Beyond the Pages: Musings On Internet Life

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!

 

 

The book that inspired this conversation:

The Status Of All Things

The Status Of All Things by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
(Goodreads // Amazon)

What It Is About:

What would you do if you could literally rewrite your fate—on Facebook? This heartwarming and hilarious new novel from the authors of Your Perfect Life follows a woman who discovers she can change her life through online status updates.

Kate is a thirty-five-year-old woman who is obsessed with social media. So when her fiancé, Max, breaks things off at their rehearsal dinner—to be with Kate’s close friend and coworker, no less—she goes straight to Facebook to share it with the world. But something’s changed. Suddenly, Kate’s real life starts to mirror whatever she writes in her Facebook status. With all the power at her fingertips, and heartbroken and confused over why Max left her, Kate goes back in time to rewrite their history.

Kate’s two best friends, Jules and Liam, are the only ones who know the truth. In order to convince them she’s really time traveled, Kate offers to use her Facebook status to help improve their lives. But her attempts to help them don’t go exactly as planned, and every effort to get Max back seems to only backfire, causing Kate to wonder if it’s really possible to change her fate.

What It Got Me Thinking About:

social media and how it is so embedded in my life..everyone’s life really, how social media isn’t always an accurate representation of who a person is

Image1fdsfI’ve been feeling very on again off again with social media lately. Reading this book reminded me how much social media affects my life and how it has permeated into my daily routine in such a huge way without me even realizing it. I grew up before the internet. I grew up before social media. I know how to live life without it all….but why does it feel like sometimes I don’t?

I’m going to preface this with: I LOVE SOCIAL MEDIA. I LOVE THE INTERNET. It is glorious. I have met some of my very best friends. I’ve grown as a person. Have found an amazing outlet. Learned a lot. I love how it has allowed me to have PEOPLE to connect with who I wouldn’t otherwise.

Here’s 2 things it made me think about:

 

If you don’t post it on social media, did it really happen?

In the book, immediately when Kate finds out that her fiance was breaking up with her, her first thought is basically, “what will social media think of this? How will I break the news on Facebook?” At first I thought, “how silly” but then I was thinking about how I’ve struggled with this so much. I go to social media immediately to announce life things.  I can’t go a day without thinking about how I can photograph it perfectly for Instagram. How immediately when I do something fun I need to post it. What will my followers think if I get too personal about my bad day? Will people like this? Will people think it’s lame? Social media is the first thing I do when I wake up and a lot of the time the last thing I do before I close my eyes.

I’ve been better with it lately because I’ve just felt so TIRED of sharing and curating my whole life. I try to be authentic and open as possible when I do share but lately I just want to keep things to myself. I don’t want to live my whole life out on social media. I’m tired of putting so much of myself on display and caring too much about what social media thinks. And I’ve been finding life a bit more fulfilling by enjoying those moments without sharing them. Sure, some of them were super share-worthy (like how beautiful the sun and the leaves look from my reading spot here at the park) but it’s kind of nice to not immediately reach for my phone and be like, “I need to tweet/snap/instagram/ that.”  Sometimes it’s kind of just nice to admire it and feel the sun on my face and appreciate the moment. I’m still a work in process but I’m finding that life is more fun without over-documenting it.

The experience still happened even if I didn’t tell the world it did. When I start handing out all the moments of my life, I feel like there is a little bit less of me for myself. Sometimes I feel like I’ve got a little secret all to myself when I collect these moments just for myself and not offer them up for the dissection and scrutiny of others. There’s peace of mind in that in an age when I feel like I’m inundated my opinions and likes and voices.  These moments almost feel MORE real.

 

What You See Isn’t Always What You Get

One of the things Kate learns in the book, through another character that she obsesses over on Facebook about her perfect life, is that what you see on social media isn’t always what you get. It’s curated. It’s what people WANT you to see. It isn’t always accurate because it’s not the WHOLE of a person (ie you might think you know about a blogger from what they put out but you have NO IDEA about the behind the scenes and what their real life is like).

