Despite What Social Media May Tell You, You Are Not About To Make A Horrible Faux Pas And Ruin Your Life Forever

What if you make a mistake, a big mistake? About parenting, religion, art, politics? What if you are inadvertently rude or just plain wrong? Politically incorrect? Socially inept? Your condolence call, your comment, your thoughts and prayers, your actions, your casserole–wrong wrong wrong. Are you about to become a friendless pariah? No.
Full disclosure: I like advice. I like giving it and I like getting it. My Eno card for the day was “Take Advice.” I felt all warm and happy. But whose advice?
My social media seems to be full of advice, but not particularly nuanced or personal. I’m plagued by the belief that there is perfect information out there–that experts know SOMETHING and I should too. But, I’m starting to have to admit, this may be fruitless.
Social media seems to include social control. Shaming. Conforming. It’s no different than a little village, a stetl. Exile means death–at least death of the social self. I hope some anthropologists are studying this.
So–here’s my advice. It is very unlikely that there is only one way to do something, whether it is clean a sink or be a friend. You are better off doing things your way than some abstract way. I’m responding to an article where the author berated herself for, gasp, sharing her own experience during a condolence call. It didn’t work well, and the author swore off narcissistic self-disclosure forever–encouraging readers to do the same. However, when I was a bereaved young widow I loved other peoples’ confessions and experiences. So sorry, one size does not fit all.
We are going to make social mistakes. My biggest–at a party many decades ago I asked an acquaintance about their family, as a form of small talk. “They are all dead,” was the response. Well, I wanted the earth to swallow me. But did I swear off inquiry or small talk? No, I did not. I eventually realized, too, that that person’s response was not the most gracious, as it punished the ignorance of a well meaning stranger.
Social media can function as a village in a negative way. It can try to enforce norms–maybe norms you never signed up for. To engage with others is to take a chance, to suffer at times, but I hope, worth it in the long run. Otherwise, contemporary life is no different than The Pale my grandparents ran from.

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About Miriam Sagan

I'm blogging about poetry, land art, haiku, women artists, road trips, and Baba Yaga at Miriam's Well ( The well is ALWAYS looking to publish poetry on our themes, sudden fiction, and guest bloggers and musers.

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