Dear Sizzler (and Facebook): Sharing is Caring

On the eve of our 07.07.07 wedding anniversary, I happened to be left alone with a sliver of quiet and my big iPhone while Kevin bathed the boys.

As usual, I looked at the many photos on my phone.

I noticed our recent family selfie from our evening drive to the beach.

We were all smiles and for once, I was IN the picture instead of behind the camera(phone).  I wanted to share it but I also couldn’t stomach plopping another perfect photo into the sea of perfect moments on Facebook.

Perfect moment overload these days.  Maybe it’s the humidity, but I just needed a break.

The picture tripped me out because we were in one of the worst weeks in our marriage thus far, but there we were, beaming at the beach.  Posting the picture without an accompanying “confession” felt incomplete.

This was the picture:

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And this was the caption:

[6.25.15 – the story behind this “perfect” family pic is that Kevin and I were doing horribly. At least a week and a half or so was spiritually dark.

We remembered that water is life-giving to me/us so we drove to the beach in the evening, after the workday, following wack GPS directions through alleys as if we were trying to lose the cops, hoping that the backdrop would help, even just a little.

Just felt like sharing that in case people assume that everyone ELSE on their Newsfeeds is living perfect lives that have somehow eluded them. As if there was such a thing. Chile, please.

Tomorrow is our 07.07.07 wedding anniversary. Praying that I can shed some bad habits of explosive anger, criticizing, and blaming. Pray for us when we pop up on your Newsfeed. Thanks!]

I was blown away by the feedback I received.  The number of Likes alone was mind-boggling.  I had only received that sort of Facebook love for the birth of my sons.

People were actually expending energy in their thumbs to comment and write me personal messages.  Facebook friends kept thanking me for being “real” and “honest,” and for “sharing what no one seems willing to.”

I was touched by the feedback but also couldn’t help but think that I hadn’t shared anything too radical.  I wondered why Facebook lacks more vulnerability in general since there was a swell of immediate response to it.

I sure didn’t invent it and I sure don’t have a monopoly on it but it felt like I had flipped the script on unspoken social media rules:  I had shared a chunk of my interior life instead of the 777,777th photo of my beloved boys in our courtyard.

I wonder why there isn’t more sharing?  Isn’t it only natural as we do life together and bother to update regularly?  No adult is going to be shocked that *GASP* your life is not perfect.  That you are not perfect!

We can still share the gorgeous photos and emoji-filled updates and viral baby dancing videos and 2.5 more parenting articles that will revolutionize the way I raise up my kids but how about a dash of Real Talk here and there?

Just from the response to my photo caption, I sensed that others are also feeling the void of two-dimensional Facebook.  Sure, we love to see what our friends are up to, what they are eating, where they are visiting but those updates alone don’t help us to connect on a deeper level and get to know each others’ insides any better.

Many Facebook users, including me, have reported more feelings of depression, isolation, and envy after scrolling through their friends’ highlight reels on their Newsfeeds.  This is because we almost never share back stories of our photos or go a little deeper in our status updates.  Maybe not full-on confessions like I’m naturally inclined towards but just a little something more?

Sure, there are some topics one should save for a safe, select few.  However, there are universal struggles and fears we have all gone through, are going through, or will go through by virtue of being human.  And by sharing, you may touch someone else.

This was not meant to be yet another rant against social media for only displaying people’s highlight reels instead of their real lives.  Hey, it’s not Facebook’s fault.  Facebook is not a living, breathing organism.  We, the users, make Facebook what we want it to be and lately, we’ve been keeping it pretty damn surface level.

My happy photos are NOT fake.  But they only tell part of the story.  And no matter what I may be going through, I am genuinely happy in those moments I hug up on my boys for a photo.

Just like my brother and I scribbled with a shorty #2 library pencil on a comment card at Sizzler, decades ago in response to their “No Sharing” policy at their establishments:  Sharing is caring.

Be. Yourself. (Sometimes?)

I have a theory I wanted to put to the test after a recent dentist appointment:

People who keep it all business, tend to get treated better.

By nature, I am relational. Almost to a fault. Even in customer service dealings and other non-friendship exchanges, I can’t help but be relational (unless I am really not feeling you).

