While I was somewhat fascinated by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, I was actually more curious about the viral nature of Facebook and how quickly it spread across the Internet, and then it faded away. There were definitely pros and cons to the entire initiative. It sparked interest, and knowledge around ALS, but it also prompted folks to not be happy about the use of water when the state of California is in the middle of a water shortage, and there are plenty of countries in the world that need water. Interesting? Yes. Responsible? Maybe not.
So when I recently was tagged to do the Gratitude Challenge, at first I was like, ‘Ugh. Seriously… another thing?’ (Sorry, Whit). Honestly, I did not have time to think about something like that. I had quite a few full days, was away for the weekend, and knew I had another full work week ahead of me. I sat on it and did nothing instead. Of course I was not agonizing over it, but in the back of my mind I thought this is actually a good thing. If social media encourages us to share what we are grateful for, then that is a good thing. How often do we reach out and tell someone who we care about how much they mean to us? How often do we stop, breathe, and think about all the good in our lives? The Gratitude Challenge on Facebook is to share 3 things you are grateful for 5 days.
I am not a Pollyanna, but I am definitely one to make lemonade out of lemons. I have had my fair share of shit happen in life and I think you have two choices: Whine, complain, and think poor me or find a way to deal, look on the bright side, and be grateful for what you have in life. Of course, I might initially whine and feel poopy about the hand I was dealt, but once I get the ranting out of my system, I move into solution mode. What we often forget is that we have WAY more than we can ever imagine in life.
Kudos to whoever started the trend and is sharing grateful ideas, thanks, and positive juju across Facebook. That is something I can support, and it reminds us of all the good in our lives.
Over the weekend, my sister and I were discussing a blog post, called: “Give me Gratitude or Give me Debt” that we recently saw on Facebook. It was about a woman who posted pictures of her kitchen on Facebook and received comments about all the things she could do to upgrade her kitchen. Never expecting the comments and pondering them further, she realized how grateful she was and shared more about what she had then what she was lacking. It was an eye opener for me. Think about the endless possibilities of comments that others can share with one – to many on Facebook. It can mean an amazing outpouring of love and support, and it can also mean and outpour of critical comments that might not been so helpful to you.
Her blog post was a reminder that we all have way more than we can ever imagine. Take my sister for example. She has a beautiful, extremely happy, brilliant (no I am not biased) daughter. A family that is just what she wants. She lives in California, loves the sun, and is about to embark on a new adventure in the next few weeks. What is not to love about that life? Of course, as with any change in life, there are many unanswered questions, but that is part of life right? I feel amazingly blessed. I enjoy my job, love my home, have an amazing husband, and hope that one day we too will grow our family so that our niece Charlie will have a little cousin to boss around. What is not to love about my life? Sure I work hard, sometimes am stressed out, and often do not allow enough time for myself. If I were to say I lacked anything in life, it would be: time.
I am grateful.
Back to that kitchen and the comments on Facebook. Those comments are ones that come from this “perfect world” mentality that surrounds us. It is definitely a “first world” problem, and I do not know if it is an American issue, or one for many affluent countries. We strive so strongly (and I am just as much to blame) to have this perfect world. We want everything to be just so. The kitchen with the updated refrigerator, stove, updated cabinets. The list can go on and on. We do just the same for our body, clothes, furniture, and other worldly possessions.
Yet, if we just start with what we already have, I think we’ll realize that we have so so so much more than we can ever imagine.
For any of you that are on Facebook you will know that your feed this past week has been filled with friends and family who are raising awareness for ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The focus: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It is a great way to use social media for a good cause. However (yes there is a but), my hope is that all the individuals that are doing the ice bucket challenge actually donate money. The awareness campaign is that by having ice + cold water poured over you that you are outing yourself from paying $100. Individuals that get nominated have 24 hours to do the challenge or donate $100.
Awareness is great, supporting ALS financially takes it to an entirely different level. What if we took the time to raise awareness, and put our money and/or our support next?
