I have a hard time understanding all the social media posts of locations or plated meals with the heading “all the feels.” Although I would be the first to agree that a wonderful dinner or gorgeous location makes me feel better, I’m not sure “all the feels” would be an accurate description of the moment. According to the Merriam Webster website, “feels” is word they are watching but so far hasn’t met the criterion for entry into the dictionary.
Feelings seem to be hard to express on the computer. Without facial expression, body language, or verbal emphasis, it is difficult to distinguish between sincerity and sarcasm. Katie Waldman agrees in her article for Slate.com, “Not Feeling It.” She wonders if the “feels” expression is meant “…to be a playful ribbing or…meant offhandedly. But the term, as it is often used, carries with it the whiff of condescension. ‘Feels’ do not seem like an honorable, instructive, or meaningful thing to have. More mild skin condition than noble Romantic sentiment.”
I think it’s true. “Feel the feels” has become fodder for memes instead of saying what we mean. We distance ourselves often, but I don’t know if it’s from fear or laziness. Are we so busy protecting ourselves that we forget to be authentic? Or is it just easier to maintain a wall of indifference?
The English language is bereft of words to express emotion, especially love. We use the word “love” to express fondness for a type of food or a show on TV and as well as the feeling affection towards a person. I am often guilty of it: I love bread and sweets and then I’ll also say I love my husband and children. Some people like to make up words to fill the void, as in this post “40 Words for Emotions You’ve Felt But Couldn’t Explain.”
Perhaps emotions and raw feelings are too much for us to process and articulate. We sometimes find it difficult to be honest with ourselves and with those we love. Sharing real feelings with strangers online is nearly impossible.
As I have traveled through these last two and a half years sharing my journey in these “Mondays with Mom” articles, I have attempted to be transparent and authentic in my feelings. I’ve received very positive and encouraging feedback which has encouraged me to be even more forthcoming. Sometimes the feelings are overwhelming and the writing helps to digest the devastation. Even amazing joy can be astoundingly stressful sometimes.
Maybe we could all be a bit more honest with each other and care more about others’ feelings. What might happen if we let down our guards and embraced others more? What if we accepted more, loved more, felt more? Sure, there is a risk that we might be hurt or deceived, but somehow I think it’s worth it. It may bring more tears, but it could just as easily bring more laughter.
I think I’ll go beyond “the feels” this week and get down to some deep feelings.