How Do You Like Your Humanity Served?

It occurs to me that there’s never been a time where we’ve been more exposed and yet keeping so much undercover.

We’re comfortable to share the minutiae of our lives on social media such as what we’re eating, where we’re enjoying drinks and festivities and who we’re doing it with. It’s all out there, with photos, for the whole wide world (and web) to see.  But how much are we curating our sparkling page and profile while withholding part (or most) of our real story? I say “we” and “our” as if others feel the same. I guess I’m asking if you do. I hate to think I’m the odd duck, but hey, if you can’t be weird when you’re 50, when can you?

How do you like your humanity served? Straight up, with a twist, dash of salt, sprinkle of sugar, half size?

That’s the fence to ride. When someone asks you how you’re doing or what’s going on, do they really want to know or is it only an extension of “hello?” Navigating the line between polite conversation and oversharing can be tricky. Why are we uncomfortable, both the sharer and the listener? Perhaps we’ve gotten comfortable behind the TMI shield. Or we drank the social media Kool-Aid that encourages us to only share the sunny side of life. I’m not suggesting that we should emotionally throw up every time someone says, “How’s it going” but could there be a happy medium between that and what I call Susie Sunshine? I find myself becoming her especially when things are at their worst. Maybe you’ve seen her: big smile, a list of work and activities taking up my time because I’m sooo busy, rattling off what the kids are doing (some I know for sure, some I’m just guessing about) and a quick volley back to you, relieved and maybe a little envious that your life sounds like what I’m shooting for.

Recently something big happened and as engaged in social media as I am, it escaped me that it would be all over Facebook. A day later I got a text message from a high school friend, someone I meet with every few months in a group. It said, “Thinking of you.” Huh, I thought, she must’ve meant to text someone else. The next day I replied and asked if the message was meant for me and she said it was.  I thanked her and asked if there was a particular reason and she said she had seen some things come across her feed that made her want to reach out to me. It was stunning to have someone not in my usual circle seem to say, “I’ve seen some stuff that may be bothersome to you and I just want you to know, I had a kind feeling for you.” God, that meant so much to me. So often we see a train wreck, rubberneck for a few seconds and look away.  Those three words were not only a day changer for me but thought provoking since then. It takes so little to be a hand up, to say,” I see you, I feel for you, hang in there.” In this era of text messaging, email, and private messaging, you don’t even have to say things to someone’s face. We’ve seen the dark side of that fact, what if we use it for good?

Thanks L.R.  I’m keeping my eyes open to do the same for someone else. Surely if we can buy a coffee for someone behind us in the Starbuck’s drive-thru we can send a virtual hug to someone who needs it.

Now get out of here and go have a martini.