The Carefully Curated (Facebook) Life

Angie and I are following the coverage of Hurricane Irma with great interest. Many of our closest friends and former neighbors live in South Florida. Some are under mandatory evacuation orders and are scared they might not make it out in time due to traffic and gas shortages. Others are still trudging to work during the day and watching Netflix at night instead of the news. This is the way things work in the Sunshine State. For every person who is panicked, there are 6 others stubbornly clinging to the notion that this is just another storm and just another “day in the life of a Floridian”. I’m not here to judge. I’m here to pray that those six friends of mine are right and Irma loses steam somewhere out in the ocean.

When Irma hit Barbuda, Angie pulled out her phone to look up this tiny island.

“Have we been there?” she asked.

“I don’t think so.” I replied.

As Angie and I both thumbed through Facebook photos of our Caribbean adventures to see if we had ever been to Barbuda, a screen appeared offering various frames for your profile picture. Some offered an overlay of the state of Texas, showing support for those affected by Hurricane Harvey, and others added words like “United We Dream” and “I Stand With Dreamers” to show support for DACA. For a moment, I hovered over a few of these frames and then backed out of clicking on one.

This is not the first time that I’ve opted not to post (or like) something on Facebook. In fact, my personal Facebook page is so carefully curated that, aside from the photos, I’m not sure it even reflects who I am. Get this, there’s not even a link to this blog on my page! Why? Because I am the Switzerland of my Facebook community, the one person who takes a neutral position on all issues so that my other friends can firmly set up camp on both sides of the aisle, on every issue, all the time. How ridiculous is that? I’m gagging on my own words as I type them. It’s wonderful to be considerate of other people’s feelings but it’s equally as important to consider your own.

I’m not neutral when it comes to issues facing our community today (and by community, I mean the whole of humanity). I’m a freak when it comes to food waste. We dive in dumpsters for God’s sake! I’m anti-consumerism. So much so that I’ve been known to lecture my own family members for buying things they don’t need just to discard them a month later. And if you didn’t know this already, I’m a minimalist. I purposefully live with less for all sorts of wonderfully valid reasons…none of which I ever really share outside of this blog and it’s corresponding Facebook page.

I support immigration. I believe the entire world should be open to movement. Let people live and work where they feel called to be and in whatever abode they chose – be it a tiny house, RV, home in the hillside, yurt village, or city apartment. The fewer restrictions we place on others, the more opportunities we have for ourselves. But hey, that’s just my opinion…and one you won’t find anywhere but here.

I know exactly where most of my friends stand on politics, the environment, equality, immigration, and more. I know because they don’t hesitate when they hover over the “like” or “share” button. Does knowing their stance change my opinion of them? Not usually, though I do on occasion shake my head in wonder at how seemingly sane people can post such close-minded stuff sometimes. But I still love my friends. I still accept them for who they are – Democrat, Republican, Jesus Freak, Atheist, Socialist, Hippie, Baby Boomer or Millennial. I need to trust that they will do the same.

Curating one’s online presence is a difficult job that ultimately leaves everyone with only a one-dimensional view. I’m not advocating that everyone go out and use their social media platform as a soap box to air their grievances. In fact, I wish my niece would do a little less of that. I’m simply saying that it’s pointless to have a social media presence that is not reflective of who you are. As I look back through my years on Facebook, I see hikes and bike rides, kayaking trips and ocean cruises, cross-country moves, and a year of sampling craft beer in Colorado. What I don’t see is the soul of the person doing those things. And that needs to change.

If I looked at your Facebook page today, what would it say about you? Is it tailored to suit potential employers? Is it something your family would be proud of (in other words, do you limit what you say in order not to offend your family, like I do)? Or would I instantly know who you are from your posts and likes?

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#5TF: Good Friends

Five Thought Friday Challenge:  Week 3 – July 8 – July 14, 2017

We spent much of this week in Florida visiting with our friend, Suzanne. It was a quick trip (and a long drive) but totally worth it! It was good to get away for a few days and unwind on the beach, in the company of someone who shares our minimalist beliefs and values. We had such a wonderful trip that it’s hard to narrow it down to just five thoughts, but here goes…

One thing I really enjoyed this week was paddling Stump Pass. Angie pulled her paddleboard out from under the bed before we left and brought it along for the trip. Thankfully, it’s an inflatable board, otherwise I have no idea where we would have put it in our tiny little car. Suzanne and I rented kayaks from Hooked on SUP (the outfitter where we originally took SUP lessons 4 years ago). They now have a rental kiosk at Stump Pass State Park, one of the few places in the area that we have never paddled. The wind was blowing 8-10 MPH but somehow we managed to paddle into it and make our way to the cove where we had a picnic lunch and watched a manatee swim by.

I am grateful for good friends. Suzanne lives less than a mile from the beach and graciously allowed us to stay in her guest room during our trip. She bought us dinner (delicious fish tacos at Sharky’s On The Pier) and invited us to her dad’s birthday party. We were very happy to see her parents again and enjoyed having lunch with them. Over the 2 1/2 days that we were there, we talked, we laughed, we ate, we swam, we paddled, we dreamed, and we just enjoyed each other’s company. We are both very grateful for the hospitality and for the privilege of having such a wonderful friend.

I need to let go of my homesickness. Every time we come back from a trip to Florida, I feel sad. I miss our life there…our friends…our trips to the beach…the slow pace of everyday living. I never want to let go of the dream of someday going back home but in order not to miss out on our life today, I have to let go of the angst I have about not being there now.

We made progress on our 2017 Happiness Project Bucket List by taking a paddle trip and finding another letterbox. We also stayed true to our goal not to buy anything new (unless absolutely necessary). Before leaving for the trip, we had searched online for a life vest for Angie. It’s a requirement in FL that you have a life vest on your paddleboard at all times. We didn’t want to buy a new one just to use a few times this year, yet we knew we needed one, so we opted to wait until we got to FL and check local stores there. As luck would have it, Suzanne had just purchased a life vest for $5 at Goodwill the very day we arrived and we were able to borrow it for the paddle trip. She also helped us out by giving us her old printer. Our printer was on it’s last leg and we were undecided on whether to buy one or use the temperamental one in our apartment’s office. Again we got lucky that Suzanne had just replaced her printer and was going to give the old one to Goodwill.

The funniest thing that happened this week (besides Suzanne trying to paddleboard, Angie and I getting lost looking for tacos in Chattanooga, and Caesar falling in love with a cat named Sue at the boarding kennel) happened while we were waiting for our kayaks at the rental kiosk. The couple that had rented ahead of us had two young boys (probably around 9-10 years old). They had just pulled away from the launch point when we heard one of the boys screaming at the top of his lungs, “Alligator! Alligator! ALLIGATOR! Shark!” The man at the kayak stand ran down to the shoreline to see what was going on. (There are no alligators in the ocean, by the way.) He returned a few minutes later laughing. A manatee had popped its nose up out of the water beside the boy’s kayak. Having never seen a manatee, he freaked out. When we got back from our paddle trip, the rental guy asked if we’d seen any wildlife. I told him that we saw a manatee in the cove. He smiled and said, “You mean an alligator.”

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