Why I Hate Facebook, But Love My Facebook Page

A couple of months ago, I created a Facebook Page.  You can find it here or click Like on the widget in the right-hand column (gotcha!).  Initially, I was hesitant to start a Facebook Page because I have strong but mixed feelings about Facebook in general.  I managed to avoid Facebook until a few years ago when I discovered that one of my nieces had started posting all her children’s pictures there.  I opened an account immediately.  Seeing pictures of adorable baby boys as they grow up was a huge incentive.  At that time, Facebook was fairly easy to navigate; that was before it started to emulate Twitter.

Over the years since then, I’ve accrued a fair number of “friends.”  A large majority of my friends are actually family (I have a lot of cousins).  The rest are former classmates, coworkers, former coworkers, and a few are friends.  Now, making these distinctions, especially between friends and coworkers, is not to suggest that I don’t consider my coworkers or former coworkers to be friends; many of them are.  In fact, I actually like everyone I’m “friends” with on Facebook; in many cases, I love them.  What makes my personal Facebook account awkward for me is the degree (or lack thereof) to which I can be fully myself.  The thing is:  my Facebook friends represent a vast spectrum of likes and dislikes, political and otherwise.  I don’t hide the fact that I am a “bleeding heart liberal.” (In reality, I’m more moderate, but compared to some people, yup, I’m a bleeding heart.)  Yet, I still feel uneasy when I express my political views, when I express myself.  I don’t separate the political from my personal life.  I don’t because I live the political everyday.  I have a government job so I know first-hand how political winds will affect whether or not I can accomplish my agency’s mission.    I’ve been a social worker, counseling victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, so I know first-hand how legislation can help or hinder a victim’s recovery.  I’ve taught college-level courses in composition and social work, so I know first-hand how university politics can ultimately shortchange a student’s education by not teaching him writing or critical thinking skills.  So, for me, politics is personal.

But I know that my views are not shared by every one of my Facebook friends, so I censor myself, at least I try.  I’m sure there are some friends/family members/coworkers who would like me to try harder.  And there are some friends whose views I totally disagree with.  I don’t ask them to censor themselves; instead, I simply hide their posts.  The downside of that is I then miss the occasional good news, latest baby picture, etc., unless I go directly to their Facebook page, which is not something I always remember to do.  There have been many times when I thought about just deleting my account altogether.  If any one of my Facebook friends really want to stay in touch with me, they have my email address or they can call my mom and get my phone number.  I’ve lived at the same street address for almost 22 years.  I’m not hard to find.

But those pictures of the little ones get me every time.  I have five grandnephews and one grandniece.  They live in different states so to see them grow up, I need to keep my Facebook account.

But I still think of closing my account and here’s another reason why.  Now that I have a Facebook Page, I feel lonelier than ever on my personal account.  My birthday last week came and went with only one person from my personal account wishing me a happy birthday and that was done through a direct message, not on my Timeline.  Yet, I blogged about my birthday and when the post showed up on my Facebook Page, it went “viral.” According to Facebook, it got the most Likes and was viewed by more people than anything I’ve written to date.  Now, I usually don’t broadcast my birthday.  I tend to keep it under the radar, but this year was special to me and I wanted to celebrate.  That so many in my blogging community celebrated with me was a wonderful experience.  That there wasn’t a peep on my personal Facebook account brought me up short.  [Caveat:  three friends from my personal account did Like my blog post on my Facebook Page and left messages.]

The difference is that on my Facebook Page, I am a writer and everyone I Like through that page is a writer.  That’s my focus.  On this blog and through my Facebook Page and Twitter account, I stay pretty focused on writing.  I have nothing to censor and I can be totally myself.  It’s ironic to me that, through my blog, I feel more myself than through any other media.  And I don’t feel lonely.   Yet, I do, at times, on my personal Facebook account.

There’s been many discussions about loneliness and Facebook, studies done, reports published (like this one from the Atlantic Monthly).  My husband cites these studies as one reason why he doesn’t and will never have a Facebook account.  Being a shy, sensitive introvert, I do become easily paranoid (“Nobody likes me!,” “I’m persona non grata and I don’t know why!”).  Thus, I have to remind myself that this problem with Facebook is of my own making.  I should know better than to think that “silence” on my personal account indicates anything.  The dark side of social media is that your expectations get raised beyond reasonable levels.  Before Facebook, I was tickled by every birthday card I got, and I didn’t think about the ones I didn’t get.  A bit more effort goes into selecting and sending a card whereas with Facebook all you have to do is point and click.  And so we (at least I) have a tendency to expect more from people now then I did pre-Facebook days.  And that’s simply not a fair expectation.

