I met my bestie when we were both working at Katahdin (now extinct), me as a counselor in a day treatment program for juvenile delinquents*, and her as the administrative assistant. We were the only oddballs in the place, and we started talking during the annual Christmas lunch or some such. She had a tattoo (this was before I had mine), and she had been an English major in college. We really clicked, and we started hanging out outside of work. She did all the work in the beginning because I was deeply depressed and had a multitude of low-esteem issues. I couldn’t fathom she’d want me to bother her, and it took her asking me a year after we became friends if I wanted her to keep calling me to realize that she actually wanted to be friends. This was before Facebook, Twitter, and email were a daily thing with me, so I couldn’t even like one of her posts to let her know I was thinking of her.
We’ve seen each other through some difficult times, and we’ve seen how the other has grown in the past twenty-two years. I’ve called her the yang to my yin, the positive to my negative. She has a kid and gray hair now, and I have a cat and white streaks in my hair. When she lived here, we went out every few months, but it was comforting to know I *could* see her if I needed to in fifteen minutes or less.
One of our favorite things was to go out drinking** and dancing, and I vividly remember a time when we were both pretty sloshed and hungry after hours of dancing. We went to White Castle to get some sliders because that’s what you do when you’re drunk and need something to eat at two in the morning when everything else is closed. We took our sliders to the lake*** and walked on the shore as we ate. Suddenly, we both had to pee, and of course, there were no restrooms around. There was no on around, and it was dark, so we both found a semi-private spot and did our business. I accidentally peed on my foot, which struck me as hilarious.
I bring it up because I never would have done that without Kat, my partner in crime. She’s way more spontaneous than I am, and she can push me out of my comfort zone with little effort. She doesn’t live in state any longer, and we have to make a more conscious effort to keep in touch offline. We talk once every few months, and it’s as if we’ve never stopped talking. She is one of those people with whom it doesn’t matter how much time has passed–talking is as easy if not easier than when we first became friends.
Ed. Note: I’m writing this on Saturday, June 17th, 2017, which is the first day of my experiment of not checking social media on Saturdays. I decided to live-blog the experience to fill up some of the time in which I’d otherwise be surfing my social media. If I have to suffer, so do you. Enjoy.
Ed. Note II: I define a day as starting when I wake up and ending when I go to bed. So, my days start around noon and end five or six in the morning.
Woke up late, and am already frazzled because I have to leave for taiji in twenty-five minutes. I haven’t done my morning routine, and my instinct is to check social media because I have several notifications. Immediately, I start bargaining with myself. “I’ll just answer my notifications and then say I’m going to be off social media for the rest of the day. That’s a good compromise.” I am stern with myself because I know if I allow for that, I’ll soon slide my way back into social media all the time. It helps that I have to do my morning routine and change before heading out to taiji.
I’m in the restroom at the co-op, checking the temperature as I pee. Verdict: Unfuckingbearably hot. I studiously ignore the notifications until I put my phone away.
The notification numbers are staring at me, mocking me, from their respective tabs. I can’t stop seeing them, so I put them in their own separate set of tabs. It’s in the back of my mind, though, that I should check. It’s time to admit it: I have an addiction. By midnight, my hands will be shaking, and I’ll be scrounging for all the social media scraps I can find, muttering to myself, “I just need one hit, Hong.” Yes, I call myself by my last name; I don’t know why. I’ve been doing it for decades, and it probably won’t change any time soon. For now, though, I’m holding steady.
One way to ease the hunger is to take a long nap. It was so long, I’m tempted to call it my actual sleep and check social media. That would be cheating, however, because I know I’ll sleep some more in a bit. Oddly enough (not really that odd), the longer I go without checking, the more distance I feel from it. I’m tempted to see how many days I can go without checking, but I know I’ll give in at some point.
Ed. Note: It is now Sunday, so I’ve made it through one day of being social media-free. Am fiercely making up for it now.
