My sister called me this weekend and told me she wanted to post something on my Facebook wall but didn’t want it to come off as mean…she saw a onsie that said, “My Mom is Blogging This” and she wanted to get it for Ellie. I laughed and thought about what Ellie is going to say about everything when she realizes that I live a life with very few secrets. Every word I write, I write with the potential of Ellie reading it in mind. But really, what is the point of living a life so out loud?
René Descartes may have said (in French I think) “I think, therefore I am” – meaning (very simply put according to what I found on Wikipedia – so don’t be impressed or fully believe it) that the simple fact that someone is thinking about whether or not they exist, is proof that they exist. Well today – in the age of social media – we all might be fooled into thinking that a thought doesn’t actually exist unless it is shared with 600 of your closest virtual friends. And because of this much has been said about the ways that social media is turning perfectly nice people into crazy narcissists, causing them to leave their spouses after rekindling a romance with someone they used to bully in high school.
I know this might come as a surprise, but I take the counter argument, and I actually think that social media, which includes, but is not limited to Facebook, Twitter, and blogging, has helped a whole bunch of people not feel as isolated as they otherwise would…and I am one of those people.
Don’t get me wrong, I have often wondered who the hell gives a sh*t about what I am writing, and then I remind myself that this started off as a little baby update to 20 of my closest friends and family, and turned into…well…a way for me to not feel so alone – with the help of those family and friends, and a number of people I have never met before. And I actually think I am not alone in this urge to not feel so alone – with the entire mommy blogging movement serving as a way to feel understood – both the writer and the reader alike.
Life is interesting…motherhood is really interesting, being a single woman in Manhattan is tragic, funny and interesting, and being a single mom in Manhattan is tragic, funny, and really really really interesting. I may have mentioned this, but I do not come home to a husband every night. I don’t have one person that is committed to Ellie and I, both through law and emotion, a person to tell every detail of our day to – so I turn to a more public sort of partner in all of this. And in doing so, I have bridged the gap of thousands of miles, emailed with complete strangers that have something in common with me – whether it’s motherhood, or tragic choice in men, or a belief that love can actually conquer all – and all of this has really has helped me feel better, and also helped me become a more understanding person. Just knowing that there is an outlet for the absolutely crazy sh*t that happens every single day, is therapeutic – the feedback is an added bonus.
So I don’t think that social media, blogging and Facebook are ruining the world and prompting the casualization of our culture, I think they have given us a way to connect with each other, in a more accessible way – when logistics don’t allow for one reason or the other – and I thank god for this tool every single day.
One of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott, author of Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and on Life (read both if ever have the chance – TWO OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS EVER) wrote in Bird by Bird:
Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.
I know I have benefited from the writing, and I can only hope that I in turn, help someone else feel like they are not alone.
Isn’t that what this whole life thing is about anyway? Shared experience? At least I think so.