The True Story Behind my Facebook “Look Back”

Screen Shot 2014-02-08 at 8.11.32 PMWhen I first dreamed up this blog post while I was in the shower (where most blog posts come to fruition–and most die because I forget my thoughts or I soon realize they are not as brilliant as I thought), I had a lot of ideas for which direction it could take. But I could not get those Facebook “Look Back” videos out of my head.

Like everyone, I clicked and looked at mine. I probably would have posted mine on Facebook, except for two reasons: I am sick of Facebook and kind of over posting anything on Facebook (and I wish we could all collectively decide to just use Twitter instead), and my video was actually pretty lame.

My video included really random photos. As I was watching, I found myself asking: this is what sums up my Facebook experience? For example, it included a photo of the first guy on whom I ever had a crush. (I am not counting the boy I had a crush on throughout elementary school because I originally decided to “like” him in Kindergarten when my best friend told me to.) This guy was the first guy to like me back, so it was a pretty big deal at the time. I mean, it didn’t last much past that week of camp, but still. The guy and I also went to the same college, but he has since deleted as a friend, and I am not really sure why. So, way to add insult to injury, Facebook. Thanks a lot.

I did not post my Facebook Look Back because I knew it would not turn in the results of countless comments of “that made me cry” or “that was awesome.” The motive behind not posting my video is the same motive I have ever had for most anything I’ve done on Facebook: the response of other people. Yeah, I’ll admit it: I posted that picture of knoephla soup last year because I wanted to impress people with my German cooking skills and because I knew people would like it. But does that make it an honest representation of my life? Of course not.

If I wanted to be real with you, I’d include the truth, even when it’s not flattering or impressive. For example, I am a distance student at seminary so that means I have classes where I have to use video conference. This means my face is projected on a screen while other students sit in a classroom. I have had a cold this week, so while I was sitting in class, I sneezed. It was not a dainty cute sneeze or even the sneeze like my college roommate does which–I kid you not–sounds exactly like “a chung ugg.” Nope. It was big old snot sneeze.* A snot sneeze projected in front of a classroom of people. I would like to think my life is more than snot stories, but I do have to come to terms with the fact my life is not all that glamorous.

My life is not as polished as I want it to be on Facebook and Instagram. It’s that same realization others have which lead to videos like this: “An Honest Facebook Movie.”

But you know what? Our lives are more than anything that can be contained in one minute and five seconds. Our lives have more value than the “likes” they receive on Facebook or Instagram.

The last ten years of my life, or the years since 2007 when I joined Facebook, cannot be contained in the pictures or the Facebook statuses. What makes my life memorable are the experiences and the friendships I have had since 2007. It’s the people and the stories and the tears and the victories.

Yes, Facebook documents that I graduated college, but it does not show all the time I spent on homework or in class. It does not show how much it stretched me and I grew. It does not show all the last night Steak and Shake runs where I studied for tests or complained about boys. It does not show the friends I made and lost. Yes, it has pictures of my roommates, but it does not show all the moments we shared together. No pictures can fully capture the moments.

Facebook documents pictures from my summer in London, but it does not show how scared I was the day before I left to spend a summer with people I had never met. It does not show me clinging to my mother, crying, afraid to leave because I was incredibly overwhelmed and scared. It also does not show how that came to be the best decision I ever made, and the summer contains some of my favorite experiences. There are pictures of London, pictures of my teammates, and pictures of our friends from the church. It does not capture all the highs and lows. It captures pictures from my twenty-first birthday, but it does not capture the moments before the surprise party when one of my teammates led me downstairs telling me not to be mad they were able to surprise me. It does not capture the moments we spent in preparation before Tuesday night Bible study or the times we spent walking to the pastor’s house for Friday prayer. It captures the pictures of Paris when we went for two days, but it does not capture one of my teammates almost leaving my friend and me in Paris at one in the morning. Facebook cannot contain it all.

Sometimes I want to post things to impress other people, but that’s not my real life. My real life is messier, but it’s also more beautiful than Facebook can contain.

*I was originally going to title this post: “It’s Snot a Problem”

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