How honest should one be on social networking sites?
It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about during the past 24 hours after I posted a comment about my feelings of failure in life. A friend said that it is never a good idea to expose oneself in this way and, I know, he is not alone in thinking this. I have friends who don’t even have a Facebook or Twitter account, which, to be honest, I find WEIRD!
But, the truth is, the responses I have had from people is the only thing that is getting me through a very tough period in my life. And it’s not the first time that people on social networking sites (many of whom I have never met in person) have done that for me. My wonderful mum is there among the comments, too (nobody understands you like a mother. Truly. NOBODY), and my brother Nigel and dearest friend Leisha were first on the phone when I texted them about the latest disaster. The outpouring of love has been truly overwhelming, and my tears of frustration and anger have turned to ones of gratitude for the people I have in my life who love me for who I am. Thank you, thank you, thank you, to every single one of you.
Here’s the thing. And I really have given this a lot of thought before sharing it. I am losing my house. There. At the end of the day, it’s only 16 letters of the alphabet. But I’ve said it now. And I’ve decided to share that piece of information because people have been worried and, without saying why I am so distressed, they are thinking the worst. But, at the end of the day, nobody died, nobody got pregnant. Sorry if I alarmed any of you on either front.
Financially, it’s been a struggle for some time. Losing a job, pay cuts, the recession – I know I’m not alone in having a hard time; most people I know are, in varying degrees, suffering. The house is already on the market, but the stupid bank (I SO hate you, Barclays) can’t wait for a sale or hang on for five months when, with the new pension laws, everything can be sorted. I chatted to a very lovely person for half an hour, but, at the end of the day, it really was a case of, in the words of Little Britain, CSN, “Computer Says No”.
So, I am returning to the UK to clear my house and handing over the keys to CSN. I have spent the past day venting my fury, screaming What’s it all about? What have I worked so hard for all my life? and several other things that I cannot put into print.
Then, I turned to Facebook, where family, friends and complete strangers were there to offer support. Privately, others have reached out in phone calls, text messages and e-mails, and it has made me re-evaluate the nature of what a life actually is.
Because, at the end of the day, what has actually changed? I still have my family, who, I know, would be there for me were I to turn serial killer. I still have my friends who, I know, never judged me by my bank balance. And I still have me who, for all the tears I have shed during the past 24 hours, is still pretty happy with what I see when I look in the mirror, both literally and metaphorically.
Very few people in, say, Paris (where I lived for six years) or New York (where I currently spend a lot of time) owns a property. In the UK, however, ownership of bricks has always been equable with status. I recall a taxi driver in Cardiff dropping me off at my house (soon to be the property of CSN – did I mention that?) and commenting “You must have married well”. I was very proud to tell him that everything I had was as a result of me alone.
The downside of that aloneness is that you have to live the bad times by yourself, too. But that’s where social networking comes in. Within the space of a day, I have gone from being a wreck to feeling that I am about to embark on a whole new chapter; I am shedding skins. I will not be defined by the weight of a mortgage that, if I am honest, was running me, not the other way around.
Close friends have been worried for some time about the effect that financial stress has been having on my life. They have seen me constantly disappointed when people who appeared to be offering a lifeline in terms of work let me down. They have seen me try everything to get back on track – even moving continents. They have seen me exhausted and, some weeks, have no money for food (last week’s toilet roll famine was especially bad).
But I am resilient. I still have my writing ability. I still have my family and friends. I just won’t have the bricks and mortar in which to entertain them anymore.
I await your Christmas invitations.
And if you could all buy my book, Broke: A Life of Small Change, when I put it on Amazon, that would help enormously.