I’m currently in Haiti on a mission trip, so you have the pleasure of hearing from my good friend, Andrea (or as I know her, Dre). Dre was my first official friend when I moved to Nashville (well, she didn’t have a choice because we lived together)! She’s a co-worker, trustworthy friend, and a darn good writer. Oh, and she makes some serious black-bean brownies. Just ask her. -Katy
Let me guess where you were before you clicked over to Single Party of One: a little website we all lovehate called Facebook. Don’t deny it, Facebook is your Safari home screen, the first app you click on when you wake up in the morning. Maybe it’s even the last thing you see before you go to sleep at night.
Just a minute ago, before you made the right decision and decided to see what Single Party of One was up to, you were scrolling down your feed, reading, pausing to take a second look at the vintage-filtered photo of your newly engaged friend or your old college roomie who is four months pregnant, though you wouldn’t know it if the caption didn’t include the words baby and bump. Your high school bestie just changed her profile picture to a double-selfie of her and her perfect boyfriend who, according to her other mobile Facebook pictures, buys her flowers often and cooks her dinner because it’s raining outside and what better to do than cook a meal together and cuddle on the couch? At least, that’s what her status update said.
You try to look away, but we all know it’s absolutely impossible. Unless you’re extreme like me and decide to delete your Facebook account altogether every few years to escape the madness for a little bit. But, as I always do, you return to it. Feeling left out never feels good, no matter your age.
And if you’re like me, your relationship status has never said “Engaged” or “Married.” (It said “In a relationship with ___” once, but when we broke up two weeks after changing our statuses, I swore never to again. It’ll jinx you.)
Let’s call it what it is: Facebook is a trap. It sucks you into its social vortex of images that make all of your acquaintances’ lives appear happier, more fun, more exciting, more social and especially more romantic. You start to believe you’re not as cool, pretty or popular as anyone else you know. Facebook is the middle school lunchroom where everyone in school is forced to sit at certain tables depending on their level of cool and all believing that no one else around them is insecure, unhappy or absolutely terrified of everything. We are oh so very good at painting happy faces and Facebook is just another place for us to layer it on. It’s nothing new. We’ve been doing this our whole lives.
But deep down, we all know, don’t we? That Facebook isn’t reality; it’s a portrayal that we manipulate.
So why do we allow our 1,000+ friends to make us feel so lonely? If we know the truth, why do we stare at her and her perfect flower-buying, dinner-making-on-a-rainy-night boyfriend’s pictures and decide our own lives are inadequate, falling short somehow?
The answer is simple, really. We’ve forgotten what the standard is and we’ve created a new one based on the person we are most jealous of in our news feed. You all just picked the one out in your head. You can go ahead and “hide” her now, de-friend if necessary. Do whatever you need to do to get rid of this person, this manipulated portrayal of a person, as your standard for a joy-filled life.
Look up from your computer—not now, but when I’m done—and remember where your standard truly lies. Hint: It has nothing to do with your cover photo and whether or not it’s a professional shot of 12 bridesmaids holding hands, mid-jump in a random field. Facebook does no have to be a reminder of your ticking clock; we’re all on different trajectories right? But they all lead to one hopeful place. To the one who first loved us, and that is our standard of grace, of peace, of joy. Not your profile picture—the one from instagram that makes your face and waist look so slim at that angle. He cares too much about you to care about any of that. He has much much bigger things for you. What a relief.
Believing in this is so much easier said than done. But the first step doesn’t have to be impossible: Look up from your computer.
Andrea Lucado is a book publicist by day and a freelance writer by night. Originally from San Antonio, Texas, she now calls Nashville, Tennessee, home. She’s written for Collegiate magazine, Christianity Today and other print and online publications. When she is not working with authors, conducting interviews or writing stories, you can find her laughing with friends at a coffee shop or running the hills of Nashville. She would love to be meet you via Twitter, @andrealucado, or hear from you on her blog “English Lessons” at andrealucado.wordpress.com.