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Welcome back to the Real Brian Show! With episode 100 in the bag, we return this week with a fresh dose of realness from crowd favorite, Mangodroplet (aka Anna). There's a lot on the docket for this episode! Brian has some quality Chinese coffee; Owl City and Plumb top our Now Playing list; and the Greatest Showman comes highly recommended.
In This Episode
- Espresso Shot!
- Healthy foods… you are what you eat!
- Netflix: Altered Carbon and The Cloverfield Paradox
- Music: Owl City, Plumb, Lights
- How real can we really be?
We want to be real, but we don't want to overwhelm everyone around us with hardships…nor do we want to alienate people with updates that have distasteful sense of boasting. Does striking a balance prevent us from being really real?
As I was thinking about this idea, and listening to Brian and Anna discuss, a couple things occurred to me. As they mention, social media does a lot to distort our perception of other people's lives and to affect the way we present our own. Our online persona is the person most of our associations actually see – isn't that bizarre? I interact with an entirely different group of people on Facebook versus “in real life” (i.e. at work, church, neighborhood). For many of the people who know me, what I put on Facebook is all they really know.
How about that phrase lying by omission? Just because we didn't put it on Facebook doesn't mean it didn't happen. I know, I know, crazy! And just because we put something on Facebook doesn't mean we've accurately represented something that happened. Social media is just filtered perceptions, and then comments on those perceptions. It's exhausting.
The second thing that I realized was that in order to really be real, we have to be honest with ourselves… and not just by posting a variety of information. It isn't entirely about striking a balance between sharing hardships (but nothing too serious) and sharing wins (but nothing overtly braggy). It's about resetting our brains to count our blessings when we are hurting the most, or to remember those in need when we are particularly happy. As the authenticity of our online interactions increase, each story we share doesn't become about qualifying our pain or excusing our glee, but about sharing something genuine, without transforming it in order to control the narrative.
I'm very honored by Brian mentioning the anniversary of my Dad's death, and in that spirit I am not sorry to say that I've had to take a serious look at this approach to Facebook myself. For many years, my mantra was “pain is gain” and “suck it up” or “rub some dirt in it”. Bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people. We all deal with stuff. But I've grown much more compassionate since having to deal with the grief of losing my dad, which has forced me to look for joy even when it seems so far away… and then to also accept the pain of grief as it bubbles up. But it doesn't matter, ultimately, what anyone else thinks about my pain or my joy, what matters is that I don't lie to myself about it. After I quit lying to myself, I quit sharing very cultured stories on Facebook. I quit the random little comments that made it look like I was always having a ball, and I quit posting every time I was feeling sad.
We don't need the validation of Facebook. We should not look to these mediums for validation or relief. It is a massive network, now, that seems unstoppable in terms of what it enables us to do with “community”, but the fact of the matter is that if we feel a need to cultivate a persona… it should not be considered community. Several weeks ago I talked about finding a tether – someone, or several someones, who bind you to the earth. That is where it matters to be really real. Everywhere else is just a smokescreen, no matter how much people try to convince you otherwise.
In the words of e.e. cummings: “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” Fight the battle for your own identity by fighting against that tendency to carefully craft every outward-facing story and comment. You be you, and I'll be me. I'd rather not try to be you.