As I said above, I like to think that I’m pretty authentic with my social media. I’m myself. I don’t try to be a different version of me. I share a balance of my good and my bad. A pretty accurate picture of my life. But sometimes I struggle: how real is too real? I offer up personal things because I truly have connected with people through certain things — losing my mom, how hard certain things have been in my life, unemployment. BUT there are private things that, for me, need to remain private. And beyond that — are my followers really here for that? Do they really want to see my ugly? If I’m having a bad week do I need to tweet my sadness and angst and sorrows until things are better? BUT HEY IT’S SURE HONEST. Are they here for rants about my personal life? The real ugliness that happens in day to day life? I don’t know that people are here for all of that so I tend to keep it to a minimum on the real ugly. So I guess it’s a curated ugly? You can know that I’m having a bad day but I probably won’t tell you that I’ve spent all day sobbing in bed about a number of things and didn’t brush my teeth or eat and all I did, in my own misery, was be mean to Will from the moment he walked in that door (yeah, that happened today).  How real is too real? Is it false advertising if I just share my cup of tea with my book or a Snapchat story about my silly pup? Is it #fake if I’m not telling you the moments in between those things on a particular day?

The other day I was talking to a friend who was sharing with me about this post she read. I can’t remember for the life of me where she saw it but it was about social media. The part that resonated with her really resonated with me. It was something to this affect: the girl met with her friend for lunch or coffee and told her friend how much she’d been struggling lately and her friend responded that she wouldn’t have guessed that from social media because it sure looked like things were going well. That response kind of broke the girl’s heart because and I loosely quote “so because I have white walls in all my pictures, did it really mean there was no longer a reason to reach out to see how I was really doing?”

And I fear this. I fear that because people think they know how my life is going based on what they read/see on social media that people will assume all is good. And I might have really needed that connection. I fear that I’m going to miss an opportunity to reach out to one of my friends and ask how they are really doing because OH THEY ARE JETSETTING ALL AROUND AND OMG LOOK AT HER CUTE OUTFIT IN THAT CUTE COFFEE SHOP DAMN I REALLY WISH I WAS DOING THAT AND NOT SITTING IN MY PJS STILL. HOW HAPPY SHE MUST BE! And maybe she is! But also maybe because I assumed life was great I missed out on an opportunity to ask how she’s doing because “well clearly I SEE how she’s doing” or a moment to offer a word of encouragement or random text of “hope your day is awesome” — what I would have done if I hadn’t subconsciously thought I “checked in with them” via social media and went about my day.

If I’m honest, I’ve been struggling lately. Really, really struggling. I have friends I could reach out to. But I don’t. I don’t want to seem like a debby downer to their super awesome life I see on social media. So instead, I put an okay face on for social media — I share the real things that are happening but omit how much I cried today (maybe throw in one instance of my bad day but lols about it) because I don’t want anyone to think I’m seeking attention or super dramatic and I continue to connect at a surface level with person upon person without really satisfying my need to sort out what is in my heart right now….to feel heard…to feel understood. Because I don’t know who, in my followers and friends who I mostly interact with online, wants to see the ugly. For being as “connected” as I find myself on the daily, it can feel a little lonely. I was thinking how good it feels that I have a standing weekly date with my IRL friend Kelsey because checking in with each other has become so much less of a passive thing like it would be when we’d like or comment on each other’s Facebook stuff.

Like I prefaced this, I love social media. I have made REAL connections. Have had heart to hearts with real people. Have felt inspired or encouraged in real ways. It helps me keep in touch with my besties that don’t live near me. But sometimes I think I’m putting too much stock in my general online interactions/socializing and not putting the face time in where it really matters. I miss that. I’m putting too much stock in social media in general. Too much time staring at my phone or my computer screen and scrolling and typing and click click clicking away my life. Too much stock in what the internet thinks about me or my life based on what they see or hear.

The Status Of All Things and my conversation with my friend recently made me really examine myself and my habits. I’m becoming more mindful of how I use social media and how much value I’m putting on it. There are limits to even things that bring good to our life. We can get TOO wrapped up. I’m slowly trying to untangle and disconnect and examine it all to life my very best life — online and off. And hey, sometimes I just need to fall down the rabbit hole that is the internet and look at Benedict Cumberbatch gifs or have a ridiculous, pointless conversation with people on Twitter. It’s totally necessary and welcome when balanced.

