To Selfie or Not To Selfie

Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s that I was raised in a different generation by a different generation. Maybe it’s my personality. Maybe it’s the effect of technology and social media. I’m not exactly sure. But I don’t like it.

I don’t like the fact that on certain days, I let social media tell me what’s truth. I have considered giving it up a million times over. On my not so good days, it makes me feel bad. Honestly. The highlight reels of everyone else’s lives, when your own life is so full of yuck, leaves you feeling less than. Never good enough. It’s a fact. Studies have shown it. ( And we wonder why there is so much more angst in the teen years? Really?)

But the fact is, a lot of very good and powerful things come out of social media. It can be a very influential and powerful tool when used wisely. For any writer today, it’s a necessary evil.

The thing that gets me the most are the selfies. How the younger generation (am I really that old?) has no qualms of posting pics of themselves. I see this in my own kids. Part of it is my own fault. I mean I’ve posted pics of them as they’ve grown up. For them FB and Instagram are like the photo albums I grew up with.

And this younger generation? They are so photogenic. It’s ridiculous. I mean, do they ever take a bad picture? I take selfies once in a blue moon and pretty much delete them or never ever post them. I take a terrible selfie. I don’t want the world to see them.

This may also come from growing up in an atmosphere where posting pics of yourselves was considered vain. Now I’m not saying everyone who posts selfies is vain or self-absorbed. Not.At.All. (But the whole social media thing does bring those people out of the woodwork and you know who they are because they popped into your mind as soon as you read that.)

I was born, along with my twin sister at the end of large family. My parents were entering midlife. They grew up during the later years of the Depression and WWII. Pictures were rare to begin with. The whole digital world is a wonder to them. So there is that divide for some of us. Generations.

Besides being raised in a different time, I think some of it’s also the awkward situation of being caught between two generations. Like so many of us born in the 70’s we’ve been caught between two very different times and people. In my lifetime, I remember a time without cable TV, we had a party-line phone line and computers were just appearing upon the scene. Then here we are today. Streaming video, smart phones and computers running just about everything. I feel lost some days because I’m trying to fit into a world I was not raised in or prepared for. It’s not just me right?

On top of feeling like I don’t fit, my generation have had to wait our turn while the many, many boomers lead. Meanwhile the generation behind us is nipping at our heels because they are being schooled to get up and take over and change things. Right.Now. Some days it feels like an impossible situation for us hippie babies. I feel like I don’t fit anywhere and social media, and particularly, selfies, enhance that feeling. Does anyone else feel that way?

I know some of it’s my personality too. I think I grew up with the mantra in my head : Please don’t look at me. So a selfie equals an oxymoron for me.

But here’s the thing I thought about today. Just because I don’t have a million selfies posted does not make me less than. Or if you do have a million selfies posted, it doesn’t make you more than. It doesn’t mean a thing either way. Selfie or not.

It’s just a picture of a moment of fun, of joy or whatever. It’s just one moment over a lifetime. It does not tell the whole story or even THE story. It’s tells the story of a minute. These can be awesome minute stories. Truly. They should be celebrated. If you post them. Great. If you don’t, it doesn’t make it less than real.

The lie social media is telling us is that if it’s not posted it didn’t happen. It’s not real.

The second lie is that if it was posted, it is truth. Confusing isn’t it?

The thing to remember is social media is just a tool. For some it is a way to store memories. Like those old photo albums and scrapbooks. Others use it as a platform. For some of us, it’s a way to stay in touch with loved ones far away. None of it is bad per se. Unless you live thinking it is truth. It’s not. Like I said, it’s a tool.

Real life is lived away from the camera for most of us. All the selfies, the status updates are just a few moments of a person’s life. There are so many more moments lived in obscurity, even for those prolific posters. Moments and minute stories we don’t ever see. They are real. Some are awesome. Some are most definitely not. But they make up our lives and our stories. They are the moments that mould us into who we are and most happen out of the limelight. Off the highlight reel.

