When I had my son in 2004 social media had not yet taken hold of every breathing citizen in the known free world. We spoke to one another in person, visited each others' homes and still used the U.S. Mail to acknowledge birthdays and anniversaries.
Around 2006 I ditched reality in favor of a virtual reality. I joined Facebook. Soon everyone showed up. The Reign of the Smartphone arrived. My son napped and I wasted my days writing about motherhood on MSN Spaces and eventually, Blogger. Thank God, I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer in 2009; nothing brings priorities into focus like a cancer diagnosis.
Looking back now, I still (despite the reality check) wasted too many hours on social media. During treatment I relied heavily on virtual companionship. A group of women I have to this day never met in person became my virtual support group during a year-long struggle with motherhood + cancer.
When healed, I sought community offline...
I became quite popular in the homeschooling community. As a certified educator I was a reliable source of information. As a mother-to-one I was perceived as having time on my hands to keep an eye on everyone else's children. And as a well-mannered friend I never voiced how I felt insulted when my e-mails were lost, my time was not respected, and my invitations ignored. It was when I got up the nerve and began to speak openly about feeling taken advantage of by so many of my new friends, I became less popular.
My preference for intimate, one-on-one relationships rather than chaotic group outings makes me undesirable. My eagerness to flip rocks looking for salamanders is also a detriment. Add in: my kid is homeschooled and he doesn't play soccer or lacrosse, my husband is a professional artist, we have no television, we replaced most of our lawn with native plants, trees and shrubs, filled our living room with floor-to-ceiling bookcases and turned our basement into a woodshop and art studio...
We live in an alternate reality.
I keep in touch with a handful of friends who tolerate my eccentricities - those characteristics which in the eyes of our society deem me, unpresentable. Similarly to Beatrix Potter who, as her biographer Linda Lear put it, "passively acquiesced," when her mycological research was rebuffed by the Victorian scientific community...I accept my undesirablity without protest.