When I was about 4, in the bubble bath, I cried crocodile tears because my Mom told me that there was no actual “Mr. Bubble.” She was using some generic bubble bath and I wanted her to buy me Mr.Bubble because I had seen an ad on TV that showed an actual guy who appeared in the frothy bubbles to play and laugh. The ad wasn’t real, and learning that hurt like hell. I had believed.
That feeling is what I’ve been going through this week with social media. We are rumbling big time. It has been a hella hard week in our relationship, and I’ve wanted to break up so damn bad. I think I believed.
The racial unrest in our nation and the posts flying everywhere around the internet have captivated me even as they have triggered the hell out of me. I have seen people behave so bravely and with open tender hearts; I have seen people lie and shame others.
I’ve stayed up too late scrolling too often and posted things I later retracted. I have checked posts like an addict to see who saw what I wrote, who cared, who commented. As if it mattered.
I have watched famous white leaders and coaches (many rich women) in the empowerment space play out their lack of a clue about race publicly and cause further and further offense even as they frantically tried to do the right thing, to fix it, to show up openheartedly, to do anything but change.
I’ve noticed the vacuous hollow echo of the largely missing white male voices on all the screens.
I have watched black friends and colleagues take the mic and show the world what we should have and could have seen all along, even as they patiently watch white people both hate them for it and self-flagellate in horror at their own white incredulity.
I have seen clients and friends re-share lies from our corrupt government that they clearly believe somehow are truth.
Even worse, I have over-indexed my self-worth on people I hardly know instead of calling a friend to talk. I have watched my social feed even as my husband tenderly asked to be seen in our garden. I have lost time. I have compared myself to others and found myself defective and deficient. I have gotten lost in there. I have felt hopeless in there. I have been inspired in there.
Yup, I feel beaten up by social media, violated, and guilty.
I feel you and here’s my update. I hope it helps.
We are not really breaking up, social media and I. We are claiming space. I know she is not going anywhere, even as she changes. But I have put her in a wee box. I am reclaiming the role that FB, IG, LI and Twitter have in my life. FB is good for business groups I lead and ads for products I long to share with the world. LI helps me make professional connections and learn. IG sometimes delights me in its beauty and is fun to spend a few minutes on seeing my people. Twitter, well, I don’t really get Twitter.
What has changed is me. The abusive relationship is over. Capitalism has created this addictive space called social media that we humans have come to use as a way of trying to fulfill our most central needs. The gig is up for me.
I am rising back to what I have always known. It is people who matter. It is connection, conversation, and love. The center of my world are the 5-10 people who will always hold me close even when I mess up. Oh, how I love them. The next ring are the people I work with, play with and learn with. And an extended community of real people doing real things that I want to share.
My soul and my spirit get energy, renewal, and hope from life. Real life. Aching, heartbreaking, glorious and incredible life that is lived right here, in the real world.
Dear Social Media: I see what you can do for me.
And what you can’t.
Thank you for mirroring back to me what really matters.