I started off this post thinking I had every reason to feel unhappy with my personal Facebook account.  But now I realize it was my own unreasonable expectations that have caused my unhappiness.  I’ll keep that personal account because it’s a great way to see the kids in my family grow, see my mom with her great-grandchildren, occasionally exchange political views with like-minded comrades, and keep track of my wealth of family and friends.   My Facebook Page is for the writer that I am now and the author that I hope to be.

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39 Comments

  1. Firstly, I’ve clicked ‘like’ so please feel free to do the same with my page! Lol. I am with you on this whole FB thing. Before I started writing I had a personal FB page and I was lagging far behind many of my acquaintances because I resisted it for so long. Eventually I caved and enjoyed looking at photos etc.. from people I’d never have met again, people from school etc.. etc.. but then I just decided that something didn’t feel right. I was reading about these people’s lives but it just felt wrong as I had no real clue about them anymore and they didn’t fit into where I was at. It was also a competition as to who could have the most friends and I hated that as I just thought that people who have thousands can’t possibly have that many friends? Can they? The other problem that I had was that I started to take to heart all the things that people were doing that I wasn’t so I felt inferior – like going for a run, taking their kids to loads of exciting places, cooking healthy meals etc.. Now I do all of those things but I don’t see the need to tell the world about them and at that point, I realised that it wasn’t the media for me. Reluctantly I have set up a new page/profile now as I am using it for author purposes but I have set it up under my pen name and I am not actively seeking friends or likes. Maybe I should be – it is after all an excellent marketing tool? :-)

    Reply
    • We are definitely on the same page with Facebook (pun intended ;)). I’ve had all the misgivings you express here. It’s complicated because as you say, you don’t feel a need to tell the world about your fabulous meals or exciting trips and yet when you have friends and family that live far away, sometimes the only way they feel included is if you write about these things and include pictures. One example is my kitchen remodeling. My friends and family want to see the before and after pictures so, yup, I’ll post them. But that’s the point I’ve come to with the personal account: limited interaction. As far as the Facebook Page is concerned, so many writers and bloggers I follow have them, that I figure why not? There’s pros and cons there, too, I assume, but time will only tell. One thing, though. I went to your Facebook Page and there’s no Like button for me to click, at least not in my Marie Ann Bailey persona. Sigh. Why does Facebook make everything to effing complicated! I’ll find a way, though. And thank you for the Like!

      Reply
  2. Facebook can be a lonely place sometimes, I agree. But I’ve also learned to take all the likes and comments (or the lack of likes and comments) at face value, although birthdays are a whole other story. And in some ways, Facebook can be whatever we make it to be for ourselves – good, bad, or otherwise.

    I’ve been single and not out on a date for a while; and when I used to get really down about that, I would click around on people’s pages to see pictures of them with their significant others, or read status updates about how great or not-so-great it was to have that person in their lives. I did it on purpose, maybe to make myself feel more miserable…? But I stopped doing that a few months ago, and decided to focus on other certain aspects of Facebook: promoting my writing as well as Sonic Cathedral (the webzine I write reviews for), and communicating with friends – all of which are more important that the single-woman-has-no-boyfriend-and-no-dating-prospects circling I’d been doing.

    I sort of feel like I went on a tangent there… Anyway, it sounds like you’ve found a great reason to keep your personal account. Don’t dwell on the negative aspects of Facebook; as long as you don’t, it’s not a bad place to be.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment, Sara. I thoroughly agree that Facebook is what we make it. We don’t have to use it as a tool to make us feel lonely and miserable (and before Facebook, I was pretty good at that already). Just last night I was showing my husband pictures of my family’s 4th of July pool party. They are at one end of the East Coast; I’m at the other. And it was fun to look at the photos and like each one of them :)

      Reply
      • Nice! :) I agree, it’s fun to see family photos on Facebook and feel included that way. My cousin who lives out of state posts photos and videos of her two young children on her account several times a week. It’s so much fun to see what they’re up to.

