your [own] year in review

this week facebook is blessing us with a new feature. if you are the proud claimant of a facebook account, on the left side of your wall is a clickable link which will take you to your “2013 year in review.” figuring we either can’t do it for ourselves or they can do it for us more effectively, facebook has put together “a [personal] look back at the 20 biggest moments from the past year” for every one of their users. thanks facebook. how helpful of you to fill me in on my biggest moments by highlighting those i happened to post about.

first of all, let me be honest: i find things like year end reviews to be really fun. it’s important and instructive to take time now and again to review where you’ve been and how you’ve been there. technology is amazing in its ability to provide us a detailed record, of sorts, of how we’ve spent our time and our selves. adding to this digital record, social networks provide the opportunity for our friends to reinforce those happenings/posts they find most interesting/beautiful/fabulous/smart/impressive/etc by clicking “like” and/or commenting. it is from this complicated amalgamation of data that facebook has created for each of us, a personal year in review.

i’d like to propose that this sort of review might not be the most reliable reference for our feelings about the past 12 months. our “year in review” in facebook-land is seemingly created by showing you for what you got the most attention. this is rarely a good way to determine the depth, shape, or “success” of anything.

it’s important for me to be honest about the fact that i am not a frequent visitor of my personal facebook account. i opened it years ago and use it only occasionally to post photos of unusual occurrences and to offer my blog posts to friends (and acquaintances and friends of friends and...). because i know that i’m prone to feeling less-than, i need to be careful about hanging out in spaces built on communal, filtered sharing about shiny-happy moments. i know that not everyone feels this way. i also know that facebook is used by many in quite authentic and honest ways to build, maintain, and cultivate community and support. plenty of people find huge comfort and connection through their involvement with facebook. that is just not my experience. just as in life, where we find the evidence that supports our beliefs about ourselves, five minutes on facebook is all i need to reinforce a deep fear that i’m not nearly successful/smart/caring/involved/attractive/connected/giving/humble enough. once that belief takes root it’s hard for me to move past it. even still, i feel a need to understand the way in which social networks impact our current relational economy so i choose to be an infrequent user, working diligently to post that which is enough without crossing the bounds of that which is self serving, sensational, insincere, insensitive, or frivolous. 

that being said, this was a big year for me personally. i had some personal and professional successes alongside plenty of defeats. i experienced a few mountain top moments with my family, friends, clients, and mentorees and also had plenty of days that were simply good enough. i slayed some personal dragons this year and lost plenty of battles as well. i suffered some and i grew some, as did my friends and family.
look at my facebook “year in review,” however, and you’d think that this was a year of nothing but smiles and light hearted capriciousness. i played around in photo booths and sat on santa’s lap with my college roommate, i made goofy faces when people had their cameras out. by what facebook chose for me it appears that skateboards, silly antics, and my husband’s and kids’ activities are about all that matter. and i don’t even skate board.

only 4 of the 20 facebook features would even make my top 50 important experiences of 2013 for me.  what i would never post on facebook, and therefore never find in my year end review there, are some of the things that shaped me most. the intimate and cherished conversations, the shared confidences, the hurts, the sleepless nights, the photos taken of me when i wasn’t looking...double chinned and cross eyed, dark circled after hours of play or worry, or looking grumpy/frazzled/less than hospitable after a particularly taxing day. i didn’t post status updates about how little i knew and how out of control i felt. there weren’t opportunities for my “friends” to affirm me for my efforts at becoming a more authentic, centered, and contemplative soul. i didn’t put those status’ out there. 

as a result, i am given the gift of a list of the highlights of my year based upon nothing short of that which others most responded to among the few things i felt appropriate sharing in such a nebulous space. never mind that the posts about deeply personal disappointments or successes, large scale failures, and/or deeply intimate moments went completely unwritten and, therefore, “un-liked” by my facebook friends.

as you say goodbye to the year that was and hello to the one that is to be why not take a few moments to contemplate your own, very personal, year in review. write it out if you like...or draw it in pictures. sing it or dance it. chart it, graph it, or record it as an equation. find it and honor it in the way that is truly you. make sure, however, that it includes events that could never be “liked” because they were never shared in cyber space. make sure the list holds things you’re proud of and experiences you’ve learned from, times your heart has swollen with love and times it has been bruised by pain, images of people you have loved well and awarenesses of how you might love people better, times where you’ve “won” and times where you’ve been strong enough to admit you’ve “lost,” gratitudes and apologies, the good and the bad. once you’ve made it, see this list as the real year in review and honor it as such...not by hoping for likes by others but by learning to accept it/embrace it/learn from it whether you like it or not.

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