Facebook Interactions Indicate Plea for Understanding, Acceptance

BE A RAINBOWIn a presentation on social media I heard recently, the speaker theorized that Facebook interactions — particularly liking and sharing quotes and photos — indicate an internal (and sometimes unknowing) need for social status. When he made the statement, my face scrunched up in consideration. His theory was based on survival programming going all the way back to when humans roamed and foraged for food and shelter and competed for mates in order to reproduce. Still, as I tried to get my head around his argument, I resisted. I considered my interactions and the social media behavior of others I know well. Finally I concluded that, while some people are aiming for social status — marketers building a brand — most Facebook interactions are about the desire to be understood and accepted. Liking and sharing is essentially an action that broadcasts to the world, “Here! This is me. Please read so you can know me better!”

When I share content it almost always falls into one of two categories: humor or inspiration — either of which may be sprinkled with dogs in bow ties or cats in ridiculous poses. Social media allows me, through liking and sharing, to tell everyone that I love to laugh. Because I am also an introvert and somewhat shy when first getting to know people, my sense of humor can go undetected. Humor is a way I can connect easily with others. Not only do I love to laugh, but I want to interact with others whose funny bone resonates with mine.

My Facebook activity also indicates my positive outlook on life and my desire to encourage others to live joyfully. If I were to make an album of all of my shares, someone who didn’t know me could easily surmise that I’m a perfect face for this quote by Maya Angelou:

I have a feeling that I make a very good friend, and I’m a good mother, and a good sister, and a good citizen. I am involved in life itself – all of it. And I have a lot of energy and a lot of nerve.

Which brings me to another point made in the social media presentation: the most oft shared content is an emotionally charged photo combined with a positive quote — preferably by a famous person. When I reviewed my timeline and noted my shares, I realized yet again that I don’t fit the social status profile. Clearly, I’m doing Facebook all wrong.

While I do share lots of quotes, they are not typically attributed to anyone famous. The last quote I shared by a famous person was nine months ago when I posted “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” — Charlie Chaplin. The quote wasn’t attached to any emotionally stimulating photo, but the words were set across a solid persimmon background.

I’m better at sharing non-attributed quotes like:

“Life is better when you’re laughing.”

“Everything is made in China. Except for babies. They’re made in VaChina.”

And the one I posted just for Thanksgiving:

“This year, let us give thanks for the existence of stretch pants.”

Truth is, I really need to understand and leverage Facebook to build my author platform. The social media presentation I heard was impressive, in spite of the fact I didn’t agree with the basic theory of why. But, I insist on some amount of separation. On my personal account, I will continue to share what screams, “Yep, this is me! Aren’t I funny? Don’t I inspire you? Aren’t you glad we are friends?” As for my author page, now that I’m armed with a better understanding of what drives interaction, I’m going to implement a few changes. If people want famous quotes, I can’t think of a better person to start with than Maya Angelou.

In honor of this amazing woman and the powerful words she shared with the world, here are five of my favorite Maya quotes.

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels.

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.

Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it.

I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

And, because an authority told me posting photos and famous quotes would engage your participation, I’m expecting all of you to click right over to my Facebook page to like and share!

Parents Beware Latest Childhood Myth: The Doughnut Fairy

Doughnut Creative CFrom the series: Life on Dog Hill

My twelve-year-old son Ryan lost his last baby tooth a couple of days ago. I was out at the time and didn’t get home until after he was in bed, but he remembered to tell me the next morning. He had the tooth in a sandwich bag, which he dangled in front of my face before I’d even had my first cup of coffee. Ewww.

“So, what can I get for this I wonder?” he asked, cutting his eyes up at me for a reaction.

“Hmmm, I don’t know,” I responded. “It’s got a silver cap.”

“Those should be worth more,” he added quickly. “You know, silver and gold….”

Truth is, I was never a good tooth fairy. I never stayed awake long enough to safely slip into the kids’ rooms unnoticed. Without fail, the following morning I would always forget to collect the tooth and deposit the money while they were still sleeping. Poor little Ryan was no exception. I can’t even count the number of times I would remember while he was eating breakfast to rush upstairs, grab the tooth, and put a buck or two under his pillow.

“That’s funny,” he said after one such occasion. “When I woke up, nothing was here. I eat breakfast and the tooth fairy comes. How exactly does that work?”

“Even Ms. Tooth Fairy can run late you know,” I replied in all honesty. “Now hurry up and brush your teeth. You don’t want to miss the bus.”

The whole tooth fairy concept came to a traumatic crossroads when I was out of town on business and hubby called to tell me Ryan needed a button for a school project.

“Put him on the phone,” I said. “I’ll tell him exactly where to look.”

I directed Ryan right to the covered dish in my closet where I kept extra buttons. What I forgot at the time was that particular dish also contained several sets of baby teeth.