BUT:

I’m asking myself the hard questions: what is my goal with social media? How is it affecting my life? How can I change the things I don’t like? How can I give myself space but still be a blogger who depends on the internet? How is spending 45 minutes to post one Instagram picture from start to finish adding to my life? How is scrolling about my social media streams without actually connecting adding to my life and what could I have done instead? How can balance being authentic without giving too much of myself away? When I’m on my deathbed what will I wish I’d done more/less of?

 

The reason I picked this book up in the first place was because of a post by my friend Estelle who wrote a much more articulate and WAY more succinct post about this book that I highly recommend!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. Hi Jamie!
    This is a great great post! I really understand where you are coming from. I am the same age as you and I grew up without social media and all this techy stuff. I was lucky to have a cell phone in high school, but all it did was text and call and it was pay as you go! Remember those days? So I understand how it hard it can be to try and find that detachment from tech and social media, when it is so prevalent in our lives now.
    I think everyone feels this way about social media, that people post the good things and we don’t always see what is going on behind the scenes. I struggle with not letting this get to me. I see someone off traveling somewhere cool and beautiful and I feel like my life is so boring. I have been try to do better lately to not get so jealous of social media and just actually pick up the phone and talk to my friends. I have found out that some of them are not doing as well as their social media lets on and that it’s nice to catch up with them and be there for them.
    Good luck with dealing with all those hard questions. Ultimately just be true to yourself. I take time to step back and really look at all the things I have and it makes me so much happier. I love your blog because I feel like I really connect and can relate to you. We all have bad days, tomorrow is a new day, to try again and start over. Enjoy all the moments you have. You can choose to share it or you can choose to keep it to yourself; it’s up to you! Good luck and thank you for being such an honest and open person, it’s nice to know we aren’t all in this by ourselves.

  2. Yes. YES TO ALL OF THIS. I read Estelle’s post on this as well and we had a discussion about how I’ve actually deleted tweets because I thought they were too negative…like shit got too real. I try as much as possible to spread the positive (not the dramz) on social media, but yeah, that balance of being authentic and being positive sometimes gets to be too much. I don’t talk about those hard days. I’m afraid of sharing the ugly – and there is some real ugly….but maybe I should? I don’t know. Are you going to share a bit more ugly now, after this post?

    I’ve also noticed that I’ve shared things on social media and if I don’t get a response, my brain immediately goes to “oh, no one is listening, I’m just sending things into the ether, no one cares, does anybody even care about me” and it turns into this horrible spiral of self-doubt…which is NOT GOOD. And if makes me wonder if I really need to be validated by that – as much as I love my internet friends, and I really believe that some of them are friends, never mind the internet part – like, why does not getting a response to a post make me go into that when I know I have people who care IRL and I know I’m doing this whole blogging thing just to be part of the community and share my own voice? WHY DO OTHER PEOPLE MATTER SO MUCH TO ME? Why do I sometimes feel lonely when no one responds? It’s like being 15 all over again, and wanting to be part of the popular crowd. And…I’m over that, you know? I’m 32, I got over that shit in my 20s…so why am I subjecting myself to that again?

    Anyway, I don’t have answers except that I’ve also been dialing back the social media a bit. I don’t check it before I go to bed. It’s not always the last thing I do at night, and I don’t always share every part of my life anymore. I’m still struggling with that whole “if I didn’t post it, did it really happen?” thing, but I’m trying to fight it. Because that just leads me to question if my voice and my life matters again…and that’s idiotic. It does. Our experiences matter in themselves. Just because someone else doesn’t see them, doesn’t mean they don’t matter. If they matter to me, they matter.

  3. Social media is so interesting, in large part because it’s so new but has become a huge part of our culture practically overnight (in the big scheme of things). It’s a kind of communication tech that has drastically changed the way we interact with our fellow humans — just like the telephone did a little over a century ago. (And yes, that time had its own reactionaries who thought that phones would water down social interactions and would be used too frivolously by the wimminz.)

