My dog died. (Sorry, horrid way to start out a blog…but there it is). Actually, it’s not my dog he belongs to a really close friend, but I’ve known him since college, so it feels like he was mine–like a furry cousin or nephew that I used to see a lot. He was old. Lived a good life. Was loved so very much.
When I got the call about the news, I had three reactions:
1) I can’t believe he’s gone
2) I wish I could cure the deviation being felt
3) I need to post it on social media.
Whaaaaat? Ok. The first two are normal. The third has become the norm. But why?
Social media, like anything else, has so many positives, but it also has its negatives. It allows us to connect and reconnect and network with so many people. I can see pictures of new babies from across the island, I can see accomplishments and exciting news of friends scattered across the country, I can see updates from the other side of the world. Instant private views and news. Unfortunately, it also allows over shares, and created co-dependence. It brings up the adage: if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound? The problem is, everyone wants to make sure that they’re heard, even stranded and in a forest of our own making.
Cellphones allow the same thing. Don’t get me wrong–I couldn’t live without my smart phone–I’ll try to turn it off for a day, and only last a few hours (Candy Crush, I can’t quit you). I have a love hate relationship with my phone. With the ability and possibility to need and be needed by hundreds nee thousands of people at any given moment of the day. (Phenomenal cosmic power; itty bitty living space. Anyone?)
Let me go back to the dog…when I got the news I was talking with one best friend, and I was about to meet up with a second best friend (I believe in lots of friends and many best friends; at least for myself.) Mid phone conversation, the text came through. I started bawling. I was still talking to phone friend and meetup friend rang my buzzer. I told both friends all of my feelings and sadness. Amidst all of this I wanted, no NEEDED to tell the world via social media what happened.
Why? Why did I need to tell my 1006 “friends” when I had two right in my reach? Two genuine people. Two people who know the responses which soothe me most. Two that would actually hug me.
I have to tell you, it itched, the need to post my sorrow. How would people know the reason I wasn’t myself?
So, are you reading this crazy thought and shaking your head at me??? I’m shaking my head re-reading it. (A little side truth…I started this blog almost 6 weeks ago and am polishing and revising now. Seriously?!? Why did I feel that need?). Well, I felt the need because I wanted to connect. I wanted to reach out, and be reached out to. In this fast world, we still need a human connection. Even if it’s just a “like.” This fell under the co-dependence AND over sharing headings.
There is such comfort in knowing we are not alone. But at the same time, it’s mildly creepy we allow people to stalk us. It really is an odd phenomenon. We allow people to know details about our lives that are relative strangers, or are strangers. I still can’t get over people walking up to me on the street that I vaguely know, and asking me how some life event was…because they saw me post about it on social media.
Now, let me be clear–I love social media. I think it’s a great forum. It’s amazing to find friends again that were lost and are now found. It’s great to connect with people who were once a part of my life in different cities–my California peeps, my relatives, my semester in London. But, it’s when we become dependent, addicted, if you will to social media that it’s the issue.
My Facebook app was on the second row right hand side of my iPhone for years. It was easily accessible. In one quick tap, I could look anyone up. Facebook became my go to when waiting for anyone…I’d hop on when I was bored, lonely, or even just wanting to space out. I found myself rechecking Facebook five minutes after I had just checked it. Nothing new in the news feed. And it was worse when I had a crush on someone or was dating them…I was a mild stalker. (Don’t judge. I’m sure you have some bad social media habits, too). I’d even do this to my friends when they were too delayed in texting me back–where were they, if they checked in at a movie, I’d know that why wouldn’t text back for a few hours; but if they weren’t checked in anywhere, there was no excuse for not responding. WHOA!!!!! What? Stalker much? I’ll admit it. And then there was a moment I went crazy because of Facebook…A friend went AWOL for days. I checked Facebook, and a picture of him doing something silly, having a smile on his face popped up. I LOST it. He could post on Facebook but not respond to a question I had sent him via text 4 days before??? I cried. I was angry. I wanted to text him mean and angry things. Luckily, my sensible side kicked in. Who knows when that picture was taken? Maybe then. Maybe weeks ago. Maybe he, like me during my dog death time, needed to show the world how he wanted to be seen in the moment he posted. Who knows. The thing is, my overreaction came from the thought that I felt like he thought all of his Facebook friends deserved to see that he was happy more than he thought I deserved a response. He needed the attention of his 1006 friends on Facebook (I don’t know how many he really has…I just like the number 1006 to describe number of Facebook friends. Because who in real life has the time to keep up with 1006 friends?!?) In that moment he needed that attention, more than he needed the attention of one of his best friends. (Remember when I mentioned co-dependence up above…?)
We’ve sat down and dealt with all of that–but the point is that both he, and I during my dog time, felt the need to tell everyone instead of being “old fashioned” and just talking through our feelings with a nearest and dearest.
This incident, and more my overreaction to it, made me take a week off of Social media. It actually stretched to 10 days–I was quite proud. I missed a birthday party, the death of a friend, and something else that was really big at the time, but I can’t seem to remember what it was. The thing is, I found out about them through other people. Eventually. My life went on. The first few days were rough. I ended up moving the app into a folder, moved it to the fourth page of my apps, and the second page of the folder. So it took me three swipes, a tap, and another swipe to enter the realm of Facebook. Actually, it still does. And I use it less. And life goes on.
I now check maybe once a day. And it’s kind of blissful. People know how to find me. I know how to find people if I’m having a rough day. My friend (the one who “inspired” the hiatus) and I talked out the situation. He doesn’t know the picture on Facebook was the catalyst. But it doesn’t matter. I cried. I wanted to cry about my “wolf” dying. Instead of taking it to the masses, I took it to genuine friends.
Social media is great to reach out. I’m not saying “don’t use it.” But remember that “social” is defined as: interaction that is enjoyable. Needs, burning desires, stalkings, and the like, aren’t enjoyable. Think about how you post and browse. Is it truly social? I have had a “posting policy” for the last few years: unless something will positively effect, I don’t post it. How do your posts rate to that? Are you more negative or positive? Maybe you need to take the week challenge and see how your life changes (or goes back to normal)! Get your face out of your phone. Actually talk to people, see what happens. If you need more convincing, read this article about relationships and social media. Use social media for good, not evil!