February 16, 2013

The Facebook Effect

 It was a Tuesday night, just like every other. Sarah, a young mother of three, was just finishing up with the usual bedtime routines. She stood to leave the room of her six-year old daughter, but paused when she got to the doorway, knowing that there'd be just one more request. "Mama," the girl said quietly. "Please, sing our song, just one more time?" There were dishes in the sink, but Sarah knew that they would wait for her, and that this was a moment that she couldn't have back. She walked over and sat back down on the edge of her daughter's bed, and gently she began to sing. The little girl's eyes fluttered as Sarah softly brushed her fingers against her daughter's small cheeks. As she sang the final refrain, the little girl drifted peacefully to sleep. A short time later, the last plate had been put away, and Sarah walked into her small bedroom and turned the computer on. She sat down in front of the brightly lit screen and as her news feed came up, she began to cry. Jenny, a friend from college, just seemed to have it all. A huge house with only the finest of furnishings, a brand new Mercedes, and a big diamond on her left ring finger. She always had fresh highlights, with every hair in place. In every photograph she was immaculately dressed, with flawless makeup and a perfect manicure to match. In two days Jenny was leaving for a trip to Paris with her husband. They were always taking vacations. "That must be nice", Sarah whispered to herself. She felt like the only thing her dear husband had time for, was work. Yes, it was a sacrifice that they had agreed to make so that she could stay home to care for their children, but sometimes she wished that they had more time to relax. Sarah was happy if they had enough money to pay the bills, she didn't know if they would ever be able to afford a vacation! Sarah took a deep breath, and pulled herself together. It had been a long day and she was exhausted. She had taken the kids for an early picnic at the park, followed by an afternoon of baking and decorating cupcakes. She wanted to post just a few pictures of their adventures before turning in. When the upload was finished, she typed these words as a caption... "Love my time with my babies! They bring me such joy!" Then she reached over and switched the computer off. She climbed into bed and slid up behind her husband who was already sound asleep after a long day of hard work. She kissed his warm back, then drifted off to sleep... wondering what it was like in France.

It was a Friday afternoon, and Jenny was just getting back to her room at a five star resort in Paris. She had been out all morning shopping and was completely exhausted. She tossed two arms full of designer shopping bags down onto the plush comforter of the king size bed, then paused for a moment to run her hand along the silky fabric. She sighed as she considered the irony of her situation. Here she was, in Paris of all places, and she felt so alone. Her husband was here with her, but he wasn't really here. He was always on the phone, or away at a "meeting". Business... maybe? Another woman... perhaps? She wasn't really sure, but he was always so distant and cold. She had thought that perhaps a romantic getaway might stir the embers of their dying relationship, but clearly there was no spark to be found. She remembered about how excited she had been only three days before when he had agreed to let her book their flights. She had posted about their trip right away, as she was so excited for her friends to know that she was going to PARIS! Now here she was, in a beautiful room, in the city of LOVE... alone. That morning she had awoken to find her husband was already dressed in a new suit and tie. He had told her that he had scheduled a last minute "meeting" with a potential new client abroad, but she wasn't convinced. She felt like he just couldn't bear to be near her. Sighing heavily, she sat down and opened her computer. She stared at the brightly lit screen and felt helpless as the tears began to roll down her cheeks. What she would give to have a love like her childhood friend, Lily. It was perfectly clear that Lily had it all. No, she didn't have the same material wealth as Jenny, but she had something that Jenny could only dream about. Lily was always posting about the most thoughtful gestures that her husband would do for her. Oh, and you could tell from photographs that he simply adored her. Jenny had no idea what it would feel like to receive that kind of affection and attention. Jenny wiped away the tears from her eyes, and took a deep breath. She picked up her phone and aimed the camera at the mound of bags on the bed beside her. With a couple of taps the photo was uploading, and for the caption she quickly typed... "Am I a lucky girl, or what?! Busy morning shopping in Paris!!"

