Social Media…a blessing and a curse

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As I sit here writing this, I am on a self induced Facebook freeze-out. I have successfully made it 3 entire days without what was officially beginning to feel like oxygen. After a long, tedious summer of having Facebook as pretty much my only social contact / outlet, I’ve determined that for me, social media is both a blessing and a curse. The blessings are pretty obvious, and likely identical to anyone else you ask. Facebook has given me the unique opportunity to reconnect with some of the best people I’ve ever known. It’s given me the opportunity to reunite with old friends that I’ve known since we were in diapers. I get to see pictures of, or even chat daily with family members who live so far away that I would never know anything that was happening in their lives until I received their annual Christmas card (hah, remember those?!) Also a blessing are the many new friends I have made along the way. Even though I have never met many of them in person, they are truly a gift that brings me joy as I am given this window into their daily world.

My blessing is especially true in regards to my ever growing autism family. Through participation in the many autism groups available through Facebook, I am able to network with other families like my own. These are the people who truly get me…because they understand. They know exactly what I mean when I speak of the blessing (and curse) of social media. They also know what I mean when I talk of feelings of guilt, helplessness and isolation as a regular part of my day. My autism friends don’t judge. Not only do they offer continuous support and encouragement, but also resources to help make my life a little bit easier. Something as simple as the name of a good therapist (who is accepting new patients…and medicaid…and does home visits), or a new trick that worked with their child during a meltdown, that can save an autism parent hundreds of hours of frustration. Social media can truly be a blessing!!

For many of us, Facebook is like a daily High School reunion. And you have to admit, some people you get to know better than you ever really wanted to. Yes, that’s what you had for dinner tonight, that’s a stunning alcoholic beverage you had on Saturday night, and those are some stellar looking drunk selfies of you and your friends at a bar. Not only am I fortunate enough to see what my friend’s precious and perfect children / spouse looks like, but I get to see it every day! And I get to know what they had for dinner too!! While some people go out of their way to paint a perfectly less than accurate picture of their lives, I wish and pray that some others would do the same. Since my life is already challenging enough, I don’t necessarily need to hear about your personal drama as you freely air your dirty laundry for 500 of your closest friends to see (and obviously judge). Sometimes it makes me feel better; realizing I’m not so naive (or fortunate) as to worry about some of the ridiculous things that “regular” people preoccupy themselves with…and sometimes I think my eyes will roll so far back into my head that they may stick there, forcing me to permanently look at my own brain, which might actually be better than looking at some of the stuff I see in my Facebook news-feed.

This is all part of the curse of social media that most of us experience. What the curse means for me specifically, however, is a type of envy that most regular Facebookers don’t understand. I don’t ever feel envy over how great someone looks, or how beautiful their new house/car is. I will never feel petty jealousy that your new job pays you more in a year than I will make in ten. It really does make me happy to see my loved ones achieving success and enjoying their lives. It makes me smile, and personally I believe that happiness and laughter are the absolute best emotions ever. My curse comes from a completely different place, the land of autism. So I admit, as I look at pictures of family vacations and date nights with spouses, I am not envious over your vacation location, I’m envious because you CAN take a vacation! Jealous that you are dining at the best restaurant or the partying at the funnest club with your partner? No, I’m jealous because you and your partner CAN leave your house alone together without an act of Congress, because autism simply does not allow for that in my life.

Not to be a complete martyr, I do get an occasional escape with my high school bestie, who also happens to have 2 sons on the spectrum. (What was in the water at that school??) She and I head out, with our husband’s blessings, to play for a few luxurious days at…Disney World. We experience it in the most magical way you possibly can…without our kids, to decompress from our kids, and to act like kids. This is also the time I get to share my drunken selfies, what I had to drink on Saturday night and most importantly, what I had for dinner (because hey, I ATE dinner)! I cherish those times more than any mere words could describe.

All of that being told, my Facebook hiatus will now officially end, because I need to post this blog on all available forms of social media. Damn (<–curse) what a blessing!! 🙂

2 thoughts on “Social Media…a blessing and a curse

  1. (((Hugs)))
    I will never know personally what it’s like to live your life. But I can empathize in some ways. Sending love and peace to you today. ❤

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