It’s November, and unlike the last several years, I am not posting daily Facebook statuses about things for which I’m grateful. It was a little sad when I decided I was going to make that change, as I found it a joyous and fun tradition. I have only seen one person posting those statuses this year, so obviously, I’m not alone. Maybe it was a passing fancy. Maybe people are less thankful (I doubt that). Or maybe they were just bored. For me, it’s deeper than all of that.
There is a lot of negativity that swarms the internet. I believe it’s because a lot of people are ungrateful and mean (#sorrynotsorry). People who are miserable like to bring other people down, and since the internet is apparently a place where people are unafraid to show their real selves, that negative demeanor is more readily available than it would be in person. No need to play nice when you’re not sitting in front of a living, breathing, FEELING person.
This phenomenon of virtual boldness (not unlike inebriation, if you ask me) is a false confidence that I could do without. It’s not going anywhere, though, as we can all tell. That’s one of the reasons individuals like me like to put forth positive vibes on the web. Enter “Thankful Statuses”…it was a few years ago that I saw the challenge to post something you were thankful for everyday in November. “That’s fun!” I thought. I jumped in with both feet, easily posting multiple gifts per day. My family and friends quickly joined in, too. It was really great. Seeing positivity every time I logged onto to Facebook was uplifting, and again, fun.
However after the first year, I started seeing posts mocking that trend. I am corny, geeky, nerdy as they come, so I didn’t care if people thought I was cheesy. I kept posting. But then those statuses and “e-cards” became more frequent. People were literally making fun of other Facebookers for being too upbeat. It was 1993, and I was in elementary school again. What was once a happy thing, became fuel for bullies. My sparkly K-Mart sweatshirt was inferior to the rich kids’ name brand clothes. Now, I know I’m a sensitive person, but I really believe the reason kids are bullies these days is because their parents aren’t teaching them how to have compassion and respect for others. This attitude of superiority on Facebook is really just a microcosm of a bigger problem. Just because you take a more stoic/negative/cynical/quiet/sarcastic/[insert Facebook style here] position doesn’t mean another person’s posts are inferior to yours.
We all have our opinions, but as my generation was taught [or so I thought], if you don’t have anything nice to say, maybe you shouldn’t say anything at all. Putting down another person via sarcasm on social media is no different than putting them down in person. I realize that people feel the need to put down others’ happiness because they feel inferior when their lives don’t feel so cheery. But as I said before, that’s what bullies do. My mom always told me that people will bring you down because they don’t feel good about themselves. If that is what we’re doing, we need to re-evaulate. Come on adults, why not be a better example?
There were people who thought I was putting up a front on Facebook pre-marital separation, because my posts were positive, and I constantly updated the interwebs on my love of being a momma. I guess they weren’t entirely wrong. Maybe I was putting up a front, but it wasn’t for them. I was trying with all my might to focus on the many blessings in my life, despite the pain I felt in my marriage. I wasn’t being fake or trying to make anyone envy me. I was simply not “airing my dirty laundry” (Lord knows, people would have judged me for that, too! You cannot win. When it comes to the internet, you will be judged, no matter what – people are mean!). I didn’t want to put my husband down. I didn’t want to announce to the world that we were struggling. I don’t consider Facebook a safe place to reach out and ask for help when you are feeling vulnerable (Duh!). BUT I did want to shout from the mountains that I LOVE BEING A MOMMA!
Some of us can be deliriously happy in spite of the trials we face. Being a mom saved me from leading a miserable, self-centered life. It’s the thing that makes me feel like I matter, and it’s the first thing that I have ever felt 100% secure in doing. It is literally my dream job. So, sure, I focused on that and shared that in spite of the pain I was feeling. This life isn’t an all or nothing kind of thing. It’s okay to be happy and thankful. And just because you are, doesn’t mean you don’t face enormous trials. And just because all you share on social media are the good things you’re feeling, doesn’t mean you’re a big phony.
I know this isn’t a world changing post and that people will continue in their superior attitudes, but I hope it makes someone think before making a judgment about another person simply for what they choose to post on the internet. Remember, not everyone is like you, so the conclusions you may draw about them are not always right or fair. If a couple wants to have a joint Facebook account, it doesn’t mean their relationship is in trouble (maybe the guy doesn’t get on Facebook enough to warrant a second account). If a person posts pictures of their kids all smiley and happy doesn’t mean they think they are better than you (maybe those are their favorite pictures, the ones that make them feel happy). If a person posts statuses about their failing relationships all day long, that doesn’t make their struggles or their desire for companionship any less important than yours. If someone posts about politics and it gets on your nerves, it doesn’t make their opinion any less relevant. Hey, if no one was passionate about anything, nothing would get done! I’m not saying that I don’t ever feel negative thoughts about other people on Facebook, but I really do try not to be judgmental, and when those “judgy” feelings creep up, I try to keep them to myself.
Although I don’t live my life to please other people, I also don’t care to throw my pearls to pigs, so to speak. So I’m not posting my thankful statuses this year. All that negativity has left me with that “Meh!” feeling. If all those negative Neds and Nellys are going to be sarcastic and jaded, I don’t want to bother them with my happiness and good-cheer. Ha! Truly though, I don’t have to prove my thankfulness to anyone, and neither do you. So whether you choose to post “Thankful Statuses” or not, remember that we all do have so many blessings in our lives. Reflect on them and choose to bless others rather than bring them down.