face, at the “cool” live music cafe. Next photo has her enjoying a cocktail at the “funky” new bar. She's even posed in front of her “favorite” art gallery on Las Olas — one, I might add, she hadn't even bothered to enter.

Numerous envious-sounding friends responded with how much they would have enjoyed these outings, or had visited similar venues in the past. Would they really? Had they actually done so? Or are they, too, part of the growing cadre of pseudo-life Internet poseurs who find greater satisfaction in Instagramming their food than in eating it, in showing off their wonderful lives than in the actual experience.

The Matrix may be only a movie, but for today's younger generation — addicted as they are to video games and as-seen-through-the-web social engagements — it may have already become their default way of life.

© 2015 Mindy Leaf

Follow Mindy's essays of biting social commentary at: “>https://askmamaglass.wordpress.com