“Love with your mouth shut, help without breaking your ass or publicizing it, keep cool but care.”
I’m not sure if it’s human nature to want to be patted on the back or not. Where did we learn that from? Maybe it started in grade school. I can remember being in kindergarten and wanting to get that coveted green light. I can remember wanting my teacher to see that I indeed folded up my mat properly after nap time, and even placed it in my cubby hole correctly. I remember wanting my mother to see that I did not waste food on my cute little skirt, and that I didn’t scuff my Mary Jane’s during recess. I remember wanting that attention from adults. So I’m not sure if I would have done everything I was supposed to do if I did not receive a prize at the end. I recall wanting to be compensated for doing what I was supposed to be doing… anyway. In that case, it is learned behavior. I’m sure there is some psychological jibber-jabish that supports this notion, but in the aim to keep the reading light-hearted and non-academia, we’ll say it’s something out there that supports our need to be praised.
But boy oh boy can that get us in trouble. Seriously, going out of our way to seek kudos can put us in an uncomfortable position. Especially if what we are looking for from others is not returned. Especially in a society that is so over-exposed. The phenomenon that we call social media has completely ripped the lid off what we call privacy, and exposed us to people and things we never knew existed. I mean sure, there are privacy settings and I have the option to not share my life with total strangers. But what about if I text someone whom I trust and they screenshot my message and share it with people without my permission? So I guess technology is the mother bear to social media. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, and I equally love social media. If used properly, technology and social media can introduce you to a world you never knew was out there and create opportunities that you may not have normally had.
Meet Catherine. Catherine is your typical thirty-something year old woman. She has a great job, no kids, an adorable little Yorkie, and lives in a modern cul-de-sac in suburbia USA. Catherine was single during the latter part of her twenties after realizing her college sweetheart wasn’t going to marry her. She focused all of her energy on climbing the corporate ladder, and decided to put love on the back burner. But now, now things are different. She’s reached executive level at the workplace, she’s financially secure, and she has a good group of emotional stakeholders in her life.
Catherine’s good friend, Naomi, sets her up with a mutual friend. We’ll called him Mr. Wonderful. Mr. Wonderful drives a super jazzy automobile, he has the straightest teeth you or your mama have ever seen, and he has an eight-fifty credit score. Not to mention he believes in romance, being faithful, and marriage and kids. God himself dove out of the Heavens, did a full Hail Mary, and delivered this man to Catherine, or so she thinks.
In her free time, Catherine is a social media crackerjack. She loves everything about it. You will never see Catherine without her Iphone in her hand, it’s that serious for her. She uses technology for a lot of brilliant things like: she can adjust the air in her room with one push of a button, she can let the garage up and down as she’s coming down the block, she can see if her Yorkie is okay by monitoring her home…all from her smart phone. But there are some not-so-brilliant things that Catherine uses her phone for. She stalks all of her former friends to see how well they are doing, she wastes a considerable amount of time during the day thumbing through Facebook, and she documents EVERYTHING. Viewing Catherine’s social media profiles is like being attached to her belt buckle every single freaking day. She makes sure to take a selfie every morning, just to tell you “good morning”...sealed with the kissy face. Disclaimer: There's something to be said about a woman who is thriving in her career, a top dog, female shark, but feels the need to blow you a kiss every morning. I'm sorry, I just can't take any woman serious who does that sort of thing.
Going back to Mr. Wonderful, he’s not on any social media networks except for LinkedIn. It’s not like he’s a ladies man and has something to hide, he’s just not into the hype of it all. He’s asked Catherine’s friends to speak with her about limiting the “sneak shots” she puts on social media in an effort not to hurt her feelings. You know, pictures of his hands at the restaurant table, pictures of his phone, pictures on the inside of his car (making sure you see that emblem on the headrest), pictures of that magnificent cabana in the back of his house, and even the random “he has his head turned, profile pictures”. All of the “sneak shots” seem to be harmless. They seem to be taken without the intention of flaunting the relationship, but let’s be real; Catherine wants the people in her vast circle to know that she has somebody. What’s wrong with that?
The problem is, Mr. Wonderful isn’t into it and Catherine is actually turning him off. He doesn’t want his colleagues and mutual friends to know every single move he makes. Despite the overwhelming feelings of like for Catherine, he just can’t seem to make her understand that he enjoys mystery, with himself and with his woman.
Catherine also has some issues with being praised. She screenshots all of the “likes” that she gets from Instagram and posts them while thanking the “likers” for “liking”. Whew, that’s a lot of work! She also brags about all the GoFundMe accounts and nonprofits she supports by posting them and talking about them constantly.
Have you picked up on the problem? Catherine has a need to be praised, patted, acknowledged, and seen. Her need for these things may have caused her relationship with Mr. Wonderful to go sour, and it even portrays her as a person who is all about “look at me, look at me!”
No one knows that Catherine was bulimic as a teenager, no one knows that she watched her mother battle domestic violence her whole life. They don’t see that she is proud of her relationship with Mr. Wonderful because she never thought a love like this could exist among African Americans, it was never something she had seen growing up. All she knew was infidelity and violence. They don’t see that she supports and publicizes these nonprofits and young girls because she knows what it’s like to hate yourself and hate your body. She’s attempted suicide more times than she can count, and she wants better for the next girl.
Yeah, we don’t see that. We see the constant need for attention. Her intentions are gold, but her delivery is off. As women, it’s important for us to keep some enigma, some secrecy. If you’re in to social media and the wonder of sharing your life with people, there’s a way to put it out there…without putting it out there. I’ve been on social media since about 2009. I’m guilty of posting emotional charged tweets when I first started out. As I stated in the beginning, this is about a journey. I’m more mature and more aware of myself now. Although I am in a happy relationship, I never make my posts about him. For some couples, it works. They tag each other. But for me, I prefer to keep my private life private. I’m not comfortable with social media knowing every time I have an argument, or when my someone special bought me flowers or took me out on a date, because those things are for us.
The need for approval goes beyond technology, it sits in the very core of who you are as a person. Sure we all have a desire to be wanted, and needed, and thought of, and highly regarded but it should not impact who we are or what we do for others because we do not get the praise in return. Meaning, if you do something nice for someone, do it because your heart told you to, not for likes, not for followers, not for accolades.
When we are in agreeance with who we are, and have a true love for ourselves and how we choose to operate our lives, we should be okay with not getting decorated by others. My actions and who I am to others is a reflection of me, not to be measured by someone and their inability to recognize who I am to them.
It’s okay to share yourself with others (relationships, friendships, charity, etc), but in the event you do that with the hope of getting something back…you’re on the wrong track. Be open to the love your partner is offering, even if he's not offering a status update about you. Be willing to be charitable to the woman on the street, there are people you can help that will never have a GoFundMe account. Care about others without attaching it to something they have done for you.
I have found that one of my greatest assignments is the ability to give myself away without the hopes of it being mirrored. I give myself away because I am love, I have a divine purpose to help people and leave them better than they were.