Facebook allows me to keep up with old friends and to connect with new ones. It's also a fabulous place to ask obscure research questions for the novel I'm writing. I've made many personal professional connections on Twitter. I had a hot fling with the very pretty Pinterest I hope to rekindle. And Instagram? It's my absolute favorite of late. I use it to track my writing progress, my adventures with my girls and also as a storage box of sorts to stash away thoughts, questions and quotes.
Anyway. Given my avid use of social media, it was only natural that on Mother's Day, I posted a few pictures and musings about the day. I described my girls' very sweet presentation of breakfast in bed. I also posted a photograph of my own mom and me on my wedding day 9+ years ago and thanked her for continuing to teach me lessons about life and love. I didn't think twice about posting these pictures and words.
Until, that is, I did.
I woke up yesterday (the day after M's Day) thinking about all the people for whom Mother's Day might be particularly bittersweet or hard. Maybe someone who is struggling with infertility or cannot have children. Maybe someone who has lost his or her mother or child. Maybe someone who doesn't have a particularly good relationship with his or her mom, or his or her kids. Maybe someone who is really struggling with motherhood (or parenthood) because of infinite variables - questions of finances, health, family dysfunction, etc. The bottom line: There are probably lots and lots of people who are not terribly fond of Mother's Day.
Anyway, I was thinking about this and wondering whether it was at all insensitive of me to post what I did about my sweet children and my beloved mom? Let's be honest here: My moments with my girls are not all sunny and bright and Hallmarkian in hue. Nor are all my moments with my mom. That is not real life. Real life has complexity, layers, light and dark. But on Mother's Day, I chose to celebrate what was good and it felt right. And it's worth noting that I loved seeing so many beautiful pictures of moms and kids on Monday. But now I'm wondering... I'm wondering about so many things, so many questions. Some of them:
- Should we edit ourselves, censor our musings, hold back when we post things on social media so as not to make those who might see our postings feel bad or sad? Or is this self-censoring condescending and unnecessary?
- Should those of us who feel particularly vulnerable on particular days stay off social media to protect ourselves or accept the fact that we might be affected by what we see?
- Should we feel free to share our joy and our gratitude as long as we are mindful and compassionate in the manner in which we share? What does such mindfulness and compassion look like?
- Why are we sharing these things in the first place? Are pictures of our kids tantamount to brags that we have kids, that they are pretty or healthy or talented? Are all postings on some level narcissistic and self-involved? Are those of us who share, or share frequently, particularly needy and hungry for affirmation or are we just having fun, chronicling our lives?
- Are we actually missing moments of our lives because we are so intent on broadcasting them to our circles of "friends" and who are these "friends" anyway? (This is a big one for me as I'm in the middle of my HERE Year where I'm exploring the topic of Presence.)
- Is the onus upon all of us to remember that what we share and what we see on social media is highly curated, that the shiny happy moments of love are not necessarily lies, but are never the whole picture?
Oh, I could go on and on and plan to in a more thoughtful article on this topic at some point, but I wanted to write something preliminary here, particularly because I asked about this on both Facebook and Instagram yesterday and got a slew of terribly thoughtful and thought-provoking responses. Please feel free visit my feeds (links above) to check out the fascinating conversations that unfolded...
And while you are here, pretty please take a moment or two to let me know what you think about all of this... How do you approach sharing (or not sharing) your happy (or not-so-happy) moments in the ether? Are there particular times you know to stay away from social media? Do you think we all have a responsibility to be mindful and think about those who might see, and be affected by, what we share or do you think social media is a bit of a wilderness that in essence defies such thoughtfulness and the responsibility is on the reader to opt-in or opt-out on any given day? Am I making any sense at all with these questions?? Hope so! :)