Monday, August 22, 2011

Your Social Media Conscience, Ships, and Eggs Out the Window



What Goes Around Comes Around...and Around

Social media has been around long enough now so that certain issues, events, people...and, yes, it's about relationships! may circle back to you, and more then a few times, whether you expected it or not. Of course, you can unfriend someone on FB if you really feel it's necessary. But then you may just as soon see their profile or blog link pop up on Linked In, or Google Plus, or in a video, and that's when you experience that little twang of OMG, look how great that person is, and I'm missing out!

Or, you may even run into them real-time...maybe a day or two after you just unfriended them! Oh no, you think to yourself, maybe they didn't notice. Or maybe they'll just be elegant about it and not bring it up. In the end, nothing is irreversible, and I mean that in a good way. You can always refollow on Twitter, and "refriend" on Facebook, and if you sneak it in quickly, maybe no one will notice. 

Perhaps there is a good reason. Maybe you find yourself missing that person's blog posts and updates, or you decided their tweets were too fascinating to pass up. Maybe you realize that they in turn, decided to unfriend you as well, and you  just can't live with yourself over it. How could they not have at least skimmed your brilliant series on Hootsuite versus Sendible?

Over the course of my 6 years on social media, I've had about a handful of social media "friends" I have unconnected with, which in the scheme of things is rather little. I felt good about my decision to unfriend at the time, but now I'm having a touch of social media bad conscience, or "unfriender's remorse," we might call it, with one in particular.

The Egg Out the Window
One of these "friends" is a former high school classmate, John, who has been posting repeatedly on my school's LinkedIn alumni group about his troubles, which basically are that he, and his young son,  are in danger of losing their home. He is being perceived by the banks as not working or bringing in enough income, as he is a freelance consultant in the technical music industry. Various alumni have posted comments trying to help, including suggestions for lawyers and methods he can make an appeal, but he recently posted that nothing has helped, and he is officially "in trouble."

I feel terrible about his situation. If it were me, I'd want everyone I had ever known to be willing to help me out, even if it were just a little bit. Maybe someone knew someone else? Maybe there was an organization, a group, a resource that would make all the difference. But in truth, he needs work, and I don't know of any, particularly in his field, which is rather eclectic, although he says he will take anything. But social media is supposed to help with this kind of thing. It saves lives everyday.  After all, thanks to Facebook, a Palo Alto student, Jacob Boehm, who was  traveling in  Malaysia,  was just located after being missing nearly a week.

I feel terrible, but I'm also "aware" of a few things. About a year or two ago, I had found John when I was reconnecting with former high school acquaintances, and I friended him. He friended back, but then a month or so late, unfriended, explaining in a note that he was limiting his Facebook to only close family and friends. It was fine, I simply took it in stride, briefly noting to myself that social media was about more then that, that the whole point of it was to expand your circle, beyond who you already knew. 

So that's the social media memory part I'm referring to, the part that rears its ugly head when someone wants or needs something, and you have a ridiculous, stupid, petty memory that somehow interfered. So I feel ridiculous and stupid about John, and that the memory of his unfriending me even came up in my mind.  How could the mere act of unfriending hold a candle to the thought of being homeless, and with a child, no less! But it did.

And there's another memory, too, this one in real life. Another small twist in the equation. It took place during my sweet sixteen party, (yes, I'm going back that far), during which I was gifted with the incredible Crosby, Stills & Nash album, "Shadow Captain," and wore a somewhat odd pink dress with puffy sleeves that I have no idea how I acquired. Forget the dress...more about the song in a bit.

John appeared, uninvited, which was a bit odd to begin with, but then high school can be like that. To be cordial, I let him in, and at one point during the party, he found some eggs from the kitchen refrigerator, and decided to toss them out the window of our 11th floor apartment.  I didn't notice until he had already started, and others began "egging" him on.  A crowd started to gather on the sidewalk, and I was afraid the police might show up any minute.  The party changed deteriorated to a near nightmare (despite "Shadow Captain" in the background),  and I ended up confronting John outright and asking him -- telling him-- to leave. I had never done anything like that before. Thankfully, he did, but everyone gave me strange looks afterwards, like I was the one doing something wrong. Was it so terrible to throw eggs out the window? Maybe I'd just been too goody goody about it. 

So...perhaps the only thing more ridiculous about my feeling guilty about not doing more now to help John, is remembering the unfriending incident and, on top of that, the egg out the window incident.  Social media meets real life, is yet another lesson here.  But I admit it, I am holding a grudge. I need to learn to be more generous. I need a bigger heart. I need to let go of stupid incidents from the past. I will try harder to help.

I hope everything will turn out OK for John and his son, and that he gets the help he needs. I also  hope for his sake, that he doesn't have to learn the hard way that his social media "friends" aren't the real deal.

PS I hope that John, should he read this, will be heartened by the lyrics from Verse 3 of  
Shadow Captain: 
I can see your hands are roughened
By the wheel and the rope.
I'd like to look to you for hope,
I think it's hiding there.










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