I still recall all the instances throughout my life where I would come home crying because someone at school was talking smack about me. Kids can be cruel; we all know that. My parents used to tell me that the kids who were mean to me were jealous that they were not like me. They explained that those kids wished they were as smart as me or as well-rounded as me (really parents? The haters wished they were more "well-rounded?"). Maybe those mean kids wished they were me (Again, really parents? They wished they were 4'8" tall and barely 75 pounds? Really?)
While I doubted my parent's explanations as to why a group of eighth grade boys felt it was a good time in our lives to subject me to daily torture, I did learn something valuable - sometimes, people are just a*#holes. There is no justifying it. They just are. Maybe they were in some way envious of me, but ultimately, they were just complete jerks.
But now we are adults (some of us, anyway) and required to be accepting of so many people from different walks of life. And yet, there are still haters. We're nice to them, they are nice to our faces and behind our backs they are throwing darts at us. They are "frenemies." Pretend friends who are waiting patiently to knock us off whatever pedestal they perceive holds us above them. They are people who take great pleasure in others' misfortune. They are the "did you hear about...?" people. The first person to report on gossip and spread a rumor regardless of how hurtful, true or damaging it might be.
At times, we all enjoy a good dose of gossip and we all know that one person who seems to always be "in the know." But I've come to realize that the "did you hear..." person is a dangerous person when you are on the other side of that sentence.
Just like when I was a kid wondering why the boys were picking on me, I've started wondering again why there is this need for people to concern themselves with other's business and spread gossip. I consider it a non-aggressive form of bullying. Certainly, these people aren't acting this way out of kindness for the subject of their gossip.
When we were in high school, these girls ran in packs. Luckily, I never did anything interesting back then to serve as the subject of their gossip. As adults, separated from their original flocks, these women tend to find each other, but they are fairly harmless. The ones who are not are the guys and girls desperate to fit in who latch onto others and attempt to provide the impression that "they know stuff." And if they don't really know it, they will either find out or fill in the blanks with what they think you want to know or hear. They disguise themselves as helpful friends full of information about everyone else. One day, they are sharing information about you. And they do this because they believe it furthers their own status with the people with whom they share.
These aren't the mean "haters" who call other people names behind their backs. These are mean spirited people who await opportunity to undermine other people's reputations in order to further their own. They get into our business, because mistaking them as caring friends, we let them in. Then, we are surprised that we end up at the other end of the "did you hear..." question.
Sadly, my realization is that not everyone is my friend and too many people simply cannot mind their own business. Purported concern turns out to be an information gathering opportunity for an afternoon session of "did you hear..." at the coffee machine. It's poisonous. It's dangerous. And yet many of us fall prey to these people, repeatedly.
Just like in middle school, haters gonna hate, but now they do it with a smile. I suppose the lesson here is to recognize that at any time, you can be the subject of the "did you hear..." person. But when we provide them with an audience, we validate their existence. My advice, walk away and reply, "no and I don't want to hear."
Not everyone is a jerk, but as I get older and wiser, I'm able to better identify those who are. As a mom, I'm not going to lie to my child if and when kids are mean to her or talk about her behind her back. Yes, perhaps they are envious, but the reality is, they're jerks. Little jerks grow up to be big jerks. Better to know that and avoid them in the future.
Perhaps like many people, for quite sometime, I have begun my day with a quick scouring of my Facebook newsfeed for what I may have missed during my 8 restful hours of sleep. Admittedly, it's where I pick up much of my morning news. Which celebrities died. What adorable things cats are up to. What weird thing the Donald said this time. You know, the important information we all need to know to properly start our days.
I tend to scroll through liking stuff - pictures of kids holding up certificates for being awesome, quotes about "strength" in the face of life's challenges, pretty much any post with a cat (I have a thing for cats). And of course I post tons of pictures of my little munchkin dancing and being her generally cute self. I do this among the community of sharing that social media has created.
