SYW: On Facebook, keeping old stuff, holiday decorating, and gratitude for my life

Melanie B. Cee’s Share Your World this week has some interesting questions.

Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat) a good thing, a bad thing or a mixture of both?
I have to say a mixture of both. Isn’t this blog part of social media in a way? I love posting and sharing my photos and thoughts, and reading/viewing others’.

For me, Facebook – and to a lesser extent, Instagram, which I rarely look at – has been a good thing. I should start by saying that I have steadfastly refused to use Twitter or any other social media platform, because I don’t have the time and, because I have ADHD, I can’t have the temptation of such distractions. Facebook, however, has been a way for me to stay in touch with people I rarely see and in a few cases, has helped me reconnect with friends I hadn’t had contact with for years. Yes, it can be polarizing, because a lot of political sh** comes up and I do forward it sometimes, but I try to stay positive and personal as much as possible. For example, on a day that Trump or his cronies have done something particularly egregious, I will cheer people up by posting photos I’ve taken of flowers or other nice things. And I love cat videos!
FB Bring Together

If it weren’t for Facebook, I would barely know some of my nieces. Through their posts, I’ve found out about their pregnancies, seen the first photos of their babies, learned how they feel about their jobs or their love lives. When I attended the wedding of one of them two years ago, I felt like I knew her – otherwise I wouldn’t have known what to say to her, since she had grown up so much since I had previously seen her. I felt I had bonded with her and her sisters, as if we had been living near each other.

Similarly, I got in touch with a couple of friends – actually several friends – from high get-facebook-likesschool who live all over the country. I reconnected with my two best friends through FB 15 years ago and as a result, we arranged to attend two reunions together, Dale and I went to visit one of them who lives in Texas, and we are still in touch. In a way, FB has been a lifeline for me. Another friend I had fallen out with a few years ago also “friended” me and we’ve since had a couple of lunch dates. People I know but never see anymore I sometimes find on my favorite online game, Words With Friends – so I connect with them that way!

Several of my friends and family members have met their significant others on social media, usually dating sites, but some on sites of mutual interest. Our daughter met her soul mate on a site for “foodies” – someone she would never have met as he lived in Florida and she in Chicago. A really good friend, who had had a long-term loveless marriage, met the man of her dreams after her divorce on OK Cupid. I know several examples of this.

Even with friends on FB who are very conservative politically I manage to stay on good terms with because of interests we share – animals, travel, etc. If they post something I disagree with, I just ignore it, but many times we can find common ground even there – such as support for veterans, troops overseas, etc.

All that said, I know social media is not always the positive thing that it is for me and my husband. Our son, for instance, has been going through a lot, suffering from depression and inactivity because of it. He sometimes posts long, rambling posts which are mostly negative about himself. Some of the comments he gets from his “friends” are helpful, but many are not. He obsesses over their criticisms of him, and I think this happens to many young people for whom social media is a much bigger part of their life than it is for me. A few times, he has posted that he is feeling suicidal, and then someone who reads it calls 911 and he has ended up in a psych ward very unwillingly. Two of my nieces have had to block him because they are mandated reporters (one is a therapist and the other is a doctor) and they really don’t want to have to report him to the police, because they know he is usually just bluffing or crying out for help.

Unlike my son, who mainly depends on FB for support, some kids have committed suicide after going through the anguish of cyberbullying. Some young people use social media to break up a relationship. It is though they are not able to talk things out in person. Social media occupies too big a part of their lives and they are obsessed with it. Someone I met overseas referred to people constantly on their cell phones as being in a “monk” pose – their heads down looking at their hands as if they are praying!

Are you camera shy or do you pose for the camera with confidence?
I’m not camera shy but it seems that most photos of me – especially those taken without my knowledge – show me at a moment that I look terrible! I’m slouching, or my hair looks bad and I look fat, or I have my mouth twisted in a way that looks ridiculous. My husband loves to take those “tourist photos” when we travel, telling me to pose in front of some monument, which I don’t like to do. But at least I have a chance to compose myself and stand up straight!

