Social Media and Its Unexpected Surprises

A total folly post; if you’re looking for health/fitness/exercise physiology, go read my other stuff!

My wife and I have discussed out social media allows us to constantly judge others without waiting around for the high school reunion. Some of this is merely confirmation bias: yes, that asshole from high school still dresses like he’s hardcore even though he grew up in a low-crime, high-GDP community. You were right all along! Big back pat for being accurate in you judgy judgement!

But this isn’t about that; this is about all of the people who I was absolutely wrong about. How people I was sure I had pegged when I “knew everything” continue to enrapture me in the unfolding of their life. Even if social media is a neatly manicured lawn that hides a messy, messy house, you can still be surprised by the glimpses through the front door and windows that you occasionally get.

For example, a girl I went to high school with, the most supremely talented artist in our class, still makes amazing art. That was a judgement confirmed (INTERNET HIGH FIVE FOR ME!). However, she was, and is, extremely devout. My youthful militant atheist high-offensive push-backs against faith, and all of the the negatives it represents, bled over into things like the culture between her four walls. I expected faithful hand-raising rock and instead see her writing about listening to Macklemore with her son. I see hip clothing, stylish haircuts, language and thoughts that I would have never guessed from such a “devout” person. I put devout in quotes because it wasn’t her definition of being devout that I had judged her on; it was my own.  A judgement of an impression formed in an imperfect moment, in an imperfect class, in a perfectly imperfect time of our lives set the stage for any other judgement I may have had about her in any other imperfect setting, namely a high school reunion. If I forget that she believes in god (whatever that means [not being antagonistic; not everyone believes the same, even if they use the same language in an attempt to describe that belief]), our lives and attitudes bear a striking resemblance. And her son is adorable as is her newborn girl.

So for all of its warts (the time suck, manicured-image, lonelier-the-more-friends-you-have nature of it), sometimes social media can surprise you if you let it. For this I am thankful.