The Meat and Potatoes of Life
Suffering through a state of social media mediocrity
Special to Stars and Stripes March 9, 2023
It’s been more than a week since my husband and I returned home from a long weekend in New Hampshire where we took beautiful photographs of the stunning scenery. Horse-drawn sleigh ride, cog train trip up Mt. Washington, forested trail hike, moose head over the stone fireplace, dinner in the historic lodge, selfie at the fire pit — you name it, I took photos of it, fully intending to share the experience with my friends on social media.
Have I posted any of these photos yet? No, I have not, and yes, I feel guilty about it.
Ever since Facebook became a thing around 2008, I’ve been failing at it. At first, I didn’t have time to consider social media. During 2008, my husband was just getting back from a yearlong deployment, and we were preparing for a move overseas. Military spouses understand the mindset of someone under those extreme circumstances.
After a year of managing our three children, their various activities, our freakishly humongous dog, our eclectic relatives and our house by myself for a year, I was functioning somewhat like an old umbrella stroller that’s been ridden hard for months on end. It’s still intact, but there’s no telling how many more rides are left before the wheel falls off.
Add to that the monumental task of moving a family of five halfway across the world, and the never-ending to-do list that goes along with it, and it’s like asking an elephant to take a ride in that old umbrella stroller.
Somehow, I made it through that precarious time without my wheels falling off, and we soon found ourselves living in stairwell base housing in Germany. About a year after settling in, I made the mistake of thinking,“Maybe I should try Facebook?” In 2010, sitting in front of our clunky Dell computer monitor, I posted a blurry photo to my profile that didn’t show my double chin, and my social media mediocrity began.
Having been born at the genesis of Generation X when kids watched cartoons only on Saturday mornings, telephones had rotary dials and two-dimensional Atari Pong was a high-tech video game, technology will never be intuitive to me. “What’s so difficult about posting on social media?” Millennials and Generation Z might wonder.
Here’s the thing: Not only do I have to swipe through all my photos to find the ones in which I do not have a double chin, but then I have to contend with today’s high expectations for social media posts. Thirteen years ago, when I posted my first photo-less status update on Facebook, typing a few words sufficed for posting. But today, social media posts must tell a compelling, cool, hilarious, heart-warming, informative or tear-jerking tale, complete with a collage of photographs — or better yet, a well-edited video set to music — and include captioning that drives engagement without rendering you unfollowed, unfriended or, worse yet, muted.
And that’s just on Facebook. Today’s social media user must also post equally engaging yet different content to other platforms which may include but is not limited to Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, WhatsApp, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok and Finsta. But it doesn’t end there. Gone are the days of simply clicking “Like.” We are now expected to specifically qualify our feelings about other’s posts by registering like, love, anger, care, sad, laugh and “wow!” in addition to clever comments written in the acceptable emoji-decorated shorthand parlance of the Digital Age, such as, “Slay queen!💃🏻” “Fit is fire!🔥” “That looks lit, fam!👀” “Cringy, dawg!😵”
Oh, the agony!
I’m jealous of my husband who, other than his professional static LinkedIn profile, has never wasted a minute using social media. He runs, like the wind, free of social media obligation. I, on the other hand, dipped one piggy toe into the pond back in 2010, and SNAP! I was trapped. The more I tried to wriggle out of social media’s ever-increasing demands and expectations, the more I became ensnared.
I may or may not post my photos of New Hampshire, but one thing is certain — there’s no need to unpack my bags because thanks to social media, I’m still on a guilt trip.
Read more at themeatandpotatoesoflife.com and in Lisa’s book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.” Email: email@example.com