I was in the shower at 2 am. That’s only weird if you don’t have children. If you are a mom, then you understand the post mommy-just-checked-on-a-coughing-kid-and-realized-she-still-had-vomit-from-another-kid-on-her-arm 2 am shower. I was thinking about social media and how narcissistic it’s made people.
Then I remembered that narcissists have been around since the beginning and poor social media is the scapegoat. I hear every generation mumble about how social media causes youngsters to be narcissistic. But if we didn’t have any of these platforms, you would still see narcissism running rampant. Because our culture is steeped in it.
Graham and I were reading a book from the 1970s, before my time, about how he just needed to believe in himself. Graham doesn’t need to believe in himself anymore than he already does.
Graham doesn’t have social media. I’m not one of those parents who lets him sign up for Facebook with a false birthday so he can tell everyone what he ate for lunch. But he still wants to tell everyone what he ate for lunch. And breakfast. And dinner. What he’s playing. Who he’s angry with. Who he loves.
Without an outlet online, Graham just walks around telling me these things. I hear all his thoughts. All day long. And I’m fine with it, because he’s 5-years-old and I’m his mom. Sometimes there is reciprocity, but not often. He just wants to talk about himself. Can’t blame that on social media. Not for a moment.
So what do we do when people like Graham, like ourselves, keep walking around shouting what we’ve eaten, where we’ve worked out, who we like, and who we loathe…with no reciprocity? Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Periscope. It’s all about us. All the time.
And it’s not Mark Zuckerberg’s fault. I reserve blame for the fact that Facebook algorithms keep suggesting my dad’s former mistresses as potential friends. That’s totally falling on Mark Zuckerberg, somehow. But it’s not his fault that countless people post about themselves all day and night, but never wish anyone else a “Happy Birthday!” or offer up condolences when a mom has died.
Authors, bloggers, and celebrities are the worst about this. They get separate accounts, so they can continue to blast their thoughts out into the world, without needing to even read anyone else’s. That’s not being social. That’s being completely self-involved.
If you spend your online presence telling your ‘tribe’ about your dogs, books, kids, meals, runs, clothes, and views, but never communicate with other people, you are just a kindergartener with a fake account. You aren’t participating in communication. You’re just throwing your stuff out into the mix and ignoring everyone around you.
Like Graham standing on my hope chest telling a story. It’s cute. I enjoy listening. But if he doesn’t get my feedback, or listen to my story, then we lose steam. I am the grown-up in our relationship, so I keep things going and I model how we interact.
But social media is infested with grownups who cannot participate in life with one another.
I unfollowed an author who said she created her blog Facebook account and deleted her personal account because she “didn’t have time to know what everybody else was doing and needed to focus on getting [her] words out there”…she became a thirty-something Graham. Or was always him. Standing in the living room telling me about her stitch fix and her nature box and her book and her kids’ birthday parties and her 5ks. But admitted that she had time for no one else.
And that’s not social media’s fault. Twitter doesn’t hold a gun to her head and make her send out dozens of sponsored tweets a day. She chose that. And I spend my day with adorable kids who do that. I don’t need it online, too.
Before I am crucified for this, I don’t know the balance. I overshare lots. But I don’t ever want to become the woman who deletes my personal accounts, because I’m too busy to care about anyone else.
I don’t want to post my life on Little House, and forget to enjoy my friends’ accomplishments. Or join in their heartache. Heck, I’ll even like the photo of your meal, if it looks good. I’m not judging you for sharing 25 foster dogs a day, if you are also reading about my sponsor kiddos experiencing a military coup.
But I’ll stop interacting with anyone who shares every good, bad, and ugly selfie but never once asks how my daughter can use some prayer. If you become my child yelling about your book deals and shoe coupons everyday, that’s fine. But don’t expect me to buy your words if you are never reading the words of others.
Social media is supposed to be social. It’s a tool. We all use it the way we see fit. But let’s be adults here. Let’s all agree to stop using it like circus barkers and street corner newsies, and try to be more like friends sipping ice tea on a porch. You tell your news. I tell mine. You share your tough stuff. I pray for you. I share my story. You pray for me. We laugh at the hilarious things our kids say. We grieve together when tragedy strikes. We high five when things go well. Let’s actually communicate.
I’m not walking around without a plank in my own eye. I know I am guilty of making social media all about Lyndse. But it can’t be. The world has too much of that already. I want more virtual ice tea and less of the The Daily Lyndse Chronicles for 75 cents an issue. I will stay subscribed to the Bi-Hourly Graham Gazette, because he’s still learning about this give and take of communication. And he’s adorable.