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Narcissism on the Interwebs

My husband has a love-hate relationship with Facebook. He has created and deleted his account countless times. He knows that, for now, no other social media site does what Facebook does – that’s why he always ends up returning. The part he dislikes – apart from their sneaky privacy policies – is how it encourages narcissism.

facebook like
Likety-like?

I can see his point. There is something about publishing things on the internet that seems to lend them validity. You can go on Facebook and tell people: “Kids are at school, time for my morning coffee!” and chances are, there will be friends who Like your status, or who comment: “Me too! :)” or “OMG I <3 my Timmy’s!” Yep. Morning coffee: validated.

To Sean (and many others, I imagine), this is annoying. Who gives a poop about your morning coffee? Why should this be important to anyone?

And this is just a microcosm of the Greater Interweb, where anyone can be a published writer by starting a blog, anyone can initiate a comment war with a well-placed bitchy remark, and you never know if your stupid video of yourself accidentally face-planting in your kitchen might just go viral.

To me, the internet is simply a reflection of humanity. I’m not going to deny that, unfortunately, it has its evil side. The web validates child porn, white supremacy, and gun violence along with your morning coffee. That’s humanity for you.

At the same time, there are forums to condemn those things. And sources of sheer awesomeness to counteract them.

I see it as an equalizer. You can have your say and I can have mine. The floor is open.

I remember what it was like before the internet. I got my first email address in university, and it was a saving grace for a homesick freshwoman just a bit too introverted to love residence life. You mean, I can write to my family all at once? And they can write back that same day??

It took me longer to enjoy the wider internet. I remember my dad, who has been working with computers since they took up whole rooms, saying, “If you don’t know, you could look it up. On the internet.” I was dismissive; it seemed like too much bother. (HA.)

Now, I can barely imagine life without it. No more calling the Weather Office if you miss the long-term forecast. No more flipping futilely through Leonard Maltin if you can’t remember where you saw that actor before. No more recording grainy songs off the radio with DJs talking over the first ten seconds. No more researching with a mountainous pile of hulking tomes edited by a few academic strangers; Wikipedia weighs nothing, and it’s edited by everybody. Amazing!!

It’s a brave new world, easily accessible.

Aside from its handiness, though, it’s a great reminder that we are never alone. Whether your obsession be belly dancing, quantum physics, vintage cars, or high-quality writing implements with literary cachet {insert *Sean-cough*}, you know that online, you can find your peeps.

If you or someone you love has a miscarriage, postpartum depression, cancer, a broken heart, or anything else, there’s a community.

Also, if you need to laugh so hard you cry, or have your faith in humanity restored, it’s all there.

Some say that blogs are the ultimate example of narcissism. Any idiot can start a blog and start spewing their opinions and minutiae of their lives into cyberspace. True. The quality of blogs ranges from sublime to asinine.

But so what? As with all forms of media, all you need is a filter. If it sucks, DON’T WASTE TIME ON IT. If it smacks of narcissism, find something else.

I barely knew what a blog was when I started blogging; I just wanted to write. Little did I know that it would become the creative outlet I hadn’t realized I craved; that it would be an enveloping source of healing when my son died; that my message of encouragement to my colleagues would be read by thousands of disheartened teachers; that blogging would strengthen old friendships and open pathways to new ones.

It is wonderful, and humbling, to meet a reader for the first time and hear, “I feel like I know you – like we’re already friends!” And it’s not untrue: if you connected with me through my words, then we are connected. I wrote them for you.

I’ve felt similarly reading other blogs, learning so much about that writer and thinking, Wow, I love this person I’ve never met.

Mutual blog-reading and commenting is a unique form of friendship I’d never imagined. You can bond with people thousands of miles away, with whom you would never have crossed paths in life. That’s pretty special. The blogs I gravitate to are written by thoughtful, intelligent people, on all kinds of topics, and it’s genuinely comforting to read and relate to their words – especially after a national tragedy. In a community like Yeah Write, where mutual-readership is on fire, it’s like having a group discussion where we contemplate and compose our perspectives, then offer them to the company. I dig it.

And I don’t consider it narcissism to base your writing on your own experience. After all, that’s what we have to work with that’s most authentic and relatable.

As for Facebook… I like it. People complain about toxic comment threads and nasty gossip; I avoid those things as much as possible. It helps to have really nice friends.

It makes me smile to read about the kids or the garden, or see a photo of a delicious dinner or the dog looking silly. Those ordinary tidbits make me feel close to people I don’t see enough.

And when there’s serious news, whether personal or global, it’s heartening to see it through the lens of people I love.

By all means, tell me about your coffee. We can have one together.

continental breakfasts march10
Photo by Lisa of Continental Breakfasts.

