Tag Archives: social media

Facebook Highlight Reel Does Not Depress Me

I’ve been reading a lot about how the Facebook highlight reel may be causing depression. Well, I just want all of you to know that your Facebook highlight reel does not depress me. I kind of like it. No, I absolutely love it. Maybe it’s because I love pictures of kids, babies, cats, dogs, job promotions, and all of the tiny successes my friends have on a daily basis. That stuff makes me smile. When I see new haircuts and posts about people doing kind things and someone winning an award for being awesome I actually cheer and show the pictures and statuses to my husband. Call me a little sappy or a little nutty, but I like seeing good things happen to good people. I like seeing the way they are devoted to their families and how the extra effort they are putting into their work is finally paying off. I like to see them going on spectacular and exotic vacations.

Facebook Highlight Reel
Portrait in Alcohol Inks – Work In Progress

I’m not saying Facebook doesn’t depress me because it does. Just for very different reasons than the researchers are suggesting. When I see the same article, five times in five minutes, about a couple who let their baby starve to death in his crib it makes me sad and angry and outraged. When I see people posting racist memes or really mean-spirited, untrue political attacks on our politicians I feel a little agitated. When I see people being mean and cruel or sometimes just plain ignorant…I feel a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I want to scream, “Do your research first!” or “Stop being such a bully!”

These are people I care about and they are saying things that are just terrible. It’s especially hard when it is a family member because for some reason that makes me feel even more sad. I think, wow, when did my family member get so mean? Or angry? Or bitter? I mean, sometimes on Facebook and other social media, you get to know a side of people you didn’t know existed. Or maybe just didn’t want to know existed. You find yourself worrying about people. You wonder about their mental health. You start to feel helpless or even a little hopeless about the world you live in. Sometimes what people post changes your opinion of them. Don’t even get me started on the people who like to rant and rave all day long. I’ve had to hide them from my feed. I can’t take that level of hostility for prolonged periods. That does depress me. It’s like being washed in a wave of negativity for hours at a time. That is not an enjoyable experience. Once I started figuring out how to hide posts from my Facebook feed I found myself having way more fun on Facebook. I mean, who wants to pop on Facebook and see someone screaming about how they wished the U.S. would have public hangings before you’ve even had breakfast? That’s not how I want to start my day. I’d rather wake up to posts about kittens. Let me work up to murder, politics, and people who want to set other people on fire after I have had my coffee.

I really get overwhelmed by sadness when I see people getting attacked in comment sections too. This happens daily. People are so rude sometimes. If they aren’t calling people names they are mocking them. You start to wonder what happened to having manners or polite disagreements or treating your friends, well, like friends.  What ever happened to formulating well thought out arguments? Do people even know how to do that anymore? Or not agreeing with everything someone says or believes, but still respecting them or loving them anyway? On Facebook it’s so often one angry mob yelling at another angry mob. I think social media has replaced pitchforks and torches. Witnessing that on a daily basis can be kind of depressing. You start to realize how cruel the average person can be and that makes you lose faith in humanity.

What restores my faith in humanity? Your Facebook highlight reel. So please, show me your kindergartener’s first day of school and the picture you took with Justin Bateman. Brag about the concert you went to last night or about how you spent Thanksgiving feeding the homeless. Share stories about men stopping other men from harassing women and stories about dogs adopting orphaned kittens. I want to see your son grow up and get a full scholarship to college. I want to see you get your first book published. I want to know when your daughter’s volleyball team won the state championship. I want to see all of those good things. Every single one of them. Your Facebook highlight reel does not depress me. On the contrary, it’s the only reason I am on Facebook at all!

 

I Hate When The Internet Controls My Emotions.

Winter Tree art
When the Internet controls your emotions you sometimes feel sad even when you don’t want to. 9×12 alcohol ink on Yupo paper.

I know after reading my title you are going to tell me that nobody can control my emotions. I can see you clearly, in my mind’s eye, struggling to refrain from yelling, “Stop saying the Internet controls your emotions, nobody controls your emotions, but you, Lady!” I know. It’s true and thank you for not yelling at me by the way. I appreciate your patience. I really do.

I should have written the title more like this : I Hate When I LET The Internet Control My Emotions.

