How Do You Relate?

I have been observing social behaviors lately. And it’s gotten me thinking. In this day and age of “reality” TV, new media, and online platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, boundaries have become increasingly vague on how we interact with each other as human beings and how we present ourselves. I think there is such a thing as “Too Much Information”. It has also been breeding a new mentality of “Me, Me, Me, Give Me, Give Me, I Need, I Need”.

If you know me personally, you know that I am not prude by any means. We are human and less than perfect. However, there are things that I keep to myself. There are things that NOBODY wants to see if they don’t have to.  Where do you draw that line? How do you relate? What do you present?

For instance, have you ever been talking to somebody, and mid-sentence-as you are talking about your take on a movie you just saw – the person starts picking their nose. I don’t mean a light pinch because something tickled them, I mean FULL ON digging in the nostril. It’s so f***ing awkward. How are you supposed to respond to that? Do you ask them, “Hey, did you get that elusive booger?” or “Do you need to go get a kleenex and wash your hands?”. The even more awkward moment (as if it couldn’t be awkward enough) the person wants to shake your hand, or give you a hug goodbye, or even reach out and touch you to make a point about something they are saying. EWWWWWW. I don’t want you to TOUCH me after you just dug all that shit out of your nose! What makes you think I would even want you to????

Here are some more gems:

You wanna know why swine-flu is being passed around? Because people won’t COVER THEIR MOUTHS WHEN THEY COUGH or SNEEZE. I don’t want your germs. Don’t sit next to me and then fail to cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze. What is wrong with you?? Whether you think you are sick or not,  I don’t want to feel the spray of your saliva as I am sitting next to or across from you. COVER YOUR DAMN MOUTH!!!!

Then there’s the dining conundrum: chewing with your mouth open. On top of that? Trying to talk with food in your mouth!!! You should take a bite that is small enough to chew with your mouth closed, nobody wants to see what you’re chewing, nor does anybody want to HEAR the sound of you smacking your food.  It’s gross.

Another personal fave: adjusting your underwear/thong in public. Yes we all know that it goes up your ass. That’s what a thong does! Why the f*** are you wearing one if you don’t want underwear up your ass? I don’t want to see your hands down your pants, digging in your crack, trying to dislodge your thong. And don’t try to touch me after your done doing that either!

There’s more. But I am going to stop here. Otherwise this blog will rival “War and Peace” and that will just get awkward.

Next I could comment on general common courtesy. For instance, when you are out running your errands or just spending time in public spaces, people seem oblivious to those around them. There is no sense of personal responsibility to contribute to a pleasant public environment.  There seems to be this lack of thought, courtesy, and manners. Now I could run through a whole host of things that people are rude about in this day and age. But we all have those complaints, we all know when they are. I am going to refrain here because I don’t think I need to re-iterate points that are probably posted in many blogs throughout the world.

Moving on to: Life online. I guess sitting in front of a computer screen gives you license to speak in ways that you wouldn’t normally speak in the real world. Apparently you don’t have to know how to spell, nor do you have to use good punctuation.  Amazingly enough, you don’t have to be nice or respectful either. You can insult, yell, talk smack and send inappropriate messages to people. All under the guise of a fake name that doesn’t reveal your identity. I feel if you are going to say something, have the balls to own up to what you are saying and be held accountable for it. If it’s not something you would normally say in your “real” life, what are you doing saying it on a computer? It’s time to look inward and investigate whether you have control issues.

But there is also some very passive-aggressive behavior that happens too.

You can “lurk” online. Which means you can observe people without them knowing, and engage in crossing inappropriate boundaries such as adding friends and family of your ex in hopes to somehow stay in their life instead of just letting go. And then if your ex stops talking to you, you can email their friends and family asking “Why?” instead of speaking to your ex directly.  All from the protective shield of sitting in your home in front of your computer screen.

Another fun one: Someone can comment on every picture and every status update, to the point that your friends assume this person must be your new love interest.  Then the comments start getting bossier. The person can “butt” into every conversation you have because they now feel like they “know you so well” and start addressing your friends instead of you.  Nobody questions it. Pretty soon you can’t say ANYTHING without being topped by this person.  Then your real friends stop commenting because they don’t feel comfortable anymore. They can’t have a quality experience on your page because of this person.

My favorite though is when somebody starts drinking and then logs into Facebook. Oy. You don’t even have to go to a bar anymore. You can be on the receiving end of blatantly uncomfortable inside jokes, comments, drunken “PM’s” and all sorts of inappropriate behavior, all in the comfort of your own home.

Wow. How the world has changed.  It’s enough to make you start “de-friending” them but then you have to deal with the fall out. Of course you can adjust privacy settings or block someone. But you think they don’t notice? You think there will be no drama? Think again. The online flame wars commence. (Really? How old are we now?)  Then in a fit of temper you close everything. And then you realize there were people that you actually wanted to keep in touch with, so you take it all back.  And you do your best to manage. Lesson here: be sure you are not one of “those” people I have described above. If you are, get a therapist and change it up for the love of all that’s holy!!

And what is up with posting every single thing you do and everywhere you are going down to the minute details of : “I am at the store buying TP.”  What makes you think people need to know that? Are we so insecure in our daily lives that we think nobody cares about us? Are we trying to garner love through our status updates? What has happened to our sense of belonging and community? Since we don’t run into anybody we know in the store anymore, do we feel the need to announce it to feel less lonely?

While I do maintain a Twitter account and Facebook account, I keep my status updates vague. And should I choose to share where I am, it’s usually something that is common knowledge and I adjust privacy settings. I refuse to turn on the “Location Feature” of any of these. I don’t want people knowing where I am every minute of the day. Nobody needs to know where I am 24/7.  I don’t need to “Check-in” anywhere unless it’s beautiful hotel in Hawaii.  What gets me, is the reaction of those engaging in such an open display of their lives. Should you choose to utilize these features, don’t be surprised when that awkward moment with your ex happens because they knew where to “happen” to show up. Or your boss fires you because you called in with “the Plague” on a day of deal-breaker meetings and general busy hub-bub, but then tweeted that you are having a blast at the Coldplay concert at Stonehenge.  What were you expecting to happen?

Since I refuse to partake in any of the revealing aspects of these sites, I have been left to wonder, what am I doing on networking sites then? Lately, I have been toying with the idea of taking a hiatus from these online networking environments. I have completely cleaned my Facebook page and have really not participated as much as I used to.  I don’t do apps or games. I use it to interact with others though.  But I am not sure what value it is adding to my life at this point. When I figure that out, maybe I can come up with an alternative. Who knows.  I find it’s bit overwhelming to process the information of so many people all at once.

With any evolution of culture, we venture into new territory. I feel we have almost evolved so fast, we have blurred the lines of being “human” and being appropriate. We haven’t learned how to adjust yet. Just because bad behavior sells on so-called reality shows, does that mean we should engage in said bad behavior in our real life?  Just because we can engage in sketchy scenarios on the internet, does that mean we should?  Does everybody really need to know where everybody else is, what they are doing, what they are thinking etc….?  What’s the line between being human, maintaining appropriate boundaries and asking for love and companionship of our friends and family online?

As with everything, it all probably boils down to personal choice.  But when you are out in about in the world, on or off line, it’s worth taking an inward look to see how you are presenting yourself. Is that how you want to be known?  Is that what you want to be remembered for? Are you being authentic to your spiritual growth in this life?

I’m just sayin’………

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