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Joan Garry Headshot

Facebook Status: I Dare You. Say What's Really on Your Mind!

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My partner Eileen says she is sick of reading Facebook profiles about what people are eating. "Delicious soft shell crabs with Bobby" or "Try the bison burger at Ted's." She thinks it is stupid. She doesn't really care that much about what other people eat. She cares a lot about what our family eats and in fact, our family cares a lot too. We often spend meals reminiscing about great meals we have had or looking ahead with anticipation to our next meal. But that's just us. Not a friend of hers from high school she can barely remember. But now she knows that that old friend she can barely remember has a fantastic pork chop recipe.

Got me thinking about what people aren't saying in their FB profiles. We all try to be clever or witty or warm or sweet or political or informed. Pithy always works well too.

I have not felt witty, clever or pithy these last few weeks. I have been scared. My partner has been battling pneumonia. It came on suddenly. Very high fevers. Never seen her so sick in our nearly 30 years together. Wracking coughs. I've watched enough episodes of Marcus Welby and every other doctor show to know that coughs coming out of nowhere plus family history of lung cancer = panic. And then a CT scan with a big "uh-oh" attached. But not a huge uh-oh. It was the "Hmmm, let's take another x-ray in 10 days and see where we are at" kind of uh-oh.

I'll not keep you in suspense. The x-ray was yesterday and all is well. Eileen is still coughing her brains out but now I kind of enjoy hearing it. 48 hours ago every cough was like a knife in my heart.

And so for me, FB has presented a significant dilemma these past few weeks. I couldn't really say what I felt. Heck, my kids (the ones who agree to friend me) could see it. And I'm sorry but I think it would be a big downer to read "Sheer Terror" as someone's status, don't you? Even my friend Jessica Wolf who quite often "likes my status" would have been hard pressed to give me a thumbs up on that one.

So yesterday, I captured an overwhelming sense of relief after the doctor appointment with "a very good day." That was not what was "on my mind" as FB encourages us to share.

Last week, on Eileen's birthday, I wrote something sweet about it being the 28th year I woke up on July 23rd to wish Eileen a happy birthday.... I got so many lovely comments. But this was not at all what was on my mind. I mean it was but then again, it so wasn't.

I found it to be very hard work not to share what was really on my mind. Maybe because I am just hard wired to be pretty earnest. But perhaps FB could work a bit harder to get us all to really share what is on our mind. Here are some of the things that come to mind that we might read. Could make FB so much more authentic.

"Screamed so loud at my kids that the veins stuck out on my neck. And then I realized that all the windows were open."

"I just called 911."

"Is it bad if a doctor tells you to call Hospice?"

"I really like the new boyfriend but miss the old one ."

"Anyone know the difference between melanoma and melanoma in situ?"

"Constipated. Advice?"

I suppose FB would be much less entertaining, right? So let's get FB to change "What's on your mind?" to "What clever pithy thing can you write that has has only the vaguest connection to what is on your mind?"

So this morning I wrote the following status update: "What if people wrote what was really on their minds?"

My friend Richie just commented a minute ago: "You first."

OK, Rich. Here goes. "The thought of growing old without Eileen was unbearable."

Richie, your turn.

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