Recently, a friend of mine posted a status on Facebook, which on the surface seemed non-adjacent to her usual upbeat, forward thinking ones. My friend is a wonderful mother, Mastered in Education, a lovely person, a fierce political debater and always brings light to every table. I say that with all impunity.
In hers and many other cases, our status updates can elegantly expose that even the strongest light bearers have bad days and need to vent sometimes. One cannot be an intelligent truth seeker without coming into direct contact with those who are intolerant to it, and this intolerance can affect the truth seeker in a very raw and sometimes ugly way. So too can it manifest. This is precisely why social poster boards can be of use. A light bearing truth seeker cannot carry intolerance and negativity; such things are best left on the virtual board, where it can be debated, discussed and even erased from the actual mind.
Facebook, to forward thinkers, is not a vehicle used to drive social status up a notch. It is not a way to redeem oneself as a ‘likable’ person, nor should it be the focus of life. It is just a means to express what the person behind the screen presence is thinking and feeling; a mirror to see lovely pictures, reflect on the past, keep in touch with far away family and friends, or perhaps to expunge a momentary feeling so that it might leave instead of festering inside.
In an uncompromising moment of truth, my friend said that sometimes, life sucks.
Her status, which to me was a moving example of her breaking free from the bonds of the socially acceptable minutia we usually find on Facebook, held brilliant bravado, but was met with some comments that caused the protective friend in me to speak up.
There were comments that expressed surprise and shock that my friend would ‘give in’ to her demons; that she needed to embrace the flower power of joy and love and never feel the other side, lest she feed the demon. That she would ever admit that she feels the weight of the world on her shoulders was unacceptable to some.
One person spoke to her like she was a child who needed to be chided into seeing things from a better perspective. She expressed that those who feel the need to say things that might be construed as ‘negative’ should have a ‘pity party, then everyone else would be wrong because in your world life sucks.’ She continued to say that our friend was ‘trapped in a cage’ and needed to ‘make life what she wants it to be’.
My response was without borders:
I have to say…shut down the flower power on this one – it’s disrespectful and patronizing to tell (her) that what she said is ‘not true’ or that she isn’t ‘making it what it is because she wants to express a moment of truth. Sometimes LIFE DOES SUCK, and telling people that it’s all rainbows and unicorn penises when they simply (and rarely) state what they feel, irritates me. I personally don’t like being placated when I just want to release the truth of my feelings. It allows them to leave instead of fester. (Friend), say WHATEVER you want when you feel it…you deserve it for all your positivity and efforts and amazing accomplishments.
What ensued allowed me to understand why I got so hot under the collar.
OMG. Mary said what I really wanted to write. Still chuckling over unicorn penises. Everyone is so monitored on FB I think it has created a new wave of conservatism…a pressure to be reserved and only strive for achievements…a post war mentality that resembles the 1950s…definitely see that effect on the younger generations. We were free before FB to be soul seekers and travellers or to fuck up more in life and you could take time to grow or change without tabs being kept on oneself digitally all the time.
This is where Facebook starts to feel like a twisted mix of the Truman Show, Three’s Company and the Twilight Zone.
Even though I say what I say on Facebook and in life because it speaks to my truth, I cannot deny that it feels better having my truth approved rather than criticized. And maybe it has something to do with ego. But deep down, I believe it satisfies a deeper desire: To soothe the side of me that often lingers on the periphery of acceptable. It feels good to allow others a chance to read relief into their own imperfect feelings. It humanizes us and as my friend later eloquently pointed out, creates vital connections, even if it is in a highly policed virtual environment.
My friend admitted later,
“This is actually why I wrote that comment in the first place – I have a rebellious heart and I wanted to see what would happen if I expressed myself in this way through this medium.”
I too find myself saying and doing out of the ordinary things just to see if people will even react. It’s interesting that people do, but usually in a subversive fashion. They often don’t react immediately in a face to face way, but I’ll hear about their reactions later from someone else. Like high school. Like a Facebook thread. In situations that are unusual, emotional or spark confusion, I suppose people tend towards the ‘socially safe route’ of ‘he said she said’ rather than ‘I say you say.’
Of course, we can’t just say and do anything. There must be regulations governing behaviour on social websites, so that racism, hate and sexism don’t rear. However, extending this to include any type of honest thought is dangerous, and I see more and more each day that people are being encouraged to be more like their acceptable online persona and less like their real life self.
My feelings on this matter are potent. Many times, pieces I’ve written with the best intentions have been met with rage and insulting criticism. But nevertheless, this has not deterred me from expressing what needs to be expressed. It is the human condition – we have an innate desire to tell our story and to dialogue honestly with others about theirs. This is why social networks were created. Isn’t it?
Post It Like You Mean It – Part 2 will be published tomorrow (June 21st, 2012).
Product Addiction by George Bates
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