Friday, May 20, 2016

Living the dream...

I think it must be human nature not to be satisfied.  By many peoples' yardsticks, I have lived a pretty awesome life thus far.  I'm not satisfied, though.  I'm constantly comparing my life to other peoples' lives and measuring myself.  I know I'm not the only one who does this.  It seems like everybody is watching other people and judging them.

There's a lady on my Facebook friends list who's stunningly pretty.  I don't know her personally.  I think I "met" her through RfM.  She lives in England and, I think, has either just finished university or is about to.  She constantly posts about her work situation, usually in a negative light.  Recently, she posted that it would cost 30,000 GBP for her to get a master's degree.  I helpfully quipped that I got two master's degrees and am now an Overeducated Housewife.  Her response was that I'm literally "living the dream".

That wasn't the first time she'd told me that, either.  On more than one occasion, she expressed awe at my lifestyle, which I'm sure to people on Facebook, appears to be pretty awesome.  At least for right now, I don't have to sit in traffic, change diapers, deal with teen angst or shitty bosses, or worry about my finances.  I also travel a lot.

On the other hand, I worry all the time about things.  I'm turing 44 next month and afraid to see a doctor for health screenings.  I'm not going to have children and Bill's ex kids hate us, so when I'm old, I may end up with no one to help me.  I worry about Bill losing his job, getting hurt, or dying.  I worry about my dogs.  I constantly worry about the future, even though the present is going very well.

There is also a lingering disappointment that I put a lot of effort into being self-sufficient and ended up not being self-sufficient.  Fortunately, my husband is a very kind, loving, and generous soul and he doesn't mind that he has an overeducated hausfrau to take care of.  I would be lying if I said this ridiculous lifestyle wasn't an insult to my pride, though.  Also, it just seems like time has flown by so fast.  It doesn't seem like it was that long ago that I was young and hopeful.  Now I'm middle aged and jaded.

Do people not realize that Facebook is a distorted lens?  What you see on Facebook are generally the high and low points of someone's life.  They've actually done studies on how Facebook can cause depression.  You see someone's vacation pictures or photos of their happy family.  Maybe they'll post the occasional mundane status update, but people tend to frown on boring posts.  So what you see are the highlights and lowlights of someone's life.  That may cause you to look at your life, busting your hump at an unsatisfying job or struggling through a disastrous marriage and wonder why you can't be as happy and successful as your "friends" are.  Your friends have all this stuff out there on their Facebook page that makes it seem like they are "living the dream".  But they're really not.  No one is.   Dreams are not reality.  Facebook also caters to narcissists, who are definitely depressing to be around.

Facebook can really make a person feel blue.  I'm glad it wasn't around when I was suffering from depression.  I remember feeling singularly unsuccessful in those days.  It seemed like everyone was judging me.  Of course, depression also causes distorted thinking.  It never occurred to me that most people are too focused on their own lives to care too much about another person's struggles or successes.

I like Facebook because it's good company.  Because I live in an overseas military community, there are a lot of people who share my plight.  Most of them don't have a lifestyle like mine because the vast majority of them are younger and have kids around.  But I've still managed to make a few friends and they can relate to this lifestyle, at least temporarily.  I don't know how long we're going to live like this, so I might as well enjoy it.

I don't like Facebook because it can cause a lot of hard feelings.  For instance, I feel pretty sure that most of my family ignores me.  I guess that's okay.  They have that right.  A lot of them are "friends", but we never interact.  It kind of makes me feel depressed because they're my family.  On the other hand, it would probably be worse if they told me what they think of me.  At this point, I can only assume what they're thinking and be grateful that there's an ocean that separates us.      

For those who grew up in a time before the Internet, this hyperreality seems surreal.  Or, at least it does to me.  I'm not sure if it's better or worse.  I do think online living can have a deleterious effect on the quality of a person's relationships.  On one hand, you may "meet" people you'd never otherwise meet.  On the other hand, many of the people you "know" on Facebook are probably still technically strangers, unless you've really interacted with them a lot.  There was a time not so long ago when this kind of relationship was mostly impossible.  Now it's becoming the norm.  Pretty soon, people won't even need to meet people face to face.

Anyway, tomorrow we leave on yet another vacation, and there will no doubt be plenty of pictures and posts about our wonderful experiences that will fool people into thinking I'm "living the dream".  So I leave you with this awesomely obscure Prince song.  I highly recommend checking it out if you've never heard it before.  The lyrics are all about this phenomenon of "computer relations" and seeking a better life...

Prince (with help from Kate Bush) sings "My Computer".  This song was released in 1996 and was way ahead of its time...  Yes, this is how it is now, isn't it? 


  1. I wasn't a big fan of Prince, but I actually sort of like this song.

    1. He was very versatile. He covered several songs I never would have guessed he would.


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