    It can be difficult to find a good balance. I personally hate using Facebook, but do it anyway because that’s where most of my family, friends, & coworkers “hang out” online — and I know I would be missing out on even the most basic interactions with them otherwise. That said, I feel I can be more honest on other social networks like Twitter when I don’t have such a varied “audience” ….

  4. I didn’t realize that’s what that book was about. Now I HAVE to read it. I might suggest it for my book club. These are really great questions to be asking. I know I am guilty of thinking about social media during actual life events and important moments. I think about my blog now too. Documenting and planning what I’ll write. It’s so hard to break away and just live. Great post!

  5. Wow, I’m so grateful you posted this today, because I’ve been thinking about these topics a lot, and it really helped me get my thoughts in order.

    I notice time and time again that I forget to actually talk to people, because I see their life highlights online. I don’t have to call my friends for their birthdays, because I can just write on their Facebook walls. Yes, it’s great that I can “keep in touch” with so many people, but at the same time, all my relationships end up feeling more superficial. I freaked out a little bit when I read what you said about how we might not notice when friends need help, just because we didn’t realize they were struggling. You’re absolutely right. I can’t rely on Facebook and Twitter updates to know how my friends are doing! And as you said, who knows how much of the real story I’m getting. If I’m going to be friends with someone, I WANT the whole story.

    The same goes for Internet acquaintances and bloggers. I like to hear the “ugly” parts. It’s so easy to feel as if my life isn’t good enough when I see people posting about their “perfect” lives. I have to continually remind myself that it isn’t real. I would always rather people be honest, even if it’s not rainbows and cupcakes all the time. I also hate to think that someone would hide the real parts of her life out of fear of scaring people away. Those people aren’t worth having around, trust me.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your crappy day. I can tell from your Twitter updates that things have been rough, and I can relate, but I never know if I should respond when I see something like that. I always wonder how helpful it is to be comforted by a basic stranger. But hopefully you know that there are lots of people out their rooting for you, who aren’t going to abandon your blog or Twitter or YOU just for being honest. In fact, posts like these are one of the reasons I’ve been following your blog for so long. *hugs*

  6. Thank you for your thought provoking post. For what it’s worth, I’m happy to see whatever a person wants to share, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I follow most of my timeline because I want to get to know them as people, not as a figure to stare at from afar. But I know what you mean. I’ve been trying to be more mindful of not posting every little thing or experience. Sometimes it’s hard for me because I have the inclination to share. But then I think about just enjoying the moment, so I’m trying. I could stand to unplug a little more if I’m being honest. Oh I get mean to Chris when I’m upset and then I feel so awful and I cry even more and it’s a vicious cycle. I feel you <3 If you ever need someone else to reach out to, please don't hesitate! It's hard to find the time for real life friend interaction these days, with everyone far away or having demanding schedules or lives. But I need to try more or the months slip by and I feel bad. ahh. The book sounds interesting btw, I'll have to look into it.

  7. So glad you wrote this. I bet it felt really great, right? I’m been struggling on my own a lot lately about a lot of different things and trying to figure out my place here on the internet. It doesn’t feel like home to me anymore and I’m not sure what to do with that side of myself. I want to spend more time doing things off line but I do like a way to catalogue it and maybe that’s what I really need to work on. I love the pals I’ve met through blogging but I also miss having a group of close IRL friends nearby. That would mean getting into a hobby that is more local and less computer-y. Not sure where to go with that. Not sure I’ve been sharing my “full” self or if it’s even possible. So instead I’ve been pretty silent, and I think it actually puts things in perspective. Some friends are online/IRL, some are JUST online. And that’s totally fine, and totally okay. Bah. I’m depressing. BUT THE INTERNET IS COMPLICATED. I KNOW YOU GET IT. xoxo

  8. Okay, this whole post just broke my heart in a thousand million ways, and I am putting that book on my TBR btw.

    Firstly, I completely agree with you on being honest on social media. I was once like that, on Twitter, on Facebook. I told the world EVERYTHING, but after awhile I learnt to keep it in because people told me that I was being a downer in their life. So sometimes, I get scared to let social media know if I’m feeling sad. But that’s the thing, sometimes you gotta let people take care of you, let people care for you. So, it’s okay to go on Twitter and be like “I’m having a bad day” or that your life has been crappy. There will always be people who will be there for you, you just have to let them care. 🙂 I know you’re scared that some people might be angry that you’re such a “downer” or whatever, but hey, who cares. I can legit tell you right now that from what I’ve seen, you have tons of followers who truly care.

