Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Tale of Matt, "Brave" Hangy Skin Guy and My 'Old-Fashioned' Views On Social Media

These days I've pretty much given up on posting on Facebook unless I've an important announcement to make or a publication to share, but when I'm very, very bored or trying to procrastinate, I like to occasionally scroll through my feed and see what's up with people.

Today was luxurious in that I had extra time to do just that. This evening I was supposed to help my mom set up the VIP room for Lee Daniels, important Director and Producer of many important films such as "Monster's Ball", "The Help", and "Precious", who was supposed to come to The Emerson Center of Vero Beach as part of the speaker series this evening but supposedly came down with some kind of unfortunate vomit virus--so I didn't have to go.  But I digress. See what Facebook has done to my attention span?

Anyways, so there I was, scrolling through scads of posts saying ludicrous things like "Jesus blessed me: I have 18 children--AND A DOG! Share with 18 friends if you do, too!" (Note: Jesus obviously did NOT bless those of us forced to read this crap).  I came across a video that I had seen posted a few times before, and I decided that I would see what all the fuss was about.

This video (which you can see above) shows a young man named Matt, who looks to be anywhere from 18-25, revealing to his audience that he has lost a huge amount of weight (270 lbs).  He wants to discuss his feelings about his body, mainly the excess skin he has as a result of the weight loss. He expresses several times to the audience his terror in revealing his body to the world.

While people's posts were overwhelmingly supportive and positive in response and I am glad to see that, I have to say, this post really made me think--first, about the intent of this guy's actions, and second, about the purpose of Facebook and social media.

On the first point, I'm still not 100% sure why this man felt that he needed to do this.  It is obvious that he wanted to inspire other people to love themselves and their bodies, no matter what.  He says, "I believe that you should care for yourself...and I can't f*cking say that and hide who I am." But did he really show that he loved himself and his body by showing it to the world? And did he manage to inspire others by doing so?

He mentioned that he had to learn to be comfortable in his body until he could "get a surgery to fix it".   That showed to me that he wasn't at peace with his body, which is totally fine, but just sayin'--if the point of this video was to demonstrate to the world that he has issues like everyone else but was going to accept himself no matter what, for me, the point was lost on that one line.  On the point of inspiring others, he received a lot of supportive comments and praise, but I'm not sure if people actually took anything away from this or not. I can only speak for myself, but I certainly didn't.

It seems to me that if he had really wanted to help himself while at the same time teaching others about acceptance and bodily love, he could have come out from behind the computer screen and, as he stated he was afraid to do in the video, gone to the beach and taken off his shirt and actually interacted with people.  Who knows--maybe he has addressed questions and talked to people about it since posting the video.

Maybe some people were truly inspired by it and said, "You know what? Matt loves himself, I should, too! I will also share my body with the world!"  I have a hard time believing that anything other than his own need for sharing was accomplished.  In the end, it simply seemed to me to be a cry for personal help and attention, and that worries me.

Which leads me to my second point: should social media be used as a platform to discuss personal issues? It frankly freaks me out when social media starts taking the place of important human interaction (see earlier blog on the movie, "Her"), especially when it comes to people's emotional well-being.  I know many people who can't or won't reach out to people face to face, but are strangely expressive on Facebook or other social media platforms.

Let me be clear: I'm not trying to hate, here.  I guess I just took Matt's post as another example of the point I'm trying to make above: Matt is a (clearly) scared guy who has the overwhelming desire to share this important transformation and his feelings about it with the world, but he can't take his shirt off at the beach.  So in the comfort of someone else's home (as he mentions), behind a camera in a bathroom medicine cabinet, he shares these deeply personal emotional issues with random strangers.  This, to me, is SO strange.  Why isn't he sharing with whomever is there with him?  Why isn't he showing his body to his friends, his family, people who care about and support him? Doesn't he think that he could be inspirational to them, too? Maybe he doesn't have any support, so he is turning to people through social media for it (which brings me full circle to my original argument of people reaching out to complete strangers through social media for emotional support).

Perhaps he has talked to his friends and family (but obviously not shown them his body because he says in the video that it's a "first" for him), and now he is just trying to reach a larger audience to send the message. Okay.  Still a little strange to me.  I guess it's just my old-fashioned brain talking, but in my day, you didn't use technology to discuss your deeply personal issues.

I understand and fully support the fact that people (wait, unless you're a woman who works for Hobby Lobby) own their own bodies and are allowed to show or share them (legally) in whatever capacity they wish.  I guess I just feel about this video the same way I feel about selfies: unnecessary and a little strange, and indicative of a world where Facebook has overtaken face-to-face interaction.

Finally, let me just say that I hope this man finds whatever it is he is looking for--confidence, support, surgery, contentment with his own body-- whatever it takes, and whatever way he needs to find it. While I never would have approached this kind of issue this way (and hopefully never will) I appreciate his attempt, though it didn't personally speak to me.

With that being said, I'll stop blogging and ignoring my husband who is sitting right next to me, playing on his phone. ;)

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