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?