    BUT I want you to know that it’s okay to keep it in too. I’m not forcing you to let people know all your problems. Social media is DAMN complicated and some people thrive on others’ miseries, I get that. So, it’s okay if you think you wanna keep it to yourself. Just know that if you can no longer handle it by yourself, and you need to let it all out, people will be here for you 🙂

    And yeah, I guess what you see is not always true. That’s why I think if we care about someone, once in awhile, we should ask them how are they doing 🙂 I hope you’re doing okay, and if you’re not, do know that it gets better. Bad days come and go, they won’t always be there to stay. Stay strong. <3

  9. This is such an interesting post–it reminded me a lot of the things I was thinking about while reading Tonight the Streets Are Ours too actually. I think with social media it is often a matter of who you are an how you process. Like blogging, no question, is really important to me and has become a big part of my professional development and work as a librarian (I call it the world’s largest writing sample!) but other social media has been really important to me for building a support system–especially Twitter which I use to keep in touch with a lot of friends that I don’t see often IRL either because they are far away and/or because we met online and haven’t bridged the gap to a face-to-face meeting yet.

    I don’t spend a lot of time on Instragram and I deleted my facebook because it was bringing me down but Twitter I consider a real life line. In the last couple of years I have discovered that I process a lot of things by talking about them. And blogging or tweeting or DMing about things also sometimes gives me permission (in my head) to maybe reach out to other friends via text and admit that I’m struggling or need some help.

    The other way I deal with social media is that I don’t follow a lot of people. I limit Twitter to 125 people or less based on who I talk to and who I want to follow to know what’s up (authors, etc.), instagram I only follow people I know on Twitter, and goodreads is strictly people I know in real life or bloggers whose opinions I trust and use for deciding what to read or recommend. By limiting who I follow I feel like I miss out on some things, and I know I miss a lot not being on facebook. BUT I feel like in having less to deal with I am able to connect and engage a lot better. (I follow the same principle with blogs I follow which I am trying to keep below 50 and ones that are consistently interesting to me and where people post regularly.)

  10. Great post. I agree that we take to Social Media over so much. I go through phases myself. In the back of my mind, I’m thinking about bonuses of trips and vacations that I’ll be able to share the pictures on FB. When I think about that, that’s kind of silly but a small joy of it too so I don’t question it too much.

  11. As always, your posts are so thoughtful and well-written. You always get me thinking and I really appreciate that. This is such a great topic because I think every single person out there can relate to it. I do the same thing you do. Post happy stuff on social media and hesitate to post the negative. I don’t want people to think I’m whiny or looking for attention and I oftentimes wonder whether my followers really even care. They’re following my blog, but how much do they care about what’s going on in my real life? I like to think they do care, because I care about the bloggers that I follow and talk to regularly. I want to know what’s going in on their lives & become better friends with a lot of these people. But I think it can be hard to do that on social media. We all have heard the running joke about how we don’t care if you ate a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. So how much is posting too much? And how much negativity can you post w/o people getting annoyed? I’ll admit that I have a couple of friends on facebook who ONLY post negative things and after a while it gets exhausting to read. So I guess that’s probably why I hesitate. I don’t want people to see me in that light. But maybe I’m being overly cautious. Maybe it’s okay to occasionally post some more negative things as long as you’re interspersing it with happy, positive thoughts. I try to be myself as much as possible on social media, but it’s difficult. And I also tend to be a more private person so there are things I just don’t want to share. I think finding the right balance can be really tough.

