Social Media = Perfect People

100_0263I have been unofficially studying social media since it first came on the scene: first it was MySpace, then along came Facebook and now Twitter and myriad others. As a result, I am developing a gnawing discomfort with social media even though I quasi- participate in my platforms of choice:  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and StumbleUpon. I should say ‘sort of’ participate as I am weening myself and this essay explains why.

Let it first be said – social media is addictive. Let it second be said – not a damn thing on any of these platforms is real, and that’s what so disturbs me.  When we are ‘on Facebook,’ we’re not living in three-dimensional reality. We’re engaging in one dimension with people who aren’t real because all the gritty, grimy, ugly stuff that makes a person whole is lost among cheery witticisms and snappy snapshots. On social media we become something else. We measure success in the number of friends or followers we have. We lose our real selves among  paint pretty pictures and clever repartee. The implications of this for the future are quite scary indeed.

I read an interesting report recently that claims those of us using Facebook to look up people are actually stalking them! Another report claims that many people become depressed from Facebook. No surprise here because comparing oneself to ‘perfect people’ is indeed demoralizing.

Finally, time spent on social media is time away from interacting with people or engaging in other greater good activities. If you’ve ever seen the movie Wall E, one of my favorite movies of all time, people in the future become fat, unable to walk, and spend their days lying on magically-propelled lounge chairs and talking on video-phones all day. They never engage with one another face-to-face and actually become rather useless. (Though there is a happy ending 🙂 Is this where we’re headed? Into a world where people create false selves that populate platforms where nothing is real and the skills of basic human interaction are lost?WALL_E_fat_chair

As you can see, I’m hot on this topic and agonizing over a decision to close out my accounts and get back to living more simply.

P.S. – I don’t count my blog as social media.

Motel 6

Motel6logoMotel 6: A man was found dead there the other day. Suspicious circumstances, they say. It is a seedy place. I know. There was a time, not too long ago, when I put my daughter up in that same seedy hotel. She was dying. She was an alcoholic and she had failed countless detox and rehab programs. They knew her at all the ERs and it hurt me when they laughed, scoffed, scolded and said, “Here’s our girl,” only they didn’t mean it in a kind way.

This had my stunningly gorgeous, stop-shouldered, brilliant baby become: lying in her bed day after day, a bed soiled with her own urine and occasionally, feces. She became a shadow of her former self – a walking skeleton, when she could walk.

The calls always came in the middle of the night. “Come, I need you.” “I’m sick, I’m going to die.” The voice always slurred. I went. Always. Until I didn’t. Well, I did, but instead of bringing her home for one more session of enabling, I did what they all told me to do – all the experts, all my friends, all the family. I did “tough love”. My form of tough love. I knew I needed to quit rescuing, quit saving, quit enabling but I wasn’t going to turn her out to the streets. I took her to Motel 6.

My skin crawled when I walked her down the hallway full of greasy heads sticking out doorways slurring taunts, cigarettes dangling from lips or held in dirty hands, most unlit. We opened the door to her grimy depressing little room. I hugged her. She held me tight. I held her tighter. I turned before she could see the rising torrent in my eyes. “I love you Mom,” she said in a surprisingly sober voice. “I love you more, Lovey,” I choked and ran to get out of that sleazy, squalid place where I left my baby because I was practicing “tough love.”

Did the man’s mother take him there too? Was she practicing the tough love everyone told her to do? Why did my girl live and hers didn’t?

Motel 6: I drive by you often, certainly not purposefully, only because you are one route or another. You almost sucked in my little girl and swallowed her whole, but I thank God, she was stronger than you.

Requiem to Winter

20130210_131924I am dazzled by the almost-blinding sparkle of snow as I walk my little dog on this late winter afternoon.  On our walk on this day, with the temperature hovering round 20 degrees, we are warmed by our brisk pace and the growing power of the sun’s rays. We are also encased in the glow of pure sunlight reflected off  pristine snow. It is simply put:  glorious.

Everywhere I go, people are complaining about this winter and wishing it away. They are yearning for the mild, mealy-mouth, wimpy winters of recent years, winters where I have yearned for the drama of a good old fashioned winter. This is it: a winter filled with winter. I am not wishing it away. .

I love these walks on days like this as well as the drama of a storm with its howling wind and swirling snow. I love curling up in cozy rooms with roaring fires,  snuggling on the couch with the dogs and lots of good books. I love getting my exercise by shoveling our driveway – sometimes two or three times in a single day!

Soon the maple syrup will be running and the sweet smell of it boiling will perfume the air. Soon the ice will go under in the Finger Lakes – swallowed up all at once into the depths as the cold water beneath emerges to the top. Soon the snow will melt from the lawns and gardens and the earth will have that rusty, vibrant smell that only fresh mud has and soon the geese will be moving, their honking a distant reminder that we’re moving from late winter to early spring.

I will love this, too. All the subtle nuances and smells and celebrations. I love them all – the seasons and all the in-betweens. And through them all I will walk my little dog.

Nick DiChario

Reader, writer, life-long mistake-maker

Judith Shenouda

Author of Living Well in Froggy's World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud; A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way; and Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal; and Owner of Shenouda Associates Inc., Provider of Technical, Marketing, and Business Communications

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