Over at The Cut, they did a weeklong series on self-presentation on social media. It made me think about my best friend Bridget, who I’ve known since high school. She is not on Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Twitter. Or Tumblr. Or Pinterest. She checks her email at work—she’s an art therapist for children with mental and behavioral health problems—but she doesn’t have internet at home. She recently upgraded from a flip phone to an iPhone, and still feels conflicted about it.
She also has a few chronic health issues, which affect how she feels about making herself semi-public online. Whereas most people think about maintaining an online identity as a social or professional challenge, for her it’s an issue of happiness and wellness.
I recorded our conversation about what it’s like to still be young, but to live a life that has never been digitally chronicled, liked, or commented on.
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Ann: You were on Facebook briefly, right?
Bridget: I was for about two weeks, right when I moved to Iowa. It was a weird point in my life when I was really not proud of where I was or what I was doing, and all of a sudden, random people that I wasn’t even friends with in high school would contact me and ask, “What are you doing?” I didn’t want to say what I was doing. So I stopped using it and eventually I deleted it.
A: What you’re saying is totally common. Most people, me included, are like, “Why is this person friending me?” But nobody ever sees it as a reason to not use Facebook.
B: I really see no reason to use Facebook. I’ve read articles about how Facebook makes you feel worse about yourself, and it’s like, yeah, I knew it all along. That’s why I didn’t use it. Basically it’s creating a false advertisement for yourself.
A: Do you think it’s always false?