Welcome to Adulthood

We EAT: Beebs’s Best Ever (and super secret) Chocolate Chip Cookies! (Or are they cakes?)

Hey everyone,

Adulthood has been busy lately, so I haven’t had much time to blog. I got a new job, which has been a great learning experience and my fiance and I moved in together. Life is good!

Today I christened my new kitchen (we haven’t been in this apartment for too long) with one of my favorite recipes: Beebs’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies? I, in fact, love them so much that I have tried literally dozens of “best ever” chocolate chip cookie recipes, but no cookie has been better than the one my friend Elizabeth makes.

The best part is, her recipe is the same recipe that is on the back of every/any bag of chocolate chips — with one caveat: she adds lots and lots of extra flour.

It doesn’t seem so weird until you realize the method to the madness. First, you make the recipe on the bag as usual, but stop right before you add the chocolate chips.

Here’s where it gets crazy. Then, according to Elizabeth, you add lots and lots of flour.

For a home baker who prides herself on precision (sifting everything, measuring everything perfectly), this boggles my mind. “What do you mean add ‘lots and lots of flour’? How MUCH flour?” I would exclaim. “Eh,” Elizabeth would reply, “just add a lot until it seems like you don’t need to add any more.”

So one day, I watched her do it. She made the recipe as it stated on the bag (which already had more than two cups flour in it!),  mixed it all until smooth, and then began adding flour by the cup full and stirring. “The stirring is the hardest part,” she told me as she struggled to get the wooden spoon through the thick dough, “But it’s a good arm workout!”  This dough is so thick, that a Kitchen Aid mixer can’t even mix it — even with the hook attachment! (That’s really thick, you guys.) I’m not sure how much flour she added in the end, probably another two or three cups. Then she added the chocolate chips, popped extra large tablespoon full 6f dough on a cookie sheet, and baked until slightly brown. Then, she had the biggest, fluffiest, doughiest, softest cookies you could ever imagine. Chocolate chip cookies, reinvented.

So, I tried it on my own. The first time I made them I was too nervous to put too much extra flour. The second time I made them, I put a little more flour — but was still cautious.

Today, I just let loose with the flour and, boy oh boy, did I make the best cookies ever. Part cookie, part cake, part scone — Beebs invented something amazing. And by letting loose a little from a recipe, I felt like a real chef! It reminded me that experimenting and spontaneity in baking and cooking is okay, and sometimes, the results are even better than you could have anticipated!

Now, I give you the recipe (which, in this case is on the back of a Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chips bag+a little magic from Elizabeth.)

2 1/4  cups all purpose flour (Ha! That’s a joke!)

1 ts salt

1 ts baking soda

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup softened butter (Ok, so I used 1/2 cup butter only and it was still delicious!)

1 ts vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 package of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. Combine brown sugar, sugar, softened butter, and vanilla and beat until creamy. Add eggs and beat. Add dry ingredients and mix well.

Now comes the crazy part: add a whole lot of flour. Add it slowly at first, maybe 1/2 cup at a time and mix. (You will have to hand mix this unless you have a really strong and big Kitchen Aid.) Keep adding more and more flour until the dough feels not sticky at all and actually seems a bit dry, but is still well incorporated. This could be close to three more cups of flour.

Add the chocolate chips and mix whilst giving yourself an arm workout. Spoon heaping tablespoons on to a cookie sheet. (Heaping is better for these cookies, as they really taste cakey and delicious when they are a bigger cookie.)

Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown on top. Let cool a few minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a cookie rack.

Enjoy! Report back on these cookies! Did experimenting with flour pay off in the end? (Trust me, it will be an enthusiastic YES!)

Welcome To Adulthood is Under Construction

Hi there,

Mara here. Something’s going on with Welcome to Adulthood. I can’t seem to get it back up and running!

I’m working out the kinks to see what can be done. If you end up SEEING this blog entry, consider that a good sign.

Stay tuned!

The Art of Solitude

Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your won presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement.

-Alice Koller

I’ve always been a person who dislikes solitude. Growing up, I lived in a bustling house full of family and pets, and a little brother who often kept me in his company whether I liked it or not. On the days when I was not playing with my siblings or my neighborhood friends, I would spend lots of time on the phone with my childhood buddy, Nicole. Nicole and I would often keep records of how long we could talk on the phone. We once talked on the phone for six hours straight and then went to bed while still on the phone, and woke up to greet one another via the same connected phone call in the morning. (Some things never change: 20 years later, we still talk on the phone for hours at a time.)

