Many of my 1,214 Facebook friends have told me that they wish their lives were like mine, and I agree, I wish my life was like mine, too — as it appears on Facebook. Days are filled with beach walks, boating, and hula hoops, and nights with sunsets and live music.
A recent event has led to the opposite effect, however, and now I wonder, “Should I stay or should I go?”
As a news reporter, I “liked” several politicians months ago in order to keep up with current events. One of those likes was posted on my behalf, with no clicks on my part, front and center in the Facebook news feed during the airing of the Democratic National Convention. I was made aware of the posting by a message from and old and dear friend that said, “Really? Or am I being hacked?” Upon further inquiry, I was informed that Big Brother had told the public, “Carrie Ann Salvi likes Mitt Romney.”
I’m not sure what horrified me more, the fact that something was posted on my behalf, that as an unbiased reporter who is not supposed to have a political opinion I was tied to a political party, or that it happened during the opposing party’s convention. I feel used, violated, and fearful of what else has or will end up in the news feed with my name attached. I immediately “unliked” Mitt, and Obama, too, to be fair and balanced.
Several of my Facebook friends whom I have spoken with personally have told me that they live vicariously through me on Facebook. So, aside from the occasional tragedy during which I have sought the community’s prayers and positive thoughts, I have happily shared photographs and “check-ins” to spread the joy of my striped bass and strawberry-basil mojito-filled life.
That life contained no war, bills, cat puke, rainy days, stressful deadlines, or politics. But now it has been violated, bonds of trust broken. My information was used without my consent to endorse the campaign of a political party. I must seriously consider if I will continue to live there.
Sure, there are other reasons that removing myself might not be a bad idea. There have been family disputes, broken friendships, stalker situations, and there is always the question of how much time is wasted. Oh, but the benefits . . . how could 955 million active users be wrong?
I have formed online friendships with those I didn’t get to know during school years, found a job in the news feed, met a boyfriend, screened potential new boyfriends after that one ended up being “blocked,” stayed in touch with faraway relatives, and received much-needed support during the recent loss of my father.
Most important, I love to take pictures. I don’t understand it fully, but photographing the things I see brings me joy, and the thought of downloading the previous day’s shots makes me jump out of bed in the morning. Sharing the pictures on Facebook and seeing who enjoys them is fun for me, too, and over the last few months, seven or eight have been chosen to grace the cover of The East Hampton Star.
There are other places I can share my pictures, such as Instagram, which is promising, but Facebook is a habit that is hard to break.
I also heard this week that voting numbers have increased due to Facebook posts, and just yesterday that a group of gang members were arrested as a result of the news feed, so good does come of this, but it is also clear that one never knows who will view your information or what they will use it for. For now, I will modify the ever-changing privacy settings and expect the best, or another message from a friend.
Carrie Ann Salvi is a reporter at The Star.