Because I do let the Internet control my emotions more often than I’d like to admit. I see an adorable kitten snuggled up to a fox, sleeping with a dog, and I feel my heart breaking with the adorableness of it all. I read about war and starvation and young girls getting raped and I feel so angry I could explode and then so sad I could cry myself into oblivion. I try to make a picture appear inside a box on my blog and it won’t work and my email keeps locking me out and I could pull out all of my hair in frustration. Darn you Internet machine! Why can’t you be easier to use?

People hurt my feelings by unsubscribing from my blog or from my Twitter feed or by just  ignoring me all together. I find myself thinking, “I thought we were friends…?” People write mean things in the comment sections of blogs and mock the writers courageous enough to share their heartfelt, often tragic stories. People cling to imaginary cliques and spew angry words and stab at each other with letters and punctuation. It’s ugly. It’s sad. It’s mean. It’s boring. Still, I feel it. I feel all of it.

People go on better vacations than I do and cook better and clean better and look better and teach better and spell better and dance better and paint better and there is always someone doing it better and faster and smarter…I feel small and fragile and unsure. I wonder if I am even functional and if other people just live better than I do? Where do I fit into all of this? It’s all so amazing and overwhelming. You are all so amazing and overwhelming…and beautiful. It’s exhausting. I can barely keep up.

The Internet makes me laugh. The funny people are so funny. I could laugh until I cry or my side splits open or my face hurts so badly from smiling that I can’t smile any longer. The jokes! The laughter! The awesomeness of having a friend who lives in Malta or Australia or London or Virginia…it’s so exotic and exciting and intoxicating. It’s so big. The world is all there, right in front of me and it is funny, and warm, and inviting, and joyful. It’s Bigger than me and I am a part of it. I am connected. I am loved by people I may never meet and I love them back just as deeply. I tell them my secrets. I tell them my hopes. I tell them my fears…and they accept me. I feel all of the happiness. All of it!

I feel so much hope when I read about a brave little girl who overcomes the obstacle of gunfire to go to school or how people all over the world donated money to help someone get cancer treatment. I see people taking steps toward fairness and justice by writing about hard topics. I see people standing up for one another and doing things that make a real difference. I see people overcoming adversity and setbacks and triumphing over evil and making so much out of absolutely nothing. I am in awe of you. All of you. I am inspired too.

I feel pride when my friends brag about their children being kind and smart and silly. I see pictures of my family growing older and getting stronger and building lives. I cheer on people I have never met in person who are publishing their own books and making art and writing songs. I admire people who get up everyday and go to a job they truly dislike so they can put food on the table and still have enough energy to find the humor in their circumstances and to blog about it because they want to make sure nobody feels alone in this world. They are good people.

I feel proud of my human brethren. I celebrate their victories. I dance when they dance. I sing when they sing. I cry when they cry. I feel it. I feel all of it. I feel the connectedness and the loneliness. I feel the sadness and the joy. I feel the anger and the indifference. I feel it all.

I hate when the internet controls my emotions. I hate when I let the Internet control my emotions, but sometimes it does. Sometimes more than I care to admit.

 

 

Is This Conversation Over?

I am really bad at ending conversations. I just feel awkward because I can’t say goodbye gracefully and I can’t really ask people, “Is this conversation over?” I am pretty sure that would be rude, especially if I wanted to end the conversation and they didn’t. Which happens pretty often because I get tired of talking before most people do. Too much talking makes me want to take a nap. I’m better at thinking and typing or thinking and painting, or just plain thinking.

When I am talking to another person and I think the conversation is over I tend to sort of linger because I am not sure if it’s really over (and knowing I wanted the conversation to end about 10 minutes ago makes me feel guilty for being less social than other people). This is one of the reasons I am often late for things, but to be fair some people keep talking even as you are moving towards the door and waving goodbye. They seem to have trouble knowing when the conversation is over too. Body language helps me read other people. I can take a hint when they start packing up their stuff, but what do you do when the other person in the conversation doesn’t take the hint? What if you are about to pee your pants because they have followed you right to the bathroom door and don’t even pause to breathe so you can say, “Hang on a minute”? I know people like that. I know a lot of people like that. So, again, I wonder, is it me? Why can’t I end a conversation more gracefully? Why don’t I know when the conversation is over? Why can’t other people tell I am trying to leave or go to the bathroom? I feel like I am being incredibly obvious, well as obvious as I can be without being rude. So, I just feel awkward like I don’t have a full grasp on social engagement and conversational manners.

Lucy dog sleeping on her back
If only I could be this Zen.

