Red Leigh Cooper

Red Leigh Cooper

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Demented and Sad, but Social

Claire Standish: You know why guys like you knock everything?
John Bender: Oh, this should be stunning.
Claire Standish: It's because you're afraid.
John Bender: Oh God, you richies are so smart, that's exactly why I'm not heavy into activities.
Claire Standish: You're a big coward.
Brian Johnson: I'm in the math club.
Claire Standish: See, you're afraid that they won't take you, you don't belong, so you have to just dump all over it.
John Bender: Well, it wouldn't have anything to do with you activities people being assholes, now would it?
Claire Standish: Well, you wouldn't know, you don't even know any of us.
John Bender: Well, I don't know any lepers, but I'm not going to run out and join one of their f%#king clubs.
Andrew Clark: Hey. Let's watch the mouth, huh?
Brian Johnson: I'm in the physics club too.
John Bender: Excuse me a sec. What are you babbling about?
Brian Johnson: Well, what I had said was I'm in the math club, uh, the Latin, and the physics club... physics club.
John Bender: Hey, Cherry. Do you belong to the physics club?
Claire Standish: That's an academic club.
John Bender: So?
Claire Standish: So academic clubs aren't the same as other kinds of clubs.
John Bender: Ah... but to dorks like him, they are. What do you guys do in your club?
Brian Johnson: Well, in physics we... we talk about physics, properties of physics.
John Bender: So it's sorta social, demented and sad, but social. Right?

     Aaaaaaahhhhhh...who doesn't love the John Hughes movie, The Breakfast Club.  I think one of the most quoted lines, and they are numerous when it comes to this movie, is "demented and sad, but social."  It's been used to describe all kinds of social habits and behaviors performed by our dearest friends, but I think I've found a new way to use it...

     ...when describing Facebook...

     I only got on Facebook because my husband, Eric, was.  Truth.  It was completely a competitive move.  See, I had been of the "Blah!  I don't need to be on that Facebook thing. That's just for trendy people" mentality when Eric said quietly, "Um...I'm on it..."  What?  I was the forward thinking, fashionable one in the family.  You did something technological before I did? Excuse me?

     ...and then I signed up for an account.  That was August of 2009.

     When I got over my pretentiousness, I really enjoyed it at first.  I honestly loved connecting with old friends, seeing their picture of themselves and their kids, and seeing the cool places they go.  These are the things I still love.  When I see a friend's child, I remember what they were like as a kid, or see how much they look like their Mom or Dad.  I have learned about some fabulous cities and restaurants from my friends' journeys.  I have even been able to join them in their greatest happiness and worst sorrows no matter how far away they are....

     ...somewhere along the way though, I think Facebook became a self-conceited monster.

     If you have seen the movie The Social Network, you know that Facebook started out as a sight just to post profiles of Harvard students where they could post pictures of what they were doing and talk about life on campus.  Somewhere, as Facebook has now grown, its become less social and more "demented and sad."  I know I have admittedly let my mood and my esteem be effected by things I've seen on the site.  While I know that its ultimately my responsibility how I react to things, and have gotten past my own personal issues with my interactions, I have found I'm not alone.

      What I've realized is there has been a phenomenon created with social media where we are much "braver" than we would be with our opinions than we would be if our friends were standing right there.  People have also become more prone to taking and posting pictures of what we are having for meals, but I digress...

      In the process of embracing this "brave new world" we are alienating our friends. We say things when a friend express a possible hurt like "It's my wall; I'll post what I want!" Sure. It is. I guess.  It actually belongs to Facebook, but whatever.  My point is, if that person were standing right in front of you, would that come out of your mouth?  If it would, would it come out with such a disregard for the person standing there, or would you try to express your opinion in a less hostile manner?  My bets are you would.  Likewise, if that someone, standing right in front of you, pointed out to you that the information you were sharing was actually false, as is done many times with shared stories and/or pictures and checking on Facebook, would you still launch into the tirade of "it's my wall" or would you sheepishly apologize and thank them for letting you know?  Again, I think the latter would happen.

     As equally as damaging is the friend who says, "my real friends would know I was joking," when a friend conveys they were hurt, offended, etc, by something they said.   A longtime friend, and someone I am happy to have connected again with, DJ, recently said, "Text is only 7% of a message - without voice inflection, body language and facial expressions, ideas are often unclear."  If I had a friend that said, "my real friends would know I was joking" and didn't look at their actions, or even apologize for upsetting me, I'll be honest in saying that I'd have to rethink why we are friends.  Unfortunately, Facebook has brought out sides of our friends that had been hidden...

    ...maybe that's not such a bad thing...but I digress again...

    A side note about apologies.  They don't indicate who was right or who was wrong. They only indicate someone really cares about the thoughts and feelings of another human being.  Maybe should the other person not have been so offended? Yeah. Sure. Maybe.  However, you still hurt them.  If you are truly their friend, you'll own that. You'll also own that with no excuses for your behavior.

