if a tree falls

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

If I stumble on the most incredible Mexican joint, but don’t click a pic of the guacamole, will it taste as chunky and delicious?

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If I visit the Eiffel Tower, but YOU don’t know that I was there, will I still be as mesmerized by it’s beauty?

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If I go to the gym today, but don’t post a selfie from the weight-room, will I have burned as many calories, or built as much muscle?

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(You may notice this last picture is not me–it’s my sister! Sorry, I have yet to take a gym selfie–it’s my biggest pet-peeve!)

Lately, when something good happens, I think two things: This is wonderful and I should share this.

I just wrapped up the first week of what will hopefully be just a few weeks off of work. While time off can be wonderful, it’s also a huge adjustment; there is a constant struggle to find that balance between productivity and rejuvenating relaxation. I also have to acclimate to spending most of the day by myself instead of 9+ hours yapping back and forth between the 3 coworkers I share an office with.

I’ve always enjoyed my alone time. In fact I’m quite sure I prefer more of it than the average person. Still, something has struck me about my behavior in the past week: I seem to want to share more and more of what I am up to with my “friends” on social media.

I was watching an episode of House Hunters International the other day about a family of three who was moving to France. The husband wanted to find a flat closer to the city center so they could walk to shops and restaurants, mingle with the locals, and have a real authentic “French” experience. The wife on the other hand wanted to live in the suburbs; she explained to her husband that while he would be working most of the time, her and their daughter would be more comfortable in a larger, more modern home that was more similar to what they had in South Carolina. They ended up settling on a boring house with a big yard in a cookie-cutter neighborhood that could have been anywhere in the U.S.

The whole time I was watching I kept thinking: She’s moving to a new place where she doesn’t know anyone or anything, why would she want to isolate herself in that suburban environment?

I realized that I first had to consider that there are just different strokes for different folks; a lot of people would rather live in a quieter more suburban setting. But, I also wondered if the way our lives are now connected and filtered through social media could have subconsciously played a part in this woman’s decision. Are we less reliant on connecting with our neighbors and building physical routines of commerce when our communication with our friends is only a click away and almost everything we need can be delivered to our door?

I guess I am starting to wonder: Does social media make us feel more or less alone?

I made this beautiful pesto the other day. It was dairy-free and it was delicious.

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When I have time off work I love having a busy morning where I tackle all the obligatory stuff like working out and errands, and then settle into a more relaxed afternoon of experimenting in the kitchen and listening to NPR. It was on one of these leisurely afternoons that I whipped up this pesto. I’m telling you, as soon as I clicked the lid off of that Cuisinart I was immediately transported. There was this unbelievably fresh, herbaceous aroma from the basil and the lemon that immediately put me in this warm weather state of mind. All of the sudden I was imagining my husband and I escaping the frigid temps of New York and dashing off to Miami Beach to put our toes in the sand for a nice long weekend.

Sadly this little vacation is not yet in the works, but that pesto had me craving fresh fish and tropical fruit like you wouldn’t believe. I grabbed a tender piece of grilled chicken to sop up my first taste of the sauce. The garlic and olive oil were so savory and the sea salt pronounced each ingredient so beautifully; there was so much flavor my mind was suddenly a slideshow of all the meats and veggies I wanted slathered in the green sauce.

As I floated back from the beach to my tiny Brooklyn kitchen I decided I should snap some pics to share my gorgeous lunch with the rest of the world (or at least with my 674 friends on Facebook). My photography skills leave a lot to be desired but I did my best and threw up a post on Facebook and one on Instagram–which I only recently started using in order to see pics of my nieces.

Let’s just say the response was less than overwhelming. The post got 7 likes on Facebook and 5 likes on Instagram. It did however inspire a small thread of commentary and recipe exchange that delightfully enhanced an hour or so of my Thursday evening.

Later on that night I got to thinking about how my beautiful pesto was laced with disappointment:

How come nobody liked it? Don’t people like food pictures? I LOVE food pictures. Maybe I didn’t post it at a good time–too many people on their way home from work. Or…maybe people didn’t like it because they don’t like ME.

I grabbed my iPad one more time and opened up the square blue app. No red dot. No notifications. No new likes. I headed to my profile to check out the pic of the pesto again and literally started to laugh out loud. All I could think was: Did I really just use pesto to determine how people feel about me?

Even more insane…did I really just use Facebook and Instagram to determine how I feel about my pesto? That s*** was delicious–it had me off in Miami gettin’ a tan and gobbling ceviche!

I found it interesting to realize that I can cook something great, or visit someplace amazing, and my enjoyment of it can really be enhanced by sharing it with other people. What if I inspire someone else to use collard greens as a lettuce wrap, or to finally hop on a plane and take that trip to Paris? Social media makes my world bigger, and it has the ability to make great moments even brighter.

I also found it interesting that I’d given social media the capacity to throw a little shade my way (and I mean that in the blocking my light way, not in the trendy way you hashtaggers throw it around). I’ve had real life wonderful experiences slightly dulled by a minimal reaction from my “friends” and “followers”. Funnily enough–I am not sure what the number of “likes” is that turns that shade to shine.

My pesto post was not the first time I’ve looked at how social media reactions affect my mood. Luckily I discovered this craziness a while ago and have found my solution to nipping it in the bud or at least shortening my length of disappointment:

I only post stuff I really want to SHARE. 

Super simple, I know. I started thinking of my posts as this representation of myself that I get to put out into the world–I have the chance to delight, inspire, and provoke thought in people in all different places. I share what I want happily, and without expectation of what I’ll get in return. If I get a big response, it’s a whole lot of fun. If I don’t, I don’t translate that into how people feel about me personally. (Facebook so far has saved me from knowing if I really just annoy the s*** out of everyone with their refusal to insert a “dislike” button!)

I’m nowhere near perfect at this yet–but it is working. I’ll tell you how I know. Sometimes I scroll through Facebook and I’ll see something I’ve posted and I’ll laugh out loud, or I’ll think to myself: I kinda want to like my own status, it’s a good one!! There’s something sort of lovely about believing in the way you choose to represent yourself.

Don’t worry, I’m not liking my own statuses…yet.

How about you? Have you ever thought about how your social media presence affects your presence in your real life? Do you find yourself reaching out more in the social media world when you have more alone time in the real world? I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

 

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