5 Unintended Consequences of Facebook

Unintended Facebook

The downside of social networking

Has this ever happened to you?

You glance down at your email and see a “friend request” from Facebook. You think to yourself, “that’s nice, someone wants to be my friend.”

Upon further inspection, you see a name that you’d long ago forgotten about, thanks to time and its magical erasing qualities. All the healing of old wounds and so forth.

But now here is this interloper in present day, and although ignoring it (path of least resistance) or declining it (active HELLS TO THE NO) are both viable options, the poke is there, and it’s a painful jab in the virtual ribs for old times’ sake.

While Facebook and all social media are amazing in many ways — for me, 99% of the connections I’ve been happy for, rekindling old friendships in a positive, fun, and even Zen way — there are the those sticky situations that can lodge in your craw and make you wish you could log off and hide under a rock until the next millennium.

Unintended Consequence #1: Facebook, which was meant to be a fun and instantaneous way to socially network in the present, can also be a painful way to reopen some formerly closed channels of the past.

This may seem like a dramatic response, but this most recent uninvited “friend” brought back a lot of uncomfortable memories from childhood. It wasn’t an ex, but it was a person who had a domineering presence tinged with unacceptable overtones that even as a kid I knew enough to feel queasy about. This person was never my friend, nor would he be someone I’d ever want contact with as an adult.

And although DECLINE was the clear action, the uneasy feeling of invaded privacy lingers.

That said, who the hell am I kidding? I’m a blogger that rants about my private life (as I am doing RIGHT THIS MINUTE for you lovers of existential crisis and other virtual reindeer games), and I am active on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter; yutz around on Pinterest; have a little dalliance with Tumblr going; and my privacy settings are set, but not often reviewed even as the algorithms change constantly. This from a person who has a BBF journalist that has literally interviewed more hackers than anyone else, and he was told by one of his interviewees “Facebook is gold for hackers.”

Unintended Consequence #2: Taking the “ignorance is bliss” route as you navigate public spaces is the surest road to bummer city.

Still, choosing to be involved with social media isn’t an open invitation for weirdness. And this wasn’t the first time I’ve encountered this scenario.

There was the woman who played an instrumental role in breaking up a close, real-life friendship I had. While her words and manipulations weren’t the entire reason things fell apart — there was plenty on my end that I took responsibility for, and equally as much from my ex-BBF — she was happy to fan the flames in a Mommy Mean Girl sitch that to this day makes my stomach hurt if I think too much about it. I put her on “ignore,” so periodically the friend request resurfaces. I think I take some kind of perverse delight in not letting her in without actively kicking her out, if that makes sense. Just an echo of the games people play when they want to be passive aggressive douchebags.

Unintended Consequence #3: I’m a passive aggressive douchebag, albeit virtually so.

Then there was the teacher who reconnected with me through an online alumni group, and proceeded to ask me if I was “still as pretty as I was in high school” and if my marriage was a happy one. While I could’ve easily shrugged off this line of questioning as the flirty musings of a man who nowadays was probably the same age as many of my friends and colleagues (since he was likely in his mid-20s when I was 18), instead it brought back a flood of memories of me feeling as if he liked me a little more than normal and necessary in a student-teacher dynamic. Having that old inkling confirmed made me first uncomfortable, then swiftly thereafter totally pissed. Nothing more disgusting than a decades-old, cold plate of lechery zapped by social media and served up hot ‘n fresh as if it would be more appetizing in the present day.

Unintended Consequence #4: Social Media boundaries can feel as flimsy as the loosely arranged string of pixels that they are.

As much “fun” as it is to point fingers at others, my own behavior on social media occasionally gives me pause. I wonder if I should “like” a photo of an ex, worry about saying stupid shit on comments, or even spend too much damn time studying other people’s lives like a voyeur. Once upon a time the past stayed where it was unless we very actively pursued rekindling old connections. Today we passively have insight into people we once knew when, and make assumptions about their adult lives based on food choices, drink choices, offspring, and other benign, yet ultimately intimate and possibly telling details.