I woke up this morning*, and the first thing I did, of course, was check social media on my phone. Facebook, not Twitter, because I wanted to take it a leisurely pace. I put it away while I fed Shadow and did my morning routine. Then, I jumped into my mentions and got right back in it.
When I was checking Facebook, I felt OK. The minute I looked at Twitter, though, I could feel my anxiety rise. All the constant poutrage and incessant yelling at each other wore me down in an instant. There was a reason I had decided to take a break from social media, and it was this. Social media, especially Twitter, heightens my anxiety and my anger. It also disrupts my ability to focus on other things because I always have the tabs open. I’ve muted my phone so I don’t get the constant notification beeps, and that helps, but it’s still hard not to glance at the Twitter and Facebook tabs to see if I have any notifications.
I think it’s been good to take a day off from social media, and I plan to do it every Saturday. However, I also think I need to regulate my daily intake of social media. The thing I noticed on my day off was that after the initial anxiety of not checking in every few minutes, it was so damn freeing not to think, “What’s happening on social media?” and feeling compelled to check. The longer I went without checking, the more I was able to relax and let it go.
Recently, I had a situation in real life where I had an intensely negative reaction to something someone said. It was instantaneous and visceral, though I tried to restrain it as best I could. Later that day, I started thinking about cutting back on social media, and, yes, the two are connected. One thing I’ve noticed about spending a lot of time on social media, specifically Twitter, is how it’s made me more reactionary. If I see something I don’t like, my body flushes, my heart starts racing, and I feel as if I want to punch someone. Part of that is because people tend to be declarative on Twitter, leaving no wiggle room. There’s a lot of name-calling, putting other people down, and negativity in general, and that’s just between Democrats–which is arguably worse than some exchanges between Democrats and Republicans.
It’s also because when something starts trending, everyone has to throw in their two cents, even if they’re not knowledgeable on the subject. So, much of my TL becomes a wall of the same ill-informed, not-nuanced opinion, and reading it over and over again has had a bad effect on my brain. In addition, my attention span has shortened, and I’m not happy with that. I can still read a long form piece, but it takes more concentrated effort on my part than it used to. When I write, I find myself thinking, “Let me just check out what’s happening on Twitter/Facebook” about every half hour or so. I’ve recently muted my notifications on my phone so I still get them, but I don’t get the beeps. That means I’m not constantly checking to see who’s said what to me, which really can wait until I’m done with whatever I’m doing–especially writing.
There have been studies on what overuse of the internet has done to our brains, but it’s still too early to say a lot about the results definitively. This article on the negative results match what I’ve found to be true in myself, though I will add that I’ve always skimmed portions of novels, even before the internet. I don’t like pages-long descriptions of scenery, so I always scan those or skip them completely. I prefer to visualize the environment in my own mind, and I don’t like flowery purple prose, anyway. The point remains, though, that when I read, I am more apt to check my social media than I am comfortable with.
Back to my IRL situation. The problem isn’t that I had a reaction to what was being said because my reaction was not out of line–it’s the intensity of the reaction that bothers me and how it was instantaneous. I’m not making the civility argument; I’m making the, “This is not good for my health” argument. I’m also making the, “This is not a good way to have a discussion” argument. I’ve already written in the past how I feel worse about myself since ingesting social media as a steady diet. I used to think I never should speak up about anything because my opinions weren’t valid or worthwhile to state. I also thought, “Why would anyone want to hear anything I had to say?” With the help of taiji and therapy (the title of my self-help book!), I’ve been able to work through it to the point where I was spouting my opinion all over the damn place. Hell, it’s what I do here all the time. But, ever since I’ve started using Twitter on a regular basis (and to a lesser extent, Facebook), I find myself biting my metaphorical tongue more often.
There was a terrorist attack in London a few days ago, and the NYT decided that the proper headline should be that England is still ‘reeling’ from the attack in Manchester a few weeks ago. It’s sensationalist and narrow-minded, and, frankly, embarrassing, but I don’t expect much more from a paper that hired a climate change denier as one of their op-eds. As to be expected, Brits had a great deal of fun at the NYT’s expense, starting the #ThingsThatLeaveBritainReeling hashtag. You gotta love the Brits and their dry wit. The NYT did eventually change their headline, but they never should have ran with it in the first place.