        Reply
        • That’s exactly why I keep my personal account. I probably would have dropped it a long time ago if it weren’t for the photos of the kids :)

          Reply
  3. Facebook is just one way to stay in touch with family, friends, old friends, etc. I love it. I think you get out of it what you put into it. But my friends may be different than yours. But I agree about not always being able to be transparent. In my job, I have to be so careful not to express personal opinions. Sometimes that kills me. Blogging is easier for that. But I still have to be careful. I’m not just Pamela…I’m Pamela director of.

    Reply
    • Pamela, I can see you loving Facebook, on a beach with free WiFi :) I know that some friends/family have exited from Facebook when they’ve been on job searches, or they are more self-conscious about what they post because of their jobs. That’s a shame to some degree, but it is what it is. I just try to keep my privacy settings up to date because I do have a government job. Then again, that doesn’t protect me from a friend-turned-foe plastering my latest rant all over the ether. I’m doomed …

      Reply
  4. I only have a personal facebook account at the moment, but even so this post completely and accurately sums up my feelings on it. Good job!

    Reply
  5. This post could not have come in a more timely manner for me. I am upping my marketing a bit trying to get ready for the paperback release of my book and more actively promoting it. I have to…nobody else is going to do it for me. I have had a very private facebook account since facebook came into being and I thought I understood it very well. I have just a few, less than a hundred, family and friends, on purpose. We share photos (lots of distant nieces and nephews also) and comments with each other and keep up on all of the latest and I have my privacy connections well monitored. Half the time I would not recall birthdays if it wasn’t for facebook, because my memory is getting bad and my calendar stays so busy. I could really care less about likes, comments and such on that page because I know that people who mean so much to me see those posts even when they might not have time to comment, but I really enjoy all of the pictures. That’s why I started with FB, to have a place to organize, store and share pics….then it became a contest by many of my “friends” (not family so much). to see who could get the most comments on a post or the most likes on a post and I just stopped liking or commenting much on anything. Rarely, if a photo grabs my attention or a post is awesome enough, I will make a brief remark, but I don’t feel like I know them anymore. Especially the people I used to work with now that I am semi-retired and only do independent contract work. People also don’t seek me out, (even family, despite the tons of gifts they receive) come to my page and post anything, not even a “thank you” and never really have. That sort of pisses me off. If I can oogle your baby pictures the least you can do is send me a facebook acknowledgment for that graduation present. Okay, now I am starting to sound selfish. Sorry about that, don’t mean to be. It is just that manners, etiquette and tradition seem to have gone out the window with social media. Now I have pretty much abandoned my old facebook page in the past year, except scanning for pictures. From time to time I will post some, mostly in sharing with family, my grandchildren, our vacations…stuff like that, and I don’t expect my “friends” to find that all that interesting. Now, I recently connected my blog to my facebook pages. I am so confused. My private page posts these blogs and I know that I can change the settings, but my family and friends are actually reading these, so I haven’t. I also forget sometimes when I should have changed it. I started a new author page when I first published my book. My blogs post there now also. I have liked the pages of many of my blogging friends and their posts now show up on my personal page, but not on my author page where I liked them from. I am glad that I can read my blogging friends posts, but I also wonder if I can read theirs, are they seeing all my baby picture posts as well? Then it gets more complicated. Another blogger told me that I should join some facebook writer’s groups (I didn’t even know FB had groups like that as long as I have been on it). So I did. They even have Like-athons and Like Swaps so you can build your audience…even tho most of what I have seen so far is people trying to self promote their work rather than actually helping one another out with writing issues and friendly conversation. I participated in one of the Like Swaps, and got about twenty more likes for my author page…now interestingly enough, all of their posts are showing up on my personal page..littering it up with tons of promotional info as well as their personal info and I am having regrets. I am also wondering just what these virtual strangers are seeing when I post…now I am getting paranoid. Part of me wants to go back and unlike all of the folk that I really am not acquainted with, but even if I did that, since they “liked” me I would still show up on their pages until they “unliked” me. Now I just don’t think I understand or “LIKE” this facebook thing at all anymore. I am soooo not tech savvy and I am so very confused by it all. My husband laughs because he has never gotten into the whole social media thing and he is very tech savvy, but doesn’t understand the dynamics of it. I don’t even think the people at Facebook do. I rarely post anything from my S.K. Nicholls facebook page, just occasional posts about my book. I don’t think I have much of a personality there. I am probably doing it all wrong. Maybe that’s where I should be posting. it is hard to market yourself and be paranoid at the same time. Gosh! Sorry I took up so much space here, I should have just sent you an email. Just sign this ~ thoroughly confused now

