Click here for Part I…
For years I ranted and raved against Facebook and the entire social media. Then I turned 50, moved to a new country to rebuild my life, and suddenly my world perspectives changed completely. For the past five months it has been an excruciating uphill battle, learning the intricacies of German bureaucracy, overcoming the racism in the housing and job market, and asserting myself as an Asian woman. My only advantages here over some of the locals is my courage (some would plead insanity) and facility with languages. This is no country to be shy, scared and non-german speaking. Out with the diva heels and in with the battle gear, in the fervent hope that my bravado does not waver.
Re-connecting with old friends has been slow on my part, on purpose. No longer bound to obligatory social ties, am careful about setting up my social circles now but cannot avoid the occasional twinge of homesickness or loneliness. Blogging has kept my head above water and prevented me from jumping into the river that runs in front of my home. My editor has asked a couple of times when I’m sending over the next manuscript, to which I keep telling him (and myself) that I would have it by this autumn, but it is more than just writer’s block. The fundamental shift in my core has kept me back, waiting for the right moment when all the parameters of my new and revised life have been set up. All I have to do is get through September in once piece and I’ll be fine. Or so I hope.
It would be cowardly to blame loneliness and frustration for my final capitulation on the social media front. The truth of the matter is that the re-design of my blog, photography website, and setting up of my Facebook pages have been a strategic move on my part to prove something to myself and potential clients and employers. In a society like Germany where every blasted job now requires a diploma for something, those of us 50 and above who only have life experience to show are at a serious disadvantage. I cannot compete with the millenials who are masters of social media but disasters at social graces, nor can I keep up with the corporate world when my entire professional life has been dedicated to development work. So, in order to save my own sanity and not voluntarily check into the next mental institution, I write, I blog, I shoot, I hope. And in a drastic move yesterday, I finally got my personal Facebook page up and running, connecting with friends and family I can count on for moral support.
Mind you, I am terrified of Facebook and am still not convinced it is the answer I seek, or the path I want to journey along, but for now, I plucked up the courage to face my demons and drop my prejudices. Ask me again tomorrow. I was on Instagram for two weeks and absolutely hated it, so don’t bother looking for me there either. Twitter is an absolute no-fly zone for me, so down with that obnoxious blue bird.
Yes, I realize that finding a voice on social media has become a turning point in my life, especially now that I have been truly certified as going deaf. I’ve been wearing my hearing aid for two weeks now and my capacity to deal with the world in general has transformed completely. I no longer have to guess what was said across the table or behind me, and can experience the world in 3D. My acoustician has had me test two different hearing aids. The first one I returned with a heavy heart, explaining that unless the medical insurance covered it, there was no way I was going to be able to afford it. He stared at me in utterly perplexed, as if I had sprouted a second head with ten purple ears. “You misunderstood me” he said softly, “I said your left ear is not deaf enough to require a hearing aid covered by the insurance, but your right ear is definitely qualified. You are certainly deaf enough for the insurance company!” In the meantime, I switched ENT doctors and found one who was nicer, less arrogant, and closer to home than the first one. He scolded me for not coming to him earlier or handling my deafness. But not all is lost, he said.
So here I am, official certified to be deaf as half a doornail, almost blind as a bat, and raring to kick some serous ass around town. Don’t mess with Tess.