I’m having a Dumb Day. It seems to be happening with alarming frequency lately, and I haven’t quite figured out if it’s a latent panic attack that keeps me from digesting the material I’m trying to absorb, or if the years of non-existent intelligent discourse and corresponding stimulation of my brain have left my mental faculties in a state of disrepair. (Although part of me wonders whether what I’m experiencing is the IF-equivalent of “pregnancy brain”, aka “empty womb brain”.)
Let me explain.
I’m not stupid. I’m fairly intelligent and educated. I suck at certain things and am, arguably, rather good at others. But I feel somewhat flummoxed by social media – caused partly by disdain for the oversharing hordes of people who can’t even spell the most basic words correctly, and partly by what I can only refer to as inciting a case of “head-scratching” in yours truly (ok, what I really mean is “I don’t get it”).
One of the things I find the most frustrating about social media is how it makes people do and say the most stupid and/or offensive things. Social media has given bullying a whole new outlet; and it’s given all those idiots who were last in line when they handed out brains, tact, courtesy, common sense, decency and a little thing called manners a whole new way to make my eyes bleed. I know, I know. Social media can also be an effective tool for growing your business, for staying in touch with people halfway across the globe, and for crafting what started out as a puny little idea into a genius light bulb movement.
However, I’m a little ambivalent about social media in general. I’ve read quite a few articles that are already pointing out things like how we’re having fewer and fewer “real”, face to face interactions in favor of things like FB. Another article suggested that people who are heavily involved with social media have a tendency to become unhappy – the premise being that the constant “stacking up” of oneself against others (a new way of keeping up with the Jones’, if you will) can even lead to no-kidding depression. I don’t find this hard to believe since I know I’m not the only IFer who decided to leave FB after the constant onslaught of pregnancy announcements.
Still, social media is not only a reality of our lives – it can also be useful and helpful in many ways. I mean – take this whole blogging thing. I’m still trying to get my bearings but, to be honest, I would’ve never dared to start a blog were it not for a handful of really wonderful, supportive fellow IFers I “met” through an online infertilty community. I’ve never met any of these people face to face – yet there is an irrefutable bond when you recognize yourself in the words of someone else because you think, omg that’s exactly how I feel/think/act.
And this is, perhaps, never more important than when you struggle with something that feels like the world’s biggest secret – because, again, I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t go around broadcasting our reproductively challenged state to anyone and everyone; largely because those we did tell early on turned their backs on us and made us feel rejected, misunderstood and even more vulnerable than we already felt to begin with.
But there are some things that still really baffle me – mostly because I want to contribute or participate but am not quite sure what the “etiquette” is or how something works.
Case in point: the Sunshine Award. Since I started my blog, a few people very kindly informed me that they had nominated me for this “award” – and I honestly have no idea what to do with that. Am I supposed to say thank you? Am I supposed to nominate them back? Am I supposed to write an acceptance speech? I honestly have no idea.
Similarly: online “challenges”. I love the idea of participating in a challenge that revolves around something that’s important, meaningful and/or significant to me personally – but, again, I feel like I’m at a black tie event dressed in dungarees. I. Don’t. Get. It.
Of course this makes me feel like a huge, enormous tool. It feeds into pre-existing feelings of inadequacy and makes me stop dead in my tracks for fear of “getting it wrong” – and making even more of a heel of myself. The result: I feel like I’m standing outside looking in, my face squished against the window, longing to be part of something that’s bigger than just me, myself and I. But I’m so consumed with the fear of doing something wrong that I just slink away, depriving myself of the joy of interaction, friendship and community.
Why am I so worried about this? Good question. Because, really? There’s no money riding on whether or not I deal with something like that in the “correct” way. But the truth is that I want to learn, I want to understand – I’ve just been too chicken to admit that I didn’t get it right off the bat. Kind of like the kid who doesn’t understand what’s going on in class but doesn’t want everyone staring at him/her and calling them a moron. Yeah, that would be me in this scenario.
I think the reason I’m having such issues with this – and, really, making a proverbial mountain of a mole hill – is that I kind of lost the plot once social media really exploded and things like Pinterest, blogging etc. catapulted random people to relative or actual stardom. A blog that got turned into a book, that became a movie. A blogger who had such following that an entire company grew out of it. And the truth? I’m not looking for fame and fortune, but I want to capitalize on what’s left of my brain and LEARN something new. I want to “get it”, I want to participate, I want to understand instead of ignoring something because I’m afraid to come right out and say, yeah…I didn’t catch that – can you run that by me again?
Part of the problem is that I really, truly HATE feeling stupid. I hate admitting that I don’t understand something that everyone else seems to be equating to 1+1 in its simplicity. I’m also kind of old school. I like things that are physical – real books, real letters, real people. I guess you could say that, in as much as my blog is in its infancy, so is my own personal experience with online communities.
So please don’t think that I don’t appreciate you trying to include me or nominate me or encourage me – it may just take me a while to figure out how this all works. I’ll try not to break out an old-fashioned college-ruled Mead notebook, pen and high lighter, and draw myself a diagram. Ahem.