This post isn’t about the attacks or the media stupidity, however. It’s about the reaction of an anxious person (me) when the worst-case scenario actually happens. I’ve dealt with anxiety all my life. I didn’t realize it was a thing for me (along with severe depression) until I was in my late twenties, but once my therapist put a name to it, it made so much sense. It’s trite, but true that naming something takes away some of its power. That’s not to say that knowing I had anxiety issues made them go away, but at least I knew what I was dealing with.
I remember when I was in school (don’t remember the grade), my class was going to Valleyfair for the day of rides, games, bad fair food, and other delights. It was near the end of the school year, and it was supposed to be a fun day for all. I spent the whole night before the trip lying in my bed, worrying about who I was going to walk around with, what if nobody wanted to do what I wanted to do, and a various assortment of other minutiae that would never occur to anyone else. I was a loser in school, and I never had many friends. There were many reasons for it. I was a fat, awkward, intellectual, nerdy Asian girl in a very vanilla (in two meanings of the word) Minnesota suburb, and I didn’t fit in anywhere. I got along on a superficial level from people in many different groups, but I didn’t belong to any one group. I was intensely lonely as a kid, and it didn’t help that my mind was constantly worrying about every little thing.
I dreaded going to Valleyfair, and I would have skipped it if I could have found a plausible reason for not going. I also wanted to skip both my high school and college graduations, but I ended up going. As a person with anxiety issues, I can make a mountain out of any molehill. Ironically, though, the averse of that is also true. When a situation is dire, I’m at my calmest. I remember when 9/11 happened, I was living in the Bay Area and pursuing my MA in Writing & Consciousness*. I woke up because I had a phone session with my therapist back in St. Paul, and I had to use the bathroom prior to the session. My housemates were in the living room watching the TV, and it looked as if they were watching an action movie or something. It turned out they were watching the fall of the first tower, and I stopped to watch with them.
My memory is hazy, but I believe we watched as the second tower came down real time. Every channel covered it obsessively, and I watched the towers fall over and over and over again in the next hour until I forced myself to walk away. I was shocked and horrified, of course, but I wasn’t scared or terrified. It caused me to doubt myself and my humanity because I couldn’t get all freaked out as everyone else was. It’s partly because I understood why people across the world might be pushed to their limits by the behavior of America, but it’s mostly because I lived with terror every day of my life. It’s not an exaggeration to say that going to the grocery store used to cause me such severe anxiety, I would put it off for as long as I could.
I don’t know if this is how it works for other people with anxiety issues, but for me, the worse the actual situation is, the calmer I am. I think it’s because I’m always prepping for the worst-case scenario, when it actually happens, my brain is in its element. It’s fucked up, and I wish it weren’t so, but I can’t deny it helps when I have to deal with a crisis. I was in a minor car accident a year ago. I’ve written about it before, but what has stuck with me is how calm I was when it happened. I looked up, saw the car barreling towards me, and I thought, “I’m going to get hit.” Without thinking about it, I relaxed (I credit taiji) and accepted I couldn’t do anything about it. I firmly believe that’s why I walked away with deep bruises and nothing else, and they were from the seat belt/air bag.
That’s neither here nor there. My point is that I didn’t panic, and I didn’t freak out. I stayed calm, and it helped me deal with the situation. In fact, I had to calm down the young girl who hit me because she was freaking out about how her father was going to kill her. I patted her on the back and told her to take some slow, smooth breaths to calm down. She said her father had to go to work and now didn’t have a car. I told her he could get a taxi. The whole time I was comforting her, there was a voice in the back of my head saying, “I’m comforting her while she’s the one who hit me!” The voice wasn’t angry, however; it was just amusing to me.
