Tag Archives: in real life

This is community, not social media

13 Jun

12:44 pm

Hey, all. SO, I have been offline for a few days–it was my birthday yesterday, and it was one of those semi-perfect days that just unfold because you don’t make a bunch of plans and/or don’t put that much pressure on having the “perfect” day. ANYWAY, I ended up going on Facebook for the first time in literally 60 days, and what did I find?

The short answer is, not much! I only got three birthday messages, which might be because at some point, I hid my birthday from my profile (I don’t remember doing that, but apparently I did). I would normally have been bummed about that, because half the fun of Facebook was counting how many happy birthdays or messages you got from your “friends” on your day. I wasn’t bummed, though; I was just sort of like, eh. Aside from that, I really did not miss anything–maybe one event that I would have liked to have gone to, and maybe one or two things that I would have seen if I had been going on regularly these past two months.

What I didn’t miss was the overwhelming amount of not only useless and irrelevant information, but the inability to normally interact with “people” on the platform (normally, as in, what humans have been used to doing and what we are wired to do, which is thoughtfully and intentionally engage in a a social exchange, not a lobbing of comment here, sentiment there).

What I got in return was this realization that I was taking Facebook WAY too seriously–seeing how I never posted regularly, I can’t really imagine (and don’t want to) what it’s like for people who post everything, all the time. For me, it doesn’t mean that much after having been off for 60 days; when I’m on the ‘book, though, it’s like, that, inside there, becomes my world, the platform takes root in me and just sort of owns my mind, forcing me to seek validation from it.

Anyway, last night, I almost immediately found myself scrolling mindlessly again, not really all that interested in the posts, feeling actually more disconnected from people. I liked finding things out, but I didn’t like it enough–or more than I like/love–how clear and calm and FREE I feel when I’m not participating on this platform. It really just reinforced my desire to keep actually living, with intent; reaching out in person; finding out the news from actual people, local news sources, second-hand from my circles of in-real-life friends who are spending hours a day scrolling, mindlessly. I mean, the point here is that, I was mindless in my scrolling, and it was like, I wasn’t even able to engage with my so-called friends (which is maybe the point of social media, is that, you get to do and say whatever you want, in a relative vacuum). It was an exercise in frustration and disappointment.

I do miss “On this day/Memories,” but I have my photos and journal to remind me of my past life/lives, right? I actually miss my groups, but I can always go on every few months to catch up on those. I did miss a few events–someone’s going-away party; a business down here closing–but, eh, in the grand scheme of things, it’s SO worth the sense of clarity in not knowing everything about people in exchange for missing a few parties or events.

I have started blogging more in the past two months, have reconnected with this community, and truly get something out of blogging and reading/commenting on others’ blogs. It is a real exchange, a true sense of community–nourishing and stimulating rather than draining and boring! I am glad to be blogging more as it’s given me a comparison as to how one can connect and build community virtually, in ways that can actually work (for me, anyway). Social media dos not work, and I believe that it’s partly due to the lack of true exchange, a lack of anything but short sound bites (from you) and insincere replies (from others), insincere because no one is all that invested in you, in-real-life, unless you are actually friends (at which point, ya don’t really use Facebook to sustain your friendship, you call and/or hang out!).

Anyhoo, I had a good birthday: we actually went to a restaurant, where the tables were six feet apart, parties were limited to six people, and the servers has to wear masks. I mean, I felt fine, not in any way scared or paranoid. We have only had about 75 positive test cases in our area, which could be because there just haven’t been that many people tested rather than we just didn’t have the community spread that other places had. I will say that my family (living in multiple different US states) are really, truly scared. And, I don’t envy the sense of fear and paranoia that’s sort of infected the mainland alongside the coronavirus. I cannot comment on if that fear has been stoked, but I can say that people here are, in general, used to natural disasters like hurricanes (and the ensuing make-the-best-of-the-chaos-and-keep-living mentality that comes with these events) and therefore, I think, more community-oriented (what’s mine is yours, and vice versa; there were no land-grabbing wars around toilet paper here when the shortage arrived). That being said, it’s just going to take a while for things to go back to normal, but, they will; they very much will, whether we are ready for it or not.

