So, there’s this girl I went to primary school with. I wouldn’t have even remembered her name, probably, other than the fact that she tracked me down on Facebook a few years ago, and we’ve been ‘Facebook friends’ since.
She married young, had three kids, all early 20s/late teens now, I think, and is a prolific user of Facebook.
Unfortunately, the last few months seem to have been difficult for her, but the way it’s all been played out on Facebook has blown my mind …
First of all came the news she was splitting up with her husband … then it transpired he’s leaving her and moving to the other end of the country, but apparently there’s nobody else involved. Then we’re treated to the juicy gossip that there IS another woman, after all. We are told the other woman and other woman’s ex-husband’s names. She also shared that that this wasn’t the first time the philandering so-and-so had done this – he’d had an affair with an American woman a few years ago.
I think it was at this point that I felt rather uneasy about the level of information being shared on social media, and I commented on one of her statuses, saying how sorry I was that things weren’t going well for her, and that perhaps it might be a good idea to take some time away from Facebook while she got over the first difficult weeks of separation. She didn’t respond (not that she needed to), but one of her kids, Jack, ‘liked’ my comment.
Next, we were treated to a blow-by-blow account of moving out day, followed by lots of posting of those cutesy sayings, such as ‘Until you’re broken, you don’t know what you’re made of. Build yourself all over again, but stronger than ever’. Not my cup of tea, but whatever gets you through the day, I guess.
Weeks later, and as well as the cutesy sayings, we are told that there are now some issues around the husband’s parenting skills, as there have been several statuses about him not contacting his children, failing to return calls etc etc. Once again, all played out on Facebook. With the kids (grown up kids, albeit) tagged in these statuses.
Followed every time, inevitably, by a bunch of comments from her Facebook friends, being very sympathetic and supportive and agreeing that the husband’s a total shit etc etc.
Anyway, last weekend one of the sons fell off his skateboard and had to go to A&E, where it transpired he’d broken his wrist. The husband apparently took over 24 hours to respond to text messages and phone calls, and a long discussion ensued on Facebook about his shortcomings as a father, and (I quote) ‘how awful it must be for poor Jack to know that his father couldn’t be bothered to make a two minute phone call to him’.
At which point, I couldn’t contain my horror any longer at this family’s private and personal issues being played out for us all to see and discuss on Facebook, and I commented that it can’t be very nice for Jack to have his father’s shortcomings discussed all over Facebook by a bunch of his mother’s acquaintances, either. Which went down like a lead balloon, unsurprisingly. So maybe I’m wrong, and old-fashioned, and it’s fine to wash your dirty laundry in public these days.
But I do find it very odd that none of her other family and friends seem to think it’s not OK to be putting all this stuff on the internet. I suppose, in one way, it’s a form of therapy, and she’s getting validation from all the supportive comments that she is in the right, and the husband is a bastard etc. Which is maybe what she needs, and if so, then that’s great. But surely it would be more appropriate with a few close family and friends in the privacy of your living room, than in front of a bunch of people you haven’t seen or spoken to for 40 years, on the internet?
I don’t want to judge, really I don’t, but I can’t help thinking that at some point in the future, she will regret this level of oversharing.
To a certain extent, as a blogger and YouTuber, I am also guilty of playing out my life in the public domain. But there are, without a doubt, parts of my life that I don’t, and would never, share online. There is a definite line that I would never cross.
What do you think? I’d love to get some other people’s thoughts on this.