I have been simmering on this article about Facebook and what people post for quite a while and I think I finally have a thought worthy to share. The article features a funny yet sad video that compares/contrasts what people post on Facebook vs. reality. Like any good piece of writing designed to make you think, this video makes you think about how what people post on social media actually reflects their truth. With the recent passing of Robin Williams, I think we are all taking a second look at…everything we thought we knew about who people are. About everything we thought we knew.
Watch it, if you haven’t already.
Then I want to know what you think. I’ll start: I think that what I see on Facebook – I’ll pick this one social media outlet to make it easier – reflects human nature. Here is what I see:
a mother grateful that her nursing training helped her save her son’s life…a life clearly (but never promoted) filled with medical emergencies. Men and women trying to restart their lives after difficult job losses, divorces, moves. Poice, fire, and armed veterans whose lives are cut tragically short in service of all of us. Beautiful tomatoes on the vine. Regular people fighting medical fights and pushing their athletic limits. Gorgeous sunsets. Birthdays. Weddings. Births. Cancer survival stories. Really good food (I am open for dinner invites btw). Quiet, fun Sunday family moments. Trips of a lifetime. Crappy work trips. Fun times with favorite people. Tributes to those no longer with us. Small victories and large triumphs defined only by the parameters of individual families and lives – many of whom have struggles we will never know anything about. First days of school from kindergarten to college. The passing of beloved people and pets being recognized and shared. Quiet defeats. Silence. Trying to train boys to pee in the toilet when dad is not around.
This is just from today.
Every day, as a whole, I see gratitude. I see camaraderie. I see people sharing their greatest hopes, fears, joys and sadness. I see people everywhere doing the best they can at that time. I see groups of people connecting around things that matter to them. I see the passage of time. I see connection – the most vital part of being human.
There is a lot of debate about the good and evil of social media. Mostly, I’ve seen a lot of criticism. Too much sharing! Too much sharing of things that should be shared in other ways! Too many political views! Too much information! Too many Candy Crush and other game invites (okay, I admit, I have grumbled about this one 🙂 .) Too may videos of people dumping ice water on their heads for ALS! Too many cat videos! Not enough substance! Facebook is not what it used to be! Too many businesses promoting stuff! (DSW and Stella, you get a pass in my book:) ). Too many people on their phones all the time! And yes, there is a kernel of truth in all of these things. And then…
I take a big step back, survey the social media landscape, and here’s what I see: social media has come to reflect life, in my humble opinion. It is us. The good, the bad, the ugly. And I see common threads across all of it. I see every single person I am ‘friends’ with doing the best they can every day. I see struggle. I see joy. I see sadness. I see whimsy. I see silliness. I see bitterness. I see hope. I see likes and support and ‘way to go!’s”. I see life. And for every status update that you do see, there is a whole other story that you don’t.
So please, don’t judge.
Social media is simply another way to connect. It should not be the only way. But it is a way. It reflects humanity. It reflects who we are. Where we are at this moment in time. To say it is evil, to say that it is damaged, is to say that we, as people, are damaged. We are just human. Can’t you see that in every word? Every status update, every tweet, every photo…it’s simply one human being’s way of saying: I am here. I am doing the best I can in this moment. Does anyone feel the same? Does anyone hear me? Does anyone see me? Talk with me, laugh with me, be with me. We’re all in this together, after all.
I’d like to say that I do. But like all of us, I have my own circus and monkeys to manage on a minute-by-minute basis. But at times, like now, when it’s late and it’s quiet, I see.