Monday, January 12, 2015

Facebook is PR for the rest of us

I don't do resolutions. Unless I'm performing as John Hancock in a community theatre production of "1776."

But for 2015, I have a modified mindset regarding social media. What I read about my friends on Facebook is not their real lives, and I'm not going to compare my life to theirs.

Your Facebook friends will post their successes, their celebrations, family photos, and maybe snarky comments about Kardashians and Biebers. Those friends are less likely to post about their cramps. Their firings. Their financial losses. Their private addictions.

Queen, c. 1985, by Thomas Steffan (Own work) [GFDL
(, CC-BY-SA-3.0
via Wikimedia Commons
What we see on Facebook and other social media are a kind of PR version of their lives. Their "best of" experiences. It's like a CD of Queen's Greatest Hits. You'll hear "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and "Bohemian Rhapsody." You're less likely to hear "Stealin'."

And if you buy into Facebook's PR spin on people's lives, you're not seeing everything. Facebook's algorithms skew the content you see. And, most of your friends confront challenges that you'll never see on Facebook. It's an unfinished picture, at best.

In this vein, I'm re-sharing Peter Shankman's Jan. 5, 2015 post from Facebook. Peter has a boatload of PR smarts, and a spot-on view of how this works:

"I was talking to a friend the other day who said that she was totally bummed, as all her friends were having these amazing holiday seasons, and she was home, alone, with nothing to do. I asked her how she knew - She told me she was reading all of their updates on Facebook.

"People, stop comparing your lives to those you read about on Facebook. They're not true! I post photos of me at the gym, on TV, having a great time, etc. Why? Because they make people happy, and they're the moments I feel the most like sharing! You think I'm going to post about when my investments go south, when I fight with my wife, when my office-mates piss me off? Of course not. 

"Why would any rational person? "Hey, my life sucks. Check out my photo gallery about it!" Duh. Never.

"When you compare your life to the lives of people you see on Facebook, you're doing yourself a massive disservice. STOP DOING IT. Live your life for YOU, and remember that the race is ALWAYS only with yourself."

Peter nails it. (Check out his blog here.)  I hope you'll keep this in mind as Facebook and its cyber-siblings contribute to the discourse and drift of our lives.