Sunday, March 15, 2015

On being social

I have been accused of being a Social Media addict by the closest people in my life. I guess there is some truth to that. I mean, I do sometimes grab my phone and check Facebook unconsciously. I do not think about it. It just happens and I do not have any purpose behind the action. I guess this could be considered an addiction. 

Or rather a bad habit which I am actively trying to control now. If I am sitting with someone, I will make sure not to touch my phone unless it actually rings. I would not even check messages or WhatsApp. It is all about training one's self. And I have been successful recently. 

But when I am sitting at home,  doing nothing in particular,  and the kids are in bed or about to sleep. I will play with my phone, yes. These are my "longer stretches online". 

Hubby considers me an addict. My mom thinks I am addicted too. To be fair, when they are home, I take a step back from the kids because I know someone else I trust is around and I can afford to not be 100% invested. But to them, it projects as me being on my phone 100% of the(ir) time. I cannot blame them. Because it is true from their perspective. When they are there, I do take more phone breaks. 

What they cannot comprehend is that my life changed fundamentally in the past few years. The person I was got lost somewhere. And I look for glimpses of her on social media. 

It does not hurt that I am quite good at it too. Very fast. We could be sitting together and within seconds, I could post something and you would not even notice. In fact, I only check Facebook seconds or minutes at a time. But during this short time, I can actually leave a visible trace online. So people think I am on Facebook all the time. I really am not. But it just very easy to me to connect, click a couple of times and within seconds be done (posting a photo, checking in, leaving a short comment, etc.) 

If I gather all the small moments I am online into one stretch, I am probably on Facebook for a couple of hours. Three at most. And it is not all Facebook. During that time, I connect with people yes, but I also read news, articles, write opinions, etc.

This is what Social Media is to me and this is why it is so important to my sanity.

Here's the simple truth. Hubby and I were not inclined to have children the first five years of our marriage. Then, I decided to be a mom. It did not turn out to be an easy thing. I had two miscarriages back to back before being pregnant with Mia. This changed my perspectives. Suddenly, work, career and pretty much everything felt unimportant. Details. All I wanted was a child. So I focused on that. Which was my decision and I accept and love it. I have absolutely no regret. But it meant I let go of many parts of me which at the time were not vital. Some of these were voluntary concessions, others were forced upon me by my difficult pregnancies

Bottom line is: sometimes I miss who I was and need to reconnect with who I used to be. Social Media has helped me tremendously do that. I can talk to friends from school, college, and discuss things which are not "baby related". 

It can get overwhelming (and quite boring) when all your conversations revolve around "what formula do you use?", and "this damn weather again, the kids are sick at home!" Sometimes, I need more. I need conversations about other topics. Politics. Films. Even silly things like clothes or shoes. I do that through Facebook. 

To be honest, I have very little free time these days. Most of my outings are play dates. You cannot discuss politics with other moms. Or sensitive topics. Because these relationships are not yours. They're your child's. If things go wrong, you loose nothing. Your child is the one who looses a friend. So they remain "mommy relationships". Which are great and an amazing source of support. But they are not who I am as a whole. 

People who work, including mothers, cannot fully grasp what I mean. When you work, you interact with adults. Some are silly, some are down right stupid (I know, I started working since my first year at university and I continued full time for over a decade and I have seen, lived and know all the hardships of human work dynamics as well as non-human challenges). But they are adults. You do not negotiate with a two or a three or a four year old every minute of every hour of your day. And that is the difference. Most of these "conversations" with a child are draining. They are pointless. And they eat up so much in time and effort. Most of the time for nothing. At work, conversations, debates, even fights, are about work. Purpose. And a selfish fulfillment of our person. They are ours. Ours only. They feed our individual self.

Yes, I am at home all day. But my day is emotionally, mentally and physically so much more challenging than when I used to work. Even long hours, over time and overnight. Naturally, I always had planned to return to work, but all of that is on hold now as I need to stay 100% committed to Jad, all the time.

