Miscellany

What Is The Point Of Social Media?

I got up this morning when my alarm went off (okay, I hit snooze once, which, for me, is essentially the same getting up immediately) and for the first time in what feels like years, but is actually just a couple weeks, I was awake while the rest off the house was quiet.

Sipping my coffee, playing Spelling Bee on the NYTimes games page (even if you don’t like their news, their games are extraordinary), and contemplating what I want to put on my To-Do list for the day without fielding any questions, referreeing any fights, or seeing “just one thing” feels luxurious. I can actually think. It’s wondrous.

These past eight months (EIGHT MONTHS OF THIS PANDEMIC!) I’ve being doing a lot of taking stock while simultaneously trying desperately to stay afloat in the rapidly changing currents of my life.

A friend of mine who lives in Israel, where they are currently under a second lockdown, put it well when she expressed that we are all trying to constantly readjust to whatever new version of reality we are living in, and pivoting to relate to our loved ones in whatever new way we need to relate to them, while also taking care of ourselves our house, them, everyone, no one.

On top of all of that real-life readjusting, I’ve been reassessing my own identity as a writer and online “personality.” My children have grown and are no longer cute little toddlers but more fully formed people with their own struggles and successes, and the internet itself has changed from an incredible place to connect to everyone I ever knew plus make new friends to a somewhat more ominous place where private moments and thoughts are put out to the world for approval and adulation.

Where connection has taken on something of a competitive edge.

I’ve always had a bit of a competitive spirit myself (*cough cough* understatement *cough cough*) so naturally it carried over to my online life as well.

With this blog, I strove to gain as many followers (THANK YOU FOR READING!), to become the best blog for this very niche frum-lifestyle-mommy-and-also-religious-thought genre that I have going on.

And same for my Facebook and Instagram accounts. The goal was to have the numbers go up up up. Initially, I would accept any friend request, but after having a few too many random guys private message me (NO I DON’T WANT TO CHAT) I tried only accepting friends who had mutual friends in common, but even didn’t really sort things out. And so while my connections increased, the quality of my online time decreased.

I found myself connecting less with old friends and more time trying to curate my feed so that I was actually seeing things I wanted. To diminish the insane amount of notifications I was getting. To stop getting emails that I never signed up for. To unfollow people who consistently posted inflammatory posts.

Eventually it wasn’t even worth it for me to be on Facebook, so I took a break. I focused more on Instagram, and there I found myself again focusing on likes and followers and being meaningful, but not heavy, and clever but not snarky and to try to maintain some semblance of privacy for my kids but to also share those adorable and relatable moments.

So naturally, when I started overthinking things I stopped posting as much. Because why? Why am I even sharing these things? For what?

I started posting on social media, nearly a decade ago, with the ambiguous goal of showing that Orthodox life isn’t so strange or unrelatable, but beautiful and normal despite the many idiosyncrasies of frum life.

It eventually morphed into my long-standing goal of just putting out real and relatable content so that someone out there reading it can feel better knowing they are normal. That’s still my goal, to be real and relatable and sometimes, maybe, inspirational, but it’s taking a different shape as I reassess my relationship with social media and how and what I should share.

Especially now, during the pandemic, I question what I should share. I don’t want to only share the difficult moments, because that’s not an accurate reflection of my life. But I also don’t want to share all my happiness because I wonder if it’s insensitive to those who are struggling.

Overthinking at its best.

Social media, like nearly anything, is neither good nor bad, but becomes what we make of it. And I needed this reset to figure out how my online life fits into my actual life now.

One thing I can share (besides these rambling mostly unedited musings, lol) is that these past eight months have been a tremendous time of contemplation for me, and I’ve appreciated the chance to get off the hamster wheel of seeking more (more followers, more gigs, more volunteering) and instead to be more thoughtful in what opportunities I pursue and how I spend my time.

Thanks for sharing some of your time with me here.

_____

Featured Photo by Merakist on Unsplash

14 thoughts on “What Is The Point Of Social Media?

  1. Hi Rivki!

    Just wanted you to know I’m still here, still reading.

    As usual, our struggles are still similar.

    I’m still trying to educate people about the dangers of longterm psych meds…and even with a purpose like that, I sometimes feel I’m shouting into the wind.

    I still remember our first HANUKKAH HOOPKA, which felt magical and connected so many great Jewish women. It feels harder now, for sure.

    Just wanted to let you know I’m here, I’m healed, and I’m still following you.

    Where are you living these days? I’ve lost track. Are you back in Ohio?

    Please excuse any errors. This message was sent from my wireless thingamajiggy.

    >

    1. Hi Renee!! Hanukkah Hoopla feels like multiple lifetimes ago!! I do miss the connection of those days, it felt more like a community, and I also had more time to invest in that.

      I’m so glad to hear how good you’re doing, and I do enjoy seeing your artistic creations on insta!

      Yes, back in Ohio, you got it!

