Facebook and twitter are constant reminders of what a loser I am. I know in real-time exactly what parties I'm missing, what fancy restaurants I'm not eating in, where I'm not vacationing, and the beautiful weather I'm missing by being inside.
At first, I felt pretty good about all the parties and events I was invited to, and all the friends that I can prove I have. After a while, though, it became clear that my friends were throwing and attending more parties than I am, eating fancier food than I am, and visiting places I wish I were visiting. To top it all off, a lot of my friends have more friends than I do.
For a while, I consoled myself in saying they were RSVPing for parties they weren't really attending and tripitting places they weren't really going. But the pictures say it all. Even when my friends don't brag, their friends post pictures of them, quite obviously having a better time than I am.
As a marketing person, it makes me wonder about the future of promotion. My friends are promoting parties, restaurants and travel destinations, not to mention consumer electronics and other items. Nobody is monetizing that, and, in fact, nobody really can.
Another result is that a natural escalation of consumption reporting. This morning I made myself eggs and toast, and I made sure to post that I had salmon omelet, whole-wheat walnut/pistachio toast, and homemade kumquat marmalade. Most days I have a piece of fruit, and it doesn't make it to my status report, not even if it's a mango or pomegranate. If I take a trip to London, I tell you, but I don't tell you it's on business or just so I can do a course, or if I took a loan to fund my wild vacation. I don't mention that I actually didn't spend any time sightseeing or even shopping and that I barely slept for 4 days running and took the red-eye both directions and went straight from the airport back to work (unless I feel like bragging about what a martyr I am, which is definitely what I am doing now).
There's nothing wrong with this kind of reporting, but it definitely feeds into the culture of consumption and consumerism. I have 600 friends and follow another couple of hundred people, and I've never seen anyone report on their meditation practice.
Most of the posts regarding time spent with family are either about expensive entertainment (travel, amusement parks) or frustrations with sick or cranky children. You don't see much "Just watching my kids in the playground with extreme satisfaction." or "Stayed home with the kids tonight just because they said they wanted me home."
If I have to be perfectly truthful, though, it's astonishingly gratifying knowing that my son doesn't want me to go out, even when he's asleep, just because he wants me "around". Or at least that's what I tell myself while reading what a great time everyone else had last night...
Wishing everyone a very healthy and happy new year, and may your life be as wonderful, fulfilling and exciting as your posts and tweets.