After an injury left me unable to walk at will for over a year (first I broke the foot then the nerve grew around the artery), I became a vicariously alive person because I lived on Facebook. It became my window to the outside world. I commonly spent 8-10 hours a day more or less monitoring the lives my friends with greater mobility were experiencing. I watched, commented, thought, read, and digested their lives like a good bowl of popcorn with occasional seeds to be discarded. As time passed, I noticed patterns.
I noticed the trending topics by the shared news stories, quizzes, videos, and other miscellaneous clutter. For clarity, I do visit traditional news sites, but honestly world news is hard to witness without me feeling bad about my first world problems and shame that I find them so important when I’m not on day 15 without food or fresh water.
I check about once a day on the world news and I subscribe to a local news site for more immediate happenings. The patterns, because I’ve been watching for over a year are pretty obvious to me. For example: Normally, if there is a death of a beloved public figure, how long they remain in my feed is usually an indication of how widespread their actions are revered. Maya Angelou stayed in my feed consistently for nearly two weeks before the fervor died down. That dude from the Fast and the Furious…Paul Walker, stayed up for about a day, minus one of my friends who is a dedicated fan of the F&F franchise. Trends, although sometimes disturbing, helped me to gauge topics of conversation when I did get to go out in public.
One of my primary complaints against Facebook are quizzes. Quizzes are popular because most people that take them religiously are usually working on who they are, who they want to be, and in order to do that, they need definitions of their starting point. I won’t sit here and shallowly say that I don’t take those ridiculous quizzes that were probably written by junior high school students (Yes, I’m mocking myself here), but they aren’t psychological evaluations. There is no reason on this earth I need to know what type of cheese I’ve been in a past life according to my aura color that I learned by discovering which animal I was murdered by when I was a fish.
Another strike against Facebook are the graphics (that I also shamelessly share). If I feel they apply, I normally don’t even think about why, I just share. It started me thinking how I really see myself. If I strip away my bravado, my superhero cape, my wild clothing, my humor, and my (I hope it is) clever writing, who am I? How would I be described if I dropped off the face of the earth tomorrow? What will be my legacy?
I remember in a writing class I took where it was drilled into our heads: Show don’t tell. Over and over I’d get papers handed back to me with red marks screaming that insult at me. I hated that teacher with the keen passion that only a young student can despise said instructor. But those words held far more wisdom that the murdered works of my lame attempts at writing in junior high school.
Those words have become more of a life lesson for me. I can tell you all day long who I want you to see me be. I can wave my fancy feathered fan in front of my naked body allowing you glimpses of who I really am. I could rip off my spiritual bindings while groaning with effort and continued fear that I’ll not be seen as I wish but through someone’s eyes that perhaps doesn’t see me in as kind of a light as I shine on myself.
Show me who you are. Don’t just tell me with cutesy graphics and clever slogans because those are the thoughts of someone else. Using them to describe who you are limits a person to mediocrity, labels, and acceptance of someone else’s beliefs. Quotes help us to understand how things work to some extent but that’s accepting that the author thinks like each of us does. One thought may match but that doesn’t mean it’s the very definition of who you are.
I don’t want to be remembered with someone else’s words on my lips (ironic, isn’t it?) but with my own actions a reflection of my spirit. I do not intentionally set out to change the world, it just happens because my intent is to be like a firefighter, fully engaged in whatever I’m doing. I require blazes of activity to spark up via conversations, actions, laughter, outrage towards injustice, or by committing random acts of kindness (again with the irony!) I want to be remembered as someone who mattered to someone else as much as I matter to me.
I’d like for someone to make a graphic about me that reads, “Man, if only you’d known her. She was a fireball like none other. She’d crack jokes so fast you’d swear she Googled the answers then turn around and poke your conscience into action regarding a noticed injustice. And even though she gave up a lot, she wasn’t a quitter. She’d fight to the bitter end if she believed in it and without even realizing it, you’d be right there with her not questioning because she was trustworthy in action and word.”
P.S. I just posted another graphic I identify with and just completed a quiz about how bitchy I am. My intentions are good, I swear!