I am feeling heavy-hearted today, and it comes from a number of recent events, plus a small case of the Mondays, some stress and just a not-so-great mood in general. I am not ready for the world to change, but it already has without my consent and I can't do anything about it. I can only change my own. I am contemplating how to do that and haven't decided yet.
Right now, I miss having conversations. The kind that happen in person, where you sit across the table from someone you haven't laid eyes on in a few weeks, and therefore have a lot of catching up and laughing and consoling and sharing to do, because in those few weeks, you've been so focused on your own life, you haven't had a chance to catch up on theirs. I miss photo albums on coffee tables that you flip through at a party or a family holiday and marvel at how much everyone has changed, how much they've done, how big the kids have gotten since you last saw them a few months ago. I miss running into people I haven't seen in years and getting to stop in the grocery store aisle and be surprised by where they are now and what they've been up to, without already knowing. Or without having been offended by that person's political rant a week ago, despite not having seen them in years, and so instead when seeing them at the grocery store, quickly turning and ducking my head while escaping to another aisle. I miss wondering about people and missing them. I miss feeling like I really and truly like a few people, mainly because I DON'T know everything there is to know about them, and am blissfully ignorant to every single thought they have ever had. I miss being completely tuned out to the private thoughts of the human race, and the romance of only sharing myself completely with one person, maybe two if you count a best friend. I miss my comments to a friend being just between me and that friend and not open to criticism from an eavesdropping stranger.
I want to watch my friends' kids grow up during play dates and birthday parties, not online every single day. I want to write letters, even if they end up being emails, and I want to have a network of 50 people or less. I want to make my own parenting choices and not consult 300 people ranging from "best friend" to "I've never met you" and then just be ok with that choice and not need anyone's approval. I want to listen to my gut when it comes to choosing a paint color and do what makes ME happy. I want to "visit" my family and go on walks that no one knows about and eat food without making the calorie count public and just pay attention to my kids when they take a bath, because sitting on the floor reading about YOUR kid's bath might make me miss something. I want to walk through a hall, a room, a store, ANYWHERE and make eye contact with all the people I pass because everyone is looking where they are going and paying attention to where they are in that moment.
It all just seems so selfish and narcissistic and it makes me sad and uncomfortable and I am so guilty of it I could scream. Seeing all of these things every day has an effect on people. Where once, you didn't care what other people were doing with their time unless you were close to them, now we all care about what EVERYONE is doing, regardless of our connection to them. It's so impersonal and it's so much of everyone you ever knew at once, that to me, it just feels even more lonely.
And let's talk about safety. Is it a good idea when someone is a garage sale group asks for recommendations on a new daycare and you tell them yours is the BEST? Now some stranger knows where your kid goes to daycare, and there's probably a picture of them right there next to you on your profile pic, and now, in addition to letting everyone know how great I think my daycare is, I've compromised my son's safety too. It's great that we exercise, and I think everyone should do it and be supported and applauded. But is it a good idea to offer up your run route as proof? Women are disappearing left and right. And we think that we only posted it to our own page, which is just SO private, because we've made it a point to only "friend" people we know, but raise your hand if you went to high school with a rapist? You didn't? How do you know? And what about the person who hit "like" on that run route and now it's showing up in her news feed and not just yours? Who are all of HER friends? And you sure do look amazing in your profile pic, who would post one otherwise? So other people are bound to think so too. It's fun to go on vacation, I get it, but we post what days we are leaving, where we are going, and two days earlier, "checked-in" at our own house for movie night with the fam and published a map for anyone to use who needs a good place to ransack. Maybe that's all far-fetched and maybe it's not. It's just on my mind lately and I have to wonder if all of this information is a good thing. To me, right now, it just doesn't feel like it at all.
So what do I do? Quit the internet? Lose contact with some people that I'm so happy I got back in touch with? Facebook is not without its merits. When used for what it was intended for. But it's changing things, and not necessarily for the better. But what do I do when I feel so attached to it? Maybe just some stricter self-policing and designated "offline" times? I guess that could work, but it's a slippery slope...
The fact is, I don't want to know your thoughts on politics unless it's in a forum I agreed upon, knowing that is what I would be getting into. I don't want to know what you forgot at home today or what song you heard on the radio that you just LOVE, or answer your question about where you should eat tonight. I want some mystery and some valid reasons for getting together in person. I don't want to feel an urge to share any part of my day unless it was completely significant, and even then, how many people are going to see it who also think it is significant? I don't want to have to "adjust the settings" on every person I know so I am fed only the information I want, and I don't want to offend people when I decide to unfriend them, when it's not because I don't like them, it's because we haven't talked in TWENTY YEARS and I wouldn't want to make the time to stop and chat if I ran into you now. That should not be offensive, it's just LIFE. I don't want some social networking site to be the place where all of my precious and most treasured photographs are stored - they should be in albums in my home for people to look through at my parties that I have so I can catch up with my friends I haven't seen in a while.
So while it sounds like I just want to call it a day and go back to the old-fashioned way of being a human, I know that without everyone I know feeling the same way, I would be cutting myself off from a large number of potential friendships, there would be no way for some people to contact me, because while I do check my email everyday, theirs is just for junk, etc. I know I would be the last to know when anyone gets pregnant or married or moves into or out of town, and I don't know if I'm ready to miss everything. I guess I just wish some things had never changed to begin with, so I wouldn't be sitting here battling an addiction, in a sense.
I can tell what I am leaning towards and just need to talk myself into it. I have to believe that those of you who are true friends, will remain true friends - maybe we could even talk more. And those who are not, or that I've never met, or that I was just never close to - know that I wish you well. Relationships should require some amount of effort, that's what makes them worth it, right? We shall see. I don't have an answer just yet. I know my children are going to grow up in this world and I would love to be able to point them in the direction of "less is more" when it comes to revealing everything, but at the same time, I really love to show off how adorable they are. So I'm at a crossroads.