Happy Saturday, all–may it be peace-full…

Two weeks off social media–do I really exist?

27 Apr

3:55 pm

Well, I’ve been off social media–Facebook specifically–for two whole weeks as of today.  And, I gotta say, I really don’t miss it, at all.  Like, I almost forgot about the entire affair until I ran into someone I knew last night (who I am not FB friends with) and thought, man, I should Facebook friend them.  And, then I thought, oh, wait, I’m NOT ON Facebook!  Haha.

No, for real, I don’t miss it.  Maybe I’ve just gotten lazy in these COVID times, but keeping up with my groups and news feed seems sort of futile–who cares if I miss something, right?  Of course, I am following the news on individual websites, and it’s hard to miss the mainstream news if you turn on your TV, ever.  However, I really couldn’t care less about what I may have missed when it comes to posts in my groups and by my friends.  I meet up with my friends here, of which there are a few–and, that has been totally enough.  I am not craving to know what they’re “doing” on Facebook; I feel like I am literally missing nothing.

That’s a relief!  I thought I would feel like I was missing out–and, frankly, it’s made me wonder about something that was in the back of my mind that this break from Facebook helped to precipitate:  is not sharing about your life on Facebook (or, in real life, too) the same as, not sharing your life?  And, is either necessary to live a good life, however one defines “good”?  Do I truly exist if I don’t share about my life on Facebook, or with anyone in the real world?

I have a roll of photos that only I have seen; I have tons of videos of our dog, but yet, NO ONE but me knows, really, of her life and times.  Is that fair to her, to have no one remember her because I didn’t share?  Am I depriving the world of something (my light, my perspective?) if I never share what I’m doing?  I mean, if I moved to an island and disconnected from everyone, how would my family and friends feel?  And, when I died on that island, would it have been a wasted existence since, except for me, no one else knew anything about it?

Two weeks ago, the thought of stopping sharing posts or photos of my life gave me a bad gut feeling–a feeling of fear, anxiety, dread; of, what will happen TO ME if I stop sharing about my life?  It’s mostly gone now, surprisingly; however, I am 45, an introvert, and sober (as in, I have had years of feeling sort of like, an explorer in the Arctic, totally clear-minded but alone as fuck), so I wonder how strong this fear is for young people, who grew up on social media, whose entire sense of self/personal reality are intertwined with “existing” on social media?

Is the hardest part of leaving Facebook (or Twitter, or Instagram) not really a fear of missing out, but a fear of being forgotten, or, worse, never having existed?  Maybe.  Of course, we can share photos with people in real life, but, this aspect of the entire world being able to know us–a little piece of fame, maybe immortality–is appealing on such a base level.

Anyway, after two weeks, I definitely feel like the noise has stopped.  I am receding into a quiet, perhaps naive, bubble of my small, but real, world; and it’s calming.  I don’t feel overwhelmed by the bumbling thoughts and misperceived slights bouncing around in my head; I don’t feel overdone by the incessant headlines, most of which I can’t read (for lack of time and effort) and can’t do anything about anyway (stories about elephants being abused in Thailand, for instance!).  I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on my actual friends’ lives; we have gotten quickly caught up in person when we have seen each other.

In fact, if I was job searching, writing, or reading (most of which I am doing, but um, not doing all that much of, I have to admit), I would probably be getting a lot done with all the noise gone and focus back!

On another note, our beaches re-opened last week, and this has been a glorious development!  We’ve been a few times; yesterday was a perfect beach day, and it was the first Sunday Funday anyone has had in a long time–it was a good day.