Unintended Consequence #5: We social media addicts are all essentially creepy stalkers.

The question is, then, why do I — WE — feel so compelled to interact on Facebook and other social media if we know it is fraught with so damn many pitfalls? The answer, I think, is that it’s human nature to want to be connected with others. We want to be “liked,” and to know that out there in the big, scary world we have a friend… or two…. or 562.

So if you see me sending you a friend request, just know that despite the fact that I am an ignorant, passive aggressive douchebag that lacks boundaries and is essentially a stalker, I only ask if you are someone I really want to be connected to. And if we can’t meet face-to-face, well then, maybe Facebook really is the next best thing. (Or is it….?!)


Confessions of a Control Freak

The only control your kids really respond to

The only control your kids really respond to

“Stay in control!”

These three little words are the basis of so many things: song lyrics, workouts, party etiquette… and parenting.

And being a modern day mom or dad means that control is literally at your fingertips — you can activate “parental controls” on televisions and video game players, track your kid on your smartphone, and/or hop online to virtually see your everything your child is up to, including the grade on the test s/he took five minutes ago, his/her social media accounts, and even his/her emails and texts, too. (The latter is for only the most domineering among us… or concerned… two sides of the same coin… or at least that’s what we tell ourselves.)

I submit that being a control freak is pretty endemic to GenXers and also the youngest Boomers. We want our homes in order, our pantries stocked with nutritious/organic/non-GMO foods, our kids to participate in all the activities necessary to be healthy, well-rounded, and college-desirable… we push and pull and manipulate and demand, because that is how we spinners of the 24/7 gerbil wheel keep the home fires roaring in a PC and socially acceptable way.

For me, the seeds of control freakishness were planted when I popped the first kid out. The pediatrician told me to keep a little log of how often my son peed and pooped, and I did so obsessively… for weeks. I then started drawing correlations between how often and when he ate as to what to expect for output. When I saw my doc again, she told me that she only wanted to see that things were “normal” for a few days and that my work on the chart was waaay done.

And so I did what any “normal” budding control freak would do: I kept going for at least a month more, just to be sure.

Lucky for my son, after three months I went back to work and at that point had to relinquish control first to my husband, who was working from home then, and soon thereafter to a nanny. Another six months later, and I was hearing from my mommy group friends that there was a great music class for babies, and why wasn’t my son in attendance?

When I asked my nanny if she would consider taking him, she burst into a wide grin. “I’ve been waiting for months now for you to tell me what you wanted me to do with him!” she exclaimed.

I was shocked. She had raised three of her own kids and was a nanny for countless others, so why would I know any better than she?

The answer of course was that if you are truly in control, you assert your will whether or not you know what the hell you’re actually doing.

And so that was the “Mother knows best” wake-up call. Since then, the idea of orchestrating every scrap of every day has become habitual. Well, maybe even one step beyond that — it’s become a smothering blanket of comfort that tells me my precious will always be safe as long as everything unfolds exactly as I’ve planned it.

This is relatively easy to do when the kids are young, as even if they have their own phones, you drive the party bus out of the station each and every day.

Once the young’uns can do their own driving, all bets are off. Or at least many bets are off. Even though you can track them like lab rats with your tiny hand-held device, they are off and running and try as you may, you really don’t know every little move they make.

In my heart, I know this to be a good thing. Technology is a double-edged sword, and sometimes knowing too much is, well, too much. Plus having confidence that you’ve prepared your child well for driving and other big leaps to independence and self-reliance is one more way you can have a major say in how the whole shebang pans out. (I look to this excellent post by my BBF Jessica Gottlieb on launching a new driver for guidance.)

See how that control thing keeps rolling on? Even when it’s just a facade, you can still think you have it!

In the meantime, though, the process of relinquishing your power is a very active exercise. Take this past weekend, for example. My son was away on a three-day long retreat for a YMCA program he does. Despite our cellular umbilical cord, his end remained set to silent the entire time.