Back to 9/11. The only thing that terrified me about it was the American reaction to the event. I stopped voicing my protest to the Iraq invasion because I felt unsafe in stating my opinion. I feared my fellow Americans much more than I did any Islamic terrorist. I came to loathe the American flag because it stood for a cheap, easy way to claim your patriotism without actually doing anything. I remember people putting out their flags and getting pissy if you chose not to do the same. I’m always uneasy with walking lockstep with, well, anyone, and I watched our country salute W.’s invasion with an enthusiasm that made me cringe.
I can’t help compare our collective reaction to that instance of terrorism** with how Britain is reacting to the Manchester/London attacks. We overreacted in a big way, and I think it’s because it’s the first time many of us have ever experienced an attack on our country from outside our own borders. Britain has been attacked before, and they know better how to deal with it. I think it’s one reason I am calmer in a moment of true crisis than perhaps other people would be. I’ve dealt with y terrors and horrible shit all my life, so I’m not going to crumble under a real threat. My cat, Shadow, is a skittish boy, much like I am. He starts at any noise, and he has nightmares just as I do. However, the vacuum cleaner that most cats hate? He’s not fazed by it. It’s simply not scary to him. He’s seen real horror, yo, and some silly machine isn’t going to get the best of him!
I wish I could be as calm in my day to day life as I am in a crisis. I’m less anxious than I was even five years ago, but I still can obsess over the stupidest things. Hopefully, with time, taiji, and maybe another therapist, I can change that.
*From an institution that lost its accreditation years later. Sigh.
**But not, interestingly, the same reaction we have to domestic terrorism committed by white men.
There’s a picture of this president at the G7 summit in Italy riding a golf cart while the other leaders are walking. The headline is snarky, and, predictably, many liberals had some cutting things to say about it as well.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, and I hate that I have to do anything that even resembles defending this president, but it’s not cool to make fun of someone’s physical abilities and/or looks. I’m saying this with bile rising in my mouth because I loathe this president with the heat of a thousand suns, but wrong is wrong, and making fun of him for riding in the golf cart is wrong.
I want to make a distinction. If there’s something in his health that makes it impossible for him to do his job, that’s fair game. It’s the same when Reagan started acting forgetful at the end of his presidency. It was clear there was something wrong with him, and it came as no surprise to learn he’d been struck with Alzheimer’s while in office.
Do I think there’s something in this president’s health report that makes him unfit to be president? Hell, yes. Is it the fact that he chooses to ride a golf cart rather than walk? No. Even if it means he’s out of shape, it’s mean-spirited to take jabs at his shape.
Look. It’s not about him. I could give two shits. It’s about what you’re saying about fat/out-of-shape people in general. As someone who is both and has dealt with eating disorder issues all my life, I have to tell you it’s not a good look.
It’s also incredibly frustrating to see people who advocate being fat positive or not shaming people based on their looks to make fun of this president’s weight. I know we humans are good at cognitive dissonance, but how can they not see that it’s not about this particular person, but about the attitude in general?
I ask this all the time, though. It’s the same with watching liberals tear into Melania for her accent, for being an immigrant, and for posing for nude photos. It’s one thing to attack conservatives’ hypocrisy of relentlessly slagging on Michelle Obama and then calling Melania classy or whatever, but again, the difference is in the details.
I know it’s trite, but two wrongs don’t make a right. I’m not above stooping to someone else’s level on occasion, but my upper lip instinctively curls when I hear a holier-than-thou person who has been chastising everyone else for not being tolerant suddenly questioning Ted Cruz’s viability for president because he was born in Canada. Or calling Melania a slut because she posed nude. Or making fat jokes about Chris Christie.
I’m a heavy user of social media, at least two of the venues–Twitter and Facebook. I get most of my news from Twitter, which is how I found out about the Manchester bombing this morning. (Tuesday morning). I read up on it, and it broke my heart. All those excited young girls going to the concert of their life (Ariana Grande), only to be terrified and traumatized, and many of them killed. At last count, 22 dead and 59 injured, and I have no doubt the numbers are going to rise. It was a suicide bombing by an Islamic fanatic, and we have to address the elephant in the room. I’ll get to that in a minute, though.
