Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem

Let me tell you how I REALLY feel

Get it? It's a metaphor. #facepalm
Get it? It's a metaphor. #facepalm

So last week, a Facebook friend posted “‘Like’ this status, and I’ll tell you something I find beautiful about you.”

Hell yeah, I clicked “like” in a flash.

Hey, I’m always down for a compliment.

Well, her response was so beautiful and made me feel so good that I decided to pay it forward. So, I posted the following picture and text:

Get it? It's a metaphor. #facepalm
Get it? It’s a metaphor. #facepalm

“‘Like’ this status and I’ll tell you something exquisitely unique about you.”

The “likes” came rolling in: A friend from Hood River, Oregon. Another from Amsterdam. A guy in Jordan. A girl in South Korea. Like the tide, the  “likes” washed over the photo of the shells. Gleaming in binary code. 

Yeaaaaah…. Let’s file this under “seemed like a good idea at the time,” shall we?

“Ohhh, this is going to be fun,” someone wrote.

“How many of these people do you actually know?” another asked.

“I think I’m in over my head,” I messaged a friend while I tried to catch my breath.

Because here’s the thing. I know about half these people IRL. And of the half I’ve never met in person, I actually only know half of them online. 

(Something “exquisitely unique about everyone? Really? REALLY? #FACEPALM) 

I thought about deleting the picture. It would be so freaking easy to just make it go away and pretend it didn’t happen and pray that the internet would forget faster than I would.

My finger hovered over the drop-down arrow. I started to press.

As I looked at “Delete” highlighted in Facebook’s azure blue, I remembered something I wrote last year. Something important. Something I still believe in: We have to quit telling lies on Facebook.

Fine. Let’s be real I don’t keep it real all the time: I still curate status messages about raising my kids in a village with a bombass view of rolling fields and big-huge sky. I still tweak the lighting and increase the contrast on photos I share. And there is no freaking way you will EVER see me without an ambient filter (or mascara) on your news feed.

But there is a Fakebook limit. Which includes not hitting up “Emergency complement generator” and telling a total stranger that their boss loved that thing they did at work today, or that “your outfit today = thumbs up.”

So instead of deleting or BSing, I posted this instead.

Expect direct responses from me soon – but for those of you I’ve never spoken with, prepare yourself : we are about to virtually meet.

And some of us are meeting online for the first time.

But mostly, I’m looking back at all the names, stunned and breathless, knocked over by a wave of feeling for the people I know….

Because wow. I am surrounded by amazing people.

From a single mom in East LA making it work on a dime and prayer, to a poet in NYC who bleeds words, to a ER doctor who always returns my frantic IMs in the middle of the night, to my elementary school principal who still teaches compassion through his kindness on Facebook, to the Israeli lone soldier putting his life on the line for his new home, to everyone — EVERYONE — who is inspiring me both in real life and online. I am so glad that I posted this status.

“Um, the messages you’re writing on other people’s walls are creeping me out,” a friend messaged me today. “It looks like you’re saying goodbye to everyone.”

I’m not saying goodbye – and I wish it didn’t look that way. I don’t want to wait for those last moments to tell you how I feel. And on the flip side, we can’t go to our own funerals to hear how awesome we were in life.

So here’s my plan: I think it’s time to take keeping it real on Facebook to a whole new level. It’s one thing not to tell lies. It’s another to tell the truth. 

There are so many people we “like” along the way – the stories and the photos they share – but how often do we look deeper?

I know I don’t do it nearly enough.

And I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.

I have excuses why I don’t:

I’m busy. Sure, I’m working, I’ve got the kids with me. I’m out.

I’m self-focused. It’s too easy to forget  that social media isn’t just a platform to leverage whatever the hell it is you’re pushing.

And yes, I”m a little afraid. Because putting it all out there makes me vulnerable…

But in the end, I know this to be true: Life is fragile. And too often we miss those moments to say the words that can forge very real connections in a world where we spend more time looking at our Smartphones than the people we love.

(Like right now, right?)

And yes, I do really want to change this: Let’s tell the truth on Facebook — because even if we don’t like everything about everybody, we must like something. Otherwise, what’s the point of being friends? 

So, slowly, slowly, I am going to walk down the beach, pick up these exquisite shells and find the glimmering magnificence in each one. 

I hope you will join me.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer is the author of Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered and the New Media Editor at Times of Israel. She was raised in Venice Beach, California on Yiddish lullabies and Civil Rights anthems, and she now lives in Jerusalem with her 3 kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors, talks to strangers, and writes stories about people — especially taxi drivers. Sarah also speaks before audiences left, right, and center through the Jewish Speakers Bureau, asking them to wrestle with important questions while celebrating their willingness to do so. She loves whisky and tacos and chocolate chip cookies and old maps and foreign coins and discovering new ideas from different perspectives. Sarah is a work in progress.