When we were co-op shopping while I was pregnant with my Micah in 2010, Kevin had to warn me before meeting different brokers:

“Remember, Jihee-yah. For these visits, what did I tell you?”

“Don’t be myself. Don’t be relational. I especially do not want to bond with the seller. Got it.”

My husband is, by nature, the opposite. He is private and keeps dental visits limited to information exchanges about cavities and flossing.

[Sorry, I fell asleep right quick just thinking about fact-only exchanges.]

I don’t think I can do that, even on a dare.

But I started envying how folks respond to him and other Keep It All Business people. People tend to try harder with those who Keep It All Business.

My dentist seems to enjoy my personality when I drop by once in a while with my weak teeth. In fact, she and her staff actually seem eager for me to get my gab on because they have to be more formal with their other patients. Frankly, they seem like they exhale when they realize it’s “just” me walking through the door. They’ve even turned on politically incorrect stand-up comedy on TV when it’s just me in their office.

On the one hand, I am glad that they feel comfy with me because of our chats over the years I’ve been going to her but on the other, I have to double-check that I am receiving the same manner of care and respect doled out to other patients.

When it comes time to handle business, and I ask her to please go over different treatment plans, she doesn’t like to break it down for me. Last time, I felt rushed when she didn’t go over my different options as thoroughly as she should have for me to make my informed consent.

She practically jumped when she saw a Suit waiting in her waiting area as her next patient, while she was wrapping up with me. I was quickly led to her receptionist to make my payment. I requested more information but the dentist and receptionist were short with me. It didn’t sit well with me so I called her after the visit, just letting her know that I felt rushed and uninformed.

I have an acute fear of being a pushover or being disrespected.

So I dared myself to return for the next visit more like my husband, and less like myself, in order to get more respectful and formal treatment. She saw me in the waiting area and of course, didn’t jump to make a timely appointment like she did with Suit.

She called me in after gabbing with her receptionist about some mumbo jumbo and asked, “How are you?”

“Um, I’m good. Thanks.” (KEEP IT MOVING JIHEE. The seemingly innocuous “HOW ARE YOU’s” are sure to get you. And don’t even THINK about telling her how her first, middle, and last name on her plaque all look so beautiful in script!)

“And awww, how are the BABIES!? You couldn’t bring them with you?”

So…yeah.

I failed my own dare within a record milli-second. The dare actually spurred me to be more relational than ever.

I kid you not, I even danced the (low) Limbo at one point (complete with caveman sound effects), to demonstrate an interaction with my Micah. So much for All Business. Sure, we were all laughing, but I proved once again, even on a dare, my true self will bust through. (I still made sure she explain dental details to me.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about those two loaded words: “Be Yourself.” Or “Do You.”

I seem to deal with “opposite” issues compared to those I know.

Sometimes, I feel alien because I cannot relate to what others struggle with within their God-given temperaments. People generally work on being more vulnerable, opening up more, whereas I have to dare myself to be more closed off and guarded.

My pastor talks about how we all have icebergs, deep deep icebergs of hidden emotions, beneath our seemingly serene still waters. He explained in his book, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality,” that most people strive to keep these icebergs hidden and walk around wearing masks of serene still waters.

I used to joke that my iceberg always be hangin’ out, melting all over the place, while others only reveal their still waters.

And sure, it’s wise and discerning to only share your iceberg with your “safe” people but for some folks, even their closest loved ones don’t REALLY know their deepest fears and pain.

While most people I know would like to appear to be happy and “together,” why do I have this compulsion to confess my ugly bits? I NEVER want to appear like I have it all together. Why? What does that do for people? You rarely convince anyone of it anyhow.

It sounds like a humble-brag but truly, I just can’t relate and sometimes I feel disconnected and lonely as I find myself muttering, “REALLY?,” after yet another exchange where I can’t help but go beyond small talk and/or fact-exchange and the other person is tight-lipped or desperately trying to keep it light and “LOL.”

So what are y’all’s default settings? (If you’re private, message me – haha.) If your iceberg hangs out, too, then let it flow next to my puddle, by posting a comment or three.