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Friday, December 9, 2016

After reading Stephen Marche’s cover story about Facebook in the latest issue of The Atlantic, I went online to find the link so that I could — what else? — share it on Facebook.

The print edition, however, isn’t immediately available online. Thank you, Atlantic, for rewarding us loyal subscribers.

Interestingly, Googling the story’s title — “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” — generated more than 7 million hits. Apparently, some of us have been fretting about our Facebook addiction for some time now.

Marche’s piece is a riveting read, exploring whether Facebook is building or undermining a sense of genuine community. He writes: “The question of the future is this: Is Facebook part of the separating or part of the congregating; is it a huddling-together for warmth or a shuffling-away in pain?”

The answer: Yes, yes, yes and yes.

Marche’s discussion of real versus false intimacy has the potential to push Facebook friends to a whole new level of anxiety. Could it be we’re a bunch of phonies?

“The price of this smooth sociability is a constant compulsion to assert one’s own happiness, one’s own fulfillment,” he writes. “Not only must we contend with the social bounty of others; we must foster the appearance of our own social bounty. Being happy all the time, pretending to be happy, actually attempting to be happy, it’s exhausting.”

Anyone who’s regularly on Facebook knows exactly what he’s talking about. A lot of people are so relentlessly happy it’s annoying. People like me, I’m suddenly realizing.

I use Facebook primarily to spark discussions, but I also post personal updates. I never have admitted to having a really bad day. I was raised to be sunny no matter how dark the skyline. In a land of Eeyores, I’m Tigger.

So, I wonder: Have I become one of those annoying round-the-clock fakers chirping that life is  beautiful all the time and I’ll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats and they’re coming to take me away, ha-ha, ho-ho, hee-hee.

Sorry. Maybe it’s only me getting anxious.