The truth of ourselves is written over the course of a life time of moments, some already in the books (or posted online!)  and others still waiting in the future. That is the truth of who we really are. Some of it we will post. Much of it, we will not. We’ll be too busy living, to bother with a selfie.

 

TURN: To Myself This Summer

Summer’s coming. Ominous words for those of us who quake at the thought of summer vacation.

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I’m not one of those parents who love summer. Neither are my kids. We thrive on routine. We thrive on learning and discovery. We are better when we set goals. Last year my oldest son, decided to build a new Lego creation of his own design, each week of the summer. It was something he came up with all by himself because the boy just needs to have project going at all times. I thanked God all summer for that one mercy. It kept him busy and engaged for hours on end.

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His Batmobile that he designed and created.  

This year is going to be a little different. The boys are older and childhood things are passing away faster than I could ever have imagined. The usual tricks are not going to work. I’m freaking out. Just a little.

So while I’m freaking out I’m also counting my blessings.  I’m thankful for overnight camp! Hallelujah! I’m thankful for volunteer opportunities and swimming lessons. These things are going to help keep the “I’m bored” and “Can I _____(do something Mom and Dad have already said no to)” at bay. At least a little.

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One thing I am realizing is that it’s not just about keeping the kids busy this summer. Meeting their needs. It’s what summer has become about for many parents. Summer is all about the kids. Not always a bad thing but let’s remember moderation is good. It’s okay for them to have down time and bored time. To figure things out for themselves. To entertain themselves or just sit quietly for a bit.

But making them the centre of it all, is faulty thinking. As they boys grow, I’m not needed or wanted as much. I still need to be around but it’s not hands on parenting anymore. It’s more like, feet on the ground and mouth firmly shut kind of parenting. (Not really succeeding at the moment at that but as I pointed out to my teenager yesterday, it’s new for all of us! Parent’s included!) Observation and some stealth so they don’t know you are watching. Waiting for the invitation to enter their world. For the right moment to respond.

As all mothers know, multi-tasking is part of the job. So while doing all the above, I need to get back to my own life. TURN to me.  That sounds selfish but it’s really not. For two reasons. One is that eventually the boys will be grown up and living their own lives. What will I do then if they are my entire life?

And two. I will go insane before that happens if I don’t take care of my needs and myself. I know this to be true because I’ve lived it already and was reminded of it again lately.

Two Wednesday evenings this past month, I went to a writer’s workshop through the public library. I hadn’t done anything like that for too long. I forgot how much I like to learn new things. I forgot how much I enjoyed the freedom of an evening to do something for myself. How much I like sitting anonymously listening to someone speak. It was refreshing. It was rejuvenating. I felt like myself. I need to do it more. And more, as seasons change in our lives. How about you? What’s something that’s been knocking on your heart, asking to be free once again?

We think we don’t have the time. But ask yourself, what things are you making time for that you don’t really want to or need to? That PVR’d TV show? Social media? Chores that can sit another day? (I never have a problem with this one.)

I understand when kids are really little, no, you don’t have time but eventually you will. Or you will need to find some. Because if you don’t, you will go crazy. Or you’ll be a slave to your children. Frankly it doesn’t end well for you or your children if let them become your master. You’re worshipping something fleeting and false. They become self-absorbed and entitled because you taught them that they are the centre of the universe. So do yourself and them a favour, and show them that they aren’t the world.

The other thing, and we all know it to be true, is in TURNING to your own needs, you’ll be a better parent. A better partner.  A better person.  If I have done something I like, and had time alone, then I am much more likely to behave like an adult. If I’ve shoved my needs off to the side, guess what? I’m more likely to be snappy, rude and irritated. It’s called an adult tantrum. It happens for the same reasons that kids have tantrums.  You didn’t listen to their needs.

So this summer, on my to do list, are going to be a few things for me. It will be hard to TURN to them amongst the teenage angst, the chaos, the noise, the humidity. But I am going to try, so I can thrive this summer and maybe against the odds, make it a good one, full of memories we all will cherish in the years to come.