Wednesday, 27 June 2012

FOMO

I recently learned the term FOMO. Typical of my nature, not knowing what this meant killed me! I had to know because, well, just because I had to. Ironically, this is exactly what FOMO means - Fear Of Missing Out. It made me sit back and look at life, where we are, how we live it, what motivates us, where we seek approval, what affirms us. Without delving into anything too deep, and yes, I am generalising, but for most of us the simple (and not-so-shocking!) answer, is Social Media. I- we - live with such a FOMO, that the radiply escalating trend of social networking has become the norm rather than the exception.
Between my Blackberry, Ipad and Computer I have Facebook, Blackberry Messenger, Whatsapp, Twitter, Uber Social for Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus, apps on my ipad dedicated to pinging me when anything genuinely newsworthy happens (CNN, Media 24, BBC etc) and a hord of blog links that I regularly follow. And none of these is neglected! As soon as something mildly interesting happens (and embarressingly, its often only newsworth to a select few who are directly involved in my everyday life)  - its on facebook; snap a pic of my weekend activities (because of course everyone wants to see yet another picture of my kids!!) - its on facebook;  a glib observation (or sometimes passive aggressive jibe) - its on twitter; a divine (or mediocre - being selective is not important) meal out - picture on twitter with the accompanying hashtag #tweetwhatyoueat; my kids do well at school / on the sports field / survive a weekend of parental inflicted boredom (*blush*), the whole cyber world is alerted via one or all of these means.

I am admitting to my dependency, my FOMO, when it comes to social media. And I am not alone in my behaviour or mindset. I have friends (too many to name and shame!), who update their BBM status, profile pics, and Facebook status more often than you can click refresh!! Its mind boggling! There is very little that is private and discreet anymore. We "check in" when we go out, post photos of any and every event in our day (we even doctor these pics to be kinder to ourselves - thanks Instagram!), we vent, we rant, we disparage, we preach, we divulge - from a platform of relative security, often forgetting or dismissing the fact that once we hit send or post or update, its in cyberspace FOREVER.  I recall a pin on Pinterest stating something along the lines of "just imagine, all of this would be in peoples heads if Facebook didn't exist!" How true is that!

In my (admittidly social media obssessed) opinion, we use these platforms as some form of escapism. Its what we do while real life happens. Its an outlet. Pinterest is a wonderful example - our boards reflect homes and designs we don't have, clothes we desire (all displayed on bodies we pine for!), food we probably never cook, craft that we in all likely hood will never master (although pinning it makes us feel like we have used our creative outlet well!), places we dream of going should we ever win the lotto. Not much about pinterest is reality, yet it is one of the fastest growing social media platforms out there. And its addictive (I highly recommend it!).
We are not insular beings, and the web connects us like no family tree ever could. It keeps us in touch with those we would have lost years ago (and unfortunately, if we are not selective enough, opens up our world to those we WISHED we had lost years ago!!). It is largely for this reason that I refuse to quit social networking. I need it - I NEED to know who's done what with their lives, who is getting married, having kids, doing amazing things - even though they are a million miles away. And I NEED to share (I am a sharer by nature). 
As long as social networking does not replace real life, does not hurt or harm, is used for good and not evil, and does not distract us from what is important, I believe it has a place in my world. I will continue to brag about my kids, tweet about my life, Pin my way to a creative fantasy world. FOMO works for us in a lot of ways - it keeps us on our toes, keeps us moving forward. If it wasn't for my FOMO, and a very good friend convincing me that smart phones were way better than my old nokia, I would still have cell phone bills that could rival a small office park! FOMO keeps us striving for the next best thing. And I don't want to get left behind. I'm Just Saying...

