Thursday, June 19, 2014

Let's be honest, just not on Facebook.

Lately I have been reading (OK, skimming with intent) a lot of blogposts that people post on Facebook about how fake social media is and how it needs to be more of a place where people can be real.  I have to admit something about that, I disagree.

Let me tell you why I disagree so you can either agree or disagree with my disagreement, agreed?

Facebook is not a private place, no matter how fully you have vetted your friends, I personally have 760 semi-vetted friends, Facebook is a public place.  Think about it, if all those people were in one place and only you were speaking, what would you say?  Would you start a passive-aggressive, one-sided argument concerning your friend, job or significant other?  Would you stand up on a soap-box and make blanketed political or religious statements that people would have to refute or agree with in limited space without vocal inflections or body language.  Would you constantly complain about the state of your waistline, or struggles of marriage, or dissatisfaction with your job, or the failings of your children and how they reflect on you?  Or would you keep it light?

If you scrolled through my Facebook feed you would see funny anecdotes about parenting, photos from my photography business and small quippy interactions with my family members.  My instagram feed contains mostly photos of my son, a few of my business and rarely what I eat unless it's from Trader Joe's and the world should know that that place is a crack dealership for pregnant ladies.

Occasionally I thank my husband for his thoughtful gestures and his heroics in parenting and the fact he still loves me even when my crazy pregnant-lady hormones render me a creature somewhere between a well-fed mogwai before midnight and a gluttonous gremlin after midnight.

But, please don't take this to mean that everything is always puppy dogs and rainbows.  It just means I don't discuss things that deserve honest discussions in a place where people also post photos of selfies next to hamburgers.

On my Facebook you won't see me reacting immediately to a fight with my husband that just happened because no good can come from posting the following "Ali Hormann is feeling frustrated.  It would be great if some husbands learned the value behind a truly clean toilet."*

It's not that Noah and I have never argued over the state of our bathroom, or bedroom, or living room, or kitchen, or the inside of the car, or whose turn it was to empty the dreaded diaper pail (which he does very faithfully more often than not).  It's because putting that piece of information up in a public place gives him no recourse for discussion or defense, making him the bad guy and me the sinless martyr in the land of Tidy Bowl battles.  Also, there isn't likely to be any helpful responses, only ones that validate my complaint and continue to belittle his efforts to be truly himself.  Not to mention neither of our identities are rooted in the the cleanliness of our biffy.

But when the quarrels go past toilets and laundry, when they get heated and start aiming at the heart of our actual identities, we have real people whom we trust to talk to about that.  We have actual community that we depend on to confide in and to give counsel regarding our marriage.

You won't see me ask for too much parenting advice not because I don't need it badly but because I call my sister on a tri-weekly basis so that I can pick her brain about how she has survived having three kids and sometimes I think one might just do me in.  I trust her, and my other sisters and my mom and other moms that I close with to give me guidance and empathy in the raising of my boys.

You're not going to see me pinning articles on my Pinterest about how to survive the life of being a pastor's wife or how to politely bite your tongue when people doubt your husband at this job.  The truth is an experienced community of friends who are all going through the same life of service as well as those who have lived and even thrived through it is more valuable than the following -

Although I have to admit, I chuckled at that one.  (Caveat, I am blessed to be a pastor's wife in a church who has never expected more of me than I could give, this is more in reference to specific people.)

But in all honesty, it's a tough job to watch your spouse work his whole life for a career that won't pay what it cost to learn what he did and then have people doubt him to his face and behind his back and not be able to rake those people over the coals.*  It's lonely to know how much my life and what I say becomes a direct reflection of my husband whether it is intended to be or not.  It gives me new perspective to what it must have been like for my parents telling me that my actions reflected on them.  Sorry mom and dad, my bad.

I don't start political discussions because there is no need for that kind of stress in my life.  I know that people will disagree, some vehemently, some silently but if there is anything I have learned from growing up in a family that never argued about politics its the fact that no political issue is worth breaking a relationship over.

You won't see me give one sentence statements like, "I can't take it anymore," or "I'm done," begging for a community to explain them to.  Because I have a community that I can confide feelings of despair in.  That isn't a statement saying "haha, I have people and you don't."  It's a challenge to invest in the people who will earn your trust slowly but surely, and they will probably break your trust as well.  They will probably tick you off and get under your skin, but the investment is necessary.

Because, folks, Facebook isn't real community.  If you're part of a group of like-minded individuals it can feel like it and if that's all you've got for now, keep moving forward to find the faces of those you can tell all your real stuff to.

If you'd like to see pictures of my family and my photography clients, hear funny things I've over heard and the occasional moving quote, however, please stay my friend.  The 760 of you in that public part of my life will be glad to know I won't be informing you any time soon of the number of hours I worry that I'm killing my kid's brain cells by letting him watch TV so I can sleep.  Or about how I'm afraid of raising a kid who yells because sometimes I need to yell and too often it comes out in frustration.  Or about how many of the confessions on are really mine.  Or about as glad as I am that we are having another baby in September, I wish I could have just one margarita.  Or how sometimes I don't want to breastfeed simply so I can have that margarita.  Or how I dole out unsolicited advice even though I feel like punching people in the face to who give it to me.  Or how it has taken me weeks to write this post because I'm still not sure I should publish it.

My social media is not my life, it is the conversation I have in public with the lady at the bus stop or my barista or a friend I bump into over coffee when all we want to do is catch up.

If you're looking for real me, it'll take way more than 140 characters.  And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt there are no emoticons to fully describe who you are.

*Two footnotes - 

  1. If I ask my husband to clean the toilet he does so without complaint, I love him for that.
  2. Ministry is a place full of both advocates and adversaries, we have been blessed to have more of the former.