I’ve got something of a terrible admission to make: I suck at social media (like really, really suck). Sure, I have a personal Facebook page, a professional Facebook page, a Twitter account, and an Instagram, but I am barely keeping up with them all. I barely check in on them all. Why?
Because I have an unpredictable toddler, an unpredictable schedule, and an unpredictable life. And while I have each platform on my phone, I try not to open them in front of my daughter because I want to be present, because I want to teach her how to be present, and because she doesn’t need to see the nonsense that shows up on my feed. (The cat memes and bunny videos are cute, but her little eyes needn’t view anything from Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead.)
So when a dear friend recently confronted me about my “lack of presence” on their Facebook page, I was deeply hurt. I was saddened, and I was a touch angry. You see, just because I don’t like your new pic, comment on your latest Facebook status, or share your most recent meme doesn’t mean I do not like it. It doesn’t mean I am angry with you or do not like you. And it doesn’t mean I do not care. It doesn’t mean we are not friends. It is nothing more than an oversight. It is nothing more than carelessness and scatterbrained thinking. And many times I just do not see it.
Your status gets lost my wall or feed or whatever you want to call it.
I am not making excuses, I am just being honest.
I just want you to know I love you, and I don’t want you to take my lack of internet manners too personally.
Make no mistake: I do understand social media has forever changed the dynamic of friendships. I understand that when you share pictures of your new house or your midday mimosa it is because you want to feel connected. You want to keep your family close, and bring your friends closer.
I understand our “on-demand” lives amplify our need for immediate recognition. We all want immediate gratification, and I understand we all have needs—basic human needs, like the need to be loved and accepted. The need to be heard and desired. And I get it: I have those needs and desires too. (I mean, do you know how my heart breaks when I write something poignant and meaningful, when I dump my soul into a status and hear nothing? When I am met with crickets or complete and utter silence?)
However, the notion that “likes” online somehow equate to compassion, support, or concern—the notion that likes equal love—is bullshit. It is a construct of a new generation, a new way of life, and no offense to high-schoolers, but it is a high school mentality.
It is the same old song—the “I need to be accepted” song, the “I need to do things to fit in” song, which is playing once more.
And I, for one, am tired of hearing it because I hated school. I hated high school and the politics which came along with being cool. I hated the insecurities that rose to the surface when I was different and didn’t feel I was “in.”
Don’t get me wrong: I care deeply about you. I care about your life—your kids, your accomplishments, your hopes, your dreams, and even your birthday, but social media has gotten out of hand. Likes, shares, retweets, and tags have become habitual and instinctive. Hearts and thumbs-up have become so overused they are expected, and that expectation has caused them to lose their meaning—or made them take on a new meaning altogether: I did not like therefore I do not care.
And that isn’t true.
My God, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
So I am sorry that is what you got from my “social media silence.” I am sorry that you were hurt and that was your takeaway. But sometimes I am just busy. I am playing in the park with my daughter or doing crazy things, like cooking dinner or working during daytime hours. But that has nothing to do with you or the state of our friendship. That doesn’t mean I thought your short story sucked or your family vacation photos weren’t amazing. It just means sometimes I am frantic and overwhelmed. It means sometimes I mean to comment but then my daughter falls off the slide, or I roll her stroller through goose shit, and it means sometimes the only “online time” I have is on the toilet. (And you wouldn’t want to have a heart-to-heart with me in the pissuar, would you?)
So maybe we can come to a truce. Maybe instead of me finding out about your life on Facebook, and you mine, we can agree to talk. We can agree to text. We can agree to communicate using any other method, so long as it is personal, meaningful, and direct.
Because I like you. I love you. And I care enough to show you I care in real life (and outside of the public eye).