What a Skirt Taught me About Social Media & Life

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Ever have a case of Eye Trickery? You know, when you pass a roadside sign and see Men in Fleas or Mean Trees instead of Men in Trees?  Do not Cross becomes Donut Boss.  Happens to me all the time, typically when anxiety (or too much caffeine) gets the best of me.

My most recent case of ET, however, has caused me to really think about the way I’ve been living. As a writer for The Budget Fashionista, a fashion and beauty website for women on a budget, I did a double take when I read about a particular skirt style. It said it had “abbreviated living.” Huh? A living skirt?

In reality it was, “abbreviated lining” a style whereby the lining ends above the hemline. The rest just hangs looking empty, needing more.

Hmmm. Abbreviated lining living.

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So I got to thinking: are we living abbreviated lives? Like the skirt, are our abbreviated lives leaving us with the feeling that something is missing? Are we cutting ourselves short of our full potential, sacrificing a bit here and a bit there . . . dare I say, skirting the issue?

Yes.

Social Media: Are we Making our Character Count?

Even our social media mandates we live abbreviated lives. We think our character counts when, well, we make the right character count on Twitter.

Our interactions with family and friends are often social media dependent. If Grandma or Dad aren’t privy to the party or event, oh well. We’ll tell ‘em about it a week later. Our Instagram and Facebook friends see pictures of an event before Dad or Grandma even knows there was one in the first place. Sometimes, relationships fall by the wayside, ironically, thanks to certain sites that aim to bring them together. After all, why meet when you can “see” how I’ve been doing on the internet? Wouldn’t talking about it over lunch be a waste of precious time?

Sigh.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit of a Facebook addict. I’m on Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn and dabble with Instagram. And StumbleUpon. And Digg. Oh Boy. Clearly the importance of social media and the power it has to spread news, inspire, grow business and form friendships is a wonderful thing. But lately, I’ve been feeling like it’s been one too many status updates and not enough dinner dates for me.

Somehow I don’t think I’m alone.

In a way, we’re secretly more thrilled at a retweet, a Facebook like or text from a pal than a phone call with a loving relative we haven’t spoken to in ages.

Yet we continue: We send out new friend requests on Facebook, the modern-day equivalent to a third-grader showing up at the house down the street, knocking on the door to ask if Johnny can come out and play. Like the child, we sit and perhaps stew, wondering why Susie doesn’t like us anymore or why little Joe never accepted our friend request. We get over it 11 seconds later, moving on to share with our “real” friends pics of an apple pie we made. Bet you’re sorry you missed that, huh, Susie?

Will obits read, “born in #Wisconsin, John was a longtime member of the #VFW with 433 Facebook friends who once tweeted “#ILoveHamburgers because I don’t like cheeseburgers,” and who had a Facebook page consisting of 14,237 likes”?

I think not.

We’ll remember him (hopefully) for community involvement, his smile, his love of the Twilight Zone (and chocolate milk) and his passion for saving endangered species.

Too Busy to Breathe & Be

We want to be involved, even profess to be involved, but are we? Really? Does the quick “like” of something take the place of actual involvement in it? Is our retweet of someone’s call for action enough of an action?

Yet . . . we take pics, upload dozens of pics to various albums, crop the pics, put filters on the pics, manage the pics, caption the pics, tag people in the pics, edit the pics, delete a few pics . . . could it be that at times, we’re more consumed with posting our full lives, than losing ourselves in the moment?

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Indeed, our gadgets and doo-dads fill us with the notion that we’re saving time and bonding with family and friends more. I kinda think it’s less. I don’t know about you, but the time it takes me to check out Facebook, mange my pages, see the latest Twitter trends, share stuff, text people about stuff I read on Facebook, check personal emails, pay bills online and scour news headlines (and . . . inhale), leaves me little time to get my oil changed, let alone make a phone call to a few good friends.

