This article has me thinking hard.
Are We All Braggarts Now? – WSJ.com, by Elizabeth Bernstein.
The author complains about Facebook updates that make people sound more “fabulous” than they really are. For instance: “best gift ever from the best husband ever”… “Got my first royalty check for my book!”
Unfortunately, some people can’t seem to tell the difference between sharing positive information that others might actually want to know and flat-out crowing
At first I got defensive, reading this article. What’s wrong with sharing the good things that happen to you? Some of my Facebook friends would undoubtedly get slapped with the “braggart” label by this author, but I feel they have simply made a conscious decision to focus on what’s good in their lives rather than let themselves be dragged down by any negative circumstances. And “Best gift ever from the best husband ever” is just harmless hyperbole—isn’t it?
Then I noticed I was defensive. Which meant I should check & see whether I had something to be defensive about.
I do notice a tendency in myself to “accentuate the positive” on Facebook. I don’t think I’m cynically ”marketing myself,” as Bernstein writes about. Maybe it’s something more insidious than that… the unconscious desire to make myself look good in the eyes of others. And Facebook allows us to show only what we want others to see. Actually, it’s not so unconscious. I have noticed myself posting or deciding not to post based on how I think it will make me look.
There’s something down deep inside that’s gauging the possible responses as I thumb-type a post. Maybe not every time, but often enough. I think seeing we’ve received a reply must give us a jolt of oxytocin or something.
And yet, all this is antithetical to the highest, best uses of Facebook. What do I tell people when asked why I use Facebook? To keep up with my far-flung friends & family. It’s really supposed to be like a personal letter, doled out a couple lines at a time.
Except it’s not very personal, once you’ve friended a whole bunch of people, from your sister to somebody you barely remember from a job you had twenty years ago. I think that’s when our status updates turn into little press releases. Because we’re conscious that we have an Audience. And yet, as Bernstein points out, “it’s harmful to our relationships because it turns people off.”
People brag for all sorts of reasons… to appear worthy of attention or love or to try and cover up our deepest insecurities. To prove to ourselves that we’re OK, that people from our past who said we wouldn’t measure up were wrong. Or simply because we’re excited when good things happen to us.
That last one gets me. It’s natural to be excited when good things happen to us. But I guess we have to remember, not everyone will be as excited FOR us. So there’s a fine line, it seems, between good news and bragging.
Facebook is supposed to be about relationships, for all that it’s overrun these days with corporations asking us to “Like” them. But when it comes to the flesh-and-blood people we connect with on Facebook, how about this as a guiding principle?
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. -I Corinthians 13:5, ESV
Do you think people brag too much on Facebook? Do you have a “policy” for your Facebook posts? Leave a comment if you’d like to discuss.