I am not sure I use social media very well. I had a Friendster account (remember Friendster?) way back when, but it took a little while for me to get Facebook. I finally caved after a soccer end of season trip in 2007 (I think). I joined Twitter early on, but rarely used it, and I was very late to the party on Instagram.
I value Facebook and Instagram for the connections to people overseas- to connect with friends and family around the world. I do have links to people in my city, to my family but I would prefer to connect in person (although not always possible).
I was listening a podcast of “this American life” that had a bit about social media- teenagers talking about how they use social media. How they have to like everyone’s posts and quickly, or they aren’t good friends, and the comments! I am very glad I am not a teenager now. But it made me think- I don’t click on like very often – sometimes but not often and I don’t comment much- but I prefer to comment rather than like. But does make me a bad social media friend? I also don’t click on like because I am often not on Facebook.
I am not often on Facebook because I started to drift off as a result of the infertility issue. There were waves of babies being announced, and born and growing up. And I know why they popped often, because everybody likes a baby story, but when you are living the opposite, it is really hard to see it constantly. And really, what can one say? A single post about how things are not working out would attract sympathy, an ongoing series, not so much. And no one ever talks about loss. So I stopped checking, and like many things, once you stop it is hard to reconnect.
I like Instagram because in some ways it is a nice connect between a simple moment of life, with a picture – a combination of the things that I like about Twitter and Facebook without the obnoxious news stories. So find myself checking that more often.
But I have also started to go back to FB, but only on specific days. Someone from my college started a private group where alums (and only alums, very strict) post on a Friday as part of a “Friday tea” about our lives. It’s a simple formula. A snapshot of our tea (beverage), the year we graduated, the house(s) we lived in, key programs and then our best of week (BOW) and worst of the week (WOW). It sounds so trite, and there are those who deviate, but it works. It’s amazing, people share incredible, honest stories. Really truly honest, in a way that you don’t see in more general FB posts, because they know that the stories don’t go any further. Stories about the good and about the bad, and support. Comments are supportive and sharing, the most divisive I have seen I on one of the guiding posts (about how to post) there was a bit of anti- authoritarianism and there was some warm discussion, but was still respectful. And all those infertility posts I never saw? They are here. The miscarriages, the rainbow babies and the IVF trials. And the support and solidarity is there. I wish that I had seen this back in the early days of my infertility, it would have helped. (The blogging community helped, but there was a two year period where every blog I read had their miracle pregnancy, or so it felt). To know so many others are having the same experience.
More than reading the stories, I love what it does to my feed. On Fridays and Saturdays my feed is almost entirely these posts. It wipes political posts, it wipes pictures of food, or other people’s fabulous lives or passive aggressive divorce posts out of my feed. I have been able to connect to people I lost touch with. In some ways, this is what social media is supposed to do, but we have such broad circles that it is hard to be so honest. I do value the chance to have both.
And yes, I know it’s a little weird to talk about something where part of the honesty is based on the fact that the posts are private, but I am not talking about specific posts or circumstances, just the general vibe. And trying not to name my college, but if you know it, and went and haven’t been invited into the group, let me know.