Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Random Thoughts on a Wednesday

The other day I was writing back and forth with a dear friend and our emails, as they often do, went from lighthearted and funny to quite serious.  We started talking about social media: the highs (so high!) and the lows (so low).  I've been thinking about it ever since.  These days, if I think about something for more than a millisecond, that means something.

I happen to be a huge fan of social media.  It was my saving grace when I planned my 10-year high school reunion.  It's allowed me to completely document our engagement, wedding, first years of wedded bliss, pregnancy & birth of our twins, and now our toddlers.  I can visibly see how much my photography and waistline have grown and how much my grammar and youthfulness have declined.  I have met some of my very best friends.  I started a twin blog with followers I now consider family.

What else has social media done to me?  It has made me envious and jealous.  It has caused self-doubt.  It has shown me what the world sees is only a snippet of someone's life.  It has disappointed me.  Confused me.  Hurt me.

There is a very fine line between documenting your life for your sake and documenting your life for others.  Oftentimes I take pictures of Jude & Sloane and convince myself, "I'm taking this for me" and then I realize I've checked to see how many likes the picture received and let that number rule above all else.  It feels good to be liked - no one can deny that.  But it is a slippery slope, isn't it? 

I remember learning about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in high school and being blown away by the simplicity of it.  To reach self-actualization (the highest tier) is to see your full potential, which can only be achieved after you've mastered basic needs of safety, love, belonging, esteem, etc.  It seemed easy enough to achieve at the time but that was before Facebook.  Sometimes I wonder if social media has thrown such a kink in things that it's nearly impossible to ever reach this level.  But then I read emails from Twin Talk followers who've said a post someone wrote gave them hope and encouragement in a really dark time.  And in that moment I realize, if treated correctly, social media can be an enormous blessing.

As I said to my friend the other day, my thoughts on this are a jumbled mess, which is apparent with everything I've said above.  I'm not even sure why I'm writing about it except I think it's good to keep myself in check from time to time and this is the easiest way to do it.  Via social media.  :)

I also want to include her words (hope that's ok, Aubrey!) because they really hit home with me:

Acceptance and approval are impossible on the interwebs.  For every supporter, there is an equal and opposite detractor.  It's Newton's third law of the internet.  

Hugs to you, my friend.  Living in the 21st century sucks sometimes.  Know that I loved you way back in the 20th century when life was simple.  :)

It's heartbreaking and refreshing all at once - It takes the pressure off once and for all.  I'm grateful for friends like her.

Moral of the story?  I blame Kim Kardashian for all of this.


Jenn said...

Great post Meredith! So very true and insightful. I often have to remind myself why I started blogging, and that's it's not about followers, likes, and praise. Thank you for giving me that reminder before I had to give it to myslef.

Aubrey said...

I'm a tiny bit embarrassed to read my "Newton's third law" comment outside of our private (read: gloriously geeky) space. :) Cannot wait to hug your neck and squeeze those babies next time we're both in Tulsa!

Trish said...

I struggle with this, too. This post is timely for me as I decided yesterday that I'm not going to look at my blogging stats for at least a month (maybe ever again). No more seeing how many hits from twitter or pinterest or facebook. Not caring how many people are subscribed, how many followers, how many xyz. It's too easy to compare basic numbers and lose sight of those things that can as easily be quantified (the way that something we've written or something we've shared has touched someone else).

And don't even get me started on feeling envy for the tiny snippets we see of other people's lives. It's ugly and I hate when I let it affect me.

I'm glad you put these things into words.


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