As too many of you know, I struggle with keeping up with social media. I often feel overwhelmed with the tsunami of memes, messages, Likes, Invites, and other cacophonous clatter that greets me whenever I go to the feed of my Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+ accounts. (Strangely I don’t feel that way when I go to the Reader on WordPress.) I often think to myself, “I’m too old for this.” Now I do have some friends older than me who seem to manage their social media threads with grace. I don’t care. I still feel “too old” for this.
In yesterday’s Sunday New York Times, Dominique Browning expressed in the most clear (and enviable) prose what I’ve been feeling and why I should embrace that feeling. In her essay, I’m Too Old for This, Browning celebrates the psychological benefits of getting older, of being able to let go:
The key to life is resilience, and I’m old enough to make such a bald statement. We will always be knocked down. It’s the getting up that counts. By the time you reach upper middle age, you have started over, and over again.
Browning focuses for a bit on women’s perception of their own beauty (or their perception of their lack of beauty) over time. Until recently, I hated nearly everything about my body: I’m overweight. I have fat ankles. I want straight hair, not hair that waves with a mind of its own. My skin still breaks out and I’m two years shy of sixty. Brown advises that we simply reach for the larger sized pants in the closet, the ones we wisely did not give up to Goodwill, and be thankful that we have healthy bodies. I do try to be thankful even if some of my body likes to roll over the waistband of my yoga pants.
There is a certain freedom in being able to say, “I’m too old for this.” At my workplace, the atmosphere can be toxic with everyone overworked and each effort to get work done being second-guessed by the politically motivated. I feel too old for this. I’ve seen it and heard it all before. Sometimes I feel like I’m living Groundhog Day every day, except I get the weekends off. I’m too old for this.
I’m too old to worry myself about social media. If I close my LinkedIn account, will anyone notice? If I close my Tumblr account, will anyone notice? If I close my Google+ account, will anyone notice? More importantly, will I notice?
Now I can spot trouble 10 feet away (believe me, this is a big improvement), and I can say to myself: Too old for this. I spare myself a great deal of suffering, and as we all know, there is plenty of that to be had without looking for more.
I have unwittingly gotten into “trouble” because I was casting about, trying to be involved in an milieu that is better suited to people with short-term attention spans as well as long-term memory loss. I’m definitely too old to engage in social media dust-ups, innocently or not.
But I do enjoy my blog, particularly the environment created by my blogging community. It feels like a safe place. I can be myself knowing that if people don’t like me they simply won’t follow me and that will be the end of that. And I feel less fragmented when I’m here.
So when I think I’m too old for this, in the context of my writing and blogging, I know that it’s the fragmentation that I struggle with and that I need to correct. Let’s see if anyone notices when I do.
By the way, Dominique Browning was wrong about one thing: being too old to have green hair. Take it from me. One is never too old to have green, blue, pink, or purple hair.