When Your Facebook Feed is More Like an Episode of the Jeremy Kyle Show

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.

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26 thoughts on “When Your Facebook Feed is More Like an Episode of the Jeremy Kyle Show

  1. Absolutely agree with you; something’s are just too private. I think she will only regret dragging the kids into it in the worst way. They will be grieving themselves for the apparent loss of their father and need a supportive parent rather than being constantly hammered by their Father’s perceived shortcomings.
    Whilst I understand she may be posting from the depths of despair, I think you are right that she will look back and regret it and it was brave of you to point it out. I hope it made her think.

    • I think I just made her angry, but understandably, I guess, she’s just not thinking that clearly at the moment. As you say, Jo, she’s probably in the depths of despair.

  2. The difference between blogging and Facebook is the instant nature of the communication. Prepping a blog post takes some time, and hopefully the writer has a think what to say and how to present it, so a post created in anger may never be posted in that form, while a status update on Facebook is a button press away. Plus, I’d like to think, bloggers want to create a positive experience for themselves and others… not that sad/bad news isn’t shared, but that it is shared in a way that allows and encourages empathy rather than shock and awe. And eventually some things are just too private to share in any form.

    • You’re right, on all counts. I wrote this post four days ago and have looked at it and tweaked it every day since, as I wanted to make sure it was saying exactly what I wanted it to say, and hopefully not coming across as harsh criticism.

  3. Well said Caroline. I have a Facebook page for my blog but the personal account I had to open to facilitate the fan page has nothing on it apart from my photo. I find Facebook just too tacky.

  4. I agree, My Son’s partner recently posted to all and sundry about a row they had,my Sister informed me,I have a had a moan or two myself but would never put anything like you described especially when there are children involved. I was asked by my Sister in law why I think putting pictures of my cooking on there is interesting,she said the other day you out “making home made burgers” why do you think anyone wants to know that? I blocked her.

    X Dawn

  5. Great post Caroline, I’m totally in agreement with you – social media is great for keeping up to date with friends/family etc in a positive light but airing the dirty laundry is usually just the need (like you say) for validation & attention seeking. Funnily enough, what angers me more than anything is those folk that say things like ‘Cannot believe what just happened’ or ‘I can’t take this anymore’ or ‘This is the worst thing I could ever go through’ etc etc and when friends enquire what’s up they either blank them all to keep everyone guessing or just reply ‘Don’t want to say’!!
    Don’t get me wrong, it’s not cause I’m eagerly waiting to get the gossip I just can’t abide attention seeking for no valid reason. Point being – keep dirty laundry in the basket at home, no one needs to see it, have some standards! lol Again, great post Caroline 🙂 Karen x

    • Oh yes, the cryptic, attention-seeking posts always make me seethe as well. I always hope that everybody just ignores them, but inevitably they’ll get comments!! Have a great week, Karen, haven’t had a chance to watch the second part of your Q&A yet, but looking forward to it later on today hopefully x

      • Arrrgh me too Caroline!!! I’m like ‘don’t flippin respond… that’s what they want’ *sigh* The joys of Facebook lol Awwh thank you very much, hope you enjoy it! I watched another one of your vids last night too – it was when you were on holiday (I think Lazarote) Lots of palm trees around balcony of room… that one 😀 Really enjoyed it & I had peace to view it which made it even better lol X

  6. I agree absolutely – Facebook is not where one should be sharing this sort of thing. I think she will suffer for it in the end. A former colleague of mine was let down badly by her husband soon after their child was born, and she posted all sorts of stuff about him for ages. Eventually, I believe, she was advised against it because it could cause problems when divorce proceedings were under way and arrangements for access to the child. I think TV has a lot to answer for in this age of ‘airing your dirty linen in public’, particularly the Jeremy Kyle type programmes (I saw one and vowed never again!).

  7. This is one of the reasons I visit Facebook infrequently and post anything even more rarely. Lately one of the things that really makes me gag is a certain couple who gush excessively to each other…no one else comments, but they do it continually…so I am wondering why they feel the need to make it public and don’t just snuggle on the sofa whispering these things to each other. Blech.

    • I know EXACTLY what you mean, Kathleen – I’ve got a friends who are much the same – lovely people in real life, but OMG, the pair of them SO need a a filter on Facebook!

  8. I can’t bear this side of Facebook… I particularly hate the status where someone says ‘What an awful day’ or something to that effect, everyone rushes in to ask ‘what’s wrong’ and they reply ‘I’ll inbox you’ ermmm….

    Victoria x
    FlorenceandMary.com

  9. I don’t think it’s right to involve your kids in something like this. I always remember me moaning about my OH on the phone to my daughter and her saying, “He is my Dad and I don’t want to hear this!” Her boys may feel the same. I think it’s a bit like a pressure valve sometimes just to let the steam blow.

    What annoys me more is the woman who us constantly moaning that she has put on a pound in weight and what is she going to do at the fat club weigh in. When she is a skinny bitch. Sorry, shouldn’t use that language but does annoy me as every other pis is about her weight.

  10. I,m not a fan of facebook and agree with you Caroline,in fact i think it can cause so much upset sometimes .My daughter went to a friends wedding and the bride specifically requested that no one put photos on facebook,until they had put their own on ,some thoughtless friends took no notice and put them on the very same night.we found out our niece was pregnant via facebook ,as her partner posted it on facebbook immediatelyafter seeing the scan before my sister in law had chance to ring and tell us ,not quite the same is it? Dont get me started on Jeremy Kyle i’m convinced half of the people on there must be actors!

  11. I am so in agreement with you! Last year I posted a comment on a Facebook ‘friend’s’ page (not anonymously, under my own name) saying that photos she had put up of her child made me feel uncomfortable and perhaps she could take them down. She did do this but then posted an apology for anyone who had been offended by them. By God, I was left without a name by her friends – ‘PC Police’ being the least nasty and she was urged to ‘name and shame’ me and I was all set to be lynched. Am pretty sure that none of these people would ever actually have said anything to my face as well!! I deleted her so I wasn’t tempted to read the comments but weirdly she is very persistent in trying to befriend me again – how strange!!! 🙂
    PS Hope this doesn’t appear twice as the first comment I left disappeared so I’ve typed this again – apologies if t does!!

  12. I absolutely agree! Washing dirty linen in public is bad enough, but much worse when it involves other family members. And as for the attention seekers, they drive me nuts!

    • Just awful, isn’t it? In a way you can understand it from the younger generation who have grown up with the internet, but someone in their late 40s – words just fail me, really.

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