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Men in my Life

I would not be where I am, or who I am today were it not for the influence - be it intrinsic or implied - of the men in my life. I have always considered myself to be an independent, strong I-can-do-it-by-myself-I-don't-need-a-man type of girl (thanks mom!). And I still believe this. But there are significant men who have left an indelible footprint in my life. Father's Day was a day of reflection on these amazing men.
I grew up without a dad. He died when I was only six years old - younger than my kids are now. Although he is not physically in my life, he is forever in my heart.  Six was too young for actual memories, and I sometimes think that what I do remember of him is prompted largely by photographs.
I have this image of him being this larger than life figure (he was a very tall man - clearly my height is no reflection on him!). He worked in computers (possibly where my love for all things techno comes from!), and I remember him bringing home reams of computer paper (boxes of perforated sheets - it was the '70's!) for us to draw on. He was also a Police Reservist in his spare time. In the late 1970's / early 1980's in JHB this was quite a terrifying part time profession to be in. It was deep in the days of apartheid, where the "dompas" controlled who was out on the street after dark, and  I vaguely remember my mom worrying relentlessly when he was called out on night duties. Luckily for us, these dark days in SA's history are far behind us. The pictures I have of him in his uniform portray him as a formidable figure, strong and dominant, with kind eyes. His eyes are probably what I remember most. I have his eyes, and so does my son.

My Mom and Dad had a special kind of love - love that lasts forever. His death did nothing to dilute this love she had for him, and it was felt everyday by my sister and myself. It left a lasting impression on me - that was the kind of love I was going to have.
And I do. Life hasn't always been plain sailing. It has been full of ups and downs, days of absolute adoration, and days of sheer hell, where holding a pillow over his face didn't sound like a bad idea! But 17 years later, I am still with the love of my life, my soul mate. Warren and I met in 1995 - a HUGELY significant year - SA won the Rugby World Cup, and I realised that along with my induction into this sport by my rugby mad in-laws, my life had changed forever. We were so young when we met. Still at 'Varsity, still living at home. Although it took him 6 years to propose, I think we both knew from the start it was meant to be. We went though all the important firsts together -  first jobs, moving out, first homes, first bonds (!!), babies, life . And we learnt from each other along the way. I would not be who I am today if it weren't for Warren. He is strong, determined, passionate about all things in life, highly motivated, kind, generous to a fault, and single-mindedly focused on his family. And I could not ask for a better father to my kids, or life partner for me.

My son is the littlest man in my life. He is very much like me in image and in his insecurities and anxieties, and like his dad in temperament. He is an amazing little boy - full of passion for life, incredibly determined, with a bottomless hunger for facts and information. Like his dad and I, he loves history and reading. He is also techno mad (he very quickly figured out how to bypass net nanny!). He torments his sister (my gorgeous, I-am-stronger-than-boys daughter!) relentlessly, but loves her whole heartedly and unreservedly. I have learnt  so much from Dyl. Patience, determination, resilience, complete unconditional love, that drawing a picture with actual sounds makes it come alive, the more friends you have the better your games are, and that cuddles and kisses all over your face instantly make you feel better. I have every confidence that Dyl will grow into a man I will always be proud of, and will keep teaching me life lessons along the way. I hope I can keep up!

Life has a funny way of shaping us. We can either choose to ignore the lessons, the hints, the big flashing signs, or we can embrace them and become richer for it. I for one, am far richer having these these three strong men in my heart. Squashing down my over powering independent, stubborn streak, I can acknowledge that I am a better person because of them. So, I'm Just Saying...Thank You.


Sunday, 10 June 2012

Kiss and Tell

Should good girls kiss and tell?

I have been doing some intense research this weekend for a feature article in Cosmopolitan on a subject I have always blushed discussing... SEX. And not just sex, but on whether the bombardment of erotic literature and TV programmes into everyday life has changed the way women not only view, but enjoy, sex.

Let me state outright, that this topic pushed me to the limit of my comfort zone. I had to shake off all of my previous notions and trappings of what was or wasn't considered a "lady-like" discussion.

What surprised me more than my eagerness to tackle this topic, however, was the large number of ladies who were more than willing to share their stories with me. Clearly, "close your eyes, grit your teeth and do it for queen and country" was not the norm!! And the most verbal? Those girls who were no older than 21 or 22. Boy did they know their own minds, and boy were they eager to share and even offer advice!! This is certainly a head strong, independent, knowledgeable, open, and spoilt-for-choice-in-the-toys-and-gadgets-they-own-department, society of young women. Not only were they not shy with opinions and experience, but they were extremely comfortable discussing them. But I digress.

