Voyeurs or Friends?!

When Facebook first came out it seemed like a cool way to travel through space and time, to reconnect with new and old friends, coworkers and family. Slowly though I wonder if it hasn’t become a venue for voyeurism more than a place to share information, thoughts, friendships and images. I feel like there are times when someone is posting something extremely personal, and I’m uncomfortable viewing it. Suddenly I am engaged an extremely personal conversation with someone I know very little, or only as an “acquaintance.” The level of information being imparted for all to view, is sometimes cringe worthy and deeply private.

Without warning I find myself brought up short by knowing the ins and outs of someone’s IBS, ,(irritable bowel syndrome), their divorce and hatred of the ex, or a photo of…”what is this on my back?” I wonder, is there no one else that can look at that thing growing on your back to decide what it is and more importantly how to treat it? Must I be scrolling through my timeline with my coffee, barely awake only to see a boil the size of a small bird perched on your back, gag a little and sit back and wonder..wth!

Back in the day, there was a saying, “TMI”, too much information. It is my nature to be guarded and less likely to share personal successes and failures with “virtual strangers.” Make no mistake, while we are all FB friends, we are strangers in one another’s daily lives. It’s difficult enough to be talking with someone who is bashing their ex in real time but at least, hopefully you know their back story. On FB, it’s a momentary blurt of information without context. It doesn’t account for nuances, for two sides of a story, or for questions. Instead, we’re left with judgements and I wonder, what knowledge have I gained? Is there value in knowing you hate your ex? What if I like your ex as a person?

Have we reached the point where the “likes” are the driving force behind the posts. Who liked it, who commented, who started trolling to initiate hate and discord? Who is listening?? Is anyone listening? Perhaps that is the problem. In our lives it seems things are moving so fast and now everyone has a way to gauge who is moving faster? Who is traveling, who is getting married, having babies, buying houses/businesses, going to fantastic parties and meeting amazing people? How do I measure up? Am I losing?

In a way, it sets us all up for dissatisfaction with our own lives. Why am I not getting anywhere when everyone on FB is going everywhere? How can we live our lives with gratitude and be in the moment if the moment is only there for the sake of the post? If the motivation for having the experience, is so you can post it, are we really connecting to one another? I have been out with friends and while we are hanging out having fun someone inevitably says, let’s take a picture and post it. Suddenly everyone is primping wondering if they look alright, how do I compare with everyone else and Boom…you’re completely out of the moment. Transported again through space and time as the picture is immediately posted and you pray that everyone likes it, I mean really likes it so that everyone can see you’re doing alright. Is it a validation of who we are or are we voyeurs in other people’s lives, constantly watching, trying to measure up and wondering, am I liked?

If you combine this with the unprecedented hacking of FB, I wonder if we are soaking up hate and division more than we are benefitting from the connectedness of sharing? Have we lost the ability to see beneath the surface? Are we all just creating movie posters of our lives without the story. For me as a writer, the post is the cover of the book but the richness of the person is in their stories. Without knowing the rise and fall of triumph and the agony of defeat it seems less meaningful, less authentic. Almost like we are inviting people to look at us, to judge us, only don’t look too closely. Just tell me you like what you see.

Summer’s Here!

          Finally summer has arrived! The northeast has been pummeled with constant rain and windstorms for what seems like months. Nevertheless, my family surged over the finish line ending freshman year of high school for Noah and 6th grade for Jordan.  As I write this it really begins to hit me for the first time, I have children in high school and middle school. I mean I know that but to see it in print….

      Luckily for all of us, pre-teen angst is similar to my halftime angst. I call it halftime because it sounds better, more optimistic. Or maybe I’ve just been living with boys for too long. Middle age sounds dowdy, decrepit, and old. Like a clock slowly winding down, tick tick. Halftime sounds optimistic like there’s more of the game left to be played. There’s still time to reevaluate prior mistakes and successes, make adjustments big and small before the second half. A do over of sorts. I may be rationalizing a bit here but  a bit of self-delusion may be all I’ve got.

      Predictably, this year has been filled with the unexpected intermittent, uninvited  hot flashes, skin and body/image changes you would expect at this age. There are the inevitable mood swings, temper tantrums, irritability, interminable sleep marathons, insatiable hunger, (which can lead to tantrums, but I digress), sleep deprivation, exhaustion, talking endlessly to people who don’t seem to understand the english language, and frustration! Indecision, indifference and confusion often lead to complaints such as: “I’m bored” to “I never get to do anything fun”, and my personal favorite, “I just need time to myself.”  This daily litany and self-analysis is enough to drive a person crazy. And it’s not just about me, if you think all of that sounds beyond unbearable, the boy’s moods swings, temper tantrums and changes have been no picnic to live through either.

      Still summer is a transition and a welcome one at that. We can seclude ourselves on the deck, at the beach or tucked cozily on our beds reading (me), watching tv, playing video games, with an occasional grunt which passes for conversation, (boys). This summer I have decided to just live without a plan or a goal.  Okay decided sounds like I had a choice my sons thought otherwise.

      With the usual complaints and occasional disdain from my sons, the consensus is that: “we don’t need you to plan every minute of our day we’re older now”. Fair enough, (If only that didn’t include the constant hurrying up to wait and “oh didn’t I tell you that I need $20. and my game is 45 minutes away and I told you I need a ride and we have to pick up….Why aren’t you dressed????”). What? Nobody told me! Which is inevitably followed by the bemoaning sounds of “Oh Mom!” There is the ever-present muttering, mumbling and criticism which haunts my days and sometimes nights. Any other men/boys and I might have broken up with them by now. I mean I’m supposed to get life advice from a 15 and a 12-year-old? Yeah right, (cue eye roll). See, I’m learning.

      Since they’re so smart, I’m taking their advice. Here’s to staying loose and letting the summer unfold, teenage style. Despite the challenges of living with boys who crash into walls, spill any liquid they touch, break every glass/plate/cup we own, and don’t get me started talking about bathroom hygiene and cleanliness.,(don’t fret, a trick of the trade for teenage boys, Axe body wash, minus the body wash part), it’s gonna be a great time.

      We are living it up, enjoying life, and spending time together, mostly. We’re gonna take it easy and go where the wind takes us. It’s only half time but I like the way the first half of the game has gone so far. Here’s hoping I kick butt in the second half.