Is Facebook Making Us Lose Our Sense of Reality?

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A commentary on 'The Bachelorette' and Jonathan Franzen's recent article in 'The New York Times.'

She calms her anxieties by making William prove his faithfulness to her in this rather odd version of a mock shotgun wedding. When he passes her test, she is overjoyed and tells the camera, "Any fears I had about that was immediately put to rest . . . I know it’s really soon to say this, but I am definitely falling for William—after only half of a date! I can’t believe I just said that!"

Ummm, I can’t either.

Ashley’s mock wedding exercise didn’t prove anything other than the fact that William is willing to do whatever it takes to stay on the show. At the beginning of the episode, he vows to make sure he’s not rejected. "There’s a rose at stake," he tells the camera. "I have to get this rose. I have to win her heart." The entire scenario becomes less about Ashley and William getting to know each other on a deeper level, and more about their personal obsessions with being liked an admired. 5 Ways To Make Your Facebook Page Ready For Love

Yet, as Franzen points out, this behavior is not compatible with real and lasting relationships because getting people to like us requires putting up a façade. He writes, "There is no such thing as a person whose real self you like every particle of." 

He describes the scenario of an arguing couple that starts to say nasty things to each other in the heat of the moment. The couple is then forced to confront the unlikable parts of each other’s personalities and must make the decision as to whether or not they will choose to love each other anyway. Franzen reminds the reader that there is such a thing as a person whose real self "you love every particle of," and he urges us to move beyond the superficiality of liking and into the raw, messiness of love.

Ironically, this is exactly what everyone on The Bachelorette claims to be wanting too. They want to find true love; they long for partners to spend their lives with. Yet, season after season, and in this episode in particular, many of the contestants go about it in all the wrong ways.

Why is that? Perhaps Franzen can point us towards a reason.

He comments that people love social media because their lives look more interesting through the facebook interface. As they portray themselves through blogs, videos, and various other online platforms, they often create one-sided versions of reality in order to play up their more likeable attributes. Conversely, if they are trying to get a rise out of their audience, they can easily highlight the less attractive versions of their personalities, but only rarely do they reveal a balanced version of their lives. Instead, they pick and choose, and as their audience responds to what they have posted, perhaps the danger is that this mediated version of their lives/selves starts to feel authentic. Dislike! The 5 Most Annoying Facebook Couples

Could this be the case with Ashley and William who seem to have bonded after planning and performing a fictional wedding together?