Thursday, May 30, 2013

On Social Media, and Jeff, of course.

Team Miner:  

First, the Jeff update you're all waiting for. Post-Neulasta ordeal his pain is much improved. He still has aches and pains, but nothing nearly as severe since Sunday  Other side effects are setting in too, which was expected, but is still discouraging.

For instance, Jeff went ahead and took his preemptive strike against hair loss and is now bald as of yesterday. Stella likes it and I agree. Jeff has excellent bone structure for such a severe 'do.

He is still fatigued and also had his first "metallic taste" experience of chemo. We are also concerned that he may be feeling the first twinges of neuropathy in his fingers. Fortunately, so far he is still taking good walks a few times a day, eating well, and playing guitar.

Now, on to some musings of my own. I've been experiencing a little blog fatigue, so I apologize for the several day gap in posting something.

A friend forwarded me this harrowing article on the digital generation yesterday. Well, it profiles just one seriously early adopter - the subject is only 14 and was born when I graduated from high school.  The piece induced mini panic attacks in me and Jeff about Lydia and Stella when they hit the tween years. I have a lot to say about the article all on its own, but also as it contrasts with my social media experience at present.

To begin, social media has been a huge gift in the past weeks. Via this blog we are keeping friends and family informed and through Facebook (of all places) I have gotten back in touch with dear friends and have connected with friends who have experienced similar challenging life episodes. Many people have told me that our family will become part of a new community as we face this cancer ordeal together, and they are not wrong. I am going to try to devote some thought to these "least chosen" of communities - the ones that form out of shared crappy experience - and might write about that later, note to self. What strikes me now, is the benefit of these networks and the encouragement that I have received from those who have walked a road like this before.

In addition to the blog and Facebook, "Lotsa" has made our lives so much easier. There is no "normal" day for us these days, but the predictability of knowing when we will have help and what is on tap next has been hugely reassuring and uplifting.

So, I began thinking about these wonderful networks of friends new and old, here in SF and much much farther away, coming together (virtually) to help our family as I read this cringe-inducing HuffPost piece. And in comparison to what social media has meant to us recently and what it involves in this article, I cringed again, then I cringed some more.  In short, here's what I found so disturbing about this girl's experience:

Social network engagement and phone use shouldn't be all consuming.  Now I also sleep with my phone. It serves as my clock (which I need in terms of determining whether Lydia needs to eat), keeps me awake/occupied while nursing, and usually lets me draft emails or blog in the middle if the night.  I also check my phone a lot during the day. But not to the same extent as this young lady. I fear that "kids these days" don't understand how to actually avoid boredom and don't know how to occupy their time without a screen.

Gadgets shouldn't impede friendship. Some people believe that online social networks cheapen interactions between friends. I disagree, for the most part. But the extent to which gadgets dictate friendships for this girl is so depressing. She stopped being friends with someone because she didn't have an iPhone?!  Of course I can infer that this girl is well off, so maybe these specific problems don't plague less wealthy tweens to the same degree, but talk about exclusionary!  And how sad that such a superficial thing would kill a friendship or lead a girl to feel left out. Junior high is hard enough.

Social networks can inspire serious self-image and perception issues. All of us are preoccupied to some degree with our image. And granted, junior high seems to be a peak of that concern for most people. But texting your group of girlfriends to decide what to wear to school every day is so extreme. So is judging your self worth based on your number of followers or "likes" is so trite and sad. I am probably over thinking this to some degree, but I hate to think that some kids are valuing themselves on these metrics or even stressing out about them on some level.  It's just sad.

With that, dear readers, hold me accountable. Stella and Lydia will get their first smart phones at say, age 30?  Until then, they will be the proud owners (someday) of something like the "Jitterbug."



stacita said...

oh please. that teenage girl was from New Jersey ;). Lydia and Stella will be fine -- they're Californians! :)

dirteens said...

Spoken with the wisdom only someone from Dirty Jerz could cultivate. Thanks Stace :)