 It was a Wednesday morning and Lily had just stepped out of the shower. She was in a hurry to get ready because she had an appointment at 9:30. As she reached for her robe, something caught her eye. There on the bathroom counter laid a single red rose. A note beside it read, "I can't wait to watch our family blossom. Love, Tom". She smiled, then quickly got dressed and dried her hair. She stood by her door with her keys in her hand, but first she had to do just one thing. She pulled out her phone, and tapped the familiar blue and white icon. Her fingers moved quickly as she typed, "My amazing husband has made me swoon once again. A red rose and the most thoughtful note were greeting me this morning when I stepped out of the shower. Could I ask for more?!" An hour later she sat nervously on the edge of a cold, hard bed. The paper crinkled beneath her as she waited for the doctor to return with the results. She suddenly felt vulnerable, and so cold. Tom pulled her in even closer against him. He had taken an early break so that he could be with her when she received the results. She heard the door knob move and her heart began to race. When she gathered the nerve to look up, the doctor's eyes were filled with sadness and he simply shook his head. Lily buried her face in her hands and began to sob. It didn't work... again. Tom gently caressed her hair and held her tightly while she sobbed loudly into his chest. He quietly told her that it would all work out in God's time. Once she had gathered the strength to stand, Tom drove her home. She walked through the door to an empty bedroom, where just a couple of hours before she had been full of such hope. She sat down in front of her computer and with tears in her eyes, she stared at a brightly lit screen. The first post she saw was from her friend, Sarah. Sarah and Lily had worked together about six years ago, but after the birth of her first daughter, Sarah had decided not to return to work. Even then, Lily had been trying to conceive. Now it seemed as though Sarah had it all. A cute little house, a hard working husband, and three beautiful children who clearly lit up her world. She was always posting about things they were doing, and places that they were going. Just the day before they had gone on a picnic in the park, and had spent the afternoon baking cupcakes. The pictures were so perfectly happy. Lily wanted that... oh, she wanted that so badly. Lily fell into her bed and as she sobbed herself to sleep, she wondered if Sarah had any idea just how blessed she truly was.

These stories are completely fictional, but I believe that The Facebook Effect is very real. It is so easy to look at a Facebook wall and assume that someone "has it all". It's easy to imagine that their life is so perfect behind closed doors. I'd guess that in most instances there is more than what meets the eye. You see, Facebook is not the place to air your dirty laundry, and most people recognize that. Just because your Facebook friends only post about the "perfect" parts of their life, it doesn't mean that their lives are without imperfections. More than likely, they aren't trying to be misleading. It's just that Facebook is a public forum, and is not an appropriate place to share things of a private or more sensitive nature. Remember that while you are admiring how green the grass is for someone else, there could very well be someone who is wishing that they were as blessed as you are. If you think this post could encourage someone else, then please SHARE it using the buttons below.

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  1. It is so easy to get caught up in the "perfectness" of other peoples lives and forget that sometimes things aren't always as they seem.

    Thank you for sharing this and I do enjoy reading your writing. You are an excellent writer and I think you should consider putting together a compilation of your work not only for your daughters but for everyone to enjoy!

    Hope you guys are doing well!


  2. Oh Vicki, You are so insanely wise!! I often find myself getting "jealous" or thinking that people "have it together" when I look through their Facebook pictures, walls, and posts. At times it does make my eyes fill with tears as I'm sure that their lives are much better than mine. Then one day while I was looking into the life of a friend that I quite often talk to at lunch, vent to about mommy problems, husband problems, work problems, just normal - non Facebook worthy life information I noticed that with all the negative going on in her life her Facebook wall seemed as if she was a Happy Camper! Then I though, HMMMM lets look at my life through the Facebook lens. I went back and reread some of my posts, revisited some of my photos and captions and from the outside looking into my life it got me out of my funk and helped me focus on the GOOD things that have happened instead of looking at all the things that went wrong that day.

    I love reading your posts, love that this one is very story like, and some how you always seems to know exactly what I need to hear.

    Can't wait for the next Post.

  3. This was just beautiful. You are so right. We don't know the whole story of someone's life. Just Beautiful.

  4. Wow, this is EXACTLY what I needed. I do believe that when we sit down, the enemy can use these distractions as a weapon for our minds. You hit the nail on the head, bless you!

  5. A good friend brought this story to my attention today. I'm so very grateful she shared this story. Not only a day before we talked about something so similar. It brought me to tears for a number of reasons. Mostly, however it helped me put my life into perspective.

  6. This is very well done ... and so true. I'm happy that the story showed up in my news feed.