I have written something similar to this in the past and touched upon the idea in other posts, but as seasonal depression is about to set in for many, I thought I’d bring it up again. If you’re single and in my age-range, in your mid-20’s/30’s, I’d like to remind you that there presently is no pressure to get married and have children. Sure, the occasional relative may make a comment, and you might have a few close friends who are at this place in their life, but it doesn’t mean you’re amongst the last to find someone. It’s nearly entirely FaceBook’s fault to blame for many of us feeling this way. We’ve so quickly accepted FaceBook as a social norm, and become so used to it in such a short period of time, we’ve forgotten what this age would have been like had we grown up without it. We wouldn’t see every update of every moment of every person we’d ever attended elementary school with. We wouldn’t know what our ex, their cousins, and the people we hung out with in high school were up to these days. Of course, you’d get an invitation to a wedding or two of those you’re close to. You’d get a few updates at your high school reunion. You’d hear a mention, in passing here and there, of who’s doing what nowadays. “Did you hear so and so got engaged last fall?” “I ran into so and so. Now they’re working over at that place.” But you wouldn’t know the moment they were engaged, the moment they broke up, the moment they found out their baby’s gender. It gives a feeling no one in our past has felt, of it all happening at once, when we aren’t a part of it and should be. It’s FaceBook that we’re instantly updating and uploading our lives to. FaceBook is instantly broadcasting us to the world and it’s FaceBook that’s instantly supplying us with every detail of everyone we’ve ever met. Some of us may keep a smaller number of friends, but for the most part you have some people added who would’ve been in your past and out of your life by now that you’re still hearing news about.
The feeling that you’re not in competition with just your closest friends (not that you should be competing/comparing yourself to your friends either) and now it’s also everyone you’ve met in your life, adds pressure to the idea that you should be at the same point in your life as “everyone” else. You feel like you need to catch up because the idea that “everyone” is getting married, engaged, or having children except you means there’s something wrong. There isn’t. Statistically, yes, in general this is the age that most people do begin these journeys, but there isn’t any reason to feel like we should all be at the same places in our lives at the same time. We’re stuck in this perception of daily updates on marriages, engagements, and pregnancies, that puts on this illusion of being part of the minority. How often do we let the break-ups we see on FaceBook linger in our minds? It’s the marriages and engagements which are always highlighted. (Unless of course it’s you’re crush who’s newly available again.)
The end all accomplishment in life is not your marriage or children. It’s living your life in the way that makes you the happiest. Though, these things can of course accompany you in that, it does not necessarily mean these are the things that you should be concerned with at this moment. I do not have children and I have never been married, so I cannot fairly tell you about the good or bad aspects of either. But I know from others, and other life experiences, there are stresses and grievances that come with these things as well. Do we not have enough stresses the way our current lives are? Why is it now that we should trade in certain stresses for new ones? We should not be in such a rush to jump on board and rather embrace that time, whenever it is right for us (possibly never, for some who choose it.) We should be busying ourselves with what we most enjoy now, and letting relationships fall into place as they may along the way. How many stand-up comedians knock marriage? We laugh, because it’s usually true. (I recommend watching “Aziz Ansari – Buried Alive” on NetFlix, if you’re into that kind of humor.) How many TV shows and movies are about meeting the person you end up with when you least expect it? It’s a relatable idea. How often do those movies end, leaving us with the impression that the two people lived happily ever after, in marriage? How unrealistic is it to believe the end of what you do with your life is marriage and/or children? Yet many of us are living each day under the impression that it is. How many times in your own life were you just in the right place at the right time for something?
Actively looking for a partner doesn’t mean you need to constantly skim your dating profile and send out messages, or frequent bars to meet someone. It’s not the kind of thing that can be forced. More times than not, it’s when we’re not looking that we meet someone. It’s when we’re going about our lives that someone new comes along and stays in our lives. You can be open to dating, while just being out in the world. We need to let go of the idea that we’re amongst the last to find one person to spend the other 50 or so years of our lives with. Many of us need to shift our focus back to ourselves rather than making a new relationship our biggest priority.
We’re seeing news about our friends, surrounding countries, local communities, and scientific breakthroughs at a rate none of us have ever been accustom to until today. And yes, for the most part these breakthroughs in technology are positive. For the most part, they do benefit us, but we need to also accept that we may not be growing as a society or species, as quickly. We need to think about things a bit more big picture, sometimes. We’re living as if our perception of the world hasn’t been altered at this rapid rate. We’re growing up either born into it (the younger generation), or switching over later in life, and maybe it’s not something all of us were prepared for. The pace of everything has shifted. We expect instant gratification from everything, and we’re becoming impatient. How many of us would use the internet on a 56K modem without something incredible in exchange? How many of us pull our food out of the microwave 15 seconds early? How many of us feel our entire day thrown off track when we miss our train, though the next one is less than 10 minutes away? We’re multitasking, overloading ourselves, and paying less attention to each detail at hand. We’re assuming this overload of thoughts/emotions is natural, when it isn’t.
I’m not saying everything we do should revert back to a slower pace, but the rate at which it’s increased, and volume of what information/every day activities have been affected by our rapid growth of technology is surely something to consider when our brains haven’t had all that much time to adapt. We just need to be aware of it. The moment you may have spent wondering if you’re going to wind up alone because of the comment your aunt made at Thanksgiving would have soon vanished, if it weren’t for FaceBook feeding you updates about everyone else’s accomplishments. They even announce every engagement and marriage on the upper right corner now, as if it wasn’t enough to see it pop up in the news feed. (I’m clicking the “X” next to one on my own at this very moment, actually.) FaceBook also created a “Life Events” timeline which one can simply list and store all of their accomplishments. We can compare ourselves up to the number of graduations, vacations, engagements, and children someone else has had to see how we stack up. Every event big, or small, is recorded and exploited. We’re constantly comparing each other to our friends and every person we’ve ever met. We want to fit in, so we’re constantly continuing this cycle, posting about ourselves, so that others will think we’re just as accomplished as they are.
Do I think FaceBook is some evil that we should stop? No. I think there is still much good it does in connecting people, as long as it’s not abused. As long as it helps you socialize with someone you’d have otherwise lost touch in, in the real world, it’s still a positive tool. I just think that we need to be conscious of it altering our perception of those around us. Most people don’t post about all of the times they were doing absolutely nothing. Most people who post constant updates spend more time on their computer or cellphone than enjoying what they’re actually posting about. For the most part, we see the best of people’s lives collaged in one place, day after day and use it as a reminder to “keep up.” We need to keep at our own paces, and be content with where and who we are. We need to remember life outside of FaceBook.