Sheryl Sandberg's post on the death of her husband is a poignant departure from the usual 'best version of self' on Facebook

I've gone off Facebook. In its glory days, it was the virtual high-school reunion you actually wanted to attend.

Sandberg’s honesty about her loss highlights why she is a different breed, argues Thakkar
Sandberg’s honesty about her loss highlights why she is a different breed, argues Thakkar
I occasionally still post on the site, but my scrolls through the newsfeed are less from a voracious appetite to keep up with friends and more of a cure for train journey boredom. 

That is because, over time, our online selves have become so heavily edited and finessed to present the "best version of self" that so many of us are leading two different lives without even knowing it. 

I do it myself. On Twitter, I constantly draft, post, and then delete – "no, that was too honest". 

I know people who edit every post to present the best version of their lives. And then we complain that we’ve lost real connections with the people we were once close to. We moan that these social connections are a façade. 

What do we expect? 

Go back through your social media feeds and think about what content you haven’t thought about or strategised before posting. 

But, now and again, Facebook throws up an article that makes me realise why I love the internet. 

Usually it’s a listicle of cats doing funny things, nine times out of ten from BuzzFeed. 

Rarely, it is something more poignant that has my head nodding slowly with each word. 

That is what happened when I read Sheryl Sandberg’s post marking the end of sheloshim, the period of religious mourning for a spouse, following the unexpected death of her husband Dave Goldberg. 

It reminded me why we first fell in love with Facebook, or any social network, for that matter. Sandberg’s honesty about unexpected loss highlights why she is a different breed. Such bluntness underlines her particular brand of realness and the reason for her success.
And, if the internet is the ultimate answer repository for what we should wear, why we have a headache and where to eat, why shouldn’t we use it to look for answers on death? 

She’s a genuine sharer, and raw emotions stand out in a world where our on- and offline selves stand as polar opposites. 

We say this to clients all the time, so why not swallow the pill that we tell other people to take? It’s ok to update and share, but even better to connect and empathise. More than that, it only really works if we do it in a way that is true to ourselves. 

Meera Thakkar is an account director at Burson-Marsteller

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