And with my posts, I rarely ever stop to ask myself "has Facebook had enough of my kid's dance moves today?" Two reasons: 1) Who could really ever get enough of her? I mean, come on, she's freaking adorable; and 2) If you don't like it and I've somehow offended your newsfeed with #annabanana overkill, you can avoid my posts (and if you don't know how, I'm not telling...you will suffer through another cute picture of my kid like my 5000 other Facebook BFFs - ->inject evil laugh here)
Well, I have recently decided that I need a Facebook break, personally. There is nothing to read into here. I just need to step out for a moment. I realize I created a great stir with changing my name on my personal page. Some people reached out to find out why and the answer is simple, it's my personal page and I want to keep it separate from my public pages. That's all.
So knowing that the Social Media world is abuzz (maybe not the whole world, but a couple people seem very interested) with my name change controversy, I decided to explain why I'm stepping back from the personal page a bit. Shocker alert - not everyone on my Facebook friend list is actually a friend. I've just decided it's time to be more mindful of my personal posts which are shared among a large number of contacts - family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Not everyone really knows me or gets me.
Clearly, I live much of my life out loud. Like it or not, that's just who I am. I'm not apologizing. But I do recognize that if you don't live in my house or my brain, some of my posts may generate speculation about what I actually mean . Why would I post a certain photo or quote? Why did I change my profile or cover photo? There's probably no hidden agenda at all. I like to switch stuff up.
Here's a question: why does anyone care? Seriously. I'm not posing this question to be mean or snarky. Why should a Facebook friend of a friend of a friend who I met one time at the friend of a friend's backyard BBQ 3 years ago where we hit it off about whatever care about how many selfies I post of my kid and me? Why should she wonder what's going on in my home life based on a hashtag I may have used or a quote I shared?
And here's the thing: she doesn't really care. She's not concerned about my life in the least. If she was, she would reach out and say "hey, I hope everything is ok. Saw you changed your name on FB" with a winky face and kissy face emojis - as many friends actually did. (And I probably disappointed a great many when I explained that I was uncomfortable getting friend requests from total strangers.)
My Facebook friend of a friend of a friend I met at the friend of a friend's backyard BBQ 3 years ago cares about herself and her family and maybe her very few close friends. That's it. What makes my posts so intriguing is that social media allows us to see into the lives of people we really don't know and compare our own lives.. "Wow, so and so is getting chunky!" "Did you see how amazing so and so looks?" "Looks like trouble in paradise for so and so..." "Did you hear what happened to so and so? How awful."
We are voyeurs, spying on other people, comparing ourselves, feeling good that whatever happened to them didn't happen to us, feeling badly about ourselves that so and so can still look so freaking amazing after having a litter of kids (you know who you are, you sexy bitch!), feeling anxious that our good friends are supporting this one or that one in the Presidential race, feeling envious of so and so's "perfect" life, family and dog. Actually, it's not really spying -we're all sharing aspects of our lives with people we probably would never have either the interest or ability to interact with in "regular life."
I share my blog posts because I know how it feels to believe I'm the only jerk out there with certain feelings, insecurities, passions, or fears. There is a cathartic effect to sharing in this way that I appreciate and I do hope what I share is meaningful to those of you who read it. Perhaps to some of you, my posts are a great source for gossip. If I'm being truly honest, that hurts, but hey, I'm the idiot with a blog so knock yourselves out.
For all my criticism of Facebook and the folks hanging out there, I am an admitted addict and voyeur. I do love being able to tune in and see the amazing things people are doing and their kids are doing. I love baby goat videos and cat videos and pretty much anything Taylor Swift does (or her cats for that matter). I love that so many people in my social network have been able to re-create their professional lives with direct sales and social media marketing. That is remarkable. I also love that my first book, Trinity became an Amazon best seller through the power of social media - and fingers crossed, we can get Queen Makers there too (did you pre-order your Kindle edition???) And I love that we have broader awareness of social issues and opportunities to give to charities and to help others with Go Fund Me drives and the like.
This is a tough decision for me. While I have my Facebook friend twice removed probably texting gossip about the true intentions of my posts on one hand, I have all these great benefits of social media on the other. Despite all the pros though, I'm still going to take a break - just a breather to spend more time building my public pages. Given the volume of cute kids, cats and goats in your newsfeed, I doubt you'll miss me all that much. Be sure to tune in and follow my "Lauren D. Fraser" author page, my "Trinity of Kirana" page and of course "Full Court Mom" page. I'll still overshare, don't worry.