As I mentioned, I recently tried being a guy on Facebook to see what would happen.
But even as a guy, I still only see the ladies.
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 the cuteness can lead to subliminal stress: 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 realized that I see female perspectives because my friends are mostly women: librarians (80%), Christians (60%), teachers (75%), grad students in anthropology (70%), and all the single ladies (100%).
I decided to test this theory by customizing my news feed, unfollowing the female sort:
This took a while. (Sorry, ladies! I’ll be back soon).
But I still wasn’t seeing all my guy friends. So I re-followed some guys I’d hidden, for arguing with friends’ friends or getting histrionic about politics.
What happens when you cut out the ladies?
Well, I saw more news, ironic comments, and memes. Some cute kids and travel and professional interests.
But I saw less vulnerability, less opening up about daily life.
Under pressure from life and gender roles, women seemed to tend and befriend, opening up about loneliness without a partner, bipolar disorder, fertility struggles, or stalled careers. But guys didn’t reveal life or gender stress, unless they were really suffering. (Think: cryptic song lyrics during a divorce).
But as The Mask You Live In documentary shows, we know the feelings are there:
So instead of seeing the social pressure directly, I had to guess at the pressures guy face from the advertisements I saw as a “guy.”
I saw pressure to always prove yourself, to be assertive instead of intimate and vulnerable in relationships:
I saw pressure to measure up physically and sexually:
And I saw many more pressures in the ads for testosterone treatments, fitness regimens, CEO minds and stylish ties.
It made my soul sad.
Men’s rights activists and alt-right gentlemen sometimes believe women are silencing and constraining men.
But when I took away the women, I saw men silencing and constraining themselves.
So I scroll down. There are more advertisements.
Ads for gelato. data networks. consulting. ESRI data mapping. custom suits. tie and sock subscriptions. razors, lots of expensive razors. Without my 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.