The side effect of overcoming Social Media Addiction is that I’m growing into a decidedly old-fashioned woman noted by the fact I’d rather call friends than share significant moments publically over Facebook (okay, I text excessively, call me a modern-day-old fashioned woman?). Regardless of your social media poison, the exchange of information is a hot topic. Every time I open the mail a copy of the “updated privacy agreement” from the bank, investment group, or insurance company beckons my attention. We fight for “privacy”, but there’s an anomaly: Facebook. Clicking around Facebook, it doesn’t take long to realize people suddenly suffer from privacy amnesia.
When I’ve mentioned in casual conversation I don’t use Facebook they way most people do, I get a puzzled look, as if there was any other reason to use Facebook other than posting what we ingested for breakfast, the exercises we did and why our life is better than ever. (Okay, if we’re all honest, we should add snooping on past flames, people we wish would go down in flames and following pages that represent our current addictions.) I don’t use Facebook or social media the same way because I battle Social Media Addiction (SMA). I realized it was a problem that periods of time would vanish because I was enthralled with looking through the lives we lead When I needed to be present completely (insert God filled my hands with ample work to help open my eyes and set me free).
As I weaned myself from the major offender, I realized how much information we freely share with each other; what juicy intimate material it can be! Most of us have in some form bragged about our family, found a backhanded way to compliment ourselves for cooking or completing our daily workout, hopped on our political soap box in hopes of changing the world, or gushed/ranted about a relationship in our lives….I’ve been an offender on all of these at given points.
But have you been in one of those rough places in life when things aren’t going so well? Maybe the pressure is a known source like work or personal relationships, maybe it’s like when you’re beginning to catch a cold and you simply don’t feel great, but can’t quite put your finger on it. In these moments I tend to retreat into privacy intentionally nurturing the “disorder” because there are some moments you simply can’t (don’t want to) polish life for public viewing (rants qualify as a form of polishing).
The deafening voices of well-intentioned friends can be overwhelming when our hearts are broken, confused, anxious, angry (insert any feeling here). There are some moments when only prayer and those closest to your heart can help you mend.
Since my dad unexpectedly died this past summer I’ve been thinking a lot about privacy.
The quiet space I had retreated to, the space reserved for inconsolable crying and heartbreak among family and the closest friends wasn’t the fortress I believed it to be the day my dad died. My puffy tear-stained face and startled heart were not capable of anything beside the moment I immediately occupied.
In the fresh throes of grief, Facebook was the last thing on my mind. Loved and respected by many who would genuinely want to know of my dad’s death, I knew I should post something on Facebook but felt like the ball was in my court, that I had time and control over when and how I engaged the sudden tragedy publicly. Family and close friends were aware and for the time being, that was enough. I could wait. It needed to wait. Then it happened, my jittery hands picked up my phone to check an email and I realized I had no control over the spread of this private information.
My eyes grew wide as I discovered a Facebook notification: A two-arm’s length acquaintance tagged me in a post announcing my dad’s death. No phone call (or text) to express condolences, just a capacious beacon to the world. The ratio between hurt and anger teetering. I don’t know if it was directed towards the person posting the information, if it stemmed from the fact my dad’s dead body was still on the property waiting to be picked-up by the funeral home or simply due to the startling stomach-churning reality of seeing the announcement in black and white, but friends, it stung. Like breaking a bottle of red wine on white carpet, there was no way to remedy any of it. What I thought was private information was suddenly spilt wide open for the world.
Privacy, an effort to control information, falls short when we forget that hearts are on the line. This experience has been a sobering reminder to me, a person prone to getting caught-up in excitement, to think before I type the words for all to see. Good news or bad, if it’s not your news and it’s not public news yet, can we agree to give a call or message before spreading the news further?