    But what I found really interesting about this post is your point on missing an opportunity to reach out to a friend. I have never really thought about it before, but you’re right. Someone’s life could look amazing on social media, but they could at home crying every day over something I don’t know about. And because I only see the happy pictures, I don’t reach out when that person could really use a friend. I don’t really know how to fix this, but it’s definitely a good thing to keep in mind. It’s so interesting how much social media has changed our lives and relationships. Great post, dear!

  12. Beautiful and deep post. I’m definitely gonna read that book. You got me at the first line :). I work online, but lately I realized that I needed to unplug, so to speak, because I’ve been running myself ragged, and I’ve not been resting my eyes. Although it’s important to keep up with friends and news, sometimes, it’s good to relax and just be offline for a few days.

  13. SO MUCH YES TO THIS POST!

    There was so much, and I have so many thoughts, and I’m going to try to address all the points, but I might forget something. BEAR WITH ME. :p

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, especially after pulling back from social media A LOT this summer. When I was examining why I was reading much during the year, one of my reasons was that I wanted to be more present, and in the moment. I didn’t want to read for a couple hours when I could have been playing video games with my little brother or going on a random driving trip with my mom or hanging out with our cats who live in our garage. I really think one of the reasons I’ve read less this year is because of that, and because I wanted to focus more on real life, and the people who matter so much to me even if I don’t tell them often. This past weekend, I went to a volleyball game with my friend Andrea and her two oldest girls. I shut off the phone, and I was present that whole time. And other than checking my friends’ msgs once or twice, I let myself enjoy a whole night in her presence and at their house, just talking about anything and everything. And I have MISSED that. So. Much. I don’t have very great friendships IRL, so it’s really nice that I do here with blogging. But, you know what? It’s not the same as being able to go to a coffee shop and have a date, or go on a long walk together. It feels like I’m still missing that connection because it’s through a screen, and not face-to-face.

    Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE MY BLOGGING FRIENDS. I don’t even consider them ONLY internet friends anymore; they’ve become real ones. So a lot of my social media time IS spent talking with them, and making sure I’m following their lives and am up-to-date. But then I also spend too much time scrolling through the feed, mindlessly, just doing whatever. It’s become a crutch, in a sense. Last summer I used Twitter as my outlet after a shitty year in college, and I kinda dived headfirst into the community. And it was like I couldn’t STOP. Like I had to know what everyone was doing and had to think about what I was saying and how much I was showing people. I feel like I’m an authentic person myself, but I have become a lot more careful about what I share on here, especially the personal stuff. I wrote one of the most personal posts in August, and I shared it because I wanted to, and I wanted people to know without outright telling them, and also if someone could connect with it and understand? All the better that my post was inspirational or personal for them. But for other stuff, I keep it private. Social media doesn’t need to know EVERYTHING about my life. For that, I have the DMs. Maybe once in awhile I’ll share something really personal, but I want to make sure I’m keeping a nice balance, and I’m not overloading on my Twitter followers. Because most of them are just that: followers. They’re not friends, and sometimes I think I forget that. I’m trying to do better, though, especially because I don’t wanna be the person who spends most of her time documenting her life on a social media platform than actually LIVING it.

    I think it’s really okay to have a sort of, persona, on here. I think it’s certainly possible to be authentically yourself but also not, if that makes sense. I feel like I’ve created a sort of persona on here that isn’t 100% me IRL, but it IS authentic. I’m assuming most (blogging) people on social media either a) only have this outlet for their feelings and thoughts so they’re more prone to sharing or b) use it for mostly blogging, and they keep their real life out of it 90% of the time. I feel like I’ve been both, but that I’m becoming better at balancing who I am on here with who I am IRL, and with keeping my time spent on social media on a minimum. It’s definitely addicting to scroll through the feed and be up-to-date with everything and be THERE for whatever happens on it. But for me, that’s definitely been my crutch before. And I want to do better at not letting it affect too much of who I am and what I do or say.

    I’m not sure how much of all of that made sense. LOL. But your post is so great and I had so many thoughts after I was done reading it. It’s very much something I think about a lot, and I’m glad you wrote this. Wonderful post, Jamie!