I check my social media right after I wake up, and I’m realizing that’s not the best thing to do for my mental health. I mean, I’ve known it for a while, but it’s really hitting home, especially since this administration has taken over. I’m already a pessimistic person with a negative view on life. The last thing I need is a steady diet of all the things wrong in the world the minute I wake up.
It’s a tricky thing because I believe you should be informed about current events in order to be a productive member of society. However, it doesn’t help to drown yourself in all the negative news, and I don’t know where that line is drawn. The problem for me is that I feel the news as if it’s happened personally to me, and while I’ve worked on erecting a wall between me and other people’s feelings so it’s not as bad as it used to be, I can still feel the pain as if it were my own.
This brings me to one of my pet peeves on social media–pictures/stories of abused children and animals. I know some people believe you have to make people see the ugliness in the world, but I don’t need to see it to feel it. I especially don’t need to see the same picture of a dead kid/animal over and over again on Twitter. It hurts me every time I see it until I eventually am numb, and I don’t think that’s the end result people are looking for. It’s the same as Sarah McLachlan’s SPCA commercials–they just make me feel shitty and helpless because I can’t save all the animals.
The brain isn’t designed to deal with repeated negativity that isn’t able to fixed. At least mine isn’t. It just makes me depressed and feel hopeless about the world in general. I know I have to curb my social media intake, and I’ve been doing it incrementally over the past year or so. We’ll see if I can keep on keeping on.
I’m tired. I’m grumpy. I’m still recovering from the crud. I’m sad. Here’s a Maru & Hana video.
(I remember what I said earlier, but I don’t feel like tackling it right now. Maybe in another post.)
More information has come out about Chris Cornell’s death, which is now officially a suicide. His wife revealed that in her conversation with him after the concert, he was slurring his words. She said he admitted to having taken too many Ativan, an anti-anxiety medication. Concerned, she asked his bodyguard to check in on him, but the hotel wouldn’t let the bodyguard into Cornell’s room. So, he kicked the door down and found Cornell unresponsive with a belt around his neck.
It’s a tragedy for so many reasons, but I want to focus on a comment I saw on Facebook after this news was revealed. The comment was, “This is why I don’t trust Big Pharma.” It was written by a friend of a FB friend, so I didn’t respond, but it made my hackles raise. There are many reasons not to trust Big Pharma, but this isn’t one of them. The side effects of Ativan are well-known, and it’s pretty basic knowledge not to exceed the recommended dosage without input from your doctor. I want to make it clear I am not saying Cornell deserved what happened because I fully understand wanting desperately to feel normal and grabbing at anything that will do that for you. Our society has become anxiety-producing on its own, and it’s swimming upstream to remain calm in chaotic surroundings. In addition, creative types usually are extra-sensitive to external stimuli, which is one reason they’re so susceptible to self-medicating.
My point is, there is only so much a doctor or anyone can do if the person is determined not to follow the instructions. Drugs can work for people, but there are so many ways they can be misused. If someone is determined to take twice the dose, there’s nothing anyone can do about it. It’s the same with, say, seat belts. You can put them in the car, but you can’t force people to wear them.
My bigger point is that there is a swath of people who believe in being natural at all costs. They think society is too medicated, and they eschew any kind of pill to help what ails them. Now, there is more than a grain of truth to the idea that pills are not a whole solution, but only part of it, but they think any medication is of the devil. The same people eschew GMOs and many of them are part of the anti-vaxxer crowd. It’s an anathema to me because the same people are using cellphones and driving cars and are on the internet with impunity. I realize there’s a difference between technology you use and things you ingest, but it’s still the same science behind all of it. It’s weird to me to want to roll back time on certain things, but not others.