Back in ye olde daze when there was no such things as cell phones, teens would go away for weekends and parents wouldn’t know a damn thing until the kid was picked up at a predestinated place. Even then, there would be maybe only a few grunts of description with nary an emoticon to cue whether or not the time away was great or a bust.

I thought about that all weekend long as I physically stopped myself at least a dozen times from texting my son to see how he was doing.

This is something I believe is called self-control.

It sucks.

And so instead of pouring my energy into the futile mission of trying to control something uncontrollable, I instead went into an OCD of cleaning tailspin. I organized canned goods by theme (i.e., peanut and almond butters with jelly, assorted beans in a color-coded array, etc.), cleaned out spice racks, made homemade lentil soup, folded laundry, organized bathroom cabinets, and generally foisted my “love” onto intimate objects that I fantasized would text me thank you notes for paying such nice attention to them… if only they could.

It was time consuming, exhausting, and ultimately a decent distraction until the time when I could pop his bus’s whereabouts into Waze so I could follow his arrival time to the minute. Something that I couldn’t control, though, was that he got back in the middle of a workday for me, so my husband did the honors of receiving the child back into the fold.

Hours later I arrived home and as I opened the door to see my family in their normal positions (guys on the couch watching sports, daughter in her room liking up a storm on Instagram, bitch on her dog bed, watching the inside of her eyeballs), I realized that the only thing out of control all weekend was me.

Things play out the way they do thanks to destiny, luck, or some other force in the Universe, but even the best-laid plans aren’t a guarantee.

Plus it’s true what Richard Bach said: “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.” (Jonathan Livingston Seagull wisdom, along with the “Love Is” people, were my bathroom reading in my formative years.)

So if you see me hanging out with a chatty ass seagull, just know that I’m trying to loosen my grip and let the freak go. After all, the only person you can honestly exert control over is yourself.

7 Ways to Bring Your Sexy Back

Don't be surprised if nobody finds your PJs sexy

Don’t be surprised if nobody finds your PJs sexy

The trouble started at the annual Victoria’s Secret post-holiday sale.

You might think that I was there to buy some sexy lingerie, a hot push-up bra, or perhaps a pair of crotch-questionable panties. To be honest, it actually was not that specific… just a feeling that I could use a little sprucing up in the new year.

While I did browse the butt-string and the sequined panties and the lacy nothings, in the end I decided that my long days of spinning the gerbil wheel would be more comfortable in some plain cotton undies, which not surprisingly wasn’t so much in the VS wheelhouse.

This was the first clue that I desperately need to bring sexy back.

The second indication is what I did walk out of Victoria’s Secret with: a super cuddly pair of flannel men’s pajamas.

When I modeled them for my husband, he said just this: “Luuuucy, I’m home!” And then he also muttered something about me being a “Mertz” just in case I didn’t catch the reference.

Later that night as I binge-watched my latest obsession, Orphan Black, the Universe sent me the third and final clue that not only have I totally lost my game, I’ve actually become a cliché for the desperately unsexy suburbs.

The premise of the show (SPOILER ALERT if you have been living in a dark cave and have never heard of Orphan Black) is that a woman (Sarah Manning) randomly discovers that she is a clone and that there are many iterations of herself running around the world. One of her doppelgängers is Alison Hendrix, a suburban soccer mom. In an utterly hilarious/is-this-real-or-is-it-my-nightmare scenes, Alison is distracted by clone business and forgets there’s a potluck at her house, so when guests arrive, she’s still in her flannel PJ’s — visible panty lines (VPLs) and all.

Here’s the soccer mom kicker: the flannel pajamas Alison wears is a clone of the pair I bought for myself at Victoria’s Secret. I even think we have the same VPLs!

Assuming I don’t have a brick house doppelgänger that can fool people into thinking I still got it, I decided to make a concerted effort this week to get my sexy back. And by that, I mean bringing the heat (unrelated to hot flashes) so once again I feel alive and desirable.

