Sunday, January 22, 2012

Social Media, The World and the Drawbacks of Single Life

There is a lot to write about today.  My brain is full to the exploding point of numerous things that I want to write about.  And thankfully it is a Sunday and so I can make use of the day as I see fit.  It is one of the very last remaining football Sunday's of the 2011/2012 football season, so I do anticipate that I will spend a good part of the day on the couch watching the Division Title games.  I'll put the fireplace on and the family room will become nice, warm and comfy.  Then I'll tune in the football games and curl up with my laptop on my lap.  When the games get boring I will just revert to doing some writing on today's blog.  It will keep me busy and happy.  The only one who will not be exactly happy will be Zack because he will be outlawed from playing any video games today.  Sorry Zack - but when it comes time for football - you lose all privileges to the TV!

I wanted to start today's blog entry with some thoughts about a conversation I had on Friday evening.  The conversation was with one of my oldest friends, someone who I have known for 25 years and the person who introduced me to Patty.  She lives on the east coast so we never see each other but we do talk every week or so.  For whatever reason we got on to the subject of social media (i.e. Facebook and it's ilk) and we must have spent about 30 minutes talking about the advantages and disadvantages of it.

The focal point of our conversation really came down to how much and what you should or should not share via social media.  My friend has the opinion that she doesn't want to share anything via social media as opposed to me who likes to put my life out on social media.  My friend doesn't even have a Facebook, Google Plus or Twitter Account so she really doesn't know what it all involves.  I countered her points about not sharing on social media with the question of "what is the harm".  It is not like I put my social security number out there.  Though I have my hometown out there it is not the town that I was born in so a hacker can't find my social security number that way.

To use social media properly I really do think that you need to apply a rule to what you post by asking yourself "is this something that I would discuss around the office"?  Or is this something that you would only discuss with your closest friends in the utmost of secrecy?  If it is the latter - it doesn't belong on social media! 

There is also a line of thought that is held by many people concerning social media that by posting stuff you are just calling attention to yourself.  I can't really dispute that line of thought.  Social media is exactly that - social.  By posting stuff I do call attention to myself.  If I just exist on a social media network and lurk and watch what other people are doing, I have no really interaction with others.  But if I post stuff then I do spark interaction and conversation with others.  The way I would compare it is being a member of a social media network is like showing up at a meeting of a professional organization to which you belong.  You can go to that meeting and sit there and listen to all the speakers and then after the speakers are done you can remain sitting and listen to all the conversation that occurs at the happy hour that follows.  Yes - you have participated in one way by being there.  But won't your participation be much greater if you got up and started to speak to people and introduced yourself to people you didn't know.  Doing those actions helps to draw attention to yourself from others.  Is calling attention to yourself in that way self-centered?  I personally don't think so.  I think posting stuff on social media is the exact same as involving yourself in those conversations at the professional organization you belong to.

There are a couple of points in recollecting this conversation.  First - I think it is beneficial to post things on social media, but - and here is the key point - you need to be conscious of what you post.  For example, I have a nephew who is applying to colleges this year.  He has posted pictures that put him in a dubiously light - imagine with certain kinds of beverages in his hand that perhaps a 17 year old shouldn't yet be drinking. Those are the kinds of mistakes you need to avoid because perhaps the college you want to go to can see those pictures because you messed up the privacy settings.  This is important for the subject I am going to cover at the end of today's entry.  I could go really raw and raunchy with that subject, but I won't because for all I know my boss actually reads this blog and I have my yearly performance review this coming week!  So Jerry's golden rule - put as much out there as you can but keep it clean and remember anyone can be reading this.

Second - though social media does force you to call attention to yourself there are good things that can come of it.  For example, over the last several months I have made a number of posts on Facebook about how messed up my back has been.  I got a lot of sympathy from people saying "I hope you feel better", etc.  But the other thing that came out of it was I got several e-mails from friends who at one time had the same back condition.  They provided me with lots of good advice as to what treatments to seek and when to just cut bait and go with the surgery.  It was very helpful.  Without Facebook I won't have those connections and I would not have gotten the great advice that I got.  On top of all that, when it's your birthday and you get dozens of birthday greetings - it really makes you feel good!  Last weekend when it was my birthday it sure made me smile to have friends from long ago sending me birthday wishes.  It was really nice and made me feel special!

