A couple of weeks ago, I stuck my toe in the social media water.
One toe only. Into several pools: Facebook, Twitter and here, WordPress. For now, this is quite enough. I am still making beginner’s mistakes in my responses. Just figuring out how to post an image was a 45 minute frustration. I do not know how to communicate an awkward digital blush, but that is what fits here.
So far, I’ve learned about The Urban Dictionary, (http://www.urbandictionary.com/), a gaggle of causes, fan aggregations, many stray phrases and bizarre punctuation/character combinations serving as expressions of feelings. Digital confusion and disappointment.
Good thing I learned about Urban Dictionary early in this toe-wetting. Without knowing where to look up phrases like just sayin’, I would have been social media lost without a GPS. And social media discouraged. Yikes!
I have received links to approve or disapprove of things I know precious little about. I cannot Like or Dislike anything until I research exactly what it is that I am voting up or down. How about a Need To Research This First button? A self-righteous “so there!”
Much like email, the feeling component of social media communiques are lacking or left to abstractions of characters meant to portray a facial expression and therefore the approximate feeling state sent along with the post. And that feeling state is not necessarily something that is genuine. Gulp.
I have been guilty of this sort of misrepresentation myself. My job requires that I email information that is not always welcome news to the recipients. I add a smiley face to those emails. As if to say, “I am so danged cute with this smiley face thing-y in my post that you cannot possibly get angry with me, right?” Does it work? Dunno, but putting a smiley face in the post emboldens me enough to send the less-than-welcome information on to the person who less-than-wants that information.
Sometimes I mean, “Go straight to hell,” and I do it with a smiley face. Probably because I do not know a way to place a grimace in the posts.
Sometimes I am just happy to send the post along and the sun is shining and the world is a beautiful place for me at that moment. Those are good-faith smiley faces. But a smiley face to express joie de vivre?
The emails of which I am least proud range from disingenuous to covertly hostile all with un-worded subtleties of feeling texture and dimension usually completely flattened by the delivery medium—not even a wan smile to provide dimension. And the balance of my posts contain shades of feelings lost before the Send button is clicked. And my question is: How can humans be social without conveying feelings? It is feelings that make all connections social after all. How can we keep feelings (and therefore social-ness) in social media? Don’t we have a responsibility to do so?
At this moment I am struggling to hone in on what I am feeling. I feel exposed for admitting that some of my smiley faces are a cover for less-than-smiley feelings I might have. I am concerned—anxious, perhaps—that I can write more words—hundreds of thousands of words—with less feelings. I am concerned that the English language has a dearth of feeling words. And without feelings we have no humanity. It is on the feeling level that we really connect, really socially connect.
My toe is wet and a whole-body trepidation holds me at the water’s edge. More feeling plus less connections are not the swims I want. to take. Connections—full-on human connections—an emphatic, “Yes!” Feeling-less connections—no-bloody-thanks.
Without feeling states in our social media connections, we are merely being our own Madison Avenues advertising agencies with all the attendant Madison Avenue sincerity. Lack of sincerity is not something I want any more of. Madison Avenue is not something I want more of. I want feeling expressions in all media/mediums. I want words for shades of feelings, words that do not yet exist. Robert A. Johnson spoke of this in his book The Fisher King and The Handless Maiden and I made a page on my website to share it with the world that has not read this rich, slim tome:
The wish for more words for feelings, for more feelings expressed with existing words will be carried with me as I will ease into these pools. Social. Connected. Human. A sense of purpose, hope and completion.