What Did You Know About My Father?

Do you know what a complete stranger could learn about me in a matter of minutes?

They could learn my name, where I live, that I hate vegetables, what my favourite movies are, how long I was in my last relationship, the size of my feet, what colour lipstick I wear and even what I’ve been feeling lately. In all honesty they could learn more about me than anyone who I would physically invite over for drinks would ever know. Note: this is not a rant about the horrors of social media and the intrusion of our privacy. Screw it, I really don’t care.

But as I started thinking about how much I put out there about myself, the more I started thinking that, good or bad… I actually like putting that much personal information out there. Without knocking on someone’s door at 3am telling them that I am contemplating my existence, I can write it, post it, reread it. Call me naïve but I don’t have concerns about my identity being stolen or being stalked. Perhaps that would change if it happened (knock on wood) but I digress…

I enjoy being a warts and all type of person. It’s a huge step for me on a journey of self acceptance (ohm). It allows me to be brave, it allows me to analyze my faults, to open myself to criticism. I’m by no means perfect and the internet and social media could be the ideal place to pretend that I am. Air brush my photo, write statuses and tweets about how everyday I am extremely happy, manufacture fake achievements, pretend to have more friends than I do, just… be perfect. But see…. not only do I not actually want to be perfect in reality, I don’t want to pretend to be perfect either. If you are at all privy to my musings, blogs, social media, emails, whatever… you will see raw emotion, you will see hurt, you will see mistakes, arrogance, low self esteem, naiveté and self doubt. Every day. Of course I don’t want to inspire mass suicides so this will also be mixed in with joy. But when I feel it. I feel like, if you want to know me, then KNOW me. If you don’t, well delete me and while I obsess over why I was deleted, forget me.

So as I thought about how I revel in the big picture I paint for myself on the world wide web and in the minds of those around me, I randomly thought, what about my dad?

Ok let me explain that more. I was thinking about what it would be like for someone who shared nothing?

pt-seniors-22

My dad is older, in his seventies now and he does not understand social media nor does he want to. He is intensely suspicious of it like a lot of his generation. So there will be no status updates from him anytime soon. But beyond that. I’m his daughter, and I know barely anything about him. I’ve seen him cry twice and we never talked about it. I don’t really know what he likes, what he hates, what he wants out of life. I don’t know what scares him, what gives him joy, what makes him reflect. Sure I could tell you what he watches on TV, maybe what his favourite meal is. But if you asked me to paint a picture of my dad, my canvas would be more like a puzzle than anything else. Missing many pieces.

Realistically, he is in the twilight of his life. My sons are going to ask about him when he’s gone. And there is no person, no reference and certainly no website that could tell them what they are going to undoubtedly want to know. I realize that there exists an older, more stoic and reserved mindset. But what does that leave us in the end?

So you could argue about the pros and cons of living a public and very open existence. You could talk to me about privacy and decency and ego. Talk to me about how this phenomena has shaped our culture. Say, back in my day, yada yada yada….

But when I die, my children can look back and know who I really was, flaws and all. Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe it’s not. But I lean towards the former when I think, what does anyone really know about my father?

 

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The Facebook Theory

Now I’m not talking about why Facebook was invented, we all saw The Social Network. I’m not talking about it becoming a public company, its advertising or apps or anything like that. I’m talking about the idea we have of Facebook, how we would want it to work in theory.

It strikes me as I sit here having just made a status post that I thought was mildly interesting that I care way more than I probably should about receiving “likes” or comments on said post.

I went to a party recently and a friend said, “I love your Facebook posts!” Really? Well I’m flattered but really? I post from the boring, “I just made a sandwich”, to the political, “Rabble rabble rabble… to the personal, “My husband is a dick…” Well no, they are more eloquent than that most of the time but still, why would anyone LOVE them? I know. Because I put my whole life out there to be picked apart. And people are shocked sometimes. I have 90’s Howard Stern moments.

But the reason I post and share and participate in the phenomena that is the giant of our lives, Facebook (bow in awe), is for a deeper and more profound meaning. I want to be loved. I want this space where I’m surrounded by people who I know and cherish and that care about me. Actually truly care. So there is this cyber place where I can word vomit to 500 of my “friends” and they are all going to care right? I’m going to put personal sometimes the most vulnerable information on Facebook and every single one of them is going to care and love me anyways. Right?

In theory.

We are now this culture of sharing every single moment in our lives. Facebook, Youtube, Intagram, the now defunct MySpace…. because we want the world to see our unique selves for everything we are and love us. It’s a valid theory. Given the strength and bravery of sitting behind a computer screen we can be honest or maybe skew the truth in our favour and then we can sit back and watch the masses rally around us in this show of support and solidarity and awe that we are so unique and they never knew! Wow!

But in truth…. human nature comes out. And human nature is a bipolar and scary thing. As much or maybe more than we are capable of acceptance and understanding we too are capable of hateful hateful things. As the computer or smart phone or tablet gives us the bravery to bare our soul it also allows us to release our demons on poor unsuspecting souls that just wanted you to like them. They didn’t want the judgement or the hate or the indifference. They never knew that’s what they might get.

Now, I have had mainly positive times on Facebook. Some relationships have gotten closer and it gives me this sense (maybe falsely so) that I’m hanging on to those co-workers or family members or school mates that I used to be friendly with. But that theory that my page will be this meeting place of all this positive love for me….. well THAT never quite happened. I get as much flack for my posts as I do praise. But you know what? I’m me on there as I am on here, perhaps skewed in moments of weakness but for the most part…. you get me.

But here is the fatal fatal flaw with The Facebook Theory. You could have the largest, most close knit group of friends on this social media site. They love every pic you post, only kind and supportive words for you. But at the end of the day you find absolutely no solace in their good will because you wish it was at your front door instead of your newsfeed.