Another Unsettling Truth About Facebook

by Bill Brenner on August 27, 2010

My friend Linda noted that I changed the settings on my Facebook page to allow wall comments. It amused her because it was my birthday. She knows me well. Truth is, I wanted to see the birthday messages. Here’s the uncomfortable thing that says about me…

Mood music:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxeFCaEx3w0&fs=1&hl=en_US]

I suffer from an inflated ego. It’s a side-effect of where I’ve been. I have this odd fear of being forgotten. And I didn’t want to be forgotten on my birthday. It sounds ridiculous. But there it is.

OCD types have big egos. Achieving big things is one of the ways we try to fill in that hole in our souls.  In my profession, getting access to the major power players of information security is a rush. I feel like I am somebody as a result. When I don’t make it to a big security conference, the wheels in my head start spinning. I start to worry that by not being there, I become irrelevant.

With this blog, when I write something that really connects with people, the ego grows a few sizes larger.

I’m somewhat ashamed about this. But I also think it’s a common thing among us. When people say they want their birthday to pass quietly without hearing from people, I don’t buy it.

Everyone wants some attention. That is exactly why Facebook took off. People suddenly found they had a way to project themselves in ways never before possible. Wannabe writers suddenly got to become “published” writers because they had a platform to do it with. For the most part, this has been a good thing, because a lot of those writers are very good.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how I worry every time I discover I’ve been “unfriended” on Facebook. I get itchy thinking about why someone decided to drop me.

I think the reason is because at the height of my mental illness and addictions, I was alone. In my adult years, I isolated myself because it was too painful to show my bloated face to the world. When I snapped out of it, I became a lot more social.

Some of the ego comes from the addict in me. Addicts truly believe EVERYTHING is about them. You wouldn’t believe how people like us manage to find ourselves in every situation real or imagined. When you’re at a party for someone else, you think about how much attention you may or may not be getting. The best description of this came from Alice Roosevelt Longworth, eldest daughter of one of my heroes, Teddy Roosevelt.

Of here father’s ego, Alice said, “He wanted to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral.”

I shuddered the first time I saw that quote, because I identified with it. And it made me feel shame.

If Facebook had been around in Teddy Roosevelt’s day, he would have been absolutely insufferable with it. He might have found that it was a grander “bully pulpit” than the presidency.

Maybe he would have wasted all his time on Facebook instead of going on his African safaris or journeying down the infamous River of Doubt in South America.

Who knows?

All I know is that I do have a big ego.

I suppose the first step of finding more humility is admitting it.

All that said, I’m grateful as hell for all the people in my life. I felt truly blessed to have so many friends and family yesterday. It made for a wonderful birthday. I felt loved. And we all want to feel loved, don’t we?

That is something I’m NOT ashamed of.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Alan Shimel August 27, 2010 at 2:21 am

Bill it also makes for the best bloggers (ego that is)

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