In college, I was also never alone. I lived with a multitude of roommates for my entire college career and thereafter.

A house full of roommates ensured that if I ever got lonely, I need only to poke my head into another bedroom for some company.

At some point along the way, I lived with a former boyfriend, an arrangement that never left me alone for long, even during the sleep-hours.  

Then I bought my smartphone. Suddenly, I was able to engage with the world at any time of the day or night with just a click of a button or a text message! In the Twitter/Facebook universe, you are never alone, and for a social maven like me, that interconnectedness nourished and enticed me.

Somewhere in between baby brothers, epic phone conversation, co-habitations, and smartphones, I lived alone for about 6 months in a little beach cottage about 8 blocks from the ocean. The cottage had no TV and no wi-fi. It was during this time that I tried my hand at something I don’t think I had ever learned: how to be alone.

I cooked meals alone, ate alone, and filled my lonely nights with work, iPod music, dating, running, and wine. My mom (who is an only child and is pretty good at being happy and dynamic even when she is alone) told me that it was “good to practice” being alone, because you never know when you might have to be alone again. I had never felt lonelier during those six months, but she was right, I had to practice being fulfilled when alone. It was a lesson of adulthood that I needed to learn through experience, and it was really hard.

In contrast, my fiancé, David, has almost always lived alone. In fact, he loves being alone. He could spend days on end alone working on his various independent projects and he would be completely content. For him, being alone has nothing to do with loneliness. Being alone allows him to unwind, recharge, and gather his thoughts. I would venture to guess that he feels lonelier at a crowded party than alone in his house reading a book. Admittedly, he is pretty eccentric, but I think he may be on to something really important. Solitude is often associated with creativity, spirituality, and intellectualism. There is something enlivening about solitude.

Greg Feist, a professor at San Jose State University who studies the connection between creativity and solitude noted that when we let our focus shift away from the people and things around us, we are better able to engage in “meta-cognition,” or the process of thinking critically and reflectively about our own thoughts. There may be additional benefits to being alone too, according to John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago, author of the book “Lonliness.” Cacioppo believes that as long as solitude is not motivated by fear or social anxiety, then spending time alone can be a crucially nourishing component of life.

Solitude as a critical experience in our life is a bitter pill that I have learned to swallow. I am a very social human animal and my creativity mostly comes from collaboration with others rather than from singular revelations. My times of solitude stir in me a deep loneliness and longing for human connections rather than inspiration and solace. Yet, every since the lesson I learned from my time in the little beach cottage, the art of solitude is something I continually strive to practice.

Most of the time I am not disciplined enough to be alone. I still check Facebook, surf the web, text, or chat online. I don’t know if being alone will ever get easier for me, but because it is so difficult makes it that much more important for me to keep trying to get better at it. After all, at the end of your life, even if you are surrounded by people, death will be your own singular experience. I believe that learning to find peace in solitude will arm us with the strength we need to face whatever may lay ahead when that time comes.  

To that end, I’ve been working to change my perspective on solitude. I try to practice cherishing those times I can be alone. I try to actively carve out more time in my busy life to just exist, by myself. Some of the times that I am alone, I fill my mind with thoughts, things I want to do, places I want to go, plans I want to make. Other times, I spend periods of solitude just quieting my mind and paying attention to every small breath I take. I try to be grateful for those times I have to spend with myself, just to check in with myself, and remind myself why I am my own very best friend. I think finding ultimate fulfillment and empowerment in solitude will be something I’ll have to keep struggling with for a very long time. But, by removing loneliness from solitude to re-imagine my experiences of being alone gives me the power to change, grow, and learn.

After all, practice makes perfect.

[Photo by BKusler via Flickr.]

Guest Blog: Stuck in Normal — On Adulthood, Careers, and Creating a New ‘Normal’

Hello, my dear Adulthooders! We are having guest blogs galore here on Welcome to Adulthood and I couldn’t be happier! I really enjoy hearing insights from other people as they blaze the trail of adulthood. This week’s guest blogger, Randy Crane, talks to us about how to break out of the “working to live” mold to create our own “living to work” lifestyle. Randy took a big risk and changed jobs entirely to find a career path that he felt really utilized his talents and interests. How’d he do it? Find out below.

