Thinking About People Who Have Less Than You Before Writing/Bragging About It

If you’re writing about your life on social media and want to be considerate of the feelings of people who are not lucky enough to have what you have, be cautious about how you write about your highly desired, hard to obtain things and experiences like a second home in the country, a shiny new Tesla, beautiful well-adjusted kids, and a loving spouse.

Self-aware people tend to exercise this restraint when it’s about material wealth. I don’t see a lot of compassionate, aware people writing Facebook posts like, “It’s so glorious to have a second mansion in Napa. It just feels great to jet over there and relax in wine country.” The people I know who maintain multiple fancy residences either don’t write about it publicly at all, to self-express with subtlety: “Beautiful day in the Hamptons” might be the caption of a single photo of a beach; they choose not to include a 6 photo slideshow of their fancy kitchen and $5 million re-model.

Yet with respect to one’s personal life, people tend to be less restrained when writing — and bragging — about their triumphs.

“So blessed to be married to the most amazing man in the universe, who loves me every day, pushes me to be stronger, and makes me a better human. He’s my rock.” How do singletons feel when reading this? How do people in shitty marriages feel?

It’s especially noticeable when it’s about kids. Parents frequently post odes to their perfect offspring without regard to all the people who may be reading it who are unable to or cannot have children for whatever reason.

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating how amazing your spouse or child is, or for that matter, how much you love that second home in Napa, or your thousand dollar bottle of wine, or brand new Tesla. But there’s a time and a place for those celebratory words and photos. Private journal? Private email to friends? Private iCloud photo stream group?

Our social media presences by default broadcast public to the world, indiscriminately. If it’s low cost to self-express without making those who are less fortunate feel badly, it’s worth doing, in my view. Many people already do this with their material trophies. If my Facebook feed is any indicator, people could do better when tooting their horn about their personal life wins.

5 Responses to Thinking About People Who Have Less Than You Before Writing/Bragging About It

  1. James says:

    Good points. One thing I’ve become alert to is that the “Shout-out to the most amazing husband/wife in the world!” posts can be a cry for help. I know a guy who regularly praised his wife to the heavens on Facebook, and learned afterwards that during this time she had been having an affair behind his back for over a year.

    Reply
  2. Anna P says:

    Thank you for this, Ben.

    Reply
  3. I DM’ed a link to this post to Donald Trump, as I couldn’t think of anyone who needs to hear it more than he. In reply, he called me a bunch of insulting names, unfollowed me, and this morning two FBI agents knocked at my door. A tweetstorm may be headed your way.

    Reply
  4. marci Alboher says:

    I feel like you are always one step ahead of all of us Ben.

    Reply

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