Well-Meaning Has Nothing To Do With It
Increasingly Facebook has become less a part of my life as I get more engaged with the Medium.com community (for all the right reasons). This morning was a perfect example of why this often obscenely intimate community has become far less attractive.
I recently posted a story on Medium.com about health care that I received in Bali. Since for years I’ve chronicled my various travels and adventures on Facebook, I posted the same story there, along with gorgeous shots from various islands where I’d hiked to the tops of hills and had an otherwise great time.
This morning, as I sit here for most of the day on a lazy layover at the Narita airport in Tokyo, I got a bit of a reprimand from someone I have never met, never spoken to, and as of today, will no longer allow access to my feed.
She wrote “lately seems that your body is revolting against your travels. So you are most fortunate to encounter concerned &kind people to help you around the Globe (sic).”
Shit Always Happens
While it’s true I’ve had my fair share of injuries, something happens on every single trip. Food poisoning, a twisted ankle, thrown from a horse, falling down stairs.
However, here’s the piece: I could just as easily catch the superflu on a domestic flight (and treating it outside the VA would cost a shitload more money).
I have been thrown and kicked right in my corral at home. In fact the likelihood is higher because of the local assholes who fly illegal drones over our heads. Where I ride in Golden Co, I get the barn sour horses that kick and bite and buck and rear and try to scrape me off against the fence at the gallop. That has made me a superb rider. At least overseas I rarely encounter drones or traffic that actually hits my horse while I’m riding. Yeppirs, we have plenty of right assholes in Denver. Where I ride in most of the rest of the world this is unheard of.
I could fall down the stairs heading to my basement office. I often have nearly gone ass over teakettle in my hurry to nab a shot of a big-racked elk meandering through my back yard.
The World is Full of Good People
Luck or fortune has nothing whatsoever to do with my finding considerate people. That statement implies an evil and threatening world in which it’s hard to find decent humans. This is the opposite of my experience. You get what you put out there, and if you’re fearful and distrustful you will attract experiences which prove you’re right. As in, seek and ye shall find… only that which supports and justifies your POV.
I find it fascinating that someone I’ve never even had a conversation with is dictating to me what my body is doing. Without exception, every single injury I’ve had has made me stronger from the rehab, forced me to develop other body parts, and even opened up new doors to skills I didn’t know I had.
To wit: until I tore my rotator cuff, I didn’t know I could do one-armed pushups. Couldn’t use both arms so I gave it a try. I did four, and now I can do fifteen on my non-dominant arm. Look, I’m 65- this is not what I might have expected, but it’s what I got.
We Pays Our Money and We Takes Our Chances
I wrote a kind but firm response that acknowledged her right to an opinion. However, I work my ever loving butt off to be able to do what I do. I don’t just survive my escapades, they erase my impossible. Each time I head out I own what the river of life deposits on my shore. If I bite it while doing something extreme, at least I will go out doing what I love. Most folks can’t say that.
At the end of April last year, famed Swiss speed climber Ueli Steck died while mounting another extreme attempt on Mt. Everest. Not a single person who knew and respected him would have told him to quit and go home. He died doing what he loved best, fully aware of the risks.
I am no Ueli Steck. Not even. However I train, prepare, research, do my due diligence and take my adventures seriously. If I injure, it’s part of the adventure. I’ve almost died on multiple occasions — emphasis on almost. Each time the training saved my life. Getting a nasty case of the flu is a speed bump compared to losing your parachute. Twice. Oh do I have stories. But then that’s the whole damned point of living your passion.
Facebook at its best is when we rally around, support, collaborate and celebrate each other. The worst is, well, you know. However it is just as insulting when strangers feel the compulsion to dictate to you what you need, what your body is telling you, or in one way or another attempt to control your life. Perhaps this person feels it’s unseemly for someone of my vintage to hurl herself with abandon off bridges or compete with a couple of 26-year-olds to get to the top of a hill (it was a three-way tie and we laughed our butts off the whole way up). I’m not privy to the inner workings of her mind.
Nor is she to mine. And therein lies the whole point. Just to be fair, this isn’t the first of such comments from her, but it will be the last.
Somehow the act of “friending” a complete stranger on Facebook and then reading their posts coveys a level of intimacy, and implicit permission, that simply does not exist. I personally don’t experience this as friendly concern. That I get from people who are very close to me, and that right is earned.
Well-Meaning vs The Need To Control
The term “well-meaning” has, in my experience at least, all too often been used to mask controlling behavior. As in, my mother was well-meaning when she told me that the Army was going to take away my sense of humor and turn me (please, these are her words) “into a dyke.” To say the least my mother wasn’t particularly open-minded.
Um, nope, Mom.
Then, five years later, when I told my folks I was mustering out, she nearly shrieked “BUT HOW ARE YOU GOING TO FIND A JOB????”
Mom had a terrible time with my adventures to the point that I either waited ‘til after I did them or never told her at all. At least in my mother’s case, she had a deeply-vested interest in my safety. This Facebook person doesn’t. The difference is very important.
Have a Take
The great Jim Rome has a nationally-syndicated radio sports show I rather enjoy until he descends unto fart jokes. He has a great saying for his “Clones,” which is the term used for his legions of followers who call into his radio show and desperately want his approval. It’s: “Have a take and don’t suck.”
I second that. One reason I love Medium.com is that people have excellent takes. The reason my Facebook time has plummeted by 85% is just the opposite. I’d rather read and converse with folks who have considered opinions about a whole lotta issues, disagree politely, educate me and push me to think than put up with feigned concern and make inappropriately personal comments on my choice of lifestyle.
Facebook seems to have given people implicit permission to exploit personal space by virtue of reading a few posts.
Perhaps that works for some folks. I don’t get a dopamine hit when people step over personal boundaries online. That’s not well-meaning. That’s an invasion of privacy.
We are who we surround ourselves with, and that also goes for our online communities. A multitude of studies show that the more time spent on Facebook (especially by isolated and lonely people) the more depressed they are. The opposite happens for me on Medium.com. My brain and soul get fed from a smorgasbord of smart and insightful people whose views, ideas, commentary and angles are a constant inspiration to write more and think intelligently.
Which is why I believe that Medium.com is flourishing and Facebook is flailing. Medium.com rewards good writing and good behavior, and the community does an excellent job of protecting the quality of social intercourse.
Facebook will likely always have some role, especially in business. But when folks force themselves into your personal business like a neighbor with a telescopic camera, it’s time to close the blinds.