Hours before my 32nd birthday, my partner of 2.5 years proposed to me with a flashmob during an epic sunset at a resort that was built on the cliffs of Rancho Palos Verdes. It was the kind of thing that you only see in rom com's that made you watch them over and over again, not for the quality of the cinema, but for the brilliant amount of cheese, love factor, really good looking people and the clear understanding that this NEVER happens in real life.
Except when it does.
Except when you are sitting holding your 4 month old godson, waiting for this same partner to return to the chestnut colored wicker chairs that she placed on the grass overlooking the horizon, because she yet again forgot to "grab her go pro". Then as you are holding this tiny perfect human, Beyonce's "Love on top" is now playing outside and you are now seated in front of an entire dance company dancing for you. The sun is setting, your best friend has grabbed the baby from you, just for his sheer safety, because the look of shock is smeared all over your sun-kissed face.
Except when this happens.
The proposal was epic, emotional and the most stunning piece of magic I have ever witnessed. Even the movies, complete with Ashton Kutcher, Kate Hudson, Mila Kunis, Morris Chesnut and Justin Timberlake - they had nothing on what had just happened to me.
Once I came down from the illegal high (metaphorically speaking), and found my feet once again holding the weight of my body; I thought to myself, "exactly how do I describe what just happened to me on Facebook, this will never make the character cut on twitter, and what picture will accurately depict this on Instagram, will I need a filter, can this be done in Afterlight?".
I know, of all the things to be thinking about, I am thinking about social media.
Of all the things that I am feeling, I am thinking about updating my status.
You are free to think of me whatever you will.
The way I see it is this:
From the time I can remember, I have dealt with an enormous amount of adversity in my life. I am adopted. I did not know so until I was 9 years of age (my older sister told me in a heated pre-adolescent argument) and it rocked my entire core. Once I assimilated the definition of the word, I regarded myself as 'coming into this world having been returned', almost as if my birthparents were not happy with their purchase, so they put me in a bag, sans receipt and asked for store credit. From that time on, I didn't process situations easily, I was self-tormented, had awful self-esteem and always felt as if I did not fit. Figuratively and physically (as I was overweight from a young age). My teenage years were gruesome for my mother and sister, I was unpleasant to them, to say the least. Very concerned with popularity at any cost, and I am ever grateful that social media was not around when I was coming up. I could have made lives far more hellish. Needless to say, I had a huge abandonment complex and thought that people would never stay, they would never want to keep me. I thought 'Azure, keep your possessions light, you never know when you will have to move on.'
It took some time for me to realize my self-worth.
I have made progress, worked on my ability to make amends and overall have stopped blaming myself and others for their brief entrances or abrupt exits. I have found a sheer joy in loving and living in each and every moment.
When talking to my fiancee about why I felt it necessary to post about what Facebook appropriately titles a "life event", I attempted to tell her why I thought it was necessary. I said to her "you gave me magic, I have never been given magic before, you literally handed it to me...I have every intention of sharing with the entire world."
Today, we access the world through the internet, through social media.
For those of you that follow me, you know that I don't often post details about my personal life online. You will often see me posting about work, about my job as a speaker and poet. I have opened my life to a harsh world of critics and judgement, and that comes with the industry. So for that reason, I try to stay on task.
With the announcement of this event, we were flooded comments, text messages, emails and calls. All with an outpouring of congratulations and support. I was hearing from people that I hadn't spoken to since the 8th grade. It made me evaluate, think about the 3K "friends" I had on Facebook and how I was maybe connected to 600 of them, at best - maybe. This meant that details of my life, work, which for me are often intertwined, was going out to the free world based on faulty algorithms and that I was adding to the static of empty posts and meaningless status updates.
This made me feel a bit lost, like I had just attempted to whisper in the middle of Times Square to someone hard of hearing. What was the point? What was the point of announcing this to 2,400 people you don't remember meeting, 2,400 voices that you could never identify? Why share the most amazing day in your life to people who don't care to actually know you? These profiles are not friends - we have confused or lost the meaning of the world altogether. Personally, I blame myspace.
After evaluating all of this, all whilst answering congratulations and celebratory text messages, I made the decision to re-activate my Facebook Fan Page. I deactivated it 2 years ago, I found it taxing to post on my friend page and the fan page. I spent a decent amount of time trying to understand the difference and necessity of having 2 separate profiles to describe the same activities. For me, I was just dually posting to both pages and although I found my work to be interesting, I certainly did not need 4 mediums of social media to articulate that I was back at the airport and headed to Omaha and Rochester for work. It was too much. It IS too much.
Through this 'life event', through the reconnection with my childhood friends and family I am just now getting to know, I realized the personal purpose of social media, as it applies to my life. It is to SHARE personal occurrences, in a way that is instant and lasting. Whether it is a first step, promotion, new car, trip to Europe or a new health fad that you will fail at miserably. The albums and status updates are to connect us to people we may not have the time to call or won't get an opportunity to travel to where they live. Social media was not supposed to be the place where everyone filters their life to look glamorous, inciting notions of celebrity and prominence. I have to remind people that the perception that social media gives is NOT reality. We post what we WANT others to see, we pick the best photo and attempt to write a caption to match. To really know the context, you have to really KNOW the person.
I certainly cannot speak for everyone, but I have definitely experienced an elegant epiphany.
I want to make a clear distinction between the people, family and friends in my life. Ones that I can converse and celebrate with about the courses of our lives. People that will receive holiday greeting cards from us and invitations to birthdays, graduations and reunions. How could I possibly be close to 3,000 people, I can't and I am not? In the last 48 hours I have 'unfriended' 900 people, there is still work to be done. I want to be present for the people in my life, I want to be gracious to the people that have supported my career, I want to be respectful of my personal life, and the business of my family. I cannot do that without an actual filter or separation from my life and my job.
So, I have delineated - socially.
I look forward to writing this blog.
I look forward to establishing boundary, to growing my career and adhering to the needs of my family.
I raise my glass to discretion, compassion, and balance.
The first few days of 32 are hard, but handsome sweethearts, they are GREAT.