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Siri vs. Three-year-old

**This post is going to reinforce that idea some of you have mentioned, about kids living very different lives from back in the day. Yes, it’s true – technology has changed childhood a lot. But I’d like to state for the record that E (like most kids) digs in the dirt and throws rocks in the river and collects sticks with gusto as well… so all is not lost.**

Anyway.

If you haven’t had a chat with Siri, the artificially intelligent broad who lives in our iDevices (and other places too, I’m sure)… it’s probably just as well. She doesn’t seem that smart.

E just discovered her. When I indicated that he could talk to that little purple microphone icon, he had no hesitation.

He was playing Train Yard at the time, and we were having some trouble with one of the puzzles. (Mummy is not the best at this game, but she tries hard.)

train yard golem
You have to get trains to their stations. Not as simple as it sounds.

If Siri doesn’t understand something, she usually just says something like,

“Let me think. I found this…” OR

“I didn’t find any appointments,” OR

“I don’t understand, but I could search the Web for it.”

E was trying to get help solving his puzzle, so he was saying things like, “How do I solve this puzzle?” and, for some reason, “I prepare to solve this puzzle!”

Siri’s response: “I don’t know who your mother is… In fact I don’t know who you are.”

Loyally, he tried to tell her, “It’s MAMA!”

Her rejoinder: “I’ve found four locations matching Granada, but they are pretty far from Toronto.”

When he said, “I promise to solve this puzzle!” it seemed kind of snarky of her to reply, “I suppose you can’t.”

So we left her to her own devices for a while. (Ha ha.)

The next time we met up with Siri, we realized she might need some more answerable questions, or at least ones with fewer syllables, so we prompted E a few times.

E: I, um…

Siri: I don’t know what that means. If you like, I can search the web for “eye”.

E: How are you?

Siri: I am well.

E: Are you hungry?

Siri: We were talking about you. Not me.

(Except she made it sound like “We were talking about you,”, as in behind your back – in fact, her tone was almost menacing.)

E: How old are you?

Siri (Not really sounding okay, more melancholy): I’m okay if you’re okay.

E: How old are you?

Siri (evading the question again): Excellent.

E: Where are you?

Siri: Here. (Huh. Cheeky.)

E: Where am I?

Siri: Here’s Lansing. (Get it? MI??)

E: How many raisins do I have?

Siri (not glad at all): I’m glad to be alive. (And not alive at all, either.)

E: I don’t understand you!

Siri: “Sigh.” (See? Melancholy. We decided to cheer her up.)

E: I love you.

Siri: All you need is love. And your iPad.

E (unprompted): I love my iPad.

Siri: Do you?

E: Yes.

Siri: I thought so.

Sadly, I think Siri might have won that round.

 

kid playing on the ipad
Good thing he’s cute. And alive, and glad to be.

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Wordless Wednesday: My kid is obsessed with Photo Booth

E alien photo booth
Alien setting
E and Mama aliens photo booth
Alien family
E and Mama block head photo booth
Block head
E and Mama bugs photo booth
Bug setting
E and Mama chipmunk photo booth
Chipmunk setting
E and Mama frogs photo booth
Frog setting
E big chin photo booth
The Big Chin
E block head photo booth
Solo blockhead
E punky nose twirl photo booth
Subtle nose twirl makes him look punky, like there’ve been fisticuffs.
E tweaky ear photo booth
Hee hee.
E twirly face photo booth
Twirly face
E vortex face photo booth
Vortex face
E shines photo booth
Shiny boy
E mirror face photo booth
Mirror setting
E mirror hair photo booth
Almost gone!
E eye
A bit too close…
E in love photo booth
I think the “hearts” setting is cheesy – and yet this is my favourite. Such a great smile, just like his Daddy.

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Toddler Tracks: Folk Tales

Sorry for the six-day postless void, dear readers. I’ll blame report cards.

(Speaking of dear readers… all the cool blogs replace the word “readers” with something funkier. I’m thinking we must also be cool. What should we be?? Send me your suggestions, please!)

E has some new words. One of the special ones he’s learned since Christmas is gyroscope, because my dad gave Sean a set of space-age gyroscopes: they spin in an amazing way and demonstrate the principle of space flight!

lee valley twin gyroscopes

Also thanks to Christmas, E has learned what a ukulele is, although at first he was confused because he thought we were saying “yoga lady” (Auntie Em has two statuettes we call “yoga ladies”, rather like these, in her room). Not really very similar to a ukulele.

yoga lady statues

Other turns of phrase he’s trying out:

Certainly, as in “I certainly do like peanut butter!”

Suppose, as in “I suppose it’s gonna be there all winter.” Continue reading “Toddler Tracks: Folk Tales”

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