Thou Shalt Edit Thyself

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Thanks to our culture’s rampant use of social media to immediately convey our every thought, word, deed and bodily function, I am learning a new skill! I am learning the art of “editing” myself and what I post online. Be they posts, pictures or opinions in the forms of status updates or comments… I am developing some restraint.

Cruising through Instagram, Twitter or Facebook feeds, scrolling over photos of drooling babies, kids kicking soccer balls, hands formed in the shape of a heart hovering above bare baby bumps, a meme about the Obamacare website fail, mud or paint-covered friends posing at the finish line of the latest gimmicky 5K, endless selfies or acquaintances jetting off to exotic locales… I am thankful that my thoughts don’t come pouring instantly forth from my fingertips. If they did, I would be in serious trouble.

If they DID… Well, let’s just say that things could get ugly, fast. I’ll offer up a few “for examples” to help illustrate my point. A sort of “Top Ten List” if you will. Bear in mind, these are ONLY hypotheticals. I am in NO WAY admitting to actually thinking these things or letting them slip over casual dinner conversation with my husband… They’re just a few what-if scenarios.

  1. That is one ugly baby.
  2. Please post MORE drunken pictures of yourself.
  3. That is NOT a good look for you.
  4. Wow! Look how amazing you look now!! You were a total ________________ in high school. (I’ll let you fill in THAT blank yourselves, it’s more fun).
  5. Seriously? Another one? Have some more kids. Now that I think about it, the Duggars DO need some competition, after all.
  6. I see that you are headed to the Caribbean AGAIN… With another “new friend.” I guess that means the boob job’s all paid for then?
  7. How can YOU GUYS afford THAT house?
  8. But really, how do you HONESTLY feel about the 2nd Amendment, Obamacare or Miley Cyrus? I really, REALLY wanna know because I can’t tell from the rest of your posts.
  9. At exactly what point in your life did you forget how to spell or use the English language at all for that matter?
  10. I didn’t know that you were constipated. But now that I know… Well, that just changes everything!

Make no mistake, I don’t believe that I am exempt from annoying people by the things that I post. In fact, a friend once told me outright that they had “hidden” me from their news feed on Facebook because I posted too many pictures of my cat. And I totally respect them for their honesty. I really do.

We just don’t happen to be friends anymore.

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You Look Richer / Prettier / Happier / More Interesting on Facebook

Wealthy Woman Served Champagne in Bubble BathWhile at a concert the other night I saw a balding, middle-aged man wearing a white t-shirt that simply read: “You look richer on Facebook.” My first instinct was to internally ridicule the man for wearing such a dumb shirt and elbow Lee who was sitting right next to me. Which I DID do… I know, I can be rather catty and shallow at times. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how true the statement on this guy’s shirt actually was.

We really do put our best digital foot forward when it comes to social media. ALL social media… This isn’t exclusive to Facebook. It extends to Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. etc. Why do we do this? Because we can. And thanks to the Orwellian world in which we now live, it has NEVER been easier. Most of us, I believe, use the platform of social media to carefully craft the image of ourselves that we wish to project to the outside world. Am I wrong?

The “Class Reunion” used to be the vehicle by which we attempted to show off our “best” selves for one night. We’d diet, buy a new figure-flattering outfit and color our hair. We’d fluff up our job titles and descriptions. Brush up on our awareness of current events or the latest juicy bits of gossip. And season our conversations with snippets from the family highlight reel. But now we need not limit our narcissistic indulgences to once every five or ten years.

Now we are out there 24/7, baby! And in tandem with the convenience of the “24/7 All Me, All the Time” channel comes the convenience of “hiding” behind glowing screens day and night. Sorting, cropping and color-correcting our photos until they show nothing but our best sides. Our darkest secrets now cloaked in our ability to choose whether or not to click that “Share” button. C’mon. Admit that you do it.

OK… I’ll go first with the confessions… As far as “negative” things go, I might post that I am getting a migraine or slammed with a sinus infection but that is all fairly innocuous “above the neck” stuff, if you will. Not to mention, there is some cyber sympathy that comes with that sort of suffering minus the need for embarrassment. But no one, I repeat NO ONE puts the crappy, nitty-gritty stuff of life that really goes on out there for the world to see.

For instance, we don’t mention the fight we had with our spouse or kids the day before. You know the one that ended with the slamming of doors and muttering of expletives? There is nary a word about the gas station burrito we gobbled in haste that later kept us up all night, chained to the bathroom fixtures, experiencing the sorts of digestive horrors nightmares are made of. We’re mums on the “mysterious rash” some new medication is giving us. And there isn’t a peep about what you suspect the weirdo next door may or may NOT be doing with a chainsaw in his garage at 3 a.m.