    Reply
    • I hope you don’t mind but I think I laughed all the way through your comment. Sister, I hear you!! I’ve had friends tell me, “oh, you have so many friends and I have so few!” I try to explain that I have enough cousins to garner our own zip code, but they don’t care. It’s the numbers. It’s the message that Facebook sends that the more friends you have, the more popular you are. And as I’ve been reading and responding to comments on this post, I’m seeing more issues about Facebook and these Pages. I’m not sure how Facebook is for marketing. They definitely don’t make it easy for the little guy. I might contact some blogger/writers who have a huge following and see if any of them can advise us :) Stay tuned!

      Reply
  6. Showing up on my wall, not my page…everything from everybody is showing upon my personal wall…I even get confused with the wording!

    Reply
  7. I am reading your reblog right now and looking for answers everywhere…from facebook and wordpress and forums. I started to post a picture of myself on my blog on Independence day of me almost naked with my body painted red white and blue with stars in accurate places and a full red white and blue feathered headdress and mask with twinkling lights being handcuffed by a real Key West cop during Fantasy Fest 2001. It was a dare that I had going with Ionia Martin, but I couldn’t follow thru. My facebook family has already seen it and I though my wordpress family might get a kick out of it….then, the paranoia set in…I thought about all of those potentially judgmental critics out there in the reader audience that mighthave access to such a picture and be terriblty disturbed about it, and of course , how horribly unprofessional that would be…I wouldn’t want to offend anyone, really, but I have about copped an attitude that this is ME, whether I am on my author page , my wordpress page, my blog, whatever and I am undisciplined, absurd, and genuinely insane, deal with it.

    Reply
    • I would love to see that picture! OK, now I’ve heard from Victoria Grefer who has several hundred Likes on her FB page. I don’t know if this will help but … so we have a profile page (what I call a personal account) which we need in order to create an Author Page (or blogger page in my case). Anyway, the only Likes that count on our Author Page are ones that come from people’s profile page. So you actually did the right thing in Liking my page from your personal account. What I need to do is visit your Author page while I have my profile page active and then Like it. I do not understand why it has to be this way, but apparently this is how FB has it set up. The best way to manage both pages is to use a different image and a different username for each page. I learned that the hard way. Does this even remotely make sense? So now I guess I have to go to FB and “re-Like” everyone I like from my profile page just so those LIkes will count for them. Really, I don’t know if FB could have made this more confusing … [grrrrrrrrr]. Thanks for trying along with me!

      Reply
  8. Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Marie, happy birthday to yooooou!

    Sorry this is late. :(

    And I understand the whole facebook issue. I didn’t want a personal page, but had to have one for my author page. So all I really use FB for is to play Farmville. ;)

    Reply
    • Thank you, Briana! I believe in celebrating birthdays at every opportunity ;) Leave it to Facebook to make people have two pages! BTW, I used to play Farmville. It’s very addictive :)

      Reply
  9. interesting points………… FB is a double edged sword………. my friends are mostly hopeless and that is because I’m mostly hopeless in that regard. They say that we get the politicians we deserve and I think that might apply to friends as well……………….I do try very hard to remember birthdays though, probably because I like it when mine is remembered……. I hope you had an excellent birthday [ our family makes it a birth WEEK so as to avoid the problem of a dud birthDAY.......... it came in hand this year as mine was a shocker!]
    Terry

    Reply
    • I think you sum it up well, describing Facebook as a double-edged sword. I felt apprehensive about complaining about the lack of birthday greetings on my personal FB account. But that’s one of the intended effects of FB: to feel left out, ignored if you don’t get at least as many greetings as everyone else.
      Thank you for the birthday greetings ;). Belated is better than never in my book and I’m happy to celebrate my birthday right up to the next one :)

