I resisted joining the world of social media for quite some time. Its not entirely clear to me why I was a total grumpy-pants about getting connected online, but looking back I think it's safe to say that I was just too beleaguered with raising my special child to think about it. I figured I would have nothing to say unless it was about poop. But the inevitable happened. I started lamenting that I was out of loop when my sisters or friends talked about postings on Facebook. I realized that people put a whole lot of interesting pictures and stories on their blogs and that not all blogs are perpetually cheery braggy braggerton-type "Christmas Card" updates. Some are, for sure. But by cloistering myself from social media, I was simply missing out on some good stuff.
I've only just discovered within the last year what most people have probably known for quite some time: Facebook reveals much about the people who frequent it. It is really fascinating to me that I know all sorts of mundane and momentous things about people whom I haven't seen since high school. We've become grown-ups as our lives have taken divergent paths. And frankly, we are all a whole lot more interesting now than we were back then. It's really satisfying to hop online, particularly with one's ridiculously convenient mobile device, and catch snippets of people's lives.
Some people might argue that the things people post online are a carefully construed presentation which casts them in a favorable light. I tend to think, however, that the snatches of a person's life one sees online are actually pretty honest. What we choose to put online reveals a good deal about how we spend our time and what we value. Anyone who reads my Facebook posts knows that I am lost in the netherworld of parenting. I'm living in Kid City, and that's a fact. I personally love to troll the comments people leave on posts. They reveal so much! My sister only does this--she never posts anything of her own. She simply reads what everyone else puts out there. She's like a ghost of the Internet. She calls it "lurking." I call it lame. If you're going to devour other people's photos and status updates, at least have the decency to share some stuff of your own.
My sis claims that shyness keeps her from saying anything. I guess I can sort of see where she's coming from. As the number of my Facebook friends grows, I find myself thinking hard before posting. Is it something I want two hundred people to see? Seriously. When in history have average clowns like me had a platform for sharing whatever we are thinking, whenever we want with two hundred people? And I know that some people have many more "friends" than I do. While it does give me pause, I am completely enamored with the glimpses into the lives of friends that I see online.
I think seeing each other on the web makes us feel more human. We see familiar elements and themes in the lives of our peers. We get to hear random, pedestrian thoughts someone has on an average day, instead of simply reading the once-a-year Christmas letter update which may or may not say anything of value. For me, being online is ironically validating. I do, in fact, sometimes discuss poop. But by just posting snapshots of the actual happenings in my peculiar little world, I am saying to myself and everyone else that children are magical and precious; that motherhood is demanding and relentless; and that my weird little life is totally worth reading about.