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.