I’ve been present, but quiet. I’ve taken a short sabbatical from writing. The impetus for creating Genuine Fake Watches was to share my thoughts in longer form and with more thoughtfulness than social media allows. I’ve been present, but not ready.
I’ve been present, but also very conflicted. I like social media because it enables me to stay in touch with far flung friends all over the world, and allows them to keep up with my travels and adventures.
I have pretty solid “rules” for Facebook. I almost never accept friend requests from people I haven’t actually met, and made a determination that I actually want them in my life. In a few cases, I’ve broken that rule, usually erring on the side of seeming like-mindedness, or similar backgrounds or interests. In a few cases, I’ve been able to turn the “introductions” from Facebook into face-to-face friendships.
That said, this discernment of connections provides me both a reasonably safe place where I find little conflict, but also may be insulating me in an echo chamber of like-mindedness.
If anything, I try to not be defined by labels. I try to learn as much as I can, from as many as I can. I have always been very inquisitive. I’ll look at multiple sources, and many sides of any issue or idea. But, my true character and philosophy tends to progressive. I care deeply about others, especially those with less than me. I’ve been blessed with so much.
I didn’t always have it. I’ve gone through very difficult times earlier in my life personally, professionally and financially. Enough to make me feel deeply for those less fortunate, and to be frustrated by those who don’t have that empathy. When you’ve walked in those shoes, and only survived because of the grace of others, both family and friends, I think it conditions you in ways that those who haven’t don’t understand.
Recently I’ve started to post more photos via Instagram (follow me on Instagram here), and then on to Facebook, as opposed to words. It’s been a conscious decision. A decision rooted in being less of a blowhard, and to eliminate conflict on social platforms, and in my life. The roots are in my deep love for imagery (for those who don’t know, I was a professional photographer for a few years). I am by nature a story teller and can be very verbose. Images leave something to interpretation. The story is different for each viewer. We all see different things, and nobody argues against what we see. There is a beautiful nuance to that.
However, I still engage as a participant with words on other people’s threads or posts. This is where my confliction comes. I feel disingenuous about it. If I am not willing to embrace conflict on my own page, about my own words, why do I engage it on others’?
Just today I got into it on a friend’s post, with a family member of his that I don’t even know. It turned into progressive v. conservative (well, really into non-Trump v. Trump) and I got frustrated by the positon on the other side. I tried facts and was called a “Libtard”. I read and tried to rebut her classical Breitbart/Fox News “playbook” positioning on everything from Benghazi to Bill Clinton’s womanizing to the Clinton’s supposed murdering, conspiring and selling out the country and how Obama caused racism and ruined our inner cities, etc.
Facts didn’t matter – because in her view, my facts come from “fake news”, and hers from what she’d call the non-mainstream media. And she finished her argument with this assumptive close: “I just want my country back!”.
I “fought”, because I hate to be wrong. I hate to lose. I am an awful arguer, because I won’t give up. My mother used to tell me I should’ve been a lawyer, which I am sure was rooted in a combination of her frustration with my always positioning to win, and her desire as a Jewish mother to have me achieve the Jewish “dream job” of her generation.
And, what did today’s threaded argument with a complete stranger get me? Nothing. What did it change? Nothing. I am as entrenched in my thinking as she is in hers. We have no common ground. She wouldn’t make my cut of “friends”, even on social media. I am sure I wouldn’t make hers.
I am so upset by our back-and-forth that I feel like deleting all my comments, except then she’d feel like she “won”, and that’s not the reason I’d delete them. I don’t think I am wrong. I do think I am embarrassed by my quest to be right. So, I also hate social media.
One of my favorite movies is American Beauty (yes, I am aware that I am supposed to hate Kevin Spacey now and eliminate everything he ever did from my life, but bear with me here, please). There is a line from that movie that I’ve always thought poignant. Today, I am embracing it:
“… it’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once and it’s too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I’m talking about I’m sure, but don’t worry, you will someday.”
I’m present. It’s snowing outside at home, and the world seems quiet, peaceful and joyous.
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