I mean, sure, there are always going to be a few of “those” people who are willing to hang ALL of their dirty laundry out there… Lamenting the choices they’ve made in life… Or the number of times they’ve been rejected, how much they hate their friends or social life, feel lonely or have suffered financial ruin. I, for one, stand in curious awe of these individuals. One can only assume that these perverse pixel people are sadists, masochists or hypochondriacs in search of some commiseration, pity or affirmation.

However, it is their right and freedom to do so. Personally, I would rather hide my shame. I prefer (as I suspect most people are likewise doing) to disguise the less-than-stellar-stuff-of-life in the fanciful façade of a funny picture or clever observation… My life… According to me… made up of millions of pixels… arranged precisely the way that I want YOU to see them.

Fifty Shades of Nay

“No, Joanna. That right there. That is specifically the reason why I don’t want to see that movie. Because everyone (including you) keeps telling me how great it is and how I HAVE to see it and I MUST see it and the world will end if I DON’T see it. Well, the fact that everyone is pushing so hard for my watching this movie is reason enough for me NOT to see it.”

That was a paraphrased quote from a friend who, for their privacy and protection, shall remain nameless for the remainder of this post. But who, nonetheless, used to annoy me with what I perceived to be outlandish curmudgeon-ness over anything deemed popular by society.

This person used to call the behavior “pushing back.” Pushing back against the “vast majority,” pushing back against the “mainstream,” pushing back for the sake of being “different” or in my opinion, “difficult” was this individual’s M.O. And it bugged the crap out of me. That is, until very recently.

It all began with Twilight and was later solidified by The Hunger Games. Not the books or movies per se… but the whole damn kit and caboodle. The books, the movies, the magazine covers, the posters, the commercials, the Late Night / TMZ television fodder about the minutia of the everyday lives of the actors, writers and directors, the fact that it was “newsworthy” that LeBron James was reading The Hunger Games in between championship games… It was all too much.

Thus, I began, ever so subtly to “push back” myself. I would not—under any circumstance—read those books, watch those movies or be drawn in by the over-hyped drama and frenzy that seemed to have raptured so many — including the genius that is one Lebron James.

As the title suggests, there are a few other things (not nearly fifty — though given time I’m sure there could be) over which I have begun to dig in my heels — just because I am either A. tired of hearing about them, B. I personally don’t “get” or C. simply because I can.

  1. Instagram – I just have to ask: Why is it suddenly so cool to have an app make your stunningly-clear, brilliantly-colored, high-quality digital photos look like crappy Polaroids from the 70s? The reason our photos looked like THAT in the 70s was because, aside from going to Sears and sitting for “professional portraits” taken by some over-zealous, obnoxious, balding photographer sweating profusely inside his polyester, powder-blue suit — we didn’t HAVE any other option.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey – If one more person tells me that I simply MUST read this totally A – MA – ZING and all-consuming series of horribly-written, thinly-veiled-porn-wrapped-in-a-ridiculously-disturbing-storyline, utterly-misogynistic novels which I will apparently NOT be able to put down even for one second after I have picked them up… I am going to punch them.
  3. Kindle (or any e-reader) – OK. I can understand the appeal on this one. Totally convenient, easy, practical, portable, yada, yada, yada. I just prefer to hold a real book in my hands. Call me a hopeless romantic or an old fart, but after staring at screens all day long from the phone to the computer to the television… it truly feels like an escape to retreat into an actual book made of paper, fabric and glue and get lost between the pages.
  4. Skinny jeans (for EVERY body) – First of all, there is no such thing. I don’t care what Old Navy says about how there is a pair out there for every type of body under the sun. I am here to tell you that there is not. The view from the bleachers last Friday night at a high-school football game proved that theory. Some people should not be wearing skinny jeans no matter what Old Navy says. Just watch the commercial next time it’s on. Notice there aren’t any short, round, pudgy, muffiny-toppy-types walking the runway in that ad? I wonder why?
  5. Gluten-free anything – Whether standing in line at Starbucks, at the department store or the movie theater, someone can be overheard talking about it. “So I’ve decided to go gluten free…” or “My chiropractor thinks my back pain is because of too much gluten…” or I think the reason I can’t shake these last 10 pounds is because I eat too much gluten…” (Or it could have something to do with the triple-shot, Venti, double-caramel latte with extra whipped cream in your hand — but what do I know? I’m just an outsider who can’t help but hear you gripe about gluten.) Let me ask this… Where was gluten 10 years ago? I have no idea but I suspect it was just as present then as it is now and yet all of the sudden it is The Great Satan. Have a sinusitis? It’s probably gluten. Car won’t start? Must be gluten. Polar icecaps melting? Gotta be gluten.

Call me a curmudgeon if you wish, but I think I finally understand where my crusty cohort was coming from. The fact that EVERYONE loves it SOOOO much, and is pushing for it SOOOO hard, is sometimes reason enough to say: “Nay.”