I have a bunch of brilliant friends, many of whom I met at the fancy pants Ivy League school I attended before I transferred to one more “me”. And Me is, was, and always will be a person who appreciates the Box but happily lives outside of it.
I also met my incomparable husband at this Ivy League school. He accepted me for the size and shape of the box I lived in, and for almost 12 years we lived happily together—until (record scratch alert) he died in 2009 from cancer at the age of 30.
To say that life changed would be like saying Michael Jordan was “meh” at basketball. The exterior of my entire world had disintegrated. And when my box flattened from the weight of disbelief and grief, I turned to the still new-ish realm of social media—less for support than for the container it provided my inconceivable and overwhelming emotions. I needed my friends and family more than ever, but as my life shifted from wife and actress living in New York City to nomad and “who-knows-what now”, somehow my Cyber-life became the solid one; the one I could control.
The first days of Facebook:
I’ll never forget my first status update: “Susan Myhr Fritz…is eating a bran muffin—not that it’s any of your business.” My husband Dan was still alive then, and I remember sitting in the lobby of our apartment eating a cardboard-flavored muffin coated with dehydrated grapes from one of those ubiquitous NYC food carts. I was giving myself a minute before heading up to the hospital to sit by his side and hold his hand; to read transcripts of old “Beavis and Butthead” episodes (I really did that); to stare out the window in silence while he slept.
Since I still carried around my un-smart flip phone back in those technological stone-age days, I sometimes borrowed Dan’s at-the-time “fancy” Blackberry Pearl to distract myself with Facebook and other internet eye-crack, filling and killing time as I waited and waited for each pixel to load. Oddly enough, it was during the most difficult year of my life I discovered the Art of using Facebook. At a time when life felt very out of my immediate control, I knew I could control what I posted. I could choose how to navigate my “cyber” persona and world. I mostly chose to crack jokes about running for president and what my platform would be or make light of a recent 6-train encounter.
Things have evolved since then, however. These days the lines between “real” and “cyber” are blurred more than ever. But the choice of how to present yourself and information remains. I sat down and tracked some of the unconscious guidelines I have followed to create a cyber-profile that is positive and creative.
Here are 5 of my tried and true tips to enhancing your life, your outlook, and your image with Facebook:
1. Change Your Status, Change Your Life.
You were getting ready to complain, weren’t you? Or post a picture of your leftovers? Think about it first and then…maybe…don’t. How you want people to see you is eventually how you’ll see yourself. Do you really want people to think of you as “The Whiney Friend”, or even worse, “The Food Porn-Poster Poster Child”? That gnocchi with sundried tomato pesto doesn’t look so appetizing anymore, does it?
2. Comment Onto Others Walls as You Would Wish Your Wall to be Commented Upon.
Your comments can make someone’s day better or worse—it’s up to you! I dug myself a nice big Expectation Hole when I decided to write “Happy Birthday Haikus” on everyone’s birthday Zuckerberg informed me about. Although I now reserve Haikus for the “extra special” (i.e. People I might actually see in “real life”), almost without exception I have written something other than simply “Happy Birthday” on people’s walls ever since. Maybe it makes the birthday friend feel good; maybe they think it’s lame…but good golly, I like doing it.
3. Be a Discriminating “Liker”.
If you rapid-fire click “like” on every single photo Kelsey posts of her new labradoodle, you’ll never earn FB cred. Hold back for the posts you truly love.
4. Present Yourself to the World as You Wish to be Represented.
How about you keep some of your #firstworldproblems to yourself. Keep that dirty laundry in its hamper. Everyone has problems and yep, it’s all relative! One man’s cancer is another man’s busted selfie stick. Does this mean lie? No, not exactly, but it does mean omit. For example, in my travels I take many photos of the same place, but post only the ones that best represent what makes it special to me. Often times I begin with a (what I think is a clever) title and post from there.
5. Unleash Your Creative Spirit!
As much as you define yourself as “a mom” or “lawyer” or even “unemployed”, you are a freaking snowflake! In the words of Tyler Durden in Fight Club, “You are not your job.” Show us who you are! As long as you are sincere and into being vulnerable, we will love you. And if we don’t, um…block us! Remember, you choose who and what is allowed to enter and stay inside of your Facebook world.
6. (Bonus) Cat Bomb your Friend’s feed. Smiles abound. No explanation needed.