Writing on my blog takes days now for just one article to be completed. Here's an example of the kind of discussions (and interruptions) I deal with almost every minute. I just had a five minutes conversation with Mia who insisted there was a red spot on her foot. Of course, every time she would grab her foot, pull it up and point, there was some redness where she applied pressure. It took five minutes to convince her that her skin in all of her foot is exactly the same color as the rest of her body. That implied actually demonstrating this color similarity. Examining other body parts and comparing. And every time a part was grabbed it turned red. Do you see what I am getting at? Best of all: she left, unimpressed and not convinced still (thinking her mom is too stupid to understand or maybe blind).

Sometimes I envy my single friends. They go out at night. They go to the movies. To concerts. To the theater. They drink and enjoy other adults' company. They live like I used to not so long ago. I wouldn't trade places for the world. I absolutely love my children and our life. But sometimes, I miss those days when I did not have to count drinks because I will undeniably fall asleep and will not be able to hear the kids should they need me at night. Selfish? Maybe. But "me time" is not a myth. I miss it.

Add to that a continuous lack of sleep. Interrupted sleep. Light sleep (because your ear is always attentive to any noise or sound your child makes). This is all bad quality sleep. This is exhausting. And the reason why one glass of wine will knock me unconscious.

So instead of all of that, I reconnect with that old me on Social Media.

I know it can be annoying to others sometimes. They post articles about a certain topic and my fingers ache to comment with an opinion and hopefully strike a debate. A meaningful conversation about something other than diapers.

One time, I was in the middle of a conversation and had to leave because of a family commitment. So I dropped a line saying something along the lines of "sorry, gotta go, lunch with the family". Because in "real life" when I am in the middle of a conversation with someone, I just do not turn my back and leave without a word. So I felt the same courtesy was due on Facebook too. That arrogant idiot replied with something like "Every time they have no response, they just make up some excuse and leave, as if someone had a gun to their head and forced them to comment in the first place". Wow. Needless to say I did not reply to that rubbish.

Another time, I commented on a friend's post and this passive aggressive psychopath I had never met replied with "great post, minus the useless comments". You really do not have to read the comments, you know? Also, the fact that you felt the need to mention them instead of just ignoring is a little laughable.

Now do not get me wrong. I know sometimes I get carried away. Not everyone who posts something does so to trigger debates. And maybe sometimes, my comments might not be welcome. That is OK. It is absolutely fine to not engage.

But that does not mean I will stop. Social Media is my window to that world I no longer have access to. It helps me stay sharp and challenge myself intellectually. I love to debate about the issues I care about.

And if you were at the receiving end of unwanted debate invitations, I apologize :) But it is in fact a compliment really. I do not comment on every post that triggers my interest. I only do so when they are posted by people I know would stimulate meaningful conversations. Basically, it means I admire and respect you and your thinking.

But Social Media is not only intellectually stimulating. It also helps me unwind. Have fun. Joke. And most importantly reconnect with people I care about. People I wish were still in my life in some way. We all migrated to different countries. We all have our commitments, even if we live in the same town. It is difficult to stay close to those whose company you enjoy.

So why not enjoy their online company instead?

And then I can go back to debating whether a foot is red or not with Mia and not loose my sanity over it.

That is why I love Social Media.
That is how it helps me stay sane.

And I hope that before you pass judgement on me next time, as I know many do (some are kind enough to do it to my face while others just complain behind my back) you will at least try to look at it from my perspective.

And if you choose not to:

You too can be Gone With The Wind.

The only two persons I will allow to challenge me on these choices are my husband because he has to live with me and those choices every day, and my mother because I know no one in the world could possibly love me more than she does and every breath she takes and word she utters stems from that love for me. My dad too but my dad is more tolerant of what I do and does not fight me on those things. I think somehow I have fooled him into thinking I am perfect.

Quite honestly, I am finished justifying myself to people who have nothing better to do but to make me feel bad about myself or my person when I know I may not be perfect but I am definitely not that horrible.  

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