Last Friday morning my kindergartener was home sick from school. Exhausted from being up with him for much of the night, and emotional from a rough and trying week, I sat at the dining room table trying to work as tears slipped down my face and splashed onto my laptop keyboard.
“Why are you crying, mom?” He asked.
I didn’t have an answer for him. Not one that he could understand.
You see, I was crying because of Facebook. In particular a rancorous political exchange with immediate family members over something I’d posted on Facebook which to me seemed, at the time, not so controversial.
But these days, everything is a potential flash point.
So I was crying.
Because I am a website editor who manages a Facebook page for a living, full time, being on Facebook for me is an occupational hazard. And even if I am not posting “controversial” things about politics, I am seeing them, and seeing the fighting and the meanness, all the time. Everywhere. It’s unavoidable, and it’s led me to take rather large Facebook breaks on the weekends.
As I sat there in a silly, teary mess that morning, a thought hit me like a lightning bolt. I remembered a Facebook post I saw on Inauguration Day, among the vitriol and the rants, the jubilation and the gloating, that reminded me that I really should not be crying over politics on Facebook.
It was a friend’s husband who posted, “Rest in peace, Mama. Hug my baby for me.”
He had just lost his mother, and he was asking that she hug his newborn son who died shortly after birth, who would be about 17 months old now, in heaven.
He wasn’t worried about politics. He was grieving for his mama, and his baby boy.
Soon, another post came to mind: this one from a dear friend who is raising funds for a kid on her son’s football team—a fifth grader—who just had a very large portion of his brain removed because of a large tumor and is fighting for his life. His parents aren’t freaking about executive orders or senate confirmation hearings. They are praying, hoping, and scrambling to have every minute they can with their child.
A couple of days later, I saw a Facebook post from a friend announcing that her 40-year-old non-smoker husband has lung cancer. With his surgery to have part of his lung removed just two days away, she’s not fretting about who marched where for what reason and who sat at home or why.
I thought about all of this as I wiped my foolish tears. I know that at the end of a better week, I would not have broken down. But still, I was ashamed that I did. I looked across the table at the sweet son who was so concerned about me. Home from school with a 100 degree fever, but otherwise in perfect health. His brother and sister were safe and sound at school, my healthy husband hard at work providing for our family.
Expressing my political opinions and getting annoyed about or even hurt by the content and attitudes on Facebook? That’s a luxury. My mind is not worried about hospital bills, chemo, or funeral plans. Maybe things are a little cray cray online, but the real life right in front of me is pretty darn great. So whenever I can, I am going to close the laptop, put down the smart phone, and revel in ANOTHER luxury I am so privileged to have—my family’s presence.
Let’s all try it! I’m guessing it’s gonna be pretty great.