Tag Archives: Twitter

The Cult of Social Media

Frustrated Woman Using Laptop

“Not everyone can be a hero. There are more people who need to be saved.” -Anonymous

My fourteen-year-old daughter videotapes me. I am dancing and singing to the latest hip hop tune on the radio. She quickly uploads the video to Snapchat and labels it, “My Mom is Silly.” She giggles as she plays it back for me. When I fail to protest against the post, she deletes it. “Why did you do that?” I ask. “I want to be the most popular mom on Snapchat.”

She shakes her phone at me. “No, you don’t.”

I laugh, but inside I feel like my father. He wanted fame and fortune for his four daughters, but he didn’t get it. He taught us to dream big; not knowing our dreams would leave us orphans living ordinary lives.

But with the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and other social media, everyone is entitled to their daily shot at fame and for some, even fortune. Everyone has a chance to be a hero. Everyone has a chance to save the world with a few clicks at the keyboard. Suddenly you are the star of your own show, and if you’re lucky, you’ll have enough followers to inflate your ego for weeks at a time…or at least until your next post.

With all of this power comes the threat of loss of privacy, loss of intimacy, and the loss of self. Some video bloggers record everything about their day from the moment they wake up to the moment they fall asleep. Sure, those 12 hours may be edited to last only 15 minutes, but those 15 minutes shared are now owned by the viewer, whether it’s one person or one million people.

My daughter values her privacy. That’s why she only uses Snapchat with the hopes that the 30 second videos that disappear shortly after being posted are truly deleted from the Internet and won’t resurface three years later when she’s applying for college or a job.

As a middle-aged parent, I understand her concern and her guardedness, but as an author and a public speaker, I can’t afford anonymity. I can’t “save face” as my father always preached. I have to show my face whether or not what I’ve done is shameful or glorious. It’s part of the job.

We sometimes forget the public doesn’t need to know everything, especially when we are sitting in the comfort of our living room posting our thoughts and feelings for the world to see. It gives us a sense of belonging that temporarily erases the loneliness of our increasingly solitary lives.

But is social media the panacea to our isolation? And does it truly replace the intimacy we crave?

We go online for everything from shopping to information, but we go offline to live. It’s in those moments of being face to face with another human being that we get a chance to express what we hold in our hearts to be true: our irreplaceable uniqueness is what makes us sympathetic and real.

Encourage Education and the Pursuit of Passion

graduation cap

When I read an article on Yahoo! Education, Don’t Let Your Kids Study These Majors, I tweeted the link and titled it, “Another Way to Discourage Kids from Following Their Passion.” My comment sparked a lively debate, which I decided to follow up with a letter to all our children, although I addressed it to my daughter.

Dear Daughter,

Soon you’ll be applying to colleges and selecting your major. You’ll receive a lot of advice from high school counselors, college advisers, teachers, friends, and experts. You may be so overwhelmed with what to do and what not to do that you may feel paralyzed to make any decision.

You’re not alone. A lot of teens feel the same way.

When I was getting ready to apply for college, everyone advised me to major in engineering or computers. At the time, these fields commanded top dollar for highly-educated, skilled workers. Although I enjoyed math, I had no desire to learn engineering or computers. I didn’t want to spend my life thinking in a linear way. I wanted to explore the outer edges of philosophy and psychology through literature and writing. But everyone kept saying we needed women engineers and computer scientists. I tried to find the enthusiasm for these subjects, but I couldn’t.

Luckily, I had enough courage to pursue my passion to write. I studied journalism, technical writing, and creative writing. I learned how to write clearly and concisely on demand under an unyielding deadline without sacrificing creativity.

People ridiculed me. My classmates said I would be unemployable. My college adviser suggested I apply to law school and become an attorney. My parents weren’t paying for my education, so they felt they had no voice. Only your dad was supportive. He said the goal of attending college is not to land a job. It is to become educated. By being educated, you show an employer you have ambition. You can set a goal and achieve it. You know how to learn. You are resourceful. You can plan for the future.

Your dad was right, of course.

By the time I graduated from college, the job market had changed. Engineering and computer science were no longer the most desirable fields of study. Business had taken precedence. A few of my college classmates applied to graduate school, hoping to chase the next wave of the job market. Others took jobs that were not related to their majors. Of course, a few remained unemployed.

Not me.

I found work immediately. My writing skills allowed me to enter the field of real estate as a marketing assistant, writing advertisements for listings and open houses. From there, I entered the world of finance and banking, both without a business degree. At the same time, I continued to follow my passion, publishing hundreds of articles and short stories and four books. I also painted dozens of landscapes that grace the walls of other people’s homes and offices. Not to mention my greeting cards.

So don’t worry about college. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you study. It matters that you learn and grow. And follow your dreams.