My Big Announcement

I was walking by my dad’s office yesterday when he asked me to come sit beside him at his computer. I could sense a bit of frustration in his voice, so I asked him what was wrong.

“Why do I always see pictures of Jane (last name I won’t say) doing activities with her kids every time I go into my Facebook? As sweet as she is, I couldn’t care less about Jane, or her kids, for that matter.”

I was smart enough to not spend the time explaining Facebook, so instead I grabbed his mouse, unfollowed Jane, and assured him he would never see any of her life updates ever again.

“What if she ends up dying and I don’t find out, god forbid?”
“Well…you’re just going to have to live with that, unfortunately.”

Though I have a ‘millennial understanding’ of Facebook, part of me has adopted bits and pieces of my dad’s blissfully dismissive mentality toward it all. And I wanted to face that part of me, head on.

A pet peeve of mine has been people who post a status about a major life decision/announcement. Whether it’s relocating for work, giving service hours in a disadvantaged community, volunteering in a remote village 3,500 miles away, etc, they all pinch the same ‘slight judgement nerve’ in me.

Why feel the need to announce a major life decision to all of your Facebook friends? Especially for a change so drastic; shouldn’t you feel so confident in what you’re doing that the only approval needed is your own? Are people inspired to do ‘good’ in this world by the prospects of an outpour of support, or do people still do cool shit for the sake of their own well-being and interest?

I recently joined a startup whose main user demographic is 13–18 year olds. Our mission is to create a community dedicated to making each other feel good through anonymous compliments, yet here I am overanalyzing the kindness and support system that social media offers. In order to truly understand the psychology of such a major public announcement, I figured it would make the most sense to put myself in the driver’s seat and lay one down.

Had I not felt some guilt after the third hour, it would have easily reached 200–250 likes and 20+ comments.

I chose French Guiana as my destination because when I think ‘remote’ and ‘disarray’, Jonestown, Guyana comes to mind. Guyana → French Guiana…you get the picture. I then did a quick Wikipedia search which led me to the Lokono . If you’re bored, read about them. Their history of first resisting but then linking arms with the Spanish to ward off neighboring enemies is interesting.

During the first 10–20 minutes, my thoughts on such an announcement were reconfirmed. But after stepping away from my computer for a couple of hours and then coming back, I was really appreciative. I began to wonder how I would have felt had I actually been leaving my family and friends to move to French Guiana?

What I came to realize was I was a happy victim of the supportive outpour, giving me much more appreciation than I ever had for someone who wants to tell their Facebook world what’s going on in his or her life. The comments were heartfelt and it was great to hear from people who I had not spoken to in months. In fact, even my own rabbi commented and reached out to me. If that’s not a catalyst for Jewish guilt in this situation, I don’t know what is!

It’s hard not to sound like an out-of-touch Baby boomer when questioning the near necessity and effectiveness of social media, but after experiencing it from the side I’ve always condemned, I can only be empathetic and supportive of everyone’s big announcement.

Thanks for reading, and I apologize if I led you to believe that I’m moving to French Guiana for a year.

In other news, I’m truly moving to LA in 5 days and I couldn’t be any more excited!