If life were a contest, Facebook would be the scoreboard. Through vacation photos, career updates, and blurry proposal videos, the most depressing website in the world allows users to compete with 1,700 random acquaintances to see who has the most interesting life. (Spoiler Alert: It’s not you!)
Although other social media websites like Instagram and LinkedIn compartmentalize your inadequacies, Facebook is able to combine insecurities about your professional life, physical appearance, and weekend plans in one aggregated spiral of shame.
As the old saying goes, one person’s good news is another person’s reason to stay in bed all day wondering why nobody invited them to go hiking.
But wait! People I rarely see in actual social settings love hearing about my life. Isn’t there a tolerable way for me to keep them informed of all the exciting things I do? Great question, cliché millennial who thinks he’s special! If you must share all of your exciting news online, there are several ways to do it without making everyone actively root against you.
Here are some simple adjustments you can make while posting about such notable milestones as:
Getting a Promotion or New Job
Standard post: Got my dream job! So blessed and excited!!!
What it makes your friends think: I remember when I used to have dreams. Then I went to law school.
The key to posting about a new professional opportunity is referencing how horrible your working life has been leading up to this moment. Mention the unfulfilling tasks you’ve had to do over the past few years while living with no hope and in total squalor. Reference the fact that your previous boss made everyone go to his child’s birthday party on the Saturday night of a long weekend. Did someone routinely steal your food out of the shared refrigerator or make you join a fantasy football league even though you were already in one and couldn’t afford it? Great! Discuss those. You just need something that allows your peers to look at the last few years of your life and say, “Wow, this person really needed a break.”
Announcing the Birth of Your First Child
Standard Post: We just added even more love to our family!
What it makes your friends think: Holy shit, I’m 29 years old and still single.
This one is tricky. Nothing makes your single friends reevaluate how far along in life they are than seeing someone roughly their age caring for a child. The key here isn’t to make the baby sound terrible, but rather to explain how difficult your life is going to be now that he/she has arrived.
Did you get pregnant unexpectedly and are now unable to financially support the baby? Post a story about how getting that second job driving for Uber is totally worth it when you get to come home and clean up the fecal matter of someone who forgot you existed the moment you left the house.
Maybe your in-laws are staying in town for a few months to help out and didn’t want to waste money on a hotel room. Perhaps you’ve been forced to give up a hobby or group of friends you no longer have anything in common with. Everything the baby has taken away from you is terrific fodder. Sure, the Internet is forever and this may come back to haunt you in 15 years, but the child psychiatrist will sort all of that out.
Buying a New Home
Standard Post: Finally got our dream house!
What it makes your friends think: Really? I still have two roommates.
If you’re under the age of 25, this is a losing battle. Unless you somehow won it on a game show or decided to live in Detroit, everyone is going to assume you’ve either sold a company to Google or had your parents pony up $400,000 for the down payment. Neither of these will endear you to the public.
If you’re dedicated to making the purchase of a new home (in the midst of a crippling housing market) not seem like the massive triumph it truly is, explain how the decision was made haphazardly and without any research. Did you buy the first home you looked at? Perfect! Paid $100,000 over asking price because the real estate agent said there was another interested couple? Share that story!
If you’re an artist with no concept of how the real world works, you could detail the exorbitant interest rate you’ve agreed to pay. Then kick it up a notch by wistfully questioning why the bank gave you a loan that you’ll clearly never be able to pay back. As long as people can look at your dumpster fire of a financial decision and feel superior, there’s no limit to the amount of gazebo photos you can share.
If you’re not sure which way to go, ask yourself one simple question: Is this something I’d share at a dinner party where I’d actually have to see the reactions on people’s faces? If the answer is no or “actually, I never think about other people,” just take a step back, delete what you were writing and post a picture of some food.
Fabulous Vacation Photos
Standard Post: Spent two whole weeks exploring the great outdoors!
What it makes your friends think: Why doesn’t my office have any windows?
First off, if you have multiple children this shouldn’t be a problem. Nobody looks at a family trip to the Grand Canyon and thinks, “Man, I wish I was driving for 13 hours with two kids kicking the back of my seat.” You may even garner some empathy if you’re flying with the wee ones. Six hours in the Atlanta airport with a screaming baby isn’t bragging; it’s basically a sponsored Facebook post for mid-20s abstinence. You could get bonus points if your final destination is somewhere cold or currently in the middle of a civil uprising. People may be legitimately intrigued by your family’s Christmas trip to Kiev.
If you are, however, traveling somewhere interesting and without children, do not (seriously, ever) post that your job is paying you to go there. Nothing will make people reach for the un-follow button faster than an update about your business meeting in Ibiza. Exciting trips that are part of your job are one of the most universally loathed things in the social media world. They make people question pretty much every aspect of their life and secretly pray for the day you end up scouring over spreadsheets in a dimly lit cubicle.
How Much Weight You’ve Recently Lost
Standard Post: CrossFit! Four weeks in and loving every day of it!
What it makes your friends think: I thought we all agreed to get fat and give up on life together.
There’s always one person in your group of friends who decides to aggressively fight the aging process with relentless exercise and a fad diet that makes them insufferable to go to restaurants with. (It’s just a bowl of lettuce when you get the dressing on the side of a Caesar salad, Jacob!)
If you’ve chosen to become this person, feel free to post as many half-naked bathroom selfies as you want. Although it’d be nice to have 2 percent body fat, nobody has ever looked at a picture of someone trying to look sexy while standing next to a toilet and thought “maybe I should be doing more interesting things with my life.”
What you shouldn’t do, however, is post anything with a number in it. Whether it’s your goal weight, the amount of miles you’ve run, or how many times you’ve flipped over a giant tractor tire, all you’re going to do is make people feel inadequate.
Instead of fat shaming your friend list, why not give them a reason to support your unhealthy obsession. Point out that you were left at the altar because your fiancé wanted lanky basketball-playing kids. Tough to cheer against someone who was told his or her genetics were inferior during an uncomfortable wedding ceremony. (Nobody wins when people decide to write their own vows. Nobody!)
There are a myriad of other topics (wedding photos, deciding to go vegan, anything vaguely related to your stance on the Middle East) that also require a slightly altered approached. If you’re not sure which way to go on these or other topics that weren’t touched on, ask yourself one simple question: Is this something I’d share at a dinner party where I’d actually have to see the reactions on people’s faces? If the answer is no or “actually, I never think about other people,” just take a step back, delete what you were writing and post a picture of some food.