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The Great Lie Of Social Media

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Screen shot 2013-10-31 at 2.26.45 PM

Image via Digital Trends

Happy Halloween! Today is a top five social media day (right behind the 4th of July, nothing filters better than an American flag). You’re going to see posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and LinkedIn (people are dumb). Get ready for the world to be having the best time of their lives, and really they should. Halloween is awesome. You can be anything or anyone and the “no fat chicks” rule is out the window. Right?!!? There will be no bad Halloweens on Facebook.

You’ll see the group of girls dressed as hot toddlers, clutching a rope, lead by a sexy teacher, and they will all be wearing smiles. But you know what you won’t see? Reality. You won’t see the girl who slows the whole group thanks to the guy she’s texting. Or the “teacher” who got so drunk that she lead the whole class into a mens bathroom to puke. You won’t see the guy dressed as Steve Urkel who constantly hits on the group by repeating, “Did I dooo thaaaaat?” Or the girl at the end of the night, slumped against the wall, gut finally claiming victory in its war against the spanks that once overran its border, mascara running down her face as she cries and eats. All of those things won’t be captured in sepia toned and cropped. They will not be cleverly captioned. Those aspects of the night will remain uncatalogued, and therefore unremembered. All of the things that would make you say, “Thank God I missed that party,” won’t be included. No. Just a post of 10 girls, doing the skinny-arm, tan, and captioned: “Don’t fuck with Ms. Ross and her bitchy third graders.” And it will look awesome.

There was an article going around titled, “7 Ways to be Annoying on Facebook.” I had approximately three dozen “friends” show up on my news feed, re-posting this article and commenting something to the effect of “Let’s take note, people.” Now, I’m as American as a heart attack, but I had fleeting fantasies of a fascist paradise where those people are rounded up and disemboweled in a public square while we all cheer, jack off, and salute our Supreme Leader — which is a long way of saying fuck those people. You may be asking, “But J-Train, they’re just expressing their frustration with the growing phenomenon of online narcissism and a culture built around desperation to share even the smallest monotony, blah blah blah fart.” To which I’d point out that every one of my news feed chums that shared that article could be ranked from 1 to 36 on my worst offending friends in that regard. One of the girls who posted it writes a blog about her dog. Another followed up that post with one about “PSL Season.” Apparently, the irony of posting an article about not-posting was lost on them. It’s like firing off a round into the sky to support gun control.

My frustration, however, isn’t with the post itself. Hell, I may post more than anyone I’m friends with — I’m a standup comic, I write for TFM and; in my line of work, Facebook is a marketing tool. No, my anger comes from the great lie of Facebook: that our lives are better than they are. My mother commented to me recently that Facebook made her sad. Everyone seemed to be living more than her (isn’t that just like a mom to lay bare a truth so simply?). I explained to her that it was an illusion, that everyone only posts the good stuff, that to take Facebook as life is to take highlights as sport, that it’s as much about proving something to themselves as proving something to everyone else. But I’d wager there are a lot of people out there that find themselves saddened, or at least made self-aware, by the endless string of good times populating our news feeds. It’s a hard thing to remember that these same people don’t post about being underpaid, or their deadbeat sister, or their below-league-average five-inch dick. But those things exist, too.

We’re all a bit narcissistic. There is a touch of self-promotion needed to survive in the world, but the level to which some folks take it is tantamount to deception. Photos on the beach, carved pumpkins, adventures in a thrift shop — “Oh, it’s all so glamorous, isn’t it? This is just me! Living!” I imagine they say to themselves as they rest the cold barrel of an unloaded gun in their mouth. I understand I sound cynical, and don’t get me wrong, I love a good baby shot once in a while (I like to comment that he or she looks awfully “sexy in that pose”). I WANT to see people’s lives. It’s the reason I’m on Facebook at all. But to post once or more a day about the goings on of your life is a transparent cry for attention, a rehearsal for the life you want but don’t have, the reassurance no one else will give you. Know this: you’re shouting into the ether as your flesh hurtles headlong ever into death. But hey! You got some “likes”!

Recently, I posted that I had a gig at a college not too far from New York. A friend of mine that I ran into after that said, “Hey, I saw that gig you did. You’re really making it! Amazing!” But you know what? I made $350 for that gig, barely worth the gas, money and hotel. On the drive home, I wondered if I drink too much. I briefly considered masturbating in the car to pass the time. When I got back, I had to step over my brother, who is living on my couch. Maybe I’ll post that on Facebook. Real life. Messy, fun, ridiculous, sad. And I’ll wait, and hope, that someday the only reassurance of living I’ll need is opening my eyes to another day.

Until then, check out my new article on! And please “like” it. I’m begging you.


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Jared Freid (@jtrain56) is a New York City-based comedian who has been featured on MTV’s Failosophy and is the host of The JTrain Podcast presented by TFM.

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