Editor's note: As part of CityView's commitment to filling gaps by providing reporting and information for the Fort Liberty community, our HomeFront initiative has added two columnists who will write regularly about issues military families face. In this column, Jaylin Kremer, who lives at Fort Liberty with her active-duty spouse, talks about the power of social media for learning and engaging in a new area. If there's a topic you'd like for our columnists address, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Social media’s influence on society can be both a blessing and a curse.
I’m sure that most of Gen Z would tell you they simply cannot live without the ability to access these platforms. To be completely honest, even if I really wanted to delete my Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts it would be a struggle for me.
I know, I know.
Social media has downfalls. Trolls, oversharing and potential stalking capabilities are at the top of my list. How my accounts know to show me ads for things like a new ottoman — right after mentioning I want one to my husband — is certainly a cause for concern, but we have to admit that these issues don’t deter us. We remain active users utilizing these platforms for a reason.
Today it’s completely normal to broadcast our lives, making them appear flawless. I recently shared pictures of a family picnic, and everyone caught a glimpse of this seemingly perfect day full of sunshine and smiles. But what I didn’t share for my family and friends to see was the chaos getting everyone ready and out of the door: My husband and I bickering over what we needed to pack. The debate with my 4-year-old about how he should’ve gone to the bathroom before we left (and the hunt for a bathroom that we didn’t get to in time, resulting in a somewhat stinky situation).
Anyway … Who is seeing this filtered content? And what does sharing these bits of our lives do for us? Because it surely doesn’t make us any less lonely or grant us real connections.
I have friends I haven’t spoken to on a personal level since high school and that’s not as recent as I wish it were. Being “connected” to them isn’t doing me much good, other than a “like” here and there. And as much as I love my family and actual friends back home, being connected to them still left me feeling alone. They don’t understand my life as a military spouse. They aren’t up the road from me to get together or to help in any way. And was sharing that my son had an accident his pants going to go over well?
Social media has a power much greater than pointlessly sharing our approved moments and thoughts with whoever we feel comfortable with having on our personal pages. There are billions of people using social media and limiting ourselves to our “friends” and families leaves us — those of us who are military spouses — just that.
Am I recommending you go and add a bunch of random strangers to your page in hopes of making new friends?
Absolutely not! Hear me out.
Need food recommendations? No one likes trying new places without tried-and-true reviews. Fayetteville Foodies is one of many groups you can join to find local places to try, reviews including pictures, and recommendations on where to go or where to avoid.
For all you parents out there, childcare is impossible, right? WRONG! The Child Development Centers here at Fort Liberty are like childcare places everywhere. They are doing the best they can to accommodate our needs, but there is a waitlist. I have at least three groups specifically dedicated to childcare full of babysitters, nannies, and in-home or regular day cares. These groups make it possible for us to work while waiting for a spot or to get a much-needed break from our little people with big energy.
The best part? Childcare groups here are full of other moms in the same boat. Many military families are one income, the service members, for a multitude of reasons. We need access to affordable childcare, and most will work with YOUR budget.
While we’re on the topic of parenting, I’m in eight groups pertaining to being a parent. No shame, believe me. Some are local to Fort Liberty and the Fayetteville area — like Fort Liberty Moms or Fayetteville (N.C.) Moms Connect. Others are for moms across the globe. One was started by a mom of a child in my son’s pre-K class to connect for things like birthday parties and playdates. These are safe spaces for parents to share, ask questions, swap items, and do all the things us parents do.
But don’t worry, groups are not at all limited to parenting — especially not in the military community. With the majority of us living a single-income life we help each other out. The amount of free and low-cost stuff you can find is insane! There are auction groups where everything starts at $1, such as Fort Bragg $1 Auction. I can say with certainty there is a group for your local community, especially if you live on post. All I had to do was type in the name of my neighborhood and I found a few groups to join. Here I find posts for free or almost free items because the person is PCSing or just trying to make more room.
Need some friends while your spouse is working, in the field, or deployed? You aren’t alone! You may be a homebody who needs some socializing from the comfort of your home or a friend’s, or a social butterfly who loves Target runs, Starbucks trips or nights out on the town. Either way, there are so many groups out there to find your new besties. Once you join one group (for example, Young Fort Bragg/Liberty Wives) you’ll see a bunch more just like it recommended for you to join. Most of these groups even have their own private chats.
Maybe you’re like me and you love drama from a mile away. I sure don’t want any in my own life, but I do love reading about other people’s. If that’s your thing, run and join Fort Bragg’s Dirty Laundry. You’ll have no problem with staying entertained. And I promise you the comment sections are gold.
Now I can’t promise that you won’t find trolls in these groups because this is still a virtual world with keyboard warriors ready to say things they would never say to someone’s face. However, in most, there are rules, and people can be kicked out or banned for being way too full of themselves.
And finally, do you need a source of income? Guess what you can do? Start a business, and start a group! I’ve gotten to see first-hand how successful it can be. I met a girl in a group who’s rather new here who became a close friend of mine. She bakes and recently decided to start a group, Skylee & Tillie’s Homemade Baked Goods. In not even a week she’s gotten 60 likes and 68 followers. She posts on other groups she’s in and now she’s got more orders coming in than I would’ve ever imagined in such a short period of time.
The power of social media can be used for good! Don’t let your PCS stress you or leave you feeling alone. I (and Facebook) have your back.
Jaylin Kremer and her husband are natives of Pittsburgh. She is studying psychology and plans to go to law school and works as an advocate for mental health and victims of sexual violence. Jaylin is a member of the Fort Liberty school board and the first vice president of the Fort Liberty Spouses Club. She believes that small acts of kindness go a long way.