Rosh Hashanah: My Facebook Antidote.
On Rosh Hashanah we review our life as it actually is, free from illusion and spin.
After years of planning and saving, my family and I were finally realizing our dream: spending a summer in Israel.
Our friends back home asked us to send photos and posts and I was happy to oblige. "Salad for breakfast!" I posted one day, with a picture of my son beaming, his plate piled high. "Likes" and positive comments poured in. "Flowers from the market!" ushered more enthusiastic feedback. No detail was too mundane to blog about: I loved the unaccustomed acclaim, as my every photo or posting garnered comments, replies, and "thumbs up" on social media.
It seemed like everyone I knew was busy blogging and posting about their summer too. One acquaintance gushed how great her kids were doing at camp; another showed pictures of her beaming children enjoying their summer at home. A friend posted pictures of the breathtaking beach she was on in France; another shared pictures of her beautiful family enjoying a casual sunset stroll. Scrolling through my inbox one night, I thought we all sounded like advertising execs instead of real people
Why was I so intent on creating a perfect vision of what our vacation was supposedly about?
My post about the Bloomfield Science Museum was one turning point. "Fun at Jerusalem's amazing Bloomfield Museum of Science!" Friends congratulated me on finding such creative places to take my children; their comments made me squirm. Why had I even shared photos of our supposedly-magical visit, anyway? In reality, my kids were too cranky and tired that day to appreciate the museum's attractions, and we left after my son mishandled a toy, dropped it on his finger, and started screaming. None of that made it into my glowing facebook post, of course.
Here are some other items that never made it into my emails or social media posts:
- our first visit to an Emergency Room, after my son cut his foot
- our second visit to an ER, the following week, after that cut got infected
- my bank card malfunctioning and running out of money
- a kind storekeeper giving my kids free french fries after he watched me count out coins to buy food
- our third Emergency Room visit, this time in an ambulance, after another son cut his foot
- missing my husband terribly after he returned home to go back to work
The summer's lowest point for me was the night after that third ER visit. Thank God, my son was okay, but I had to tramp all around Jerusalem one hot night to fill a prescription for him, exhausted, upset, and starving.
Spend time examining something many of us don't make nearly enough time for: Real life, the unedited version.
"That's the vacation we should be having!" I e-mailed later to a friend who'd posted amazing pictures from her vacation in France. "I walked for miles through the streets!" "I'm tired!" "Today was horrible!" It felt so good to honestly report that our trip wasn't all bliss and good photo-ops. My friend confided that her trip had had huge problems, too, and now she was back home in London, nothing was going right. As we messaged back and forth late into the night, I felt the first real connection I had all summer.
"I wish there were a Facebook where we could post these things!" I messaged, and she came back with the best advice I'd heard all summer: "I agree. It could be called 'Real Life'!"
Now that summer is over I’m preparing for Rosh Hashanah and it is the perfect antidote to Facebook. On Rosh Hashanah we stand completely naked before God, reviewing our life as it actually is, free from illusion and spin. Instead of polishing our image, we ruthlessly question our actions; instead of spending time focusing on how other people see us, we take a long, honest look at how we see ourselves.
This Rosh Hashanah, try taking a look at your past year, not as you wanted it to be, or presented it to the world, but as it truly was. Spend time examining something many of us don't make nearly enough time for: Real life, the unedited version.