Earlier this month, when I was blogging or Twittering or Facebooking late at night, and my husband was trying to get my attention but couldn’t – he said something that stopped me in my tracks:
Him: “Does social media fulfill you?”
Me: “Why yes. Yes it does.”
I said it unapologetically, too. Because it does. So off he went, after an eye-roll (he is hugely supportive of my writing – my novel writing, that is. He’s not so sure about whether writing for this blog and social media can be classified as “real” writing, yet. So there are some eye-rolls…)
Social media gets a bad wrap. Maybe because it’s “online” – people who use it are still somewhat stigmatized as self-indulgent, or not serious – sort of like people who fall in love using match.com. There’s still a lot of bias against it out there, like it’s not the real thing.
As of this post, I’m done with participating in that whole dynamic by feeling somewhat sheepish about how attached I am to social media. I’m not going to do that anymore, so I’m officially outing myself: I love social media.
There, I said it.
I’m done with my husband’s eye-rolls, too, because what’s going on here – for me, and for millions of moms – is connection. Community, friendship, recognition, validation. Important things. My husband gets these things daily by going to work – but as a stay-at-home-mom, I don’t. I get them through the friends I meet up with occasionally, but daily I get them through social media.
Motherhood surprised me in how isolating the day-to-day routine can be – but social media removes that isolation. You’re there in your home, the only one who’s awake late at night. You’re worried about the rash on your child’s neck, so you tweet about it.
Me: I’m worried.
Within a minute someone tweets back a suggestion, a calming word, or an “I hear you, the same thing happened to me.” Usually, it boils down to this:
Twitter Village: It’ll be okay.
In an instant, I remember that I’m not alone. It does take a village, and social media connects us to that village. I’ve had so many helpful experiences like this, and have in turn reached out to so many other women as part of that village, that I’m ending my participation in feeling at all sheepish, coy, or embarrassed at the notion that social media does in fact fulfill and validate me. It’s not the only thing that fulfills me – writing does, my family does, my friends. Also – this year at Blogher I met some of the real people behind all of the tweets, Facebook Likes, and comments on my blog – and they were just as amazing in person as they are online. I was shocked. It’s not fake, it’s real. I’m unapologetically sold.
Oh, and P.S., eye-rollers – while I was at Blogher, the most powerful and important person in the world – President Obama – took time out of his schedule to address us – women bloggers who are using social media to change their worlds, and in so doing, the world. So yeah, the era of feeling sheepish about getting meaning and connection from social media is over. Social media is just too helpful, and too important, a vehicle that’s galvanizing our voices and carrying us into our future.
Last night was a bad parenting night for me – I’d put my kids to bed too late, and by the time I did they were crying, and then I tried to put my foot down with the number of toys I would let my beyond-tired child take into the bed with her and she started sobbing. After they finally fell asleep I was left alone with my doubts about my own parenting abilities. I contacted another mom-friend online and told her about my crap parenting night, my self-doubts – and she wrote that she was going through the exact same thing. This connection brought me back to being grounded, not so alone. Part of the village.
So this morning, on Twitter, Cassie, a new follower, sent me a tweet – she had found me, she tweeted to her followers, had read my bio, was inspired by it, and – oh my goodness – inspired by my parenting:
And then another follower – Sandra, who told me she is subscribed “in 3 different places” (!) – responded with this:
Can I begin to tell you how good that felt to read?
So, yeah. Social media fulfills me.
Read Alison from Writing, Wishing’s post about how she feels about blogging over at Letters for Lucas, here.
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