FaceBook Pressure

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.

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The Dating Cycle

Dating is exhausting. It’s an endless cycle one needs to repeat unless they’d rather remain single. Sure, I guess there are rare instances where it works out and stops –people do marry, and some don’t even get divorced…But then there’s that other chunk of us who scroll through our FaceBook newsfeeds day after day and wonder how it’s possible another person we know has gotten married, engaged, or pregnant each and every day when we haven’t even added anyone new in the longest time. Most of us witnessing this phenomenon are in our 20’s and 30’s, and have probably wondered about hitting our 40’s and see it all changing to “so and so’s relationship status has changed to divorced” day after day. Those of us dating over the last less-than-10 years are really the first to experience this social media craze in which our relationships are now broadcast more than ever. It’s a new norm we’re settling into and feeling the pressure of “keeping up” with those around us even more. Early into your 20’s is when you can still remember all too well, the general reaction being “Oh no!” over “Congratulations” upon finding out about someone’s pregnancy…But after some time it settles in that you’re an adult now. Only, sometimes dating doesn’t feel so adult. People play games, there seem to be unwritten rules to these games, and then we find many who just end up acting childish.

It’s the cycle that tires me. -The one in which you meet someone new, you think they may have some potential of being the type of person you’ll develop feelings for, and so you spend time with the person again and again. You talk and talk. You ask each other questions. You explain yourself to them, and learn about every bit of them that you can. You share and experience with them, all until you’ve developed some sort of positive connection. Money is spent. Thoughts are spent. Time is spent. You make sure you don’t check in too much, but still call just enough. Though, “just enough” is a different amount for everyone. You slowly work on getting used to someone new, feeling comfortable around them, understanding them, and hopefully they develop an understanding of you as well. You put your best impression out there while remaining yourself and the not-so-great rest of you is eventually exposed, as well as the other’s. You might even feel “love” (however you may define it) at some point beyond feeling “like.” And then when you’ve completed exhausted all of your energy doing this and feeling comfortable and accomplished in all you’ve gotten through, one of you will crush the other. One of you will end the relationship. And if the rejection, and acknowledgment of no longer being able to speak to or see someone you’ve come so accustomed to being with so often isn’t devastating enough, the fact that you will now need to repeat this entire process from the beginning with someone new will be. Even if you are one of those people that can eventually look back at something and remember the good, appreciate the experience, learn, and enjoy for the sake of experiencing, it still takes some time for that to settle in.

Now all of that is “best” case scenario, I must remind you that before you even get to “you meet someone who you think might have potential” you meet a lot of people who don’t. You weed through them on the internet, or in real life. You go to parties, to bars, to shows, to social gatherings of every type. You meet, and meet until you find someone who just “might” and even then they might not end up being a great match for you. There’s also often rejection in asking someone out, which is an even more personal type than the kind you might get on a job interview…Remind me again why those moments you shared where you were laughing and close outweigh the downsides of dating? Or is it that people get to a point where either the loneliness or in-the-moment good feeling temporarily blinds us from what dating is really like? Don’t forget the relationship quarrels as well! When my last relationship ended I found the fact that I’d have to start the cycle of dating from the beginning all over again, more upsetting than the fact that this person would no longer be a big part of my life. Maybe it’s just harder on introverts. Whether you’ve associated yourself with being an introvert, extrovert, or neither, I recommend reading “Quiet, The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking.” (I’m sure it’s on amazon.com or something.) Introverts like social interaction, but are drained by too much of it. I know that for me personally, the amount of social interaction one must go through to find a date has always been pretty draining. Enough dating can make one think, “is it really so bad to settle?” But I got a text from intellectual-conversation-guy which means a first in-person meeting is in the works…And so, I move into the next stage of the cycle…again.
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