Guest Blog: Stuck in Normal — On Adulthood, Careers, and Creating a New ‘Normal’

By Randy Crane

What did you want to be when you grow up? Who told you that you couldn’t be?

Maybe no one actually said the words, “Give up. It’ll never happen. You can’t do that.” But somewhere along the way, our dreams got put on the back burner, then the burner got turned off, then they just got put away somewhere. Oh sure, we never meant to give up on our dreams. We’ve always said that we’d come back to it someday…

Welcome to adulthood. Now, give up your dreams. Put the toys away. Forget fun. Forget meaningful work. Just find a job, do your job, hate your job, and live for the weekend. Thank God it’s Friday. Oh God, it’s Monday. It’s just the way things are, right?

Wrong! Somewhere we got the growing up means having to accept work that we hate (or at best, tolerate) and try to squeeze in everything we value and enjoy in whatever time we have left. I don’t believe that’s how we’re supposed to live, or how we have to live.

In his book “Quitter”, Jon Acuff says, “We’re becoming the ‘I’m, but’ generation. When we talk about what we do for a living we inevitably say, ‘I’m a teacher, but I want to be an artist.’ ‘I’m a CPA, but I’d love to start my own business.’ ‘I’m a _____, but I want to be a ______.’”

I’ve been there. I’m still there. But I’m not staying there. Not anymore. And I don’t believe you have to either. I’ve had a traditional job for quite a long time—and it feels longer than it’s really been. I’ve worked in retail. I was a pastor, and that was good, but I learned that what I had been trained for and the reality, were two very different things. I’ve done office jobs; in fact, that’s what I’m doing now. I don’t hate my job, but I certainly don’t love it.

Does that sound familiar? I’m here to tell you that we don’t have to live there. We can find work that is fulfilling, productive, meaningful, and profitable. It may not look like what our parents or grandparents did. It’ll be risky. If you try to do something different something outside the norm, people may not understand. Your friends might make fun of you. Your family may try to talk you out of it. They just want you to be secure, to be safe, to be normal.

If there’s one thing we’ve all learned over the last few years, it’s that guaranteed safety and security in a traditional job is a myth. And do you know what “normal” looks like? Normal is living with credit card debt, student loan payments, a car payment that could be a house payment in some parts of the country, and living paycheck to paycheck. It’s spending a quarter of our lives doing a job just for the sake of getting a paycheck, hoping every day we still have a job,  and trying to squeeze in that which gives us meaning and purpose in between all the rest. In other words, “normal” sucks! So I say that “adulthood” for me means it’s time to be weird! Who’s with me?!

Without intending to sound arrogant, I know I’m capable of so much more than what I have now. I believe God made me with a unique combination of skills, talents, abilities, dreams, and passions—which combine into what I call my purpose. When I live according to my purpose, I live in a way that gives me the most fulfillment and meaning, makes the biggest positive difference in the lives of those around me, and sets me up to really succeed—as I choose to define success, not as society defines it for me.

So, how am I doing it? I started a blog almost 2 years ago, with the goal of turning it into a book within the next 2 years (I’ve got a lot of material to cover). I’m working “on the side” (for now) as an independent travel agent, specializing in helping people create meaningful experiences through travel—anyone can just find cheap tickets and take orders, big deal. And I’m starting my own business as a life and career coach. Put these ventures together with some planning and goal setting and I’m on a 12-18 month path to move out of normal.

How about you? Are you stuck in normal? What’s your “I’m, but”?

***

Thanks for that great guest blog, Randy!

Do you have something to say about adulthood? We want to hear your stories! Email us at welcometoadulthood [at] gmail. com.

Photo by Steve Heath via Flickr.

Guest Blog: Response to This American Life’s Retraction of “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory”

*This guest blog by David Daedalus is a follow up to David’s 1/20/12 entry about a now-retracted This American Life Episode by Mike Daisey.