  2. I’m not on Facebook. I did it to protect my mental health. I’ve never been on Instagram. I haven’t posted on Twitter in ages, although I do sometimes look on there (and usually regret it). My blog is really my main social media outlet. I started that wanting to say Important Things and become internet famous, but it never happened and I lost interest in it happening. I just write for myself now, to off-load my negative thoughts, and some people seem to get something from it and comment. I don’t really care about followers, more about interactions, mostly comments.

    1. When I started spending less time on Facebook my anxiety and angst went down noticeably, and I agree that Twitter can also be upsetting.

      I think that the interactions and comments are really the best part.

  3. Hi Rivki-It has been a few children ago since I met you in Baltimore but I still follow your writings and enjoy seeing your photos. Social media IS a great time waster for many but for older people (I turned 80 this year) it is as much fun as we want it to be. I’ve unfriended many people when I realized we didn’t have enough values in common to be friends and I’ve blocked several as well but I enjoy the friends and family remaining. I’ve been revisiting books I’ve read in the past mostly through online libraries. It just seems less stressful when I know the outcome of a story in advance during this time. I social distance with a few friends and my Iowa kids come to visit but no hugs which I miss terribly. I planted more flowers this summer, have gotten back into card creating, mow my own lawn, and just returned to my Habitat once-a-week volunteering. Anyway, I wanted you to know I still read your blog. Life is so good regardless of the challenges.
    Love to you
    Marge Nelson

    1. Hello Marge! I always appreciate your insights, and I’m so glad that you’re enjoying such a rich life amid this pandemic. I totally agree with your sentiment that life is so good regardless of the challenges. A million times yes.

  4. It’s a great question, and my answer changes daily—sometimes it’s a positive answer and sometimes a negative one. But either way, I’m still here reading your work and cheering you on. On to what? Same place I’m always headed I think– a place where we feel heard and understood maybe? For me, I’ve let go of that being a book and have settled into this weird internet space. At least for now!

    1. It really is such a mutable relationship! I am still reading your work, too, and always nodding along to your sage friendship advice. I love how you put it – a place where we feel heard and understood. Yes! That is a core human need, I think.

  5. Hi Rivki. I took a breather, too, from posting, partially due to being overwhelmed. My goal in blogging was to be “out there.” It scratches my writing itch. But I’m not a self-promoter, don’t do Instagram, have been veering away from Facebook. I’m at a different stage of life than you with grown children; my challenges are different. But I hope to strike a chord with people, tweak a spiritual heartstring or tickle a funnybone with my descriptive superpowers … while being normal frum. I hope you and your readers take a moment to visit my blog and see what I wrote about COVID-19 Days and see how you resonate to my words.
    Thanks. https://batya7.wordpress.com

    1. Self-promotion is the absolute worst. I love the term “normal frum,” that’s absolutely what I strive to be. I’m going to head over to your blog right now. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I hope you’re less overwhelmed now. What a wild time to be alive.

  6. “What a wild time to be alive” sums it up perfectly! On posting about kids, my strategy now is to ask them before I post anything about them and go with their preference.

  7. Hello Rivki,

    Thank you for this post, and for sharing time and space with us here.

    While I have been following your blog for a couple of years now and read your articles published on other platforms, I have never posted anything here before.  The reason I am posting here today is because I wanted to take a moment to let you know (don’t we all need reminders sometimes?) that despite how overwhelming, negative –and frankly toxic– social media can sometimes (often?) be, your words still resonate with people that you have never interacted with. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has lurked here :)

    I’ll try not to get too personal. I’m not Jewish. I don’t know if I will ever be Jewish. But I do know that I feel drawn towards Orthodox Judaism, and regardless of what decisions I will make, my life is richer from following your blog (as well as other Orthodox writers + media).

    How? In so many ways! For example,  I have got to know words like ‘halacha’, ‘mussar’, ‘bracha’, ‘parsha’ among many, many others, And I don’t think words are ever just words. They reflect a rich culture, history, tradition, and wisdom I would have never known otherwise. And reading about your life– the beauty you have found in Orthodox Judaism, as well as the challenges, both big and small, you openly acknowledge– is helpful to someone who is considering possibly converting to Orthodox Judaism. I certainly don’t think I would have started reading about Judaism, especially about Orthodox Judaism wwere not for people like you. I most likely wouldn’t have started learning Hebrew either. I could go on.

    I mentioned earlier that I wasn’t sure if I would ever be Jewish. I won’t get into the why, but I do think that some of the things that mean the most to us often require us to make difficult choices that hurt. There isn’t a large orthodox presence where I live but there is a Modern Orthodox synagogue. I plan on emailing the Rabbi – something I have been putting off for more than a year (there’s grad school, now there’s a pandemic…). But it’s something I need to do. This ended up being super long, but I wanted to give just one example of writing and sharing on social media can affect others and create meaningful interactions that you’re not even aware of.

    So thank you! My best to you and your family.

    1. Hello! Thank you for this absolutely wonderful and insightful comment! I really got a lot of encouragement and food for thought. I’m grateful you chose to comment on this post. Thank you. <3

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