A group of friends went on vacation without me and their numerous Facebook photos are getting to me.
A group of my friends went to Florida the other day. They stayed in one girls’ mother’s apartment. There was room for only six so she had to be very selective with her invitations. I understand that. I wasn’t insulted that I wasn’t invited; they are not my closest friends. In fact, since I don't speak to them daily (or even weekly) I didn’t even know they had gone. Until I saw the Facebook posts…
There they were, arms around each other, smiling and laughing away. They were at the beach, they were at the bar, they were at a concert, they were at a restaurant, they were at the pool – and on and on. I could participate vicariously in almost every moment of their experience. And I started to feel hurt.
Why wasn’t I included? How had she chosen her guest list? Why had that one woman made the cut and not me? I tried to talk myself down. I reminded myself the Jewish teachings about not being jealous, about being happy with what you have, about taking pleasure in other people’s pleasure – I know the drill! But I couldn’t shake the negativity.
I blamed myself (of course!) but I also blamed them. They didn’t have to rub it in my face. They didn’t have to fill Facebook with a record of their activities. If they had kept it to themselves, I would have been none the wiser. Or if they had posted perhaps one or two pictures, I wouldn’t have felt quite so hurt, quite so left out.
Yes, I recognize that I have to work on myself on my reaction. I recognize that life is complicated and everyone can’t always be invited to every social situation. I even recognize that I may sometimes make those potentially hurtful choices myself. But I think posting on Facebook heightens the pain of those left out.
And to what end? Is there a gain from posting those sunny, sandy pictures that outweighs the downside, that justifies the hurt? I can’t think of it. If you want to share your pictures with close family or close friends (who also weren’t invited so why would you but that’s a separate question!) there’s always good old-fashioned (how times have changed!) email. Or you can create small groups on whatsapp…
There is even the possibility of not documenting every experience and just enjoying the moment but I know that’s too difficult to imagine. Nevertheless, we could all exercise a little self-control. Not every experience needs to be shared online. Not every vacation photo or family celebration needs to be viewed by everyone we know. A little less exposure, a little more self-control…Even if we risk hurting the feelings of one person unnecessarily it doesn’t seem worth it.
I’m honestly glad that my friends were able to get away for a few days. I know that some of them were desperately in need of a break. And, in my calmer, saner moments, I’m even glad they enjoyed themselves! But I think I would have been happier not knowing or with at least a less “in your face,” more personal and private presentation of the trip… and I don’t think I’m just speaking for myself.