The Less Facebook Posts, The Better Your Relationship?
We all know the oversharers on the site—the ones whom we haven’t seen or spoken to on the phone in years, yet suddenly they’re telling us intimate details about their lives, so we feel like we know them.
We used to think it was TMI to see pictures of every meal they consumed, but now they talk about their child’s bathroom habits or express their undying love for each other via Bitstrips and other Facebook-friendly cartoons. But, if a couple does not do those things, is their relationship better? I don’t think so.
This Huffington Post article makes a great point about Facebook and the way people use it.
“It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that Facebook doesn’t accurately represent the lives of your ‘friends,’” said Sara Boboltz in her Huffington Post piece. “Every item posted by the site’s millions upon millions of users—from highbrow articles to flattering photos—is a choice, made to paint themselves in the most positive light. (And the unflattering ones? Un-tagged.)”
Robert Simmermon, Ph.D., a media psychologist, expanded on the psychology of Facebook, so to speak. “If a Martian were to come down and sit in front of Facebook, they would think we were the happiest creatures in the universe,” he said. Simmermon believes we ‘brand’ ourselves. I buy that, though I think some people are better at it than others.
How Much Is Too Much?
An ex and I used to post mushy things on each other’s Facebook walls. “We’re not one of those unhappy couples who post too many cute things to overcompensate for problems in their relationship,” I remember thinking proudly.
When he and I broke up, I was taken by surprise. This is the same guy who wrote that cute thing on my wall just last week? How can this be? And he must have wanted to break up for a while… so did all his posts mean nothing?
However, at the same time, I know an argumentative couple who post sweet things every day for the world to see (they have their privacy settings set to “public” (aka the whole entire world), not just to “friends.”
They don’t have the lovey-dovey relationship the ex and I had, yet people who do not know them in real life like I do would never know.
Later, my therapist asked me why the ex and I liked posting on each other’s walls a lot. What did we get out of it? I thought it was sweet; like little love letters for all to see. It made me happy posting them for him and seeing him post cute messages and cartoons on mine. Yes, I liked sharing my happiness with others; that they saw me happy and that I was in love with this person.
But was it necessary to our relationship?
No. I guess not. And, like I said, we ended up breaking up. And when that happened, people heard a lot about that, too—my sadness, how I wanted to fast-forward my life to pass up the pain, and so on. It was a tough year (and I’m happy no one defriended me in the process). That’s a great benefit to Facebook—the electronic support system it provides.
By nature, I am a very open person: if I’m in love, everyone will know it; if I’m sad, people will know it. And none of my sad posts dissed the guy or our relationship. Rather, they were just honest posts, posting and asking for someone to call me at 3 a.m. when I had insomnia and couldn’t stop thinking about the ex. That sort of thing.
Once, however, during my oh-so-happy posts, a friend said it made her sad to see me so happy—though I think that was more a reflection on what was going on in her life. After all, she didn’t have to look at my posts in her news feed or on my wall. Isn’t that what the “unfollow” and “custom” buttons are for, to limit who sees what?
Too Much, Too Soon
Then, there was an ex who posted every one of the articles that I wrote. I didn’t even post most of them; I knew that would drive my friends crazy!
Though it was nice at first, when he started to post every single one, almost 20 a week, I felt it was overcompensating. Did he actually want to know how to make things in a Crock-Pot that were not food?
How Little Is Too Little?
I had another ex who was barely on Facebook and hadn’t even changed his profile picture in years.
Unlike many of the people we probably all know who do so regularly. With him, I had the opposite issue, and we dated way longer than the first guy above. I would write something cute on his wall, and he’d then tell me he hadn’t told his family about me yet, so could we hold off on announcing our relationship, for he liked being private? I respected it and we dated for years.
So, I think there is no “right” or “wrong” amount of posting (or lack thereof). Rather, like my therapist, I’d have you ask what the point is; are you trying to prove something or show off? Or is your heart just feeling open to sharing your love for your significant other with all one-thousand-or-so of your friends? Just make sure the Facebook sharing doesn’t replace the in-person sharing.