Posted in Life As I Know It, Soapbox

My Year in Review…Social Media Style

Reflecting back... (This was a pic I posted on FB.)
Reflecting back…
(This was a pic I posted on FB.)

It’s that time of year where we reflect on the previous 12 months and decide what changes we would like to make for the coming year. According to Facebook, which now has a feature that shows your “year in review,” my 2013 has been a happy year with various milestones to celebrate.

This amuses me. It looks like the way Facebook creates your year is by taking a random assemblage of your posts with the highest number of likes. Makes sense—in a Facebookian way. Likes = validation, and validation = reality in the social media world.

This doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy Facebook, though. I do. Social media, when kept in context, can be wonderful. Out of context…it can be ridiculous or even painful.

I have a few friends who do not “do” Facebook—for various reasons, including “stupid,” “I don’t have time for that crap,” “I don’t want to be a slave to it,” and “I don’t need people snooping around in my personal stuff.” Of course, they have every right to choose not to be on the site, but my response to them is almost always “it is what you make of it.”

Your social world is up to you. And I guess that is precisely what can be the good and bad of it. While some people do post the minute details of their days, most of my FB friends are judicious with what they post, and I get a peek into their lives that I wouldn’t have in an otherwise busy world.

And what is it we are peeking at? Many times when a person chooses what they deem to be “Facebook-worthy,” it’s that they are having fun somewhere or perhaps sharing a slice of life that made them smile. The good stuff.

Another pic I posted that was well "liked." A nice night out downtown.
Another pic I posted that was well “liked.” A nice night out downtown.

But there have also been many times where people have posted something where they needed support—maybe moral support or prayers—for a trouble on their heart and in their lives. This can be the very good stuff of Facebook. It gives me a chance to listen and offer compassion. To let someone know that I “heard” them when they were calling out. It may not be much, but it’s something.

When my mother was rehabilitating from a serious health issue and I asked people to send her cards…Voilà. Cards appeared. How cool is that?

I don’t often post that kind of thing, though, and my Year in Review reflects that. While my mom needing cards to brighten her day made the cut, many other harsh realities did not. And that’s okay. My Facebook 2013 will not accurately reflect all of my 2013 because I get to choose. Simple as that.

And if we remember that most people post with a filter, then perhaps we can reduce the statistics that show that people often feel worse after being on social media. Who needs or wants that?

We ought to be able to share in each other’s joys without it taking anything away from us. But, of course, it always helps to be considerate in what you’re posting, too. (It’s never fun to see photos of a big party where you wonder why you weren’t invited to it.) A little “golden rule” can go a long way.

So with an understanding that people typically choose the “good stuff” to show us, and a consideration that we shouldn’t flaunt our “good stuff,” Facebook can be a great way to stay in touch. Because of FB, I’ve been able to share in the joys and woes of friends that I couldn’t possibly have time to keep connected with in the “real” world. I am grateful for that.

Overall, if my 2013 was a student, I would be sending it to the Dean’s Office. But when I look at my 2013 on Facebook, I am reminded of some of the blessings that I have forgotten amidst the other craziness. What a nice gift.

I’d like to take a moment to say thank you for your readership. I know how hectic and full life is, so I appreciate it very much that you take some time out of your crazy day to read my words. Thank you.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year and a 2014 full of blessings, peace, and hope…because…here it comes!

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Posted in Life As I Know It

Taken for Granite

granite
GranTED, not granITE…

When I was little, I thought the saying was “taken for granite” instead of “granted.” And actually, there is truth to my misstated cliché. If you take something for granted, it’s a bit like believing it’s set in stone…when it’s not.

I’ve had major lessons in this throughout my life, and I’m thinking the same holds true for most people. That’s why sayings like “you don’t miss the water till the well runs dry” exist! Because we are taught over and again that reality doesn’t always align with our plan.

You think, assume, or hope your life is going to be one way, and then you see just how little “granite” has to do with anything. An early and major lesson on this front was losing a parent at a relatively young age. I had assumed my dad would be in my life much longer than he was—but that wasn’t in the plan. Big lesson in taking nothing for granted, right?

Apparently, though, I’m a hardhead. I seem to need reminders, and, as life would have it, I get plenty of them.

2013 clock

2013 has been one big, fat, ongoing reminder. It’s been like a droning lecture from a philosophy professor with long, crooked teeth and an ill-fitting tweed jacket. The kind of lecture where you try really hard in the beginning to take good notes and follow along but before long you find yourself slumped face down on your desk with drool on your hand, the taste of sleep in your mouth, and a huge crick in your neck. (College flashback, anyone?)

2013’s notes include lessons on not taking things like health, family, or employment for granted. Note to the Professor of Life: I get it. The lecture has sunk in. For now.

But unlike the outcome of the droning philosophy lecture, where the end result is probably a foggy understanding and a C+ on the exam, the upside of the life lesson is a renewed sense of blessing and appreciation.

The “granite” reminders continue their teaching with other formidable lessons…

When you need to box your way out of a tough situation, you learn who is in your corner.  

When you have to pare away nonessentials…you learn what IS essential.  

When you know how it feels to hurt to walk, you will make it your business to strive to run. 

When your life garden is full of challenges, you see compassion bloom. 

And when you see someone you love in pain, you focus outside yourself and remember the importance of both giving and receiving love and support.

The takeaways from a difficult year can be powerful, and as 2013 comes to a close, I’m calling it a honing year…All things work together for good…at least that is what I believe in and pray for.

I’m hoping I don’t need more reminders any time soon, though. Even for my thick head, I think I’ve had enough to last me for a while. But I am grateful that I am able to see the significance behind the struggles.

And if you are having a rough go of it, as so many people I know are, I hope that you, too, are able to find the meanings and blessings that bubble their way up through the muck. After all, the best “granite” we have to stand on is the faith in that which we cannot see.