The list of reasons to stop using social media may be nearly endless, but I’m still on Facebook and Twitter and every once in a while I look at Instagram. (And yes, I know I just told you something about my age.) I spend less time and post less than I did when I was a Vice President. Then, both Facebook and Twitter helped me connect with students and gain insight into the student life on campus in ways that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
Now though, I stay on social media because it’s the way I keep in touch with friends from my freshman year of college. We had our yearly reunion this weekend and it was wonderful to see everyone after two years with no reunion thanks to COVID. It’s the only way I am able to see the new babies of friends, the successes of former students and colleagues, and, on Twitter, get lost in a variety of interesting rabbit trails on many topics.
There’s much that doesn’t matter on social media, but it can also serve as a window on a world you know nothing about. Want to know about trains? You can find people who know about trains on social media. Want to smile? Follow an account called Thoughts of Dog or any one of the many dog and cat based accounts. Twitter in particular, and social media, in general can be used to explore one of the many different sub-cultures or interest groups that we will never be part of but are fun to learn about. Two of my Strengths are Learner and Input and Twitter feeds both of them.
One of my favorite Twitter communities, one I am a part of, is the writing community. There I find interesting authors, information about writing and publishing, and best of all, tweets about interesting books. That’s how I found the book I just finished. The author, Matt Haig, was tweeting joyously about his new book, The Midnight Library and his excitement about the book led me to order it even though I had never heard of him before and knew nothing else about his writing. The title appealed to my bibliophile self. This quote on the back intrigued me:
“‘Between life and death there is a library,’ she said. ‘And within that library, the shelves go on for ever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived.'”
The part of me that thinks “I could do that!” every time I see the play A Chorus Line was fascinated by this idea. Now, I know that I’m not someone who could live the life of a Broadway dancer, but the part of me that loves to dance is always enthralled by the idea. What would it be like to have tried it?
Unlike the movie Groundhog Day where the protagonist learns and grows by reliving the same day over and over, Nora Seed learns and grows by exploring the lives that might have been if she had made different choices across her life. She does this through reading and experiencing the stories of her life through the books contained on the shelves of the Midnight Library. It’s a lovely book about second, and third, and fourth choices, learning what matters most, understanding one’s place in the world and the difference one makes in that world. Lots of books and movies have explored this idea, The Wizard of Oz and It’s a Wonderful Life are two that come to mind immediately for me. I’m sure you can think of others.
From a writer’s perspective, I enjoyed the way Haig created different lives for Nora, both the differences and the connections between them. As a reader, I enjoyed being along for the ride. The Midnight Library is an exploration into understanding what really matters and of the effect one person has on the world. It encourages readers to pay a bit more attention and, perhaps, to appreciate a bit more the difference they make in the world and to understand what matters. Definitely worth reading. Enjoy!