I wrote a draft of this post a few weeks ago after taking a break for a week from all forms of social media to spend more time in contemplation. After spending this past weekend “unplugged” in the mountains with my family, I decided now would be a great time to post and end my long blog silence.
I honestly love social media (Twitter,Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc) for several reasons. It’s definitely a great avenue to keep up with friends that you’re not able to see on a regular basis and share life moments together that may otherwise go missed. With all of the glory of social media, there’s definitely a down side. I remember this Fall I was back home in my small hometown in Georgia at a Friday night high school football game when one of my parents’ friends told me how beautiful my new house was. It struck me a little strange because my first question was, “How did they see my house in Charlotte?” when it dawned on me — Facebook.
In so many ways I feel like Facebook gives us a false sense of community and closeness. There’s definitely something to be said for posting your life through status updates, pictures, and check-ins to the world in a pretty and filtered fashion. Doing real life together is not near as glamorous as the cutest and craftiest creation on pinterest that puts Martha Stewart to shame or having random people post on your wall once a year for your birthday. In several ways Facebook is not only a time suck, but a creativity suck. How can I express and impress “friends” in a few letters to show how cool/fabulous/smart/fill in the blank? I feel in some ways, social media takes “keeping up with Jones’ ” to a whole new level.
I worry about how freely we share the most intimate details of our lives for the world to see. In browsing facebook, you can find out personal information that would have taken a Private Investigator a while to figure out pre-Facebook world. In 2 minutes, you know can find out where Meredith went on vacation this week (even with the location stamp!- scary!), pictures of that scandalous Halloween party, and update on that old acquaintance from college (She’s currently 4 cm dilated and should be having her baby very shortly — with pictures to soon follow!)
I’m not trying to be negative or overdramatic. I read someone I follow on twitter the other day state that we’re the first generation to be able to leave a “digital foot-print” and wondering out loud what our Grandkids will think of us when they go through all of our old Facebook status updates and tweets. This was the first time I’d thought about a digital legacy of short for my someday kids and their kids to follow and see.
For me social media became a coping mechanism of sorts. When things were crazy at work and I needed a stress break – I’d find myself making a trip to the handicap stall to read people’s Facebook posts since the last time I’d checked (probably a few hours ago before I’d left my house for work). When I was bored and “vegging” out at the end of the day – I’d distractedly watch TV and surf Facebook and Twitter from on the couch. This was a great way to escape a meaningful conversation with my husband and drift in and out of surface level thoughts.
I always strive to live an authentic and open life. There’s definitely a level a trust that comes in real community that has to be earned. I want to know my friends and be known more beyond just my facebook posts and thoughts/musings tweeted in 140 characters or less. I want to be known as the girl who eats a protein shake (on a “good day) or fast food (on a “bad day”) for dinner out of exhaustion and isn’t making a yummy, photo-worthy meal from pinterest to be shared on Facebook or Instagram. I need people who check in with me and don’t just assume everything is great based on my statuses or pictures of life. And I need people who need me to do the same things for things. Hold honest heartfelt conversations. Sit with during dark nights of the souls. All the while enjoying the beauty and awesome times that life brings too.
If you haven’t seen the 15 Things White Girls Do on Facebook (or even if you have) check it out for some much needed humor!