      Reply
      • Thoughts on FB could probably fill a book but here is short one [just to show how big my ego is].
        I don’t make [true] friends easily, and in the past I have been guilty of taking them for granted so I don’t add friends lightly to my FB account. In my head there were only a few but when I needed to search I noticed that there were more than I thought but several were virtually inactive………… then I noticed that it lists how many friends my friends have……. big mistake to look at those numbers! I did notice that my older friends have a smaller number and my younger friends have a small mountain…..what do you think that means? My ego took a momentary hit and them I remembered that most of my friends are mildly annoying; and then I remembered that I am particularly annoying so then it all made sense!
        Don’t forget to be awesome.
        Terry

        Reply
        • What a great comment! I think our younger friends are just more inline with Facebook so they all friend each other. Our generation is more particular, I think. We really only want to be friends with people that we really want to touch in with. Although I know some people my age who like racking up the numbers, and I don’t believe for a minute that they have a close personal relationship with each one of their 450 friends ;)

          Reply
  10. Very thought-provoking. I’m spending less and less time on FB these days and more on WordPress. Living abroad, of course it’s nice to use FB to see pics of family and friends and how they’re getting on (as you said), but aside from that, I find WordPress far more enlightening – learning about new places, how people cope in different situations, advice from more experienced writers (if I can call myself a writer – I’m not sure yet!) – is far more inspiring to me than looking at pics of dancing cats and reading about what people had for breakfast!!

    Reply
    • That’s true for me too! So many people use FB to simply text messages that are only meant for a few, but wind up being viewed by everyone. Unfortunately, FB doesn’t make it easy to limit who sees your stuff.

      Reply
  11. I started a FB page to go with my Blog, and then forgot to use it, so I think it is now friendless and looking for wheat crops somewhere in the Sahara desert. I use my FB for staying in touch with family, and it works on that level

    Reply
    • That’s funny about your FB page being in the Sahara. Poor thing. Maybe I can find it and give it some water :)

      Reply
  12. Having a great number of friends on FB but a dismal number of people who bother to greet you on your birthday would suck. Well I know it would for me.

    Reply
    • Yeah, it put me in the dumps for a few days. It was the first time that happened though so part of me wonders if my settings are off, but I don’t think so. I’ve gotten over it. I need to focus on the people who did remember and who made it a fun birthday for me :)

      Reply
  13. The only the Facebook has done for me is get people pissed off at me. Plenty of people have taken it upon themselves to assume that my reason for not being on Facebook is that I am specifically angry at them. Facebook turns people into narcissists.

    Reply
    • Eric, I can’t imagine anyone getting pissed off with you for anything ;) That is one of the aspects of Facebook that I don’t like: it’s a perfect platform for narcissistic exhibitionist. Usually I just hide posts from friends who are too “chatty” but once I did unfriend a person because it was all about her all the time. But thanks to my nephews’ procreation, I’m stuck with it :)

      Reply
  14. Maybe you’re not hyper-connected enough!? Get a Twitter account as well and tell us interesting things like, “Ooo…I just finished washing my dishes.”….. “Ooo, the Laundry is done, will tweet you next when I am back from hanging the clothes out on a line…”

    The thing is we, humans, have LIMITED attention span, limited available time and we cannot make our star shine on every digital platform. You seem pretty active on WordPress and so WordPress is your main platform of interaction, as opposed to Facebook.

    There are some people who upload their pictures (from their cellphones) on Facebook at hourly intervals. Their facebook pages are fairly active. But then they aren’t blogging on WordPress and getting all the comments, likes and follows are they?

    Reply
    • Ha ha, I DO have a twitter account (and you can follow it from my WordPress page)! I actually like Twitter now. I didn’t when I first started for the reasons you mention. But now I’m fairly strict about who I follow in order to ensure that the majority of the tweets are related to writing and publishing. And I’m building a following on Twitter as fast as I did on WordPress (which, I know, isn’t that fast relative to some but for an introvert like me, it’s awesome).
      But my point really was the difference in reception I get between my Facebook Page (which, like Twitter, is tied to my WordPress platform) and my profile page or personal account. And I was feeling sorry for myself because I didn’t get all the birthday greetings I had expected (key word there: expected. My philosophy of life is to keep my expectations low, but I didn’t then).
      I know what you mean about people being active on Facebook. I uploaded a few pictures to my personal account yesterday, and a friend of mine started Liking them AS I was uploading them. Now that is freaky!
      Thanks, Rajiv, for coming by. I always enjoy your comments :)

      Reply

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