Guest Blog: Response to This American Life’s Retraction of “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory”

By David Daedalus

Today, I received an email from Ira Glass of the radio program This American Life. It turns out that a recent episode featuring monologuist Mike Daisey, who traveled to China to learn more about the workers and working conditions under which Apple products are made, was largely fabricated. Below is a portion of the email from Glass: 

During fact checking before the broadcast of Daisey’s story, I and This American Life producer Brian Reed asked Daisey for this interpreter’s contact information, so we could confirm with her that Daisey actually witnessed what he claims. Daisey told us her real name was Anna, not Cathy as he says in his monologue, and he said that the cell phone number he had for her didn’t work anymore. He said he had no way to reach her.

 At that point, we should’ve killed the story. But other things Daisey told us about Apple’s operations in China checked out, and we saw no reason to doubt him. We didn’t think that he was lying to us. That was a mistake.

As those of you who have been following the story already know, the result of the original broadcast of Daisey’s story increased scrutiny on Apple’s labor practices and, in response, Apple improved its auditing practices of its third party suppliers.  

Daisey’s response to the retraction is posted on the Washington Post, found here.

What Daisey’s response amounts to is him saying is: I’m not a journalist, I never claimed to be, the story is a dramatization designed to raise awareness of an important issue, and it did that. In fact, the New York Times ran a story shortly after Daisey’s episode aired that also detailed that working conditions in some of the factories were deplorable.

Until more details come out on this week’s podcast of This American Life, we have no way of knowing to what degree Daisey lied to the producers about the facts in his story. Obviously if he lied to them, he shouldn’t have.

However, the inescapable irony here is that Daisey’s point about the ease with which we ignore the immoral is exemplified by the producers of This American Life in their willingness to ignore their own concerns about the truthfulness of Daisey’s story.

Just as we, the consumers of Apple products, willfully turn a blind eye to the manner in which those products are made, so it seems that Ira Glass and his staff also turned a blind eye to the warning signs that there were issues of factual accuracy in Daisey’s story because the story was so damn good.

Kudos to Glass for taking his lumps and owning up to his mistake. It just goes to show you how readily even the best of us will ignore our conscience if what we get in return is shiny, impressive, and makes us look cool.

***

Photo by rpongsaj via Flickr.

Guest Blog: Mr. Daedalus and the Tree of Knowledge

Update 3/16/12: This American Life, who first reported Mike Daisey’s story (which we blogged about here), has retracted the story due to factual inaccuracies. Stay tuned to Welcome to Adulthood for our thoughts on this issue.

For Mike Daisey’s response: check out this article.

The blog entry below was first published on Welcome to Adulthood on January 20, 2012

“…It’s just too damn easy to rationalize away that nagging little part of my brain that knows I should be more concerned about what’s in the sausage.”

Mr. Daedalus and the Tree of Knowledge

By David Daedalus

So there I was,  in my comically-small San Diego flat playing Doom on my iPad, when I turned on the radio just in time to catch an installment of ‘This American Life’. I have a particular fondness for this show and was doubly pleased as, like a rare steak and a fine Bordeaux, it pairs nicely with laying on my futon and blasting the minions of hell into piles of pixilated goo. This installment was entitled ‘Mister Daisey and the Apple Factory’, and after hearing it, I was left with one startling revelation:

Mike Daisey might well be the devil, and oddly, the devil seems to care more about other people than I do.

You see, Mike Daisey is a monologist and an Apple enthusiast who recently traveled to China to meet the people who manufacture all our iPads and MacBooks and whatnot. The episode of ‘This American Life’ is an edited version of a monologue that he gave about his trip. He described in detail the staggering pollution in Shenzhen, the Chinese city where Apple and lots of other name-brand electronic stuff is made. His story also told of workers being forced to use a known neurotoxin (n-hexane) to clean iPhone screens simply because it dried slightly faster than the non-neurotoxin alternative, alcohol. He described in vivid detail sixteen hour work days, child labor, and rampant worker suicide. This was likely the price that a score of Chinese laborers paid to make the iPad that I held in my hands, all while I sat in comfort listening to ‘This American Life’.

Mike Daisey might well be the devil: what he did through that monologue was pluck the apple from the tree of knowledge, hand it to me, and ask with an impish smile:

“Haven’t you ever wondered what’s in a hot dog?”

