Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Some People's Lives: I'll Have Hers to Go, Please!

Facebook is such a strange beast. It can be a huge ego boost or a major blow to one's self-esteem. Feeling kind of blah about your ordinary everyday existence? Accentuate the positives -- flattering photos, breathtaking holidays, words of wisdom (usually someone else's) -- and wait for the "likes" and encouraging comments to come pouring in.

And if/when they don't, welcome to the Facebook blues, which can intensify even when you don't post anything at all but merely read all of the status updates from people whose lives seem so much better than yours does. I'd be lying if I said that I am immune to the rush of ecstasy brought on by a surge in Facebook popularity or a touch of jealousy over some too-fabulous-to-be-true post, though I try to keep both in check. As a good friend once said, the secret to happiness is to live your life and not compare it to anybody else's, like Mariah Carey's circa 1997. (Thank you, Dave! By the way, love the latest Facebook photos. I'm green with envy!)

This might be why I make it a habit never to check out anyone's Facebook page -- at least not people I know... most of the time. No Facebook stalker am I (usually)! Sometimes someone will mention something to me, and when I have no idea what they're talking about, they'll ask, "Oh, it's on my Facebook page. Didn't you see it?" as if checking out their Facebook page is part of my daily routine, like reading the morning newspaper. Well, newsflash: I don't read the morning newspaper either!

But this might be about to change. I recently came across a new Facebook photo posted by an old high school friend that piqued my interest in a way Facebook photos rarely do. My friend didn't look a day older than how I imagine she must have looked in college. (We lost track after high school until Facebook reunited us, as it has done with me and so many long-lost high school comrades over the last five years). In fact, she looked even better than she did in high school. I gave her a "like" and commented: "Wow!!!" I meant it: Wow. She looked great.

Once I was sufficiently wowed, I continued scrolling down my News Feed (which is something I do on my smart phone every few days to stay caught up), and I came across a second photo of the same friend. It was her and her husband (equally gorgeous) in a photo with their new neighbors, an all-American gay couple who looked some something out of Modern Family. I felt like I was looking at a still from an episode of a TV series of which I'd never again want to miss an episode. And I haven't even gotten to my Facebook friend and her handsome hubby's kids -- a boy and a girl. How perfect is that?!

Then I did something that I'm perfectly ashamed to admit. I clicked on my friend's husband's name. Maybe this was just a great picture, and he wasn't actually as good looking as he appeared to be in the photo. This family scenario couldn't possibly be everything I was making it out to be in my head. She wasn't the first of my Facebook friends who seemed to be happy and enjoying life, but there was something in the presentation that was pulling me in more than usual. Was it the gay couple? That's probably the last thing I would have expected to see standing next to someone from high school and his/her spouse.

Much to my non-surprise, the husband wasn't as good looking as he was in the first photo. He was better looking. And if personality really does matter more than looks, he's clearly a winner in that category as well. I don't remember the last time I stumbled across a guy I didn't know on Facebook who seemed nicer. Half of his status updates seemed to be notes to his wife, my Facebook friend, telling her how in love with her he still is. Many of the others were attractive highlights from their life together.

Strangely enough, despite my considerably more austere largely solitary daily existence, I didn't feel the slightest pang of jealousy or any dissatisfaction with my own life, despite the title of this blog post (which was intended to pull in readers the way the gay couple had pulled me into my high school friend's second photo). Theirs is a life I've never aspired to (even the gay couple seem to live on a planet far far away from the ones in my dreams), but it's easy for me to appreciate it. I had always been extremely fond of this Facebook friend in high school, and I'm thrilled to see her looking so happy -- and youthful.

I'm sure that not everything in her life is 100 percent rosy, but scrolling down her husband's home page (remember I'm more likely to do that with a stranger than someone I know), I only saw the happy side of their life together. I found myself wishing they had a couple's page that I could "follow" or "like," so that I wouldn't miss a single update on their life together. But maybe they're not even aware of how happy they seem, which would make them seem even happier.

I considered being totally creepy and sending the husband a friend request, so at least I can live vicariously through his occasional status updates/Valentines to his lovely wife. But I know I need to snap out of it. I already have one life to live -- my own -- and obsessing over it is already a full-time job.

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