Third - Guess what?  Almost 1/7 of the world's population has Facebook accounts.  Yes that is right Facebook is approaching 1 billion members and is estimated to exceed 1 billion sometime this summer or autumn.  If you want to find old friends, potentially make new friends, explore the cultures of other parts of the world, find new hobbies, join new groups - Facebook is really the place to be.  If you are a business you really must be on Facebook because all of your customers are there.  If you have a Facebook page and can draw your customers there, it is essentially free advertising.  What is better than that!

Whew!  That is a lot about social media and Facebook!!  But moving onward....

Do you have any idea of how many countries there are in the world?  It is a tough number to keep track of!  Depending upon where you live and your political agenda the number you count may vary slightly from someone else's number.  Ultimately if you try being non-biased and look at it from a neutral standpoint, the best number seems to be around 196 countries - this is the number maintained by the United Nations. The reason your outlook and where you are from influences this number is because some "countries" are not universally recognized as countries by everyone.  Some examples of this are Taiwan, the Palestinian Territories, the Russian breakaway territory of Chechnya and Kosovo.  Furthermore new countries are frequently coming into being.  The newest country in the world, South Sudan only came into being on July 9, 2011.  Over the next decade there are potentially new countries that might come into being like Kosovo, Scotland (if they split from the UK), Guadalcanal (if they win their civil war against the Solomon Islands) etc, as the list goes on and on.

(This map is an excellent example of new countries coming to be.  The area that was once the former Yugoslavia became 6 separate countries and territories after the civil war that started in 1991.  These countries are Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.  The final status of Kosovo has yet to be determined as it is still under the protection of the United Nations.)

The reason I am talking about that number of countries in the world is since last Saturday when I started keeping track, people from 43 different countries have read this blog.  This reminds me of when I was a kid and I would sit around listening to my shortwave radio.  I would try and listen to radio stations from as many different countries as possible.  Back then you could write to the radio stations and tell them you heard them and they would send you a "QSL" card acknowledging that you heard them.  Of course I am not going to get anything like that from my readers from around the world, but I think it is pretty wild that people from that many countries have read the blog.  Here's the list of the countries from which people have read the blog: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico (technically part of the US!), Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Venezuela.  I know this doesn't mean anything to anyone but me, but I think it is cool so I just had to write about it!

On to the last subject of the day....  Yeah the most interesting subject of the day - "The Drawbacks of Single Life".  Why I decide to write about this subject is because I was thinking of this while I was lying in bed this morning after I woke up.  As I lay there I just thought of how different my life is as a single person from when I was married or I had a long term girlfriend.  And to be honest it sucks!

I have learned to live as a single person because I don't have a choice.  Well - I guess I do have a choice, as there are a lot of different things I could do.  But the fact is, I don't want to a lot of those things.  The thing that I miss the most being single is just the overall intimacy that I used to have with my partners.  That sense of intimacy and closeness is now gone.  There are of course different types of that intimacy.  There is the mental closeness that you feel when you have a partner and you know that you have a best friend to whom you can tell anything - you can make yourself feel utterly vulnerable in front of them and they will accept you and love you.

Then of course there is the physical intimacy - sex.  I don't think I really have to describe what it is to live without that.  As an adult who has spent the vast majority of your life either married or in long term relationships you take sex for granted and consider it part of your day-to-day life.  When that is gone it really sucks!!

There are so many other drawbacks it is silly.  I think I could create a list that is pages long but instead of doing that I will just highlight a couple other drawbacks of being single or things that at least I miss!  Whenever I host a get together of family or friends at my house I notice how hard it is to do when I am single.  I figured it out at Christmas and the reason it is so hard to do as a single person is the fact that you have to do all the work.  When you have a partner you split the work between the two of you.  It is not all in your hands to make all the food, set the table, open the wine, get everyone drinks, etc, etc, etc.  It was always so much easier to host a party or a dinner when I had a partner because you didn't have to do it all.

Over the last 2 months I have really experienced this next drawback because I have had 2 medical procedures and I have had to go to the Emergency Room.  When you get sick you have no one to rely upon who is right there besides you to help.  Yes - in all the situations where I needed help I was able to get it.  I have my brother, sister-in-law, friends and many neighbors to rely upon.  But it isn't like all you need to do is just tell your partner - "Hey I am sick take me to the ER".  I don't know I always feel weird having to call upon some one else - family, friends etc.

