By Leema Thomas
The power of an aptly-phrased 140-character tweet on Twitter or a status update on Facebook has been well-established. We’ve seen the people of Iran, Egypt and other nations — as well as most businesses, man, woman and child in America — harness the power of social media to enact radical change.
But it was only recently that I inadvertently discovered the power of a Facebook post as it pertains to family life, particularly in my relationship with my hubby. You see, unlike most women, I am not a typical nag, just ask B. I hardly ever throw a temper tantrum or scream at the top of my lungs when I feel that B. did not get around to doing a task he should’ve done 10 yesterdays ago. Screaming and yelling would snuff the life out of me. But, like a typical nag, I might throw around a few hints here and there. After all, women alone are born with this skill that is totally useless at effecting any real change.
So my usual pattern, in all these married years, to enact any change had been to wonder out aloud, for example, “Hmmm . . .this couch would really look better against that wall.” Hubby may be in the other room but I expect that, like most men, he has super hearing powers. I’ll walk away for a few minutes, come back to the room and see hubby planted on the couch — still in its original spot — watching TV or reading the newspaper. By now, seething internally, I shoo hubby away and start moving the couch myself. I’d end up with a pulled muscle or a sprained ankle that I’d expect hubby to take care of later but that’s been the socially accepted and tried-and-true method of getting my man to do what I want him to do in the house.
But women of all nations who have access to modern social media tools such as Facebook, have I got a status update for you. Ditch nagging right now. Sure, it is a time-honored strategy but a totally useless one and we knew it the minute we were born. And, if your man is low-tech, the sooner you open a Facebook account for him the better.
Just last week, the power of social media was the subject of a conference in many parts of this world, including one in New York and San Francisco. The purpose of Social Media Week, per its website, was to bring “hundreds of thousands of people together every year through learning experiences that aim to advance our understanding of social media’s role in society.” Had I attended the conference, I’d have narrated my recent experiences of how social media — Facebook in particular — helped change our family dynamics.
My first experience using this social media tool instead of nagging to get a task done at the house happened quite by chance. About mid-January, while passing by the Christmas tree still standing in all its glory in the living room, I pulled out my BlackBerry and mused on Facebook: “I suppose I will have to wait till Valentine’s Day for the Xmas tree to come down.” Now, my hubby hardly ever posts a word on Facebook but he’s better attuned to the happenings in the virtual world than to a word I say. After posting my update, I ran out for some errands and came home to witness a miracle — the Christmas tree in various stages of undress.
Being a social scientist to some extent and a journalist to a full extent, where you need at least three sources to establish credibility, I decided to repeat the experiment. The second time, I went straight to hubby’s Facebook wall and mused: “C'mon babe, where’s my java?” Shortly after, hubby delivered the much-needed caffeinated drug for me and a good friend. I took to hubby’s Facebook wall boldly again to post: “please for my sake charge your phone.” I’ve since been able to reach B. at all times of the day and night, and hear his sweet sound live.
So, ladies, while we are taught not to air our dirty laundry in public — and I strongly advise caution here — I urge you to wise up and leverage your social currency by tapping into the powers of social media.
Of course, the Christmas tree has yet to be put away in its box but we still have about two days before Valentine’s Day. Plus, I think hubby has a gripe of his own and before he posts anything on my Facebook wall, I had better retire my Christmas lunch bag right away.
A journalist, Leema Thomas is an assistant editor on the night news desk at Newsday in Melville, New York. She is also a blogger, injecting a dose of humor and a touch of irreverence in her musings about her kids and family life. She graduated from New York University with a bachelor of science (cum laude) in Communication Studies, with specialization in broadcast journalism. Check out Leema’s blog, Diary of the Wimpiest Mom at http://wimpiestmom.blogspot.com/