For my bitches who just raised their hands and hiked up their mom jeans in a show of both solidarity and shared interest, I caution you: getting your sexy back is a relatively masturbatory exercise, as my feeling is you have to get your motor running yourself first before you roar out the gates with anyone else.

Here are 7 ways to get it on:

7) Do an undergarment inspection: I know it sounds clinical, but evaluate everything — bras, undies, even socks. Burn anything with unintentional holes in it.  And in cleaning out my drawers, I realized I had a sizable stash of frilly bits that I’m going to wear when you — and I — least expect it.

6) Restock your wardrobe: I went back to VS, and picked up a few doodads. I still needed some more sensible daily wear, but guess what? Even that can be sexy. The cotton panties from the Gap are low-slung and have lacy boarders, just sayin’.

5) Slow down: This is a remnant of the Bitch’in Challenge — stress is the opposite of sexy.  So take a minute or two or six each day to pause, relax, and enjoy.

4) Break a sweat: It’s hard to feel sexy if you’re stagnant. Plus it’s the new year and perfect timing to get back to working out until you are a slick, sweaty beast. And remember, dancing to a hot jam, rollerskating in your skivvies, and even pole dancing for the stiletto savvy are all great ways to get your blood boiling and your libido racing.

3) Do yourself up: A little make-up, a new ‘do, a wax or a shave: it’s nothing short of miraculous what looking good can do for your self-confidence. I’m told places like Sephora or the MAC counter offer free makeovers, but even a shiny new lip gloss from CVS to replace your crappy old Chapstick can work wonders.

2) Rock on with your cock on: I just like to say that, but I also really, truly did it at a Foo Fighters concert over the weekend. There is NOTHING you can do with your clothes on that will get you going like a good old-fashioned head-banging night of rock ‘n roll.

And here’s a little bonus secret about the suburbs that will help you bring your sexy back: rock gods are among us! It’s true — at the Foo Fighters show, Dave Grohl brought up a litany of friends whom I have spied in my ‘hood: Alice Cooper (saw him waiting for take-out at a precious gourmet cafe), Slash (his kid used to play rec basketball at the same time as mine and I’d see him in the stands enjoying the same coma-butt as the rest of us parents), Paul Stanley of KISS (was in a preschool parents group with a friend of mine), and even Dave Grohl himself, whom I’ve seen driving around in a vintage convertible. Knowing that these sexy bastards have changed diapers, pick up their own food, and cheer their kids on makes the daily grind feel more like a rippin’ hot shred.

1) Have sex. That’s the point of bringing sexy back, right?!!!

So if you see me promising not to stop when you say when, just know that sexy is back — and not even a pole-dancing clone can take it away if you re-stake your claim to your sensual, sultry self.

Now, to get you rockin’ on with your you-know-what on (and to help you understand that “So if you see me promising…” quote that may have seemed oddly out of place to the un-Foo Fighters anointed), enjoy “Everlong”:

Photo credit: BBC America, Orphan Black

Essential Texting Acronyms Every Parent Must Use

text_borderedSometimes it feels like teens and parents don’t speak the same language.

When you glance at your kid’s texts, you likely will see a slew of acronyms and other shorthand that look like utter gibberish. Perhaps you’ve taken a gander at Vine or Snapchat, and in the time it takes to adjust your readers, you’ve already missed what was so damn funny. Maybe you’ve hopped on Yik Yak, Whisper, or even Tumblr, just to see what those rumored bastions of bullying are all about, and left hours later having enjoyed a few good memes and at least one Britney Spears gif, but with no deeper understanding of how to navigate those angst-filled digital waters.

All of this may bring up some uncomfortable feelings as you realize your child has a life that is unbeknownst and unintelligible to you. There are three things you can do next:

1) Panic: This is fairly easy to do, as us 24/7 hovercraft parents can find fear in just about everything from a can of tuna to a walk around the block. Lately my inbox has been inundated with articles from Kim Komando, “America’s Digital Goddess” including her piece in USA Today,”Essential Texting Acronyms Every Parent Must Know” and on her own website, “5 Dangerous Apps You Don’t Know Your Kids Are Using.” We are the “what to expect” generation — we are plugged into the idea that knowledge is power, but it also can be powerfully scary, too. If you thought the threat of preeclampsia was bad, just imagine what happens when you find your underage child on Tinder. (I don’t know either but it makes me very nervous.) Yup, it’s easy enough to panic….

