Back to Survival Mode Sort-of/A love letter for social media

Yesterday was what can only be called a hell-of-a-day. And I don’t use that term lightly. I worked Monday evening and so I was tired Tuesday morning. Then the heavens opened up right has I was taking Shelby to the bus stop. We have one adult sized poncho and since Joseph destroyed our golf umbrella, nothing else in our house, so I took the car down to the bus stop. I hate doing it, but my kids aren’t going to stand in cold rain.

After depositing both her and Joseph on the bus. I came back to the house. I sat down and just marinated for about five minutes and realized I felt awful. Physically awful. I had woken up with sinus pressure both above my eye and in my lower sinuses on the left hand side but quickly powered through it. It wasn’t bad, I’d been through worse. But as I sat down the pressure descended on me again AND the left side of my throat felt sore AND my ear was not at all comfortable. On top of that I felt achey and my stomach was nothing short of nauseated. I emailed Jeff and said “Meatless spaghetti or hot dogs tonight, I don’t feel like doing anything.”

I had to lie down for a period of time even after giving in and taking some Tylenol. After getting up and before the kids got home I got a message that a friend and someone I know a little through that friend wanted to stop over. Sure whatever. I told them when would be a good time.

Finally I had both kids off the bus and Joseph at the kitchen table starting on homework. Then Jeff got home. I was still in recovery  mode and he came in like hornet whose nest was just knocked out the tree and whaled on repeatedly with a baseball bat. Why was the car out of the garage? I explained the situation. Did I check the tire pressure (we have one annoying tire that must have a leak)? At that moment, I couldn’t remember. He went out and took the car to the service station. The boys were both upset at seeing their father so upset (he’d had a rough and stressful day, the tire was the icing on the cake). As I soothed them and Joseph finished homework, my friend pulled up. Her friend had driven separately as after their next destination they would need to leave to go to different places and it made more sense.

I went out to the driveway to chat and we began talking about something in particular. Now, my friend’s friend I’ve only met a few times so I really do not know this person well. Or really at all. I made an off-hand remark about the topic of conversation. And everything changed. This person I barely knew was apparently very affected by the topic we had casually been discussing. And what I said struck a nerve and I can understand now why it probably came off wrong. I was screamed at in my own driveway and called names and told I was terrible/insensitive etc and that this person never wanted to see me or have anything to do with me ever again and then went to their car and told my friend they would meet her at the next location and sped off. After a second of being stunned, I burst into tears. I hadn’t even been able to apologize, so fast and hot was the rage. My friend was standing with a look of horror on her face and I braced for her to unload too. But, to my surprise, she apologized. Said there was no excuse for her friend’s behavior no matter how close to home the topic was and there was no way I could have known it. I recovered and blew my nose and said it wasn’t her fault, she’s not responsible for the behavior of others, but she still felt bad and told me she would call and text me later.

I came back inside wounded. And hating humanity like the introvert that I am. I went on facebook and told my friends, look, I had just been through an awful experience in real life and I needed to be a hermit for a while and avoid people. I got a huge out-pouring of support from people who did everything from threaten to come and meet up with this person to telling me I was awesome and it was their loss. I appreciated their care and concern and several privately messaged me about it as well.

I was very much looking forward to Tuesday being over and Wednesday beginning. But Tuesday had yet more in store for me. Around 9:40 I heard Joseph cough in his room. He’d had preventative breathing treatments both that morning and evening but I could hear it in the cough. I nearly tripped over Will asleep in the hall (who had decided to stop half way to his room and crash). I got into the room where Joseph was actually in his own bed (the top bunk) because of course he was. I went through a ritual of waking, cajoling and finally mostly lifting him up out of the bed to give him a breathing treatment with the broncho-dilater. My hopes of going to BSF and volunteering at the school were fading fast. After his treatment, he went back to bed. I was still up (watching The Mindy Project which fantastically guest-starred Kevin Smith), I got my comforter (we have two because Jeff and I can’t share) and pillows and camped on the couch not knowing when we might need another treatment.

At five I heard the alarm go off in the bedroom and Jeff prepared for his day at work. Shortly after kissing me good-bye and going out the door, I heard him knocking. I unlocked it and he said, “Something’s wrong with the car.” Now this is his car not the one I didn’t check the tire pressure on. It wouldn’t start. He pulled the other car out and attempted to jump it. The issue is not with the battery. He came back and told me he would need to take my car and he was sorry, he knew I had plans.

The truth: I did have plans, I had stuff I wanted and NEEDED to do. But, they would wait. They had to. And Joseph could stay home now so that I could monitor his situation. Yep, as of today we’ve had our first sick day of the year. And as it turned out, I didn’t need to volunteer at the school. Relief. God is so good. He took care of the situation in such a way that I would be forced to make one decision, the right one. And He made me clumsy in forgetting to check the tire pressure so Jeff avoided a potentially dangerous situation having to drive in the dark this morning on a tire low with air.

So, today has mostly been survival. The boys have watched videos on youtube, we’ve done breathing treatments, I decided to wash everyone’s sheets to avoid Joseph having contact with any other nasties. He is sounding much better now and I’m sending him back tomorrow. And I’ve had time to just read blog posts and think.

This week two friends quit social media altogether in favor of only interaction in real life. A third is taking a sabbatical/fast so that she can re-group and re-charge. Lately so much is being made of the IRL connections being so far superior to anything that happens online. And while I appreciate the IRL connections, the truth is, as yesterday proved to me, no one can burn you online the way they can in person. I’m an introvert and I avoid confrontation like the plague. So when someone brings it in real life, I retreat. And hasty doesn’t do my kind of retreat justice. I withdraw. I avoid everyone. I even limit social media. But, it is preferable to someone like me with my temperment and personality type. I avoid the type of conversation I was having yesterday online at all, so it’s safer for me here than in real life. I choose my words much more carefully typing them out. I don’t censor myself but I think more carefully about my word choice and the necessity of the comment for sure.

And so for me, this whole “the real world is preferable to anything social media can provide” is a hollow truth. I like the way Darwin at Darwin Catholic put it recently:

The online world can be a pretty shallow place at times, but frankly, so can the in person world. I often find myself comparing my daily online interactions unfavorably to deep in person conversation that, if I pause to think about it, I don’t actually have the chance to have all that frequently with people other than my wife. Sure, it would be great if my options were either to have deep conversations on a daily basis with people in person, or else interact with people in a more ephemeral way on Facebook. That would be an easy decision! But the realistic fact is, I’m not passing up any chances to walk more with people in real life because I’m too busy online.

You can read his whole post here about why he’s not leaving social media anytime soon. I often find that in real life often also doesn’t allow for other distractions. If I go on a playdate or meet someone for coffee, I’m gonna have minimum one kid with me. And a good 60% of the time there is no meaningful conversation or togetherness anyway, even if that was the intent because someone’s kid NEEDS something. It’s probably just this season in my life, but getting together is hard and expensive and frankly I prefer the company of my kids to most adults. I can control what I listen to online. But not in person.

So, we’re busy here digging out of survival mode for the sick and those that just need rest or time away from humanity. I promise the  next post will be profound and uplifting. Or maybe just a meme.

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