Our dog is hanging in there; the vet told us that there wasn’t much more she could do, however, she thinks our girl still has time.  Every day is a good day with her; every morning is a great morning to see her sweet almond eyes staring up at me, or her skinny back legs running like a horse in her sleep…

We’re just waiting, like everyone, for normalcy to return; and, while I said that as an introvert, I love me some lockdown solitude–even I am longing for things to start their upward swing soon.  It’s getting a little too quiet in here!

Face value

6 Apr

11:13 am

Take it at face valueTake what he or she says at face value.

I am so used to hearing expressions like these, but not really understanding them.  Lately, I am coming to grasp the meaning–and the value–of face value.  Maybe it’s the COVID-19 situation bringing it into better focus.

What is face value when you no longer see anyone’s real face?  I mean, in the age of text and social media, is there really any face value?  Sure, we have video–and, truth be told, I’d rather Zoom than not see people (I was SO excited to see my boss’s face the other day, after literally about nine months of just hearing her voice on the phone).  However, the majority of our relationships, for the most part, exist on text and social media–at the very least, I would say, NOT face to face, or, as they say, in real life (IRL).  Is anyone else getting simply tired of it?  Or, if not tired of it, wondering why you are feeling like an outlier because you don’t really want to count it anymore as real interaction?

I feel like so many of my relationships consider text communications to be sufficient–and, to be fair, sometimes they can be–to be the brunt of our total interactions!  To that, I am increasingly saying, it’s not enough.  It really does require more than that (for me, for where I am right now in my life and in my recovery).  To add, my not responding (or not responding fully) does not mean that I don’t like you, or that I am angry or pissed or whatever; it just means that I just don’t consider it “real” face to face–and I refuse to give it that value.

Even my mom sends emails a LOT more regularly these days; she used to get annoyed when I emailed her instead of calling.  Now, I can’t be bothered to go into depth over email, so she’s the one who’s like, why didn’t you reply, it’s been days!  The irony!

I know my tendency as an introvert is to not interact with people; but since getting sober, I have tried really hard to go around that tendency and force myself to talk to people, to try and see people (versus other ways of staying in touch).  We are, so many of us, introverts; however, being an introvert is not the same as using text to avoid someone because you are insecure; or, using text as a means to replace an actual “IRL” relationship because, for some reason, you don’t want to commit to a relationship.

The thing is, a lot can get crossed over the wires when you’re only–or mainly–texting or using social media; a lot can be misinterpreted or misunderstood.  Which can lead to, well, relationships gone bad.  And, these are never made better unless you see each other face to face–you can never really truly take things at face value unless you’re face to face, body to body (in my opinion, anyway).  This might be a rather traditional, luddite approach (favored by my grandparents, no doubt!  damn, has perimenopause aged me four decades instead of two these past several years?), but one whose value I am only now beginning to truly appreciate, in the midst of a pandemic that has forced us all to re-consider how we’ve been interacting lately.

On a personal note, I was furloughed from my (normally remote) nonprofit job–90 days, no pay.  I am going to try to collect UI, but we’ll see (I am not 100% sure I can get it considering how hairy things have gotten pretty much everywhere with everyone applying for unemployment benefits).  The silver lining is actually gold:  I get to step away from this job for a while, which has sucked up a lot of my mental and emotional time this past 16 months, and invest it in this blog, in my own personal writing, in well, my recovery.  Lately, I feel like I need to address my reactions to other people–maybe it’s as simple as, I see some of my acquaintances’ behavior differently now that I am more sober and older, and it probably was never cool to begin with.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I am increasingly like, bye, gurl, when it comes to confusing/indirect/passive aggressive behavior–I don’t have the willpower or desire anymore to dig deep and speculate; I choose to take things at face value.

In any case, I suggest everyone step back and give yourself a pat on the back and a big hug–you are doing great.  Amazing, actually.  And, I mean that–you can take that at face value.  YOU ARE AMAZING.

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