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I don’t like myself in this photo but my son looks great!

Is there anything you’ve kept from younger years for sentimental reasons alone?
Yes, several things. I keep a lot of family heirlooms which somehow end up with me because I’ve become the “family historian” since I’m researching and writing a book on

Laurie Hunter, Valerie Carlson, Debbie Winsauer - in back of 1526 Tyler St, Janesville
Photos from my oldest photo album

one branch of my ancestors. But I would have to say my photos and photo albums. When my mother died, my brother took a lot of her photo albums and scanned many (but not all) of the photos, then threw the physical albums away. Perhaps someone will do that to mine when I die, but meanwhile, I’ve lugged them to our new – much smaller – house and made room for them on two book shelves. I rarely look at them, but I spent a long time making them and am proud of what I have done, even though I don’t make them anymore since all my digital photos are on my hard drive or flash drives. Besides the albums, I have boxes of photos from the 1980s and 1990s, when I was too busy to make albums which slowly I have been going through. I scan many of them and then throw away the originals but I worry that the scanned photos will become “incompatible” with whatever software I have – it happens sometimes – and I’m afraid that some of those will be some of the best photos of my son’s childhood or whatever. I still have photo albums that I made when I was in elementary school!

Do you like to decorate for different holidays?
Yes and no. I used to try to decorate for the major ones – Christmas, Easter, Halloween – but over time I got lazy and didn’t do much unless I was having guests over for the holiday. I stopped decorating for Halloween when the squirrels took bites out of my pumpkins and made off with my Indian corn, neighborhood punks smashed my jack-o-lanterns that I had carved with my son, or something I put outside got stolen. So I stopped decorating for Halloween altogether, which didn’t much matter because as the kids in the neighborhood grew up, we had fewer and fewer trick-or-treaters each year.

However, I’ve always liked having a Christmas tree and getting out some of my Christmas decorations. I have several bins full of tree ornaments, strings of lights, and small Christmas-themed things, such as pretty stockings I’ve gotten as gifts, which I hung under the mantle over the fireplace, a few door decorations, and my creches. I have one “main” creche that was made in Portugal, very folksy style, and a collection of small ones from around the world. I set the large one up on the mantle and the smaller ones I scatter around the house. My son has always enjoyed putting up the creches. It’s his favorite family tradition. Since we’ve moved, I am not going to be able to have a 7-foot tree anymore. I’ve left my tree with our daughter and son-in-law who have taken over our old house and we’ve agreed to divide up the ornaments when it comes time for decorating. I will have to buy a small tree for our new house and figure out where to put it!

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Our decorated Christmas tree, 2014

GRATITUDE
Do you feel you’re a strong person character-wise? Also, if you do have a gratitude thought or picture you’d like to share, please feel free! The world can always use more positive vibes!
I have a strong personality, that is for sure! Not sure about character. I am grateful for many things – the wonderful family I’ve been blessed to grow up in, the fact that I have never had to worry very much about money, and the opportunities I’ve had for a variety of experiences, from hiking in the Grand Canyon in high school and spending two weeks on the Navajo reservation in Arizona, to traveling to many parts of the world – four continents so far (five if you count Israel as part of Asia)! I’m grateful to have intelligent and kind children, and a husband who always supports me. I got lucky – at least the second time!
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2 thoughts on “SYW: On Facebook, keeping old stuff, holiday decorating, and gratitude for my life

  1. Thank you so much for Sharing Your World! I think you look just fine in the pictures you’ve shared, but I also realize most of us don’t like how we look in the finished product. One of my own personal favorite photographs is of my mother, caught when she was really scowling. She hated the thing. And your tree was lovely – a pox on those who must ruin the joy by vandalism or spite or whatever. There was a yard where I used to live, where the people really went all out for Halloween. One year some idiot(s) came and destroyed all the displays and those people never ever put out so much as a pumpkin ever again. Said it was so distressing to have all their hard work smashed by idiots who have nothing better to do with themselves. I’m sorry that those things happened to you too. 😦

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