For research purposes, I recently turned into a guy on Facebook.
Yet I still get a female-dominant perspective.
Not that my lady friends try to be dominant; in fact, many are quite self-effacing.
But with 400+ lady friends, the posts-photos-ads-articles all reinforce each other: inspirational girl pilots and body positive quotes, cute children and embracing couples.
And beyond the cute, there’s the exhaustion.
Am I fun enough, colorful enough, tall enough? Should I share more of my work and travel and home life? Am I witty and touchingly honest enough?
Or am I oversharing?
Maybe I’m oversharing.
Post. Edit post. Delete.
I see female perspectives, I realized, because most of my friends are women: librarians (80%), Christians (60%), teachers (75%), grad students in anthropology (70%), and all the single ladies (100%).
But what if I looked from another angle?
I decided to customize my news feed, unfollowing the female sort:
This took a while. (Sorry, galentines! I’ll be back soon)
But I still wasn’t seeing all my guy friends. So I re-followed a few guys I’d hidden, often for arguing with friends’ friends or getting histrionic about another political party.
I saw more news, ironic comments, and memes. Some cute kids and travel and professional interests.
But what did I see less of?
Less vulnerability, less opening up about daily life.
In response to life and gender-role pressure, the ladies seemed to tend and befriend, opening up even about challenges such as loneliness without a partner, bipolar disorder, fertility struggles, or stalled careers.
But the guys didn’t open up as much, either about life stress or gender stress in particular.
Yet I know it’s there:
So I had to guess from the advertisements I saw as a “guy.” The pressure to always prove yourself, to be assertive instead of intimate and vulnerable in relationships:The pressure to measure up physically and socially:
And so much more, implied in the advertisements for fit bodies and CEO minds and stylish clothes.
It made my soul sad.
The alt-right folks insist that women are silencing and constraining men.
But when I take away the women, the silence, and the male-on-male pressure remains.
But scroll down.
There are more advertisements, for gelato. data networks. consulting. ESRI data mapping. custom suits. tie and sock subscriptions. razors, lots of expensive razors.
And without the ladies, my men aren’t posting enough to keep up.
The ads start to fill my feed, one after the other, in a long line.
Medical care. artificial intelligence. boxing championships. libido-enhancing but probably weird tasting energy drinks.
And then I reach it.
The end of facebook.
More friends, Facebook urges.
What you need is more algorithmic friends.