I’ve recently decided that my spirit animal is Jim Halpert from The Office. For those of you that don’t know the show (bless your heart) or his character, he is cast as the average, no-nonsense, logical office worker in a sea of totally insane, highly dramatic and absurd office mates. The show was created to seem as though a film crew is actually filming life in “an office.” As a result, Jim is constantly looking directly up into the camera with a dead stare of “is this really happening?” to make sure someone else is recognizing the absurdity surrounding him. The “Jim glance,” as like to call it, is used to validate the craziness that is his life.
Now, I am definitely not one you would describe as no-nonsense or logical (especially before my morning coffee), but I feel the need to “Jim glance” at least 10 times a day. It seems that number has sky-rocketed this summer. As a stay-at-home-mom to now three children under six, the “Jim glance” makes me feel like someone else is witnessing this monstrosity of offspring mess surrounding me all day. I just want someone else to see what I have to deal with every day. Don’t we all? After all, validation is the way to a mom’s heart.
I recently realized I often use Facebook for the same reason. Sometimes intentionally, other times not. But sharing about my daily life is just a way of communicating with my tribe about what I’m actually dealing with at home. Plus, it’s cathartic. Being at home all day with three total nuts for children can make me feel a little crazy, and there’s nothing like opening Facebook to read a friend’s comment of “OMG! We’re living totally parallel lives!” from my mom friend(s) to make me feel a little bit better in that moment. Perhaps that seems shallow, but for me, it’s not.
In 2017, Facebook is a funny bird. I feel like most of us have a love/hate relationship with it now. We have friends who are die-hards and won’t give it up, those who think only cool people Insta (and don’t even use the full name), and the Tweeters. We post for all kinds of reasons, and we complain about the privacy (or lack thereof), the hacks, and the addiction to technology. Yet, we keep posting. Some of my friends have quit and instead opened up an Instagram account, citing privacy concerns. Fine, but the truth is, they use it for the same reasons. But, I have to stop and defend my use of Facebook: to myself, to the world, I don’t know to whom, really—it just feels as though it needs defending.
The other day I was rocking my three-month-old to sleep while my two older kiddos watched yet another episode of The Lion Guard, because that is obviously the best way I can think of for them to learn about the African Pride Lands. Anyway, I successfully put the baby down for a nap and came out to find my three-year-old “painting” the powder bathroom with toilet water using a toilet brush. I did the only sane thing I could think of and grabbed a camera, snapped a picture, and posted that mess up on Facebook. It made several people’s day, and the comments helped me laugh through the chaos. I truly find it fun to share these crazy parenting moments with my friends, and I’ve been told it is appreciated.
In addition, it helps me feel connected. I learn about current events and share the joys and sorrows with my tribe, all through the Internet. Some people seem to think it’s not an appropriate line of communication, but as a communication theorist, I disagree. It all depends on how it’s used.
For me, Facebook provides me access to information and people to whom I wouldn’t otherwise have on a daily basis. I engage in conversations with people from my past and my present in very different ways, depending on how I know them. What’s wrong with that? For me, not a darn thing. For moms, I think it’s important. Picking up the phone is a giant joke of an idea with three kids; texting is fine, but it doesn’t give me the visuals that I prefer while communicating; and some of my friends live thousands of miles away, so meeting for coffee isn’t an option.
So, for all the reasons people have quit Facebook, I continue to use it. I think I’m careful (there are always precautions to take), and I really love it. I see the benefit of sharing parts of my world with my chosen group of people, and I have no plans to stop. Plus, how can you Jim Halpert your day without the appropriate GIFS? Y’all, remember that toilet-painting moment? I “Jim glanced” the poop out of that moment. Pun intended.