The thing is, I have, and what’s worse, I know in my heart of hearts I’m not going to do anything about it. Why? Because hot dogs are good. iPhones are cool. While of course I am morally outraged about the things Mr. Daisey described, but as long as I don’t actually have to see the blood and pain and torment that goes into making the things that I like when they are new and toss once they become boring, it’s just too damn easy to rationalize away that nagging little part of my brain that knows I should be more concerned about what’s in the sausage. Moral outrage is well and good, but what use is moral outrage unless it prods you to do something about the issue at hand?

Let’s take this a step further. I dated a gal for a while who was a domestic violence counselor and twice a week she was the on-call person for her agency’s Domestic Abuse Response Team. Basically, when the cops would respond to a domestic abuse call, her agency would get contacted so they could do a follow up. It really opened my eyes because her phone was ringing off the hook every time she was on call. Every night women (and men) were victims of domestic abuse all over town, and if you look at the statistics for this kind of thing, you may be surprised to find it’s more common than you think.

This is just one tiny example of all the horrific things that happen every minute of every day in your backyard and across the globe. There are tons of things in the world to be legitimately outraged about, so many that it’s literally an impossible task to educate yourself and do something about every one of them. It’s also easy to use this rationale as an excuse to give yourself a free pass (as I am guilty of doing) and not put any effort into caring about any of it. Why bother looking when it’s easy not to and you know you won’t like what you’ll find?

Mike Daisey may be the devil for enticing me with the truth, but at least the devil had the chutzpah to seek that truth, and when what he found failed to meet even the most basic standards of human decency, he had the courage not just to be outraged, but to do something about it. Granted, I may not be able to soothe (or even be aware of) all of the world’s ills, but Mr. Daisey’s fine monologue reminded me that I need to do a better job at caring about at least a few of them.

***

David Daedalus is a writer, a filmmaker, and a graduate student of Philosophy at San Diego State University. He also has a project on Kickstarter.com — to fund an animated series (one of his short episodes in the series has already been made) which he describes as “Philip K. Dick meets Southpark…with zombies.” To learn more and to watch the short animation, visit David’s website, here. David has also blogged with us before on Welcome to Adulthood. To read his other guest blog entry (equally as riveting!), click here.

 

[Photo by Marcin Wichary via Flickr.]

 

Wordless Wednesday: Adulthood is Busy

 

[Photo by Jared via Flickr.]

We’re All Mad Here: On ‘Un-weddings’ and Forging a New Wedding Culture

 “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” -Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

A very merry un-wedding. That is what I am going to call it from now on.

I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum, and I suspect my lovely fiancé has always done the same. Or maybe we are just contrarians living in our own wonderland — which is also very likely the case. In any event, our un-wedding is going to be…different.

But, as I am beginning the initial planning stages of what our un-wedding might be like, I have really started to wonder:

What’s the price that we are  paying for weddings in this age of conspicuous consumption?

And I don’t mean the monetary price.

Weddings have become commodities. And who can blame us for wanting to take a drink of the white silk taffeta wedding Kool-aid? Celebrity gossips rags inundate us with the latest wedding news. Celebrities sell their wedding pictures for hundreds of thousands of dollars because there is a market for them. Kim Kardashian’s infamous televised wedding garnered record viewers. Can’t just blame Kim K., folks — we were the ones setting our DVRs. We buy the gossip mags. Heck, celebrity gossip even appears in the New York Times. Let’s face it, we like this stuff.

Likewise, wedding websites allow us to endlessly consume wedding details to our heart’s content – satiating our appetite for a glimpse into an “ideal” affair, a fairytale ending. While those pictures are pretty, I think that by over-saturating culture with a curated wedding world, we lose sight of what makes marital unions truly special in the first place.

Let’s think about the impact of media imaging in another way. Did you know that there are over 100 published studies on the impact of ‘thin’ perfected body images on girls and women? (There are a number on the impact on men, too.)  According to nationaleatingdisorders.org, evidence has found that exposure to thin-ideal images taken directly from fashion magazines produced significant increases in self-reported depression, stress, guilt, shame, insecurity and body dissatisfaction relative to women exposed to images of average-weight women from magazines. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many studies like that.

Undeniably, media’s (this includes internet) saturation of what is “ideal” – be it a Victoria’s Secret model, or Mario Lopez shirtless on the cover of People, or a wedding featured on StyleMePretty – has a significant detrimental impact on cultural consciousness.

