If you knew me only in Facebook form and then you met me in person, you might not believe I was me. I talk a lot on Facebook but I’m quiet in person. It seems to me like people who read my online blabbering ought to know me well…maybe even better than the people who have spent real-life time with me. But it turns out, in spite of my chattering, I play my cards pretty close and hardly anyone knows me at all.
Like most people, I tend to post mostly positive personal stuff. Any anger or frustration I discuss centers around trivial or humorous matters, not the things that really actually make me feel angry or frustrated. There are several good reasons for this. One does not want to invade someone else’s privacy or engage in public spitefulness. One also does not want to make one’s friends uncomfortable, and some feelings are considered unsuitable for public discussion.
Interestingly, sadness and grief meet the appropriateness test. If someone you love dies, you can talk about it and collect kind and supportive remarks from your friends. But anger and frustration—of the intense and real variety—are mostly off-limits.
Facebook is often full of good relationship news—people getting married, people celebrating anniversaries—and hey, good for them. But even though people get divorced all the time, that enormous life event rarely pops up on my feed. I think that even though it is so very, very common, there is still a stigma surrounding divorce. It’s embarrassing, shameful, and unsuitable for public discussion.
So I broke a social rule when I posted about my impending divorce on Facebook. I carefully phrased it in the most positive possible way—no anger, no frustration—but it still felt…transgressive. No one took me to task for it, but they were all so surprised. Not surprised that I posted it, surprised that I’m getting divorced. Because whether they see my face every day or read my thoughts every few hours, they only know the fragment I have chosen to present to them, and that has not included much in the way of reality, apparently.
Ironically, the person who knows me the best is the one I’m divorcing. The sheer sense of aloneness that results is one of those unsuitable feelings. But there it is.