I’m really not that interesting.
That’s the reality I came to most recently as I pondered one of many topics that racks my brain on the semi-regular. On this particular day, it was by way of the topic of Social Media that I became both humbled and dumbfounded by the “reality” so many of us choose to live through.
My thoughts seem to be most clear when I first wake in the morning or in the middle of a really good run. So one morning in the final days of the 2018 year I woke and my mind began to wonder. As the thoughts unfolded like rapid fire, I shot a text to a loved one.
When did this happen? I pondered. When did we all become so self-involved that we felt it important to let the (social media) world know where we were getting coffee or what our dinner looked like? And when, oh when, did we become so disconnected from our own lives that we actually wanted to see or learn such things from our “friends”?
Now, going further, I first must acknowledge that during this exchange of words in the wee hours, I noted the obvious of my hypocrisy. I’ve done my fair share of living “out loud” via social media and I’ve equally done my fair share of coffee check-ins and food photos. Perhaps that’s largely where this curiosity came from. When and how did this happen to me?
I also recognize the positive power of social media and have watched as well as experienced the “good” via this source on more than one occasion. Truth be told, I also rely on it, professionally speaking as I often find great story ideas, as well as use it to promote our work.
So while I may have spent some time examining the ‘why’ and ‘what happened,’ I also recognize its staying power, as well as captive audience.
Days prior to my epiphany I had a great talk with a friend who just days before had lost her home and belongings to a fire. Social media became a powerful tool for her on many fronts. It also became eye-opening by way of her and her husband’s friends as they quickly rallied to help the family recover all they could and lift them in their time of need.
As she and I spoke, she shared her concern for the younger generation who seems to be losing their way in terms of personal connection. So much time spent looking into a device in their hands, the art of conversation now reduced to texting, abbreviations abundant.
She also shared recognition of our own guilt. As we use this forum to share photos from vacations, kids sporting activities or travels, we essentially offer friends a CliffsNotes (I’m dating myself here) into our lives. The simplest question of “What’s new?” is now somewhat modified, as we’ve laid it all out in our newsfeed. Instead we’re greeted with, looked like you enjoyed or how exciting that Johnny was accepted into … you get the picture.
I experienced this first hand recently, after sharing video of my two children learning they would be taking a trip to see their father. It had been a while since they had made the out of state trip, so I chose to preserve the surprise via video. While it was fun to share their joy with the social media community, it was also eye opening in the weeks which followed. Friends, acquaintances randomly asking how the kids’ trip to see dad was. Often times it caught me off guard, how did they know? I’m shaking my head as I type this, recognizing my own guilt, as well as my desire for growth.
Because you see, as I stated in the opening, I’m really not that interesting. This past year, I learned I like to hear from my friends on the real life telephone or face to face over a meal, cup of coffee or a cocktail. I like human connection, the sound of laughter versus reading the letters L-O-L. I like to feel a hand reach for mine or an arm wrap around to hug.
The CliffsNotes, well they’re fun, sometimes uplifting, other times eye opening and even informational. Connection however, human beings coming together for real life connection, well that’s where it’s at and for me – that’s where I choose to keep my most uninteresting self in the year to come.
Happy New Year; look up, live big and connect.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.