We’ve all met the socially inappropriate party guest in our travels—you know, the kind who doesn’t know when to stop talking or how to have a back-and-forth (non-monologue-esque) sort of exchange with another human being, but seamlessly moves from one self-related topic to the next without so much as a glance at their audience or a pause for breath. I muse at individuals like this and think of them as boundary-less wanderers-into-social-contexts. Usually, I smile along, nod and uh-huh my way through our encounters, rationalizing that they are lonely, learning , and/or a bit narcissistic.
And the more self-aware I grow as a human being, the more I notice my own loneliness, learning-curve, and narcissism (HEY—look at me! I have a BLOG!). And while I’d loathe the day I find myself the socially inappropriate party guest, a boundary-less, discomfort-causer to people I care about and truly want to know, there’s a piece of me that wants to put myself all out there—my thoughts, obsessions, the contents of daydreams and nightmares, the things my children say that I find oh-so-terribly quaint/funny/ironic, the lack of sleep last night, the Tiny’s first smile, the pictures of bath time and birthday parties. Some days this leads me to worry I have the Michael Scott (see The Office) brand of narcissism. Other days I tell myself that I’m an entertainer/writer/wannabe stand-up comic—and don’t they all need an audience?
I’ll admit with reluctance, sincerity, and risk to my oh-so-carefully constructed social persona that this is one of the reasons I love Facebook. It’s the socially appropriate way to be socially inappropriate (of course, there are limits). The ultimate dinner party, Facebook allows you to invite 549 friends to your house and interject over the dinner conversation seemingly random statements such as “Lawnmower broke. Neighbors unhappy,” or produce a picture of yourself in a headscarf with the caption, “For Phil. The Mennonite Look.” While most of your 549 guests will just ignore you, chances are one or five or twelve are gonna LOL or LIKE or comment that you look great in a kerchief, like you’re 18 again, or they’ll praise the good looks of the fruit of your loins, which really means, on some level, they’re saying you look like a supermodel. –Right?
Narcissism aside, I don’t know how I survived having my first child. There was no Facebook. No smart phone with which to tap away at while breastfeeding. I had to—eek—call a friend or—eek—schedule a playdate if I wanted to network socially. FB, myspace, instant chat, tweeting and text messaging get a bad rap from social critics who say we use them too often and in lieu of face-time. I see their point, and I agree. But something has to be better than nothing, and some days the online social networking is all we’ve got in an increasingly work-from-home/work-at-home/work-in-the-tiny-cell-that-is-your-cubicle kind of world.
Social networking=social affirmation: I updated my status. Therefore, I am.