L A Times writer Meghan Daum is one of my favourite columnists and I usually agree with most of what she writes, but I found today’s piece about Facebook–“I ‘like’ me, I really ‘like’ me”–to be off the mark. Frankly, it made me wonder if I’m just living in a different Facebook world, or maybe I’m just naive.

She contends our relationship to Facebook has changed, that it used to make us feel connected to the world, but now it makes us feel bad about ourselves; it has become an advertisement for our insecurity. We’ve become a culture of curators and show-offs, hand-selecting our most triumphant and photogenic moments and presenting them as everyday occurrences, an unmitigated, unapologetic opportunity for public relations. “It’s a forum not for sharing but for bragging.”

She goes on to list the ways in which we do this. There’s the “humblebrag,” boasts that are loosely disguised as self-deprecation–“Spilled coffee inside my Maserati. What a dope!” The chest-thumping-masquerading-as-self-esteem she calls the “empowerboast. “Feeling so good about myself today. Realizing that I am beautiful and wise and deserve to be loved.” The mom brag, the posting-of-hot-photos-of-yourself brag. “Always, and often inexplicably, these posts will be showered with ‘likes’ and approving comments that also manage to be competitively boastful–‘When I was in Moscow I couldn’t tear myself away from Winzavod. Very cool.'”

She asks the question: “Is bragging about yourself actually a form of appreciating–or even respecting–yourself?” but then concludes that as a culture we can’t distinguish positive thinking from hubris. “We tell ourselves we’re not bragging, just putting out good vibes. We’re not putting the spotlight on ourselves, but rather spreading the light around so that others, too, will flourish in the glow.” That’s crap, she says, “These aren’t good vibes. They are advertisements for our insecurity. Posting a brag, humble or otherwise, and then waiting for people to respond is the equivalent of having a conversation in which all you do is wait for your turn to speak. That is to say, there’s nothing to learn from it, but we all do it occasionally.” She ends by resolving to stop posting on Facebook.

Her assessment makes me wonder who her “friends” are, or did one of them just piss her off? If it weren’t for FB, I wouldn’t have re-connected with my school friends in Zambia 11,000 miles across the ocean, I wouldn’t have connected with a group of women writers who now feel like family after we all met in IRL (in real life) in Santa Barbara in August. Here’s my blog about the meeting. I wouldn’t have a forum where, loner me, can put myself “out there.” With all its faults, Facebook has helped make the world a smaller more connected place.

What does Facebook mean to you?


I left my house at 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning for a meeting with my tribe—five women writers—in Santa Barbara, three hours away up the coast. I didn’t return until 9:45 that night. And then I couldn’t sleep for two hours because I was so wound up. I also had a sore tongue: a tiny rip on the right side from all the wagging it did. I didn’t shut up the entire time. Neither did they. It was a love fest. And I had never met them, well except for Britton, the gorgeous blond on the left in the photo below, who drove me from Laguna Beach.

You can read all about the actual meeting, on Jayne Martin’s blog, injaynesworld. There’s no way I can top her brilliant account, except to tell you what I took away from the meeting, other than fun, camaraderie, and encouragement: connection. It’s what I needed on the cusp of sending forth my memoir. A circle of women, strangers even, supporting each other as only women can do with their intrinsic thrust to support and nurture.

How might your life have been different if there had been a place for you? A place for you to go . . . a place of women, to help you learn the ways of woman . . . a place where you were nurtured from an ancient flow sustaining you and steadying you as sought to become yourself. A place of women to help you find the ancient flow already there within yourself . . . waiting to be released . . .

A place of women . . .

How might your life be different?

~Circle of Stones, Judith Duerk


Reflecting on The A to Z Blogging Challenge

I’m a spur of the moment kind of woman. This inclination has landed me in some sketchy situations, but it’s also brought me a lot of fun. My latest headlong plunge was into the A to Z Blogging Challenge for the month of April, a daunting prospect. My plate was already full as halfway through April, I was due in England’s Lake District to reconnect with an old school chum from my homeland Zambia after what felt like three entire lifetimes. Not only that, but I was in the midst of editing my memoir, Loveyoubye, which has been all consuming.

Well, I’m pleased to report that I rocked the A to Z Challenge! I completed all twenty-six letters with animals as my theme, from Antelope to Zsa Zsa (a friend’s cockatoo), always angling for some kind of discovery or personal connection to each particular animal. Four days into my visit to England, I veered a little from that theme, converting R is For Road Runner into a runner of another kind: me, charging across the expansive verdant fields of Lord Lowther’s estate after stealing one of his logs within sight of the magnificent Lowther Castle. And then in my blog U is For Unicorn, I recounted my search for records of my South African father’s attendance at Ayr Academy in Ayr, Scotland, closing with the unicorns in Scotland’s Coat of Arms.

Although it still takes me at least ten times as long as anyone else to write anything (I’m convinced of that) and I can hardly stand to broadcast any of my scribblings that haven’t been critiqued by at least four other writers, I’ve developed a couple of new writing muscles, might I say writing chops I didn’t have before. Thank you dear A to Z Challenge creators and those participants who visited my site, you made the next step in my writing journey possible.