(Not sure about this newish template. Might change it back or to something else.)
This is gonna be Real Talk, so I’m probably going to sound a bit mean. And hypocritical, given how much time I spend nitpicking and whinging in some public fora.
Because there’s a plague lurking among us, and it is that of complaining and not acting.
Social media is a sounding board, I get that, but I miss actual discussion (and not of the bad, bottom-half-of the internet variety). Facebook and Twitter are seemingly littered with one-liners (which I love), fake or user-generated Someecards (I like some of them, but c’mon, y’all, not everyone is hilarious enough to pull these off), photos of kittens and sunsets with inspirational quotes tacked on them (which I am sick of), and whining (which I’m guilty of, but also ragey about, clearly).
Okay, you can’t solve the problems in Darfur, and maybe you can’t afford a new transmission for your car, but there are things you can do to help yourself when you are feeling low or overburdened that don’t involve tweeting about it.
Step One: Unless you have a really good friend or understanding relative in a chat window who can help you by talking thing through, or are on an internet forum from which you can trust good advice, knock it off with the starting an online conversation with a vague complaint about something. Being a Teenaged-style Drama Llama is not attractive and will win you neither friends nor solutions, but eyerolls (and a little pity from people more generous/tolerant than I am).
Step Two: Write it out, preferably away from a computer/tablet/phone screen. Create a blog post (like this one, because I know everything obviously). Or a journal entry offline. Verbalizing things in larger than 140-character word nuggets is very helpful, even if you’re the only one who is going to read it. Insight is rarely gained by telling the Twitterverse that you are soooooooooo bored or sooooooo lonely or begging for virtual hugs.*
Step Three: Do something. Go for a walk, go for a run, go to a movie. Bake some cookies. Make a cup of tea. Finally finish sorting out the mountain of unmatched socks you’ve been avoiding. Change your bed linens. Accomplishing things is good. Wallowing in the internet is not so much good most of the time. Listen to Nick Offerman (I mention this a lot, but he is a very wise man). Honest to Pete, knitting has been wonderful for me because it is something mindless, not on the internet, that results in something incredibly useful, like the tiny sweater I’m working on now. As much as I loved Katamari for stress relief, this beats it by a mile.
Step Four: Seek actual help. Call a friend and see if they can watch your kids for a while because you really need to do groceries without your three-year-old’s ‘assistance’. Ask around to find out if someone else can mow your lawn this summer (for cash or barter). If you are really in a bad, depressive place, ask for advice from friends/family/etc.. The Twitterverse is probably not the best place to do it, unless you are asking for specific information about support services and clinical information. Facebook might be okay, if you’re not announcing your problems it to all your loved ones, plus your coworkers, plus that weird guy who befriended you after a party four years ago. Privacy (relative, in the FB case) and discretion are good things.
Step Five: Be helpful. If you have a friend who needs your support, try to be there for them. Because everybody needs somebody, says the prophet Adams. Reciprocity, huzzah!
I’m not quite at a ‘Social media is neither social, nor media’ place, but my concerns that it is more isolating than actually social grow every day. Community should be about discussion and cooperation, no? Or does that make me a damned communist?**
Thus ends my latest attempt at solving the world’s problems.
* By this, I do not mean things like ‘Think good thoughts from my mother, who is having her foot amputated today’ or ‘Wish me luck at today’s job interview!’ or or ‘I’m having a really shit day today; anyone around to talk on the phone/over a drink/in Gchat?’ or any complaining about/live-tweeting of awards shows and sporting events. Seriously.
** I had a random gun-toting libertarian, “Liberals are all liars” type out of Louisiana start following me on Twitter yesterday. He really thinks caring about your fellow humans is socialism, and that socialism is evil. No, I won’t post a link.