“MOM!” he practically screamed in my ear. “Why do you have all these teeth in here?”

I visualized him holding up the little bags to read the name identifying whose mouth it once belonged.

Another example of Tooth Fairy FAIL.

Realizing my blunder, I felt somehow relieved to think my tooth fairy days were finally over. This was obviously the time to come clean and tell Ryan the truth. Maybe I could clear up details about the Easter Bunny too. And Santa, of course. I took a deep breath and began…

“Well, Ms. Tooth Fairy has to carry a lot of teeth around and they get pretty heavy,” I offered. “Besides I like to save special momentos from your childhood, so I told her I’d like to keep your teeth. After she picks them up from you, she slips them under my pillow.”

Where did THAT come from, I asked myself in disbelief. It goes without saying that I’m not very good at revealing the truth behind popular childhood myths. One more year, I thought.

Ryan is a smart kid. He’s smart enough to know that if he plays along with Mom, he’ll get money under his pillow. He accepted my lame response and changed the subject.

Still, the tooth fairy adventure was down hill from there. After several Tooth Fairy no-shows, Ryan suggested the Doughnut Fairy instead. Essentially, whenever an unreliable fantasy gift-giving character falls down on the job, the Doughnut Fairy whispers in Ryan’s ear that hot doughnuts from the Krispy Kreme three miles down the road would be an appropriate substitute. I’ve made quite a few trips, needless to say.

I’m not sure what Ryan expects for his last baby tooth. He packaged it up nicely and turned it over to me for safekeeping. However, since the Easter Bunny got lost last Sunday on his way to Dog Hill, even Ryan knows two dozen doughnuts in one week is unacceptable. For the moment all is quiet, but I know that damned Doughnut Fairy is hovering nearby. I imagine that, until Ryan collects on his last baby tooth, it’s drawing interest, too. Lots of interest….

Photo Credit 

This Trick for Living Longer Will Crack You Up

laughter-infographicFrom the series: Life on Dog Hill

One of my sons recently informed me that he sees a female gynecologist when he’s not feeling well. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. A belly-ripping laugh that, undoubtedly, added at least a week to my life.

Wait, are you scowling?

It just so happened that last semester after my son battled chronic cough, sore throat, and a multitude of other things he finally made an appointment to see a doctor at the campus clinic. He liked the doctor he saw and soon began feeling better. But when his symptoms returned a month later, he called to make an appointment and learned that the doctor he liked so much was a “woman’s doctor.”

“Can I make an appointment with her anyway?” my son asked, indifferent to the GYN designation.

“Uh, I guess so,” came the hesitant response from the man on the other end of the line.

During his next appointment, he explained that he didn’t want to jump from physician to physician and asked if it was okay to make appointments with her even though she was a gynecologist. Much to his relief, she told him not to worry. And that’s how my son came to have a gynecologist as his physician.

Here’s the problem. People get so bent out of shape when things don’t sound “right.” They fidget and become uncomfortable. Clearly they have NO sense of humor, which, of course, is too darn bad. My son has reported some rather awkward reactions when people hear that his regular school doctor is a gynecologist.

As for me, I laugh often and believe that laughter only adds to my sense of joyful living. In fact, there’s lots of data to suggest that laughing not only makes you healthier, it also contributes to a longer life.

Here’s my Google proof:

Screenshot 2014-02-18 17.22.27

As you can see from the screen shot, I didn’t even have to finish typing the word before the results popped up. Health benefits from laughing include:

• lowers stress and blood pressure
• oxygenates the brain creating alertness and energy
• enhances immune system
• releases endorphins in the brain for better mood

One of the best Ted Talks I’ve seen initially had me skeptical. Presented by video gamer Jane McGonigal, she promised listeners she could add ten years to their lives. In fact, she claimed that just listening to her 19:30 minute talk would add seven and a half minutes to listeners’ lives. I highly recommend tuning in for her talk and not just for the increased life span. Ms. McGonigal makes a very convincing argument for not taking life so seriously and the importance of playing, laughing, and finding what makes you happy.

Not convinced? Did you know that in 1995 Dr Madan Kataria started what he called “laughter yoga” in India consisting of gentle yoga breathing, stretching, and simulated unconditional laughter. What happens is that simulated group laughter becomes genuine; how can it not given how silly everyone must look! Since its inception, laughter yoga has become an international tee-hee with free laughing groups popping up all over the world.

At the Laughter Yoga website, you can find laughing groups near you. And, if there isn’t one they tell you how to start one! I was quite surprised to find two groups near my home. Fortunately for me, I already know how to laugh — even when the circumstances may call for more decorum.

Additional Laughter Resources:

Give Your Body a Boost: With Laughter (from WebMd)

Stress Relief from Laughter: It’s No Joke! (from the Mayo Clinic)

Header image found here.