No Ordinary Post

Last week, after reading yet another article about how social media tends to make us feel bad about ourselves, I decided I would try my own experiment for fun. I committed to make an effort to post very mundane or boring things on Facebook daily. My goal was to see if this would actually help people to feel better about themselves. I was also curious about what interactions my boring statements might garner. Many of you played along with me with your own mundane posts and comments. You made me laugh. You made me think. You (my brother Kevin) threatened to block me. You moved me to wrestle with this further.

Since some of you expressed an interest in hearing my reflections on this process…here goes.

First of all, Coming up with something mundane is a LOT harder that it may seem and here is the reason why: the old adage one person’s trash is another person’s treasure is true. What is mundane to me may not be mundane to you. For instance, on Tuesday, my husband Nathanael cleaned the bathtub when it was my turn to clean it. It was nice of him. Many people thought that was a miracle, but in our lives – it’s not. Nathanael is hard wired to help. A lot of your comments reminded me I’m a lucky woman and therefore shifted something that I viewed as mundane out of that category. So I had to try hard to think of words someone else might not be jealous so I decided to complain about something trivial in the next post, but this also proved to be a problem.

I had been messaging with my friend Candice Kortlever during this experiment and she mentioned how it tends to be a very American thing to try to outdo one another with how bad we have it. This proved to be the case; My complaint led to other people posting their complaints which elevated my post from mundane to drama and therefore I was frustrated again. I found myself trying to avoid yet another reaction. In the end I was limited to statements like “I wore socks today” or “I drank water”. I’m still pondering what truly is mundane – is there anything?

Which brings me to my next reflection; there were more than a few of you who posted lyrics to the Late Tuesday song “ordinary” which was written by yours truly and I couldn’t help but think “yes, yes. This is totally a THING with me” – finding beauty in the ordinary.. Heatherlyn HL gave me a great quote that exemplifies this when we were messaging this week. “And above all, watch with glistening eyes, the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places, Those who don’t believe in magic never see it.” ~ Roald Dahl. Just call me a modern day mystic. It’s something I’m learning to accept and love about myself. It is my opinion that there is very little in life that is ordinary. So of course it would be difficult for me to find mundane things to post about.

As Candice said last week to me though “it is both interesting and really disappointing to hear that a big side effect of social media is depression due to unbalanced comparison with others”. I think one of the main problems with social media is that it lacks context. She agreed and said that it really makes the statement that “We judge ourselves by our intentions and other people by their behavior” seem true. Someone may be moved by a lovely picture posted by a friend and be compelled to say “Wow. You’re really living the life”, not realizing that this person was broken hearted or crying when they took this photo. Candice captured the struggle we were talking about well in a new song she just posted here. Take the 3 minutes to listen to it (lyrics are posted below)

you think you really know me so well
but you only see pieces of me
from random little snapshots
from what I choose to share publicly

almost everyone is on it
it’s a way to keep in touch with our friends
but it’s hard to interpret
this battlefield of social trends

you try to be inspiring
(or bragging and obnoxious)
genuine and honest
(or ungrateful and rude)
on social media
does everyone lose?

we spread our own gossip
(our little media circus)
starting little rumours
(breaking our own news)
a picture says a thousand words
but not always what’s true

don’t judge me by your assumptions
and I’ll forget about your self-serving quips
when we aim to be offended
peace isn’t at our fingertips

without human interaction
how can we really tell what we all mean
behind the walls and timelines
everyone remains unseen

we’re positive and uplifting
(or bragging and obnoxious)
we’re genuine and honest
(or ungrateful and rude)
on social media
what will everyone lose?

and everyone is jealous
(the grass is always greener)
‘cuz everyone’s living the perfect life
(in someone else’s dream)
a picture says a thousand words
they’re not always what they seem

of course you’re gonna fall apart
when you compare their highs with your lows
one person’s mediocre pace
is someone else’s lifetime goal


on social media
does everyone lose?
on social media
what will everyone lose?

I did find out that there is good news. Not all of the research says that social media makes us feel bad about ourselves. Some of the research says it can make people happy. The thread in the different reactions seems to be how we interact with it. It seems that those people who engage with social media by commenting, liking and interacting end up being the better for it. It’s often when we just scroll through out of boredom and not engage that it ends up helping us feel worse. I tend to think that it’s easy in those moments to read other people’s posts through the lens of “What does this say about ME?”. In the back of my head I hear the echos of Brene Brown’s research on shame. Perhaps the 10 guideposts for Wholehearted Living might help us think of new ways to engage with Social Media and more importantly – remember that we are each ENOUGH. At the end of the day I think that’s all I was trying to say. I began this experiment by trying to avoid posts that might in any way encourage comparison and the negative things we associate with social media. I inadvertently ended up experiencing some of the joys of it.