Looking at social media posts, everyone has had a fabulous long weekend! Or I guess I should say, it looks like everyone has had a fabulous long weekend.
That’s the rub with social media – we create the story we want to tell and craft it carefully. I suppose that’s how it always has been; even pre-internet, people were only privy to the information you offered, so private matters often stayed that way. Now, many young people have separate lives on display as they run two Instagram accounts, for example; one for your larger group of friends, and one that is much more intimate and confidential for people close to you. Two completely different online identities. As we share more and more online, we shape those social media personas to an extent not seen before.
But does it really matter what we show the world? Not long ago, someone following me on twitter said that it looked like I was having a great school year. My response was that it had been a great one! And it has. But I did admit that someday I should share all the moments that didn’t go as planned, like a ‘real lives of’ reality show. To a certain extent, I think there is some value to an honest and transparent sharing of struggles online. I follow people like Matt Haig and Tyson Williams, who are very frank about their personal issues and they have valuable lessons to share. When dealing with teens, there is a lot that doesn’t go the way you think it should, and there sure wouldn’t be a shortage of reality...but publishing it for what purpose?
None of us live perfect lives, so why hide when we're not at our best? Well, for starters, pride. This week, my teenage son almost missed an important school field trip, because he didn’t pay attention to crucial details like what time they were leaving. It was only because his teacher texted me to make sure he was coming that he made it there. (Thanks Erin!) I didn’t post it because it was embarrassing; I hadn’t personally paid attention to the specifics and it was not my proudest parenting moment. But I also don’t like the idea of publicly shaming our children when they mess up. You can’t learn lessons in a place where humiliation and reproach also reside. (If the irony of me now posting that story here is apparent, it’s mostly because very few people read this blog lol. And I asked my son’s permission!)
As a teacher, I absolutely have days when I feel lacking. When a student hates reading. When they say they’re bored. When I inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings. When someone lets me down. When a parent is upset with me. When I haven’t been heard. When I haven’t listened. When a student lies to me. When they need help and refuse it. When they needed help and I didn’t realize it. There are many failings in any given day. These are sometimes hard to acknowledge, let alone publicly declare, and I carry them nonetheless. So if, in the telling of it, it helps to set some of the weight down, that’s a good thing. But I am always aware that the message I am sending is still a positive one: that although there may be disappointment or discontent in the details, the story still needs to model hope.
Because that’s important.
A book I read this weekend by Harold R. Johnson speaks both to the importance of story, and setting that positive tone for others. “We also learned how to pay attention. If we came from a family with grandparents and parents who carried themselves with dignity, who behaved morally and ethically, we learned to be good people. If we lived in a good story, if all around us everyone behaved in a good way, we developed our own personal story to match the stories of everyone around us.” Although Johnson’s lessons are not about Facebook and Twitter, I think they are applicable. By telling positive social media stories, our individual stories may develop accordingly, or at least it may help us aspire to work for more.
As for all those long weekend Facebook posts? I hope that even if there were parts that you didn’t share with the world, parts that weren’t picture-perfect, that you had time to relax, recharge, and come back refreshed. Have a great week ahead!
Kiitos-Hiy Hiy-Thanks for reading!
As an aside, if you’re not familiar with Kendal Netmaker of Neechie Gear, listen to some of his podcasts. “If I can share this story with you, I really hope it inspires you to do the same…tell your story to take you from where you are to where you want to be.” https://www.kendalnetmaker.com/podcast/netmaker-show/driven-episode-5-using-power-story-staying-positive/
Harold R. Johnson's book is called Firewater: How Alcohol Is Killing My People (And Yours) and here’s one more excerpt: “This is what I think we must do and we must do it now. We have to change the story that we tell ourselves about ourselves and about alcohol…but changing the story doesn’t mean stopping, or censoring, the story that’s out there; it means telling a new story, a better story…Perhaps we will get to the point where we will see truth-telling about alcohol, and perhaps this too is a way to change the story about alcohol. The next time one of our relatives gets run over by a drunk driver, or stabbed to death in a drunken brawl, instead of offering condolences, we will speak instead of how our cousin was murdered by alcohol. This will be the new Facebook status update until the story changes.” It's a powerful book.
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