     Something else, something I've been particularly guilty of, is letting Facebook being your only interaction with your friends.  I'm busy.  I like that with Facebook I can take a quick peak and see what's going on in my friends' lives.  This shouldn't take the complete place of real interaction with human beings though.  You can "like" something, and I suggest that you do that to show you are at least paying attention instead of the "look at me" show I see more and more of (which is a whole other matter entirely), but if this person has been a close friend for years, carve out some time for them.  I've really been trying to do more of that.  Ask yourself, "Do I really absolutely need to work through lunch, or is that an excuse to not make an effort?"  My friend, Mary, recently posted, "Just a reminder to everyone out there. Facebook is a tool. It's not something we should use to determine or define friendships. How you interact with those folks on a daily basis in person or in direct communication are the only things that matter. So get out there and let someone know you care OUTSIDE of facebook!"  Have you been out to dinner and seen like a whole family on their phones "Facebook-ing" through the entire meal?  It's sad to me.  We need human interaction.  Sure; do we need downtime away from others?  Do we need to occasionally work through lunches?  Yes. Yes, we do.  It's not a constant though, and if it is, it's time to look at what's important in your life.  When you do meet with your friends, be present!  It's okay to "check-in" but then put the phone away and have real conversation. It doesn't hurt. I promise.

     In the interest of not digressing yet again, I stopped myself in the paragraph above when I started talking about the "look at me" show.  If you only get on Facebook to post about yourself, and never see, "like," or comment on what your friends are doing, well, just know it doesn't go unnoticed.  I may not be able to tell you all of the people who I interact with on a daily basis, but I can tell you who was missing if not taking part in my joy or in my concern (To be clear, we are talking real concern here.  We are not talking about, "Oh poor sad me" posts to get attention.).  You know, actually, I can tell you who was there.  Those people mean a lot to me. Here's why:  I had two major milestones in my life last year and someone who was supposed to be a good friend, missed them both.  That hurt. I don't buy, "Oh I didn't see it" excuse when everyone else in our circle of friends did. I'm sure that happens though, but if they weren't "missing" everything else, I may buy that.  Needless to say, that person isn't someone I choose to spend my free time with anymore. They don't exactly let me know they care outside of social media either, so I kind of know where I stand with that.  It's okay.  I've accepted it and moved on.  Not everyone is going to like you.  You just kind of wished they never pretended they did. 

     Can I just say after the last presidential election...

     I find it funny that the people I talked to in every day life over the years, were all of a sudden very, very political.  So many posting to a point where the name calling and abuse of the other side (this goes both ways, by the way) became too much to tolerate.  No one side in my estimation captured "reality" and so many people were hurt in the fray.  Many more found themselves "defriended" be others.  Some have drug it out past the election. I was lucky to have been spared a lot of it from what I hear, but I saw enough.  My friends are very diverse.  All religions and political affiliations are represented.  We need to remember that when you say someone is "stupid" for voting for someone else that you may be talking about a friend.  I would like to believe that your friend list is as diverse are mine and this is an issue.  Even if you don't think it is, there are two things people used to not talk about in "mixed company"; politics and religion.  This last election was a good lesson in why.  I'm not saying, "don't be yourself," but what I am saying is have respect for your friends.  If you must discuss politics, or religion, there are ways to be respectful in your delivery and not demean your friends.  I like a lively debate, but I'll cut it off it gets to nasty levels.

     So, now you are starting to see where some of my problems with social media truly lie.  There were some I didn't touch on like the aforementioned "Oh poor sad me" posts to get attention, the passive aggressive posts (aimed at someone particular without naming them thinking they would notice), and getting reconnected to toxic family members/old friends that inevitably goes wrong, but those are of a more personal nature.  I really wanted to focus on how we potentially hurt the people around us.  Facebook just seems to have become one big excuse not to truly connect with other human beings on a less than surface level.   We seem only interested in ourselves and are forgetting there are very real people on the other side of the Internet connection.  I would really like to see Facebook return to what it was. Social. I want to see my friends' pictures, learn of new places to go, marvel at accomplishments, revel in  joys, commiserate in times of trouble, support businesses and creative endeavors and use messenger to talk and make plans to meet. It would be great to see us all be courteous of each other and know that doesn't mean we are "censoring ourselves" as much as it means we have respect for other people.  I would love for us all to be engaged with each other.  It's ever so important to where we are going in our lives to have our friends there to be supportive and caring....and to be that supportive and caring friend back...

     Until then, here is a fabulous salad I made...

     Happy Fishing (and posting)!
What are your biggest problems with social media? What do you enjoy about it? Tell me in the comments! 
     P.S. - And if I've hurt anyone with this, I apologize. No excuses. I should have said it better.