So Why Do We REALLY Post on Facebook?

I've always wondered why.  Meals prepared for company.  A child's A in Spanish (guilty!).  A million pictures of a vacation (OK, so I was jealous).

Why do people post these things on Facebook?

Now researchers may know.  According to a new study, people may do it to express feelings you don’t normally feel comfortable sharing with other people. And some of us feel more comfortable expressing ourselves to hundreds of Facebook acquaintances than to a few face-to-face, in-the-flesh friends, according to research by Albright College assistant professor of psychology Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph.D. reports that Seidman discovered that people "who are more comfortable expressing their true self online will post on Facebook more often and will post more personally revealing information and emotional content." These people, said Seidman, are more likely to be seeking attention, acceptance and validation from others.

But do they get it?  No, says the study.

 “They are posting more information and more emotionally revealing information, but are not getting any more feedback than those who are less expressive,” said Seidman.

The psychologist says people are doing it, in part, because they feel like they can express things about themselves that they can’t do in another context.  While Facebook is not anonymous, people tend to feel more removed from their audience and thus, more comfortable disclosing personal information.

“People feel the urge to post and they may not always think through the impact,” she said. “But when you’re face-to-face, it is more anxiety-provoking.”

But really, why do people post such personal stuff (I'm thinking of you, Anthony Weiner)?   The study didn't go into that.  And really, do we truly care if someone's just run three miles in 30 minutes (OK, that was me, too)?

Some experts say we now do a lot of our "identity" work online.  They add that we're always being asked "Who are you?"and "What do you have to share?" on the Internet?  But I don't even think that's it.

Let's face it.  We want people to be impressed, or surprised, when they read about us.  I know I felt huge validation when my son was recently bar-mitzvahed and I posted a photo of us, side by side in the synagogue.  And I'm not even Jewish!

So why do we do it?  I remember reading that some of us do it because we want others to think we have a fabulous life.  How many times have I read about someone's huge bash (I wasn't invited to) and been sick with envy?

But in the end, we only have our real truths.  I'm a pretty average mom, with a pretty good career, and a pretty good marriage.  Wouldn't I like people to think, though, that I'm having the time of my life?

I have a real problem with honesty.  You see, I'm too honest.  (I've lost some friends that way and I'm pretty sure that's why my mother-in-law isn't too crazy about me.)  So, for me, to try to pretend I have this fabulous life is just, well, not me.

So I guess I'll just stick to the facts (I rarely go on Facebook these days) and save my posts about my great meals for well, me.

Just wish sometimes there were a TMI button. 


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