Your Facebook friends and their perfect families are not as real as you might think

Broker Notebook

This may come as a shock to some who read my Facebook updates, but my family isn’t really perfect.

I more or less invented my perfect family a few years ago, and I write about them on Facebook. I have never claimed to be perfect myself, and I’m not complaining about my real family.

Hidden emotions image via Shutterstock.
Hidden emotions image via Shutterstock.

As I often put in my Facebook updates, I am truly blessed. Sometimes a perfect family is just a perfect family, and it isn’t necessary to read anything more into it.

My real family is all right, but far from perfect.

I could list the defects we have as a group but I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I will say some members of my family are funny looking and others are not always nice to each other.

None of us are rich, famous or powerful. At our best we are pretty average, but for some of us that is even a stretch.

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Why would I create a perfect family that exists only on the Internet and in my imagination?

It may not be healthy to spend too much time on Facebook, whether for business or for pleasure."

I did it because Facebook is a make-believe world where parents leave updates telling me how wonderful their children are and how much they love their spouses and how happy they are.

Everyone in one family I know is happy all the time, and each Facebook update is joyous. There is never anything wrong, or if something is wrong, it’s the typical first-world, upper-middle class type problem that most people would not mind having at all.

Those Facebook avatars, with their glowing smiles and the wrinkles and imperfections edited out, sitting next to photographs of beautiful smiling children or movies with cute pets in them, can lead us to imagine that everyone is living the perfect life — except us.

I have learned a lot from my imaginary perfect Facebook family. My perfect family updates seem to resonate with some.

The people on Facebook who know me well understand that my perfect family is fictional. The people who do not know me as well may think that I am bragging or complaining. I don’t take the time to set them straight.

The world of Facebook isn’t real. Most of us are only sharing a highly edited view of our real selves and we are passing it off as who we really are or maybe who we wish we were or want to be. Many of my Facebook updates are pure fiction and just for smiles.

The people in our real everyday lives disagree with us, fight with us, and tell us things we don’t want to hear. They arrive late and keep us waiting. They borrow our books and don’t return them. Or we find one of our shovels leaning up against their garage.

But that isn’t the stuff we put on Facebook, because it is just too real, honest and boring.

Our real families make us laugh, they make us cry, and they make us angry. But they are never perfect, and we do not love them completely every minute of every day nor do we always feel fortunate even though we are.

It is only on Facebook that people are happy all the time. Most people have some friction in their lives and even in their families.

My family isn’t perfect and neither are the families of your Facebook friends. Never compare your own life to what you see on a website, not even for a second. Your Facebook friends are not as real as you might think they are.

It may not be healthy to spend too much time on Facebook, whether for business or for pleasure. Each minute we spend in that make-believe world is time that could be spent face-to-face with family or friends.

Or, as my perfect parents used to say, we could be outside playing or getting some fresh air.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.


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