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Dear Abby

I belong to a lot of Facebook groups. I love social media, I have carefully curated my Instagram feed to give me all the arts and crafts and Taylor Swift anyone can handle. We talk about how my internet is vastly different from my husbands. We often see the same content but that usually centers around Tennessee softball, Mariners baseball and lately Keon Coleman. 


And something is tragically broken. Specifically on the college mom pages and on a big brand site for when your children have gone off into the world. The trend is to ask questions of strangers for everything. 


Your kids are getting married and need a hashtag–ask the Facebook group? No thought that you don’t actually need a hashtag nor is it yours to figure out. 


Your child sleeps through a final and rather than calling a friend that may have had the same thing happen or even calling the school, people post anonymously on these groups. 


Your husband cheat, post.

Your dog ate a dryer sheet, post.

Your Stanley leaking in your car, post.

Your Life360 stops working, post.


I mean, I read them, but I don't get it. Are we so lonely that we have no one in our actual life that we can ask. It is heartbreaking. 


And it isn’t necessary. Every person I know has their own answers. They are smart and resourceful. Engaged and aware. Period. Hard stop. When I was a principal, I would have teachers stop by my office and ask my opinion about something and 9 out of 10 times, they would already know what they wanted to do. They just needed a sounding board and someone to have confidence in them. We are getting the opposite when we post online. 


When you have to write, please only kind comments, that is the first problem. When you are talking to your friends, do you say that–no, because sometimes you need to hear the truth or you need someone to question your thinking, but they have to know you to do that–of course, strangers are going to step in it. Because they only have their view point and your question with the DS and the DDs and DD18s, for the love of all that is holy, can you even keep it straight? 


Here is what I think is happening. We are starved for attention. We are lonely. We are truly wanting our questions answered but we are fearful of being judged. We are worried that we haven’t invested enough time in our real friendships to ask tough questions and we don’t know people well enough to know if they will keep our confidence. We want a quick solution, we want an echo chamber. We want to be able to say–73 people on the internet agree with me and 47 were rude. BUT who are we saying that to???


In all seriousness, the next time you consider posting a question to the internet squad, think about who in your own personal circle you could ask. Would it be a better use of your time to go to a 30 minute coffee date and talk about it than scrolling through answers from strangers? 


I propose that we start building our circles now before we are pushed to the internet to ask a question. Meet for coffee to just talk, to share about yourself, to ask questions of others, to build a community where you are known. Cultivate and curate a group of actual humans that ask you your opinion and for whom you would keep confidence. 


And if you don’t have the actual humans close enough for coffee, come join me at www.themotherheard.com and learn to build your community and your stories. Story circle is coming up, and I’d love to see you there, no anonymous questions though!


With that said, join groups, find people, follow along, all connections are good connections, mostly. Prom pictures, lost forks, rides to airports in cities where you are not–the internet is special. And so are you, you don’t have to be anonymous and sad by yourself, there are ways to build connections, relationships, the life you want! 


Anyway, just making sure everyone is okay out there in internet land today.


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