On the phone it is even worse. I am so grateful for the invention of speaker phone because at least I can carry the phone around while other people do the talking. I’ve noticed a lot of people don’t seem to care if anyone is listening. They just like to talk. They don’t seem to pause for a response or care if they get one. Again, sometimes I have to pee and since I can’t get a word in edgewise, I will pee while people are on the phone. In my defense, they aren’t listening anyway. They don’t even notice when the toilet flushes. I am not even kidding. I can’t help but think if I just knew how to wind up a phone call and say goodbye better I’d not only know when the conversation was over, but I’d also be able to end it without being rude. I really hate to be rude so I usually let people talk. I let them talk for a very long time. I figure they must need to get it out and off their chest. Not everybody has a blog like I do, right? So, they talk and I cut paper and sweep floors and wonder if I set the phone down in one room and went in the other room for a few minutes if they would even notice (they usually don’t). I am probably being a little rude by experimenting, but aren’t they rude for not noticing I am missing from the conversation? I don’t know for sure because I am missing the gene for appropriate conversations, obviously.

If I am really lucky people will just text message me. It’s so much easier to end a conversation in text message because people have to pause to type which gives me a moment to say, “I have to go!” Plus, they will never hear my toilet flush and I don’t have to listen to them go on and on about their annoying co-worker while Tiny-Small is crying because she needs a nap and Rosie is barking at the car driving past our house. Text messaging reduces some of the noise and I am grateful for that too. Which leads me to my next paragraph. How’s that for a writing transition?

Text messaging and Facebook and Twitter are really awesome ways to communicate because you can take your time responding or finish washing the dishes or answer the door and nobody thinks you are rude. Still, I have my issues with this mode of communication. I mean, how many times are you in a back and forth type conversation when the other person just stops responding? You don’t know if they had to stop because their kid just barfed on their shoes or if the conversation is just over, but they forgot to say goodbye. Or maybe they didn’t think to say goodbye because they are on three different social media accounts on their computer and also texting on their phone so your conversation just got lost in the shuffle? It’s happened to me before. I’ve been on both sides of this type of behavior. It doesn’t feel good either way because I usually wake up in the middle of the night remembering I forgot to say goodbye to someone and feeling guilty and awkward over my accidental rudeness.

Sometimes you wonder if you just offended someone with your awkward and dorky joke (not everyone gets your sense of humor, right?) and they just don’t want to talk to you anymore, but you don’t know for sure because they aren’t saying anything. The worst is when the person doesn’t respond at all. You don’t know if they just missed your message or if they just don’t care to talk to you. That happens to me on Twitter all the time. So, not only am I wondering if the conversation is over, I am also wondering if it ever started. I imagine they just don’t like me or have better people to talk to or just have a lot of kids barfing on their shoes all at the same time. It’s awkward. I’m awkward. Everyone is awkward. I hate to be rude so then I just message them more to be like “Hi I am not as awkward as I feel, but am now proving to you that I am even more awkward than you originally suspected”. Phew…being social is hard work. I just want to know if the conversation is over and whether or not I did something wrong (or right). So, I over-text and use too many smiley faces and do an excessive amount of exclaiming things. It’s not pretty.

Conversations can be difficult, especially when you are an introvert. It’s not my special talent to be all chatty and high-fiving people. I have to fake that stuff sometimes and hope I am being appropriate. Maybe we are all faking it (I hope so because then I might be less awkward than I think I am). Maybe we all feel awkward (please tell me this is true). Maybe we all wonder why some people don’t respond at all or why they respond so much that we don’t know what to say back. Sometimes I over-respond to people in a frenzy of excitement (usually because they actually said something back) so the next time we chat I try not to be so excited or don’t respond at all because I think maybe that is the “right” way to interact (instead of lavishing attention on someone) and I just want to seem slightly normal and less awkward than I really am. I often wonder, am I doing this right? I really don’t know, but I think all of these uncomfortable feelings stem from my inability to know for sure when a conversation is over. It’s like I am blind to that type of social engagement. Is there a diagnosis for that?

Like right now, I can’t even end this blog post. Have I said too much? Have I said too little? Am I now rambling because I don’t know how to end this one-sided conversation?

Probably.

I know I am just thinking too much about it, but that’s what I do best, right? Do you ever feel awkward about ending conversations? Do you struggle with knowing when a conversation is over? Am I the only one? Don’t be afraid to tell me I’ve lost a few marbles. I accepted that about myself a long time ago.

 

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