I came upon a quote recently that sums up a great deal of our abbreviated living:
“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” – Joseph Priestly

As I write this, it’s a pleasant windows-down kind of summer day. I’m all of 20 minutes from several beaches. My deadlines are met and just like that, I could be a few feet from seagulls and surf.

But someone just commented on something I posted, and well, it’ll still be nice out later.

Maybe.

-JL-

©Copyright 2011-2013, Jennifer Lilley, FlabbyRoad.com and Flabby Road: Moving on & Leaving the Elastic Waistbands Behind. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Lilley and Flabby Road with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Happy New Year! Now, Just Calm Down.

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As 2011 unfolds, so too will the deluge of New Year’s texts and tweets, posts and pings. The world will be all Dick Clark This and Drunkfest That. The first New Year’s baby.  The first earthquake. The first bird that flew by a window. Resolutions. Wedding proposals. Thong colors. You know, the usual updates we share with all 3 or 300 of our followers and friends. 

And why not? 

        

 

All the World’s an Open Tweetbook

The world’s become one open Tweetbook, all Snookified and a bit out of control: Characters with limits. Everything on full display —loud and proud— all in the name of showcasing the us that we are. Or were. Or want to be.

Suddenly colleagues know that not only do we prefer morning meetings, but that we’re attending them in a hot pink bra.

They know so, because we posted so.

Family members know we enjoy Grandma Petunia’s pancakes, but they also know we enjoy grooming a certain region of our body in the shape of a Christmas tree.

They know so, because we tweeted so. 

  

 

A-Merrily we Text Along?

It’s no wonder then, that with every tweet and text, it’s often assumed that an all-access pass to our personal psyche comes standard. Little by little, the world begins to think that every topic, about every person and in any social setting, makes for appropriate conversation in the public domain.

Just because the world’s merrily tweeting along and Ville-trading pigs for goats or goats for soap at work, at home, on the bus, in the bathtub, does not mean our innermost thoughts should be put on display at work, at home, on the bus, in the bathtub. Yet it happens. It’s almost as if the thought process is, “Well, heck, everyone knows I’m wearing hot pink sweet nothings, so what’s the big deal in telling them the real reason behind my fear of mashed potatoes or (fill in the blank).” Alternatively, others think they have the right to prod and push, asking the intimate details of another individuals private life —at a restaurant, at work, during a family outing— because, “after all, they took that ‘who were you in a past life’ quiz and let everyone know about that time (fill in the blank).”

 

We All Have “Stuff”

As one character on a Grey’s Anatomy episode said this year, “We all have stuff. It doesn’t make it drinks conversation.”

 

Granted, her colleagues’ prodding wasn’t due to texting or tweeting. Yet it illustrates the point, in this texting and tweeting world of ours, that there’s something to be said for the privacy, and respect of that privacy, behind our own thoughts and decisions. The thoughts that only we own, that stand tweetless and treasured for reasons far more meaningful than any status update could ever convey. It could be a hope, an embarrassment, some peculiarity, a grand notion or an obscure thought stuck marinating in our muddied gray matter. 

Don’t get me wrong. I log on regularly, reading with interest about friends who successfully kept their post-burrito bloat at bay last evening. I enjoy how daily lives unfold in song lyric status “code.” And yes, I admit to posting my bra color during that facebook craze. I’m also pretty sure plenty of folks roll their eyes when up goes yet another one of my Eddie Money or Boston videos or “watch the meteor shower” announcements. This New Year will be no different. 

I’ll be reading posts and posting posts and writing on Post-it® notes about posts I want to post . . . you get the idea. But those private thoughts and “stuff” I hold close to my heart?

Well, it’ll all unfold as it should.

I know so, because I believe in it so.

I’ll keep you posted.

– J

The author, 1970s, one with her own thoughts.

 Jennifer Lilley, 36, says it’s her party and she’ll post when she wants to.

 

© Jennifer Lilley and Jen Lilley’s Thought Buffet, 2010.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Lilley and Jen Lilley’s Thought Buffet with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.