Back to meds. As someone who’s dealt with chronic and crippling depression all my life, it’s frustrating to hear people disparage antidepressants and saying anyone who uses them is weak. My other favorite, “It’s dealing with the symptoms and not the cause,” in a snobby, smug voice. I think part of the problem is that if you’ve never experienced deep depression, you cannot understand how pervasive it is. If something can alleviate it, just a little bit, you’ll sell your soul for it. It’s the same with anxiety which can be more immediately worse. In the middle of a panic attack, you will do anything to stop it. Yes, you’ll want to deal with the root of the problem, but that can take years if not decades. A temporary stop-gap while in the middle of the pain is a godsend. In addition, there are chemical reasons for depression and/or anxiety, and ain’t no shame in correcting that malfunction with better science. Here is a well-worn comparison, but if you broke your leg, you probably would go to the doctor to get a cast for it. You wouldn’t think, “Oh, it’ll just mend by itself if I drink enough hemp milk and eat enough quinoa.” No, you’d get a cast on that damn thing pretty damn quick. So why when you hear that someone’s brain chemistry is broken do you disparage them using something that will heal that break?
When I first heard that there was going to be yet another Asian/Pacific Islander movie starring some rando white dude, I was incredulous. Hasn’t Hollywood learned its lesson yet? Their last several high profile movies involving whitewashing were epic flops, and yet, here we are again. The movie, Ni’ihau, involves a real-life story of badass Japanese immigrant/Hawaiian Benehakaka ‘Ben’ Kanahele and his heroism during World War II. The first article I read only said that Zach McGowan was going to star in the movie, and I flinched because the story is set in Ni’ihau, a Hawaiian island, and the antagonist is Japanese. In other words, there’s nary a white person in sight, so I was imagining the director cramming in the ‘best white buddy’ character so the audience would have a lens through which to view the dramatic events. The social media response was swift, with AAPIs condemning the movie with ferocity. Even mainstream media picked up on it, though they were aggravating me because they put whitewashing in scare quotes, and many of the headlines were phrased in a way to take the onus off the director. “Ni’ihau accused of ‘whitewashing’,” was a common headline, and while I understand why ‘accused’ is in there (I can do scare quotes, too!), it simply IS whitewashing to cast a white guy to star in an AAPI movie.
Whitewashing, in case you don’t know, is taking a story of a minority culture and changing it so that it centers around white folks. The hypothesis behind that is that Americans can’t handle movies that aren’t predominantly white, and while that’s true for some people, I think Hollywood is behind the times in this matter.
I quickly found out that this case was even worse than I previously thought. Zach McGowan wasn’t going to play some rando white guy who aids Kanahele as the latter performs heroic acts; McGowan was cast as Benehakaka Kanahele. What. The. Fuck. This isn’t whitewashing, it’s yellowface, and it’s arguably worse. It’s as old as time–and one of the most notorious and shameful incidents of in modern-ish time is Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
I can’t even watch two seconds of this without cringing and squinching up my face. You would think we’ve moved past this, but while the newer portrayals may not be as aggressively stereotypically offensive, they’re still as exasperating. What’s even more laughable in this case is that the producer is quoted as saying that since this is a movie based on real life events, “there is a weight to be shouldered, and the material requires the utmost care and authenticity.” Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me?!?
The base requirement for authenticity is to ACTUALLY CAST A FUCKING ASIAN/PACIFIC ISLANDER IN THE LEAD FUCKING ROLE. I cannot believe I have to say this in 2017, but that is the very least you can do for authenticity. If you don’t meet that very low requirement, I can’t take anything else you say about authenticity seriously. Speaking of which, Tamlyn Tomita, who is still amazing after all these years, has actually seen the script, and she said it was shit. No, seriously. In an email, her first words are, “I appreciate you setting this up, but this script is a piece of shit and I am not mincing words…” She then goes on to list several things wrong with the script, including the notion that this incident led to the Japanese internment camps.
I hate my body right now. Even more than usual, and that’s saying a lot. I am sick for the third time in as many months, and it’s wearing me down, both physically and mentally. I was almost completely recovered from my second bout of the flu or whatever it was, when I literally felt something move into my throat, set up camp, and make itself at home. I started hacking, and I haven’t stopped since. This is different than the past two illnesses I’ve had. The first two felt more like the flu, whereas this is straight up bronchitis-like, which I’ve had countless times before. I’ve had intermittent bouts of sweating as well, which might also be me in perimenopause. It’s hard to tell sometimes.