I love the fun and humor of making a video and putting oneself out there online, I only hope it does good. Think of all the other initiatives and programs that could benefit from such challenges. Of course we’d all be broke, and it would get old, right? How do we keep the freshness on continuing the momentum via social media where we have access to so many people, yet do it in a way that promotes true awareness? For example, the ALS website has been shared in most of the videos that I have seen, and there has been a plethora of high-profile athletes, CEOs, and past presidents that have joined into the mix, but have we really learned more about ALS? Do you know what it stands for? Do you know how your money can help?
Be careful, I might go Laura Bush on you and decide that I do not want to mess up my hair and just donate the $100. However, it is hot here in Oregon, and a little cold does the body good.
I admit it, I am coming clean. I have recently become addicted to the plethora of online quizzes asking what tarot card would you be, what city are you meant to live in, or are you a narcissist?
Buzzfeed even has ones like: “What Kind of Bitch Are You?” or “What Does Your Engagement Ring Say About You?” The list is endless. Why do we care? Why do we click and spend 5-10 minutes to find out our fate? It is almost like we want a free visit to an astrologer, and if the results of the quiz are exemplary to who we think we are, then we might try another, and if they slander us we move on to other things. What is it about the online voyeuristic habits that make us even stop and take the quiz? I admit I even coerce Chris to take one or two here or there to compare to my results. Why, oh why do we even care?
Is it that we want validation? We want to know what someone else thinks of our future destiny? We do not really believe in the answer, but like being at the state fair we are willing to give the palm reader a small amount to read our hands and see what the future might behold for us. These quizzes have to be filled with bullshit algorithms. For example, one quiz (I cannot remember the topic) that I had Chris fill out, gave us the same result, yet it was male and female specific. Definitely something wrong with the results of that (all I remember is that we both got Zelda – go figure).
So is it a fad? Why have we become so addicted, and why do we even care? My Facebook feed is often full of friends who seem to fill their days with quizzes that they share with others (no judgement from me). Are we bored? Do they tell us something about ourselves that we do not know? What is it that has made us so addicted?
Are you addicted? Am I? I am not entirely sure. I am a 1-2 times a day Facebook user. I usually check in the morning when I post my blog, and then at night before bed. I will be completely honest that other than posting my blog and a random quote or idea here or there, that I am more of a voyeuristic Facebook user. I like to see photos of friends, connect with folks from my childhood (some… not all), and generally keep up with friends. I am not one to care about whether you made it to the bathroom that day or all the endless rants and crap about your day. I like to find information that adds to my life rather than bores me to death. Pictures help. They help a lot. So if you are posting photos I am generally going to look at them.
So when I came across this Christian Science Monitor article regarding a campaign to not use Facebook for 99 days, I was quasi interested. Could I do it? Probably not. Would it be good for me to disconnect? Most definitely. Do I have the strength in me to do it? Maybe. I am not sure. I like staying connected in my own non-consumed way. So then you might say, “So why would it be hard for you to disengage for 99 days?” I like knowing what is happening. I like seeing the newborn baby pictures of a good friend that lives on the other side of the world. I like being inspired. Yes, there is a lot of junk I want to block and a lot of stuff I couldn’t give a shit about, but could I disconnect for three months? I am not sure.
Is it sad that I feel that way? Maybe. Or maybe I am a slight introvert and a slight extrovert and Facebook allows me to decide HOW I want to engage. How often and in what ways. The initiative is called, “99 Days of Freedom.” I do like the sound of that. I am truly curious about the question in the article: “How do you feel when you don’t use Facebook?” I think there is only one way to tell. Would you like to join me and see, or are you just as much addicted that it will be hard to not log in? The only way I can imagine trying is to delete your account, and remove all history of your online Facebook data. Otherwise, how would you stop yourself from logging in?
It looks like at the time of the article, 17,000 people had signed up for the 99 Days… That is a good amount. Are you going to join them?