Should good girls kiss and tell? Topics that were once taboo, or at least spoken about in hushed tones behind closed doors, are now being bantered around not just book club discussions, but openly in all forums. Watching Game of Thrones, Californication, reading 50 Shades of Grey, the sex pages in Cosmo, has become as common place as watching CSI and reading Jodi Picult. Is this necessarily a bad thing?

We have always been told the that good girls don't discuss such topics, that only bad girls have an opinion on sex (in fact that only bad girls enjoy sex!). In MY opinion (and I'm Just Saying), views such as these are as ridiculous as the age old "children should be seen and not heard" . In doing my probing and asking of incredibly personal questions this weekend, I have formed the strong opinion that good girls not only DO kiss and tell, but SHOULD kiss and tell! How liberating! From car park gossip to book club babble, we as a, well, as a sex, have earned the right to openly read  50 Shades, as much as men have claimed the right to read Penthouse and Hustler (which they read purely for the stories I'm led to understand!).

Before I get painted with the proverbial Scarlet Letter, I will climb off my soapbox. As long as its safe, and sacred, and done with love, its about time us "good girls" became courageous in kissing and telling. I'm Just Saying...

Friday, 1 June 2012

Dangerous Assumptions...

I am a self-proclaimed techno slut. If its out there, if its new, if it has anything to do with technology – I HAVE to have it. There is nothing I won’t do to download the latest “must have” ipad apps, or the newest blackberry ringtones, or the upgraded versions of whatsapp, ubersocial for twitter, twitter itself, facebook, pinterest or blogging information. And if I can’t figure it out, I would rather die trying than ask for help or read the instructions. And believe me, I DO figure it out!! (I’m obsessive that way)
I feel the same way about books – I HAVE to read the latest trend setting books (and if they come in a trilogy, I am even MORE addicted!). The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Hunger Games, Twilight (yes – I HAD to see what all the hype was about, and I loved the books!), and now Fifty Shades of Grey (all three books).   I can’t say I am a huge fan of the philosophies and lifestyle choices of Mr Grey, but I will plough my way through all three novels. Just in case I am missing something.
So what does my techno addiction, and my book addiction have in common (other than proving once again, that I have an obsessive compulsive, addictive personality?!)? Well, during a conversation with some friends earlier this week, my combined addictions led me to the conclusion that I have an even more dangerous side to my personality. I Make Assumptions. I assume everyone has the same basic knowledge and interests as I have. Because I know it, because I have read it, because I have used it, I automatically assume everyone in my social circle has too.
So why is this dangerous? While chatting to these friends this week, I happened to mention (*blush*) that I am going to have a column published in Cosmopolitan in August (Full photo shoot included!). When asked about my subject matter I mentioned the basis being on the obvious theme of control in the book Fifty Shades. Friend Number One jumps in and we natter about the book for a bit, while Friend Number Two stands there silently. She pipes up with the question on what the book was about. S&M, I say. Ohhhh! I love that!! She announces. Loudly. It took at least five minutes for Friend Number One and I to realise that what we knew S&M to stand for was very clearly (breaths held for a while!!), not what she took it to mean! On explaining it, and amidst the immediate back tracking and furious blushing, I realised that my predilection to assume everyone is on the same page as me,  could have resulted in dangerous summations being made about Friend Number Two (who incidentally, is the one friend we all rely on to ensure we all go to Heaven one day! She has a direct line to the top!!). 
Taking a step backwards, I have realised that before I paint everyone with the same brush, I need to remember that not everyone understands WTF or WTH, or ROTFLMAO, or even cares what it means! Not everyone compulsively reads the next big thing, or understands the pull of social media and technology. Not everyone automatically understands HTTP://, or plans on ever finding out about embedding buttons on a blog. I need to remember that one girls whips and chains S&M, is another girls Sex and Marriage!! And that’s OK.  I’m Just Saying…