So, here on WelcometoAdulthood, I am going to provide a counter-discourse about weddings. I’m not sure how I am going to do it yet, but I am setting out to do something big. Something big and something that makes people feel great and empowered, not that makes people feel less-than. Here on WelcometoAdulthood we shall forge a new reality. This is a reality which is wholly constituted by us, not by the media and by those who profit from the wedding industry, and this new reality will forever impact the cultural conception of what a wedding is: a union of mutual love and commitment between any two adults (note the very deliberate use of the world adult here, rather than ‘man and woman’), an acknowledgement from the community that it will support the couple on their life path, and a legal contract between these two committed adults. And all the unique joy that follows.  The joy that follows is the best part! Union+joy first, aesthetics second (or maybe somewhere like 7th or 8th.)

Impossible, you say?

Well, in Alice’s words, “Sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

[photo by Jill_M_Casey via Flickr.]

Our Engagement Year: On Sapphires, the Vow of the Wedding Website Boycott, and the Next Chapter of Adulthood

“Like you’re trying to fight gravity
on a planet that insists
that love is like falling
and falling is like this” – Ani Difranco

Hello my dear Adulthooders! I knew I was a hopeless romantic for a reason. Believing in Epic Love made my heart open and ready to find it. Low and behold, Epic Love wooosshhhheedd right in like a perfect warm breeze and swept me off my feet at the time in my life when I was most ready to embrace it in all its wonderful epic glory. Then my dear Epic Love proposed! And I squealed and said, ‘Of course!’

So now I have a lovely fiancée and a lovely sapphire engagement ring that was handmade by my dear friend Maura Green.  And I have learned a lot of lessons in the past few days of being engaged:

1) If you are going to have a sapphire engagement ring, you should be ready to have the following conversation with many confused, but mostly kind, friends and acquaintances:

What is that?

A sapphire.

But that isn’t really an engagement ring.

Yes, it really is an engagement ring.

(blankly) Oh. Did you want that?

Well, I wanted a wonderful partner and the ring is really just a little bauble compared to the prize that is my fiancée. But yes, I wanted a sapphire too and I love it. Princess Diana had one, as did Helen of Troy.

Oh, ok. Cool.

 

2) I am taking a vow, right here, in front of all of my dearest blog buddies, to never look at another wedding website (or wedding print magazine, for that matter) ever again.

You heard me right. No more wedding websites. This is just a choice I am making. There is nothing wrong with those websites, and more power to those who enjoy them and find inspiration from them. However, they are not for me. I am going to try to have the most authentically ‘Mara and David’ wedding I can have, and that means that I am not going to feel bad or less-than or not as cool or not as hip because I don’t have calligraphy on my [*] recycled-paper-from-vintage paper plate-Save the Dates, or because I can’t hire a really expensive photographer, or because I don’t have the money to buy chair covers.

[*] Not that I have a problem with anything recycled!

Along those same lines, my good friend Luke Williams once told me early on in my blogging career that my blog had more to offer than focusing too much on weddings. Since receiving that creative feedback, Welcome to Adulthood has been able to grow roots in a monumental way. Here, we explore issues affecting adulthood in so many parts of our life. And marriage and weddings and coupling is just ONE of those parts of our full life — not the whole part. To that end, I will continue to blog about all the varied and complicated and fun parts of adulthood, and maybe once in a while I will blog about lessons we are learning in [*]Our Engagement Year.

[*] Did I mention my fiancée is also a writer? I think I have convinced him to start a new side-blog called Our Engagement Year (inspired by Harvey Pekar’s Our Cancer Year.) He seemed excited about this new project! Stay tuned!

Anyway, needless to say that I am over the moon! Also, for some reason I feel more like an adult now than ever before. Maybe it is because when someone asks you to marry them it is possibly the most important question of your life, and when you answer that question in the affirmative the path of your life is forever changed — for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live….

I know our life together will be mostly for the better, mostly in health, and hopefully with a very long and happy life. And that feels amazing.

Welcome to Adulthood.

 


The Great Facebook Debate and the Community of Adulthood

 

As you know, Welcome to Adulthood loves its contributing writers! In fact, we love them so much that we are big fans of their work too!

