Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Does anyone do Facebook right?

That provocative question appeared on my Facebook feed Sunday. I've been thinking about it ever since. And the answer, I've decided, is "no."

If a person shares that they something did well, are they being "self congratulatory?" Are they trolling for praise? Or are they just happy that they had a personal victory and they're sharing the moment?

If someone posts about an annoyance or disappointment, are they being a "downer?" Should they keep their shallow, First World problems to their damn selves? Or are they wisely letting their frustrations out so that they don't fester?

To the original question -- "Does anyone do Facebook right?" -- a woman snidely responded, "High school never ends." Just because she was being bitchy doesn't mean she wasn't right. Those adolescent feelings of vulnerability and that need for peer approval never really go away, and social media just exacerbates them.

This week I saw a post by a friend of a friend, a woman who took a selfie of herself at the beach. You can't see her face, but you can see her tummy, bikini bottom, legs and bare feet. Her body is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Yet she wrote how nervous she was, posting this picture to share and preserve her happy, peaceful moment on an empty beach.

"It's hard because with every picture you post you're hoping someone will like it and say something positive. However your gut tells you someone in the world is going to hate and criticize how you look. So here's me conquering my everyday anxiety and 
thinking I look nice in this picture."

My friend Amy posted the perfect response to this woman: "The only thing wrong with this picture is we can't see your pretty face."

But by admitting that she wants someone to like the picture and say something positive, is she begging for approval? Is she pathetically trying to compensate for some hole in her soul? Or is she courageously making herself vulnerable?

I don't have the answers. But I'm grateful to the woman -- someone I don't even know -- for raising the question. This stranger has made me more thoughtful and empathetic as I scroll through my feed.

Social media makes it easy for each us to be a distant, almost anonymous audience member in a cyber colosseum, giving our thumbs up or thumbs down to the poor schlubs who share their lives with us.

I must remember that each of us is doing the best that we can, and that it was a person who wrote that post I find it so easy to mock. A fellow human, not a cartoon or bot. Just someone expressing themselves and looking for validation.

While I'm sure my current moment of kum ba yah will wear off and revert to elitist, impatient eye rolls in the future, I must restrain myself from actually commenting. My nasty comments could harm the person they're aimed at and, I've learned this week, they also diminish me.


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading? Mrs. Jeffries Learns the Trade by Emily Brightwell. This anthology introduces Scotland Yard's Inspector Witherspoon and his maid, Mrs. Jeffries, in the their three earliest adventures. I've barely dented the first story, but so far I'm enjoying it. Ms. Brightwell successfully creates a veddy-veddy Downtown Abbey atmosphere. And I know this will definitely be more "cozy" and less Cornwell -- meaning I expect little that's grisly in these books.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Kennedy and Nixon, by Chris Matthews There is little new in this book. It's the way Matthews frames the contrast between these two historic men that makes this a good read. He casts Kennedy as Mozart, naturally gifted and charismatic, the one to whom everything appeared to come so easily. Nixon, then, is Salieri, hardworking but workmanlike, consumed by, and eventually destroyed by, jealousy.

Matthews treats both men with respect and compassion. It's especially evident in the passages about their deaths. I'm paraphrasing here, but JFK died as he lived -- in an open convertible, with a beautiful and loving woman at his side, charming everyone he saw. His death was sudden and fast, which he expressed more than once was how he wanted to go. Nixon died a lonely widower who lingered four days after suffering a stroke. Kennedy once famously said that life isn't fair. If he were able, Nixon might argue that death wasn't fair, either.

3.  What will you read next? I've got Sue Grafton's X, a Kinsey Milhone mystery I've yet to crack open.

August Happiness Challenge: Day 8

 Rizz is happy I found what I'm looking for
On Day Eight, YouTube made me happy. I learned Tuesday afternoon that Glen Campbell died after a long battle with Alzheimer's.

"Gentle on My Mind," "Wichita Lineman," "By the Time I get to Phoenix," "Rhinestone Cowboy" ... all hits, all mentioned prominently in his obituary.

But the song that nagged at me and nibbled tenaciously at my consciousness was a little-known country ditty I remember hearing at my uncle's house. The last line was, "I'd say 'no thank you, Lord, I'll just keep Ann.'"

So I went to YouTube and searched for "Glenn Campebell Ann." I found it! On record and performed live on a Bing Crosby TV special! 

It was so satisfying to find it. I love YouTube!

PS RIP to Glen Campbell and Uncle Ted.

If you want to play along, just come back here (meaning to this blog, not this individual post) each day in August, looking for the Happy Cub. Every day I will try to have a post with the headline: August Happiness Challenge: Day [X]. Leave a comment and then post your own daily happiness, with August Happiness Challenge in the title to make it easy to find.