So there are many drawbacks to being single in my mind.  When you talk to other single friends about it they either get what I am saying or they don't.  If they have been single for a very long time to them these drawbacks don't necessarily seem like drawbacks.  Many people consider some of these "drawbacks" to be advantages.  On the other hand people who are recently single seem to get it and understand.  Many times you will get a lot of feedback that you don't need a partner.  Many of my single guy friends will ask me "why do you need to be in a relationship to have sex with some woman".  Ouch is all I can say to that one.  I don't know I am just one of those people who doesn't do well with emotionless sex.  For me the true satisfaction and enjoyment of sex comes from being able to know your partner and understand their desires and needs.  When you do a one-night stand with some one that just doesn't exist.  When all is said and done, it just feels weird and leaves you feeling really pathetic.  At least that is the way I feel.  I know for some people it is a big turn on and they just put another notch in the head board of their bed.

(Some famous artwork showing two lovers sharing a kiss.  I don't know the artist for the painting on the top but the lower painting is by Gustav Klimt.  This painting is very famous and very expressive if you ask me!)

For me the even bigger thing is the lack of mental and emotional intimacy.  Being single I really don't have anyone who I can just blab to.  I tend to like to talk a lot.  I talk about everything and anything.  Whatever comes to my mind I tend to spout out of my mouth.  Sure I can do that to some extent with friends - but it just isn't the same.  There isn't that sense of intimacy that you wake up and say good morning to the same person to whom you said good night.  When you have a partner they come to understand what you are going to blab about.  Perhaps they are blabbers too.  There is nothing better than that connectedness that occurs when you are with someone for a long time.  It is special, it is unbeatable and being without after a while sucks.

There are a lot of drawbacks to being single.  I suppose I could date a lot and just find someone to be with as I am a pretty easy to get along with person.  But that isn't what I want.  I know what I want but it may never happen.  I will keep the faith but I will continue to adapt.  I am not going to compromise on key principals, feelings and beliefs.  I will be constant and I'll get through being single and someday I will be together with the person I love.  It's worth the wait!

What do you all think of this.  I know there are a lot of other single people out there - what do you think about what I am saying?  Am I full of crap or does it have some validity?  Seriously let me know - whether you are single or involved in a relationship leave a comment and tell me what you think.  You don't have to leave your name you can leave the comment anonymously.  I'd just like to hear what other people think about all that I have spewed today.

Whew - I have covered a lot of ground with this blog entry today.  I can tell I have been typing for a while as I am sitting on my couch with the laptop on my lap and my legs are starting to fry as the laptop has been sitting on me for so long.

I really enjoyed writing this post as it covered a lot of ground and discussed stuff that was on my mind.  I might re-visit some of these subjects again as I think they are interesting.  I hope you all enjoyed what I have written and that it has provoked some of your own thoughts.

As for our day - there isn't too much to be said.  I went to Cranbrook and picked Nancy up so that she could come and watch the football games with me and also hang out with Zack.  The games were pretty good - though I didn't see the end of the NFC game.  Did some grocery shopping, made a nice meal for Zack and Nancy and then I took Nancy home to Cranbrook.  So it wasn't anything out of the ordinary but nonetheless it was a good day.

Have a great week ahead!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Oh and by the way - Happy Birthday T!  Hope you had a great day!!


Shirley Morse said...

Nobody commented? I would agree with you about the being single stuff. I'm pretty content being single most of the time, but that ache of waking up next to someone, coming home to someone, having someone to talk to, bitch to, cry to, laugh with, etc. can be a pretty large hole at times. Of course, the physical side of things is there as well, but the things I can't do --- kiss, hug, hold my own hand are the things I miss the most. The flip side, though, and you touched on it also -- it is so not worth it to be in a relationship just b/c. If I can't have a relationship as healthy, or healthier, than what I had with Jim, single life is an ok place to be. I don't want it to be the same, but I do need it to be a good connection. :)

Angie said...

As for being single, I know you are hurting from Shelly, but believe me, there are a number of people out there that have your same beliefs and standards. Just get out there and you will find them. Believe me, when Shawn (who I thought was my lifelong partner) cheated on me and left me this last year, I thought my world had ended. But I just dated around and have now found someone that who fits better with me than Shawn ever did!! But GUESS WHAT!?!?! I wouldn't have found him if I hadn't been out there having fun and going to dance lessons. Socializing with others in a group with similar interests takes the pressure off. Shelly is an idiot, as is Shawn, but guess what? You and I are GREAT people and whoever gets us is LUCKY. So find some groups to do stuff with and someone will come along! Hang in there Jerry!!