Recently, I read an article posted on David Daedalus’s blog that was really engaging. It was one of those articles that you just can’t stop thinking about. Daedalus wrote that Facebook needs to be “out-Facebooked.” He noted that he didn’t want to see:

“Friends of yours started having babies and suddenly half of your newsfeed is pictures of  little Ethan or Tammy barfing pureed peas onto the shoulder of a proud hipster parent who you were roommates with senior year and don’t really have a connection with now. Former lovers and friends of former lovers are awkwardly still on your friends lists, pictures of you and your former paramours now have to be untagged lest your current squeeze see them and get wonky.”

Daedalus questions the connective value of Facebook when he says, “Social Networking isn’t about connecting with people, it’s about making yourself appear interesting so other people will want to connect with you.”

Ultimately (and of course he says it so much more eloquently and convincingly), he is positing that there is a better way to run a social networking site that fits your need for voyeurism and connection, that would be far less superficial in personal engagement and wouldn’t rely on tedious self-curation. Daedalus also acknowledges that Facebook has lost its edge – that somewhere in the clunky format changes and expanded social circles to your Aunt Emily, your parents, and your boss, Facebook has ceased to retain that exclusive mystique.

I guess I’m not as critical of Facebook. To me, what makes Facebook pretty great is that you can tailor it to your unique values. So, one person may not really care to see their college roommate’s child’s first steps – it adds no value to their life. But for me, watching College Roommate Sally’s Baby on my newsfeed adds significant value to my life, regardless if I regularly engage with Sally Roommate. It adds value because it appeals very strongly to my sense of community.

Facebook has fundamentally changed our notion of “community.” In the old days, the idea of community was “the village” that was uniquely within each of our worldviews. In the old days, you knew most people in the village, you knocked on doors, you had dinner or drinks with a person. People rarely left the village, people dated and married via the village network, and you spent much of your life tightly wrapped within village interactions. You didn’t need pictures of Sally Roommate’s Baby, because you lived down the street from her. You didn’t need to keep tabs on a former lover because you would unfortunately be doomed to see them at some point around the village (probably while you were WITH your “current  squeeze”, who still would “get wonky.”)

The world has become more sophisticated and, inevitably, our “villages” have expanded as a result. Facebook has expanded the village community so that you CAN keep in touch with Sally Roommate without having to do much work. (Sally Roommate represents the friends whom you think fondly of but probably wouldn’t have felt inspired to have kept in contact with over the years if the means of communication were only phone, mail, and even email.)

By virtue of mutually EXISTING on your Friends Page, you are connecting with Sally Roommate. By connecting with Sally Roommate you are adding value to your life (even if it just means you get to have a nice smile over morning coffee when you see another picture of her baby in a Lion costume. Smiling = value.) By adding value to your life, your community is vital to you and becomes a really successful support and social tool!

Community is only valuable because it is focused on connecting: whether you live in a village and have dinner with Aunt Emily and her neighbors’ every Sunday, or whether your Facebook wall is pasted with mostly-interesting things from mostly-interesting people who you, for the most part, are fond of….

Facebook may not have retained its coolness factor, but it has done something greater than it probably ever intended: it has forged a new conception of community. Because of Facebook I provided my former neighbor in Los Angeles with my best-ever blueberry muffin recipe for her baby shower. Because of Facebook my fond friends from high school can see pictures of my handsome boyfriend, and I can see pictures from their graduations from graduate school. Because of Facebook I finally have a face to put to the name of my elementary school pen pal. Because of Facebook I keep in touch with my sister fairly often. Because of Facebook, the girl I met once through a mutual friend wrote me a heartfelt email that brought tears to my eyes when I had posted a status that my beloved cat had died.

It takes a lot of support to create a happy life for yourself. It takes connecting and learning from others. It takes the kindness of strangers. It takes wise mentors.  It takes sharing and celebrating and sympathy and silliness.

It takes a village, or *352 friends on your Facebook.

*Insert your village census count here.

***

What do you think? What is Facebook’s value to you, if any? Are you ready to see the next social network “out-Facebook” Facebook? Is Facebook creating a village community, or merely overexposing us?

Weigh in Adulthooders!

 

Photo via Thos003 on Flickr.

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