2) Relax: You can remember when you were a teen, right? I’ll bet what you recall most clearly isn’t the day-to-day, but the crazy, nutty, ridiculous, not always so safe things you did without your folks ever knowing. You may also remember how you learned that people could be massive assholes those times that you were treated shabbily or even bullied by your peers. You also probably learned how to cope, or if it was too much, you went to your parents or other adults to help you with a bad situation. Or maybe you didn’t. And then you made horrible decisions while in a terrible situation… OK, maybe so much for relaxing….

3) Retaliate: To me the third option is clearly the best. I say that moms and dads deserve what the children have: a double secret private life. Sounds sexy, right? Not to be confused with sext-y – everyone knows parents don’t sext. (Or do they… and then do their children grab their iPhones to play Clash of the Clans, notice the sexts, and totally freak out? This may or may not have happened to me.)

Anyhoo, back to the list of texting acronyms every parent should use:

When You Have Something to Hide

CD10 – Code 10 – it means you know what CD 9 means, which is that parents are around

KIL – Kid is listening

KIR – Kid in room

KISS – It’s an Army, and I’m proud to be a member since 1979

HMC – Hiding my chocolate.

SL2TS – Secretly listening to Taylor Swift

IFBD – I farted, blamed dog

DSD – Double Spanx day

INLFOD – I’m not listening — figuring out dinner

IWNN – I want a nap now

IWU2NN – I want you to nap now

FYMC – Finished your macaroni & cheese

CTYRF – Channing Tatum’s your real father

When You Are Involved In Something You Shouldn’t Be

RU/40 – Are you over 40? (Note: don’t answer that — it’s freakin’ AARP looking for a way to text you!)

420 – It’s 4:20 and you’re 20 minutes late to pick up your carpool. At least that’s what you can tell your kids it means to you… then they will then LOL but of course the LOL will be on them.

SHIT – My husband says this one should be “Silent Hot Intercourse Time,” but everyone knows it’s just SHIT, as in I forgot to buy milk and we have six kids sleeping over or SHIT it’s already 5:00 p.m. and the dog hasn’t been let out in eight hours or SHIT I was supposed to bake gluten-free chocolate chip cookies for the bake sale and I totally spaced on it!

IUYTGC – I used your Target gift card (… and will later pretend you lost it and use it as a teaching moment about how you have to take care of your valuables)

WF/U – Wearing flip side of underwear – haven’t done laundry for over a week

REO – Returning expensive outfit (you know, the ones you buy for a wedding or other fancy occasion that you bought fully knowing that you’d return it after)

RYTDGAS – Read your texts, don’t give a shit

Not All Acronyms Are Bad

LMFSP – Laughing my fucking Spanx off

INAM – I need a Martini (this is one you should use any time, day or night, but especially when trying to help a kid with middle school math, or during a PTA meeting, or when sitting on a cold bleacher seat watching a game at 7:00 a.m…. like I said, day or night)

BWLMA – Binge watching, leave me alone

C8R – Cater, as in let’s order in tonight

M8R – Mother

P8R – Father

S8R – Satyr, which are “lustful, drunken, woodland gods.” Best used when you are in Narnia or attending yet another boring ass potluck dinner.

T8RT – Tater tots… because they make life worth living.

ZZZ – I’m sleeping, so stop texting me, damnit!

So if you see me REO, just know that a DSD made me do it and clearly INAM. If my kids ask why I do the things I do, I’ll just say M8R, and because they don’t study Latin, they won’t understand… which is exactly what I wanted in the first place. LOL, ppl!



Copyright © 2012 - Trudi Roth. All Rights Reserved.