I would be unhappy about being sick again regardless, but the fact that Master Choi came from Chicago this weekend to give four seminars made it even worse. I had planned on attending the Liu Ho Ba Fa session on Saturday and the Taiji Pushing Hands session on Sunday, but I knew there was no way I could do both. Since my interest in Liu Ho Ba Fa is strictly academic, it was the one that had to go. I also would have loved to sit in on the Ba Gua session Sunday morning, but, again, there was no way I could have done both. Still. I was going to the taiji session by hook or by crook unless I literally could not get off my couch. It was scheduled from 1-3 p.m., and I was more concerned about the driving than the actual session.
I got there fifteen minutes early and was immediately assailed with a strong burst of incense. I can handle it in small doses, but that much was overwhelming. I went back out into the hallway to wait for it to dissipate and just to gather my resources. I was a bit nervous to meet Master Choi because, well, he’s a master, but also because he’s an elder Chinese man. I’ve had countless aunties and uncles (in the Taiwanese sense–any older man or woman is addressed as such), and I know they can be rude in a way that is uniquely Asian. I didn’t expect Master Choi to directly castigate me for not being able to speak Chinese or something like that, but it was in the back of my mind. I’m always nervous around my elders, and he’s a MASTER, for fuck’s sake. I went as far as to make sure I wore a t-shirt that wouldn’t be offensive in any way, which was me thinking too much, but that’s how my brain operates.
Social media is not going anywhere, and since it’s become a mainstay in the way we converse, I decided to address a few issues I have with it. First of all, Facebook, stop switching my feed from Most Recent to Top Stories. Also, do not wish me a good morning, afternoon, or evening–it’s none of your business how I’m doing. Third, ‘suggested posts’ are ads, no matter what you call them. Stop it. Twitter, don’t sit there in the corner smirking; I have my issues with you as well. One, while I appreciate you taking out the @s as part of the 140 character count, making it more difficult to take people out of the conversation is not welcomed. Two, where you at on that banning trolls thing? Bueller, Bueller, anyone, anyone? Three, please show me the tweets of everyone I follow, not just who you decide I should see by some weird algorithm you’ve concocted. Actually, that last one is also aimed at Facebook as well. Oh, and while we’re at it, FB? The background color thing is silly as hell, and you can get rid of it at any time.
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s move on to the real reason for this post. First of all, full disclosure. I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I’m probably considered a heavy user, and I get most of my news from Twitter (followed by Google research in order to confirm), and I have several Twitter/FB friends with whom I would not interact in any other fashion. Side note: I don’t consider social media friends to be the same as IRL friends, unless you take the friendship off social media. It’s too easy to present a persona in small doses on social media, and, yes, we all have personae in real life as well, but a mask is much harder to sustain on a regular basis. It’s not to say that social media friendships aren’t important or valuable; they are. Friendships come in all different flavors, and this is just the newest kind.
With that said, I have been slowly pulling away from social media in fits and starts. I used to spend most of my time on FB, then I switched to Twitter when FB seemed too slow. Twitter was up to the minute and always happening. The downside to that is that everything on Twitter is ephemeral, and a new poutrage of the day seems to arise on an hourly basis. We’ve all been there. We see a tweet being RT’ed and all the outrage surrounding it (or praise, but it’s usually outrage), and we eagerly jump in to pile on the original OP. I would like to say that’s not my style. Even if I don’t agree with a tweet, I rarely out-and-out shit on someone for what they say. Sometimes, an outraged response is called for, but I think it should be a last result. It’s like when W. had the color terror alert thing and it was always on orange. We all just chuckled and laughed when we say that the terror alert was orange because it lost any meaning when it didn’t ever change. I feel the same about the constant outrage on Twitter; my tendency is to tune it out. I don’t want to be mainlining anger as it’s exhausting, and some people just want to be aggrieved all the time.