Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Social Media

Social Media Unplugged

crashing into social media.
A constant social media stream.

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. 

12:45 p.m.

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.

3:15 p.m.

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.

4:00 p.m.

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.

4:30 a.m.

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.

Continue Reading

Learning to Let Go (of Social Media)

cut me off, ma. i've had enough.
Why are my emotions dialed up to eleven all the time?!?

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.

Continue Reading

Hypocrisy Isn’t Ever Pretty

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.


Continue Reading

The Downside of Social Media

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.)

Let’s Talk Social Media Etiquette; Just Call Me Miss Manners

gotta have the last word.
SOMEONE’S WRONG ON THE INTERNET!

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.

Continue Reading

Pricking the Concept of a Liberal Bubble

I’ve been weaning myself off of social politics for several reasons, but I got caught up in political Twitter this morning. I saw a tweet  by Trump being circulated around in which he called out Meryl Streep for the speech she made at the Golden Globes Awards. I read about what happened, and then I saw Meghan McCain call out the speech as the reason people voted for Trump, and it irritated me. Then, a Hollywood type responded to McCain, and she said he lived in a Hollywood bubble. That set me off on a mini-rant of my own because I hate the conceit that liberals live in a bubble. Her father said something similar back when he was running about liberals in their salons, and it pissed me off then as well. Here is the first tweet in my mini-rant:

First of all, Meghan McCain is the last person to be talking about bubbles. She’s grown up very privileged as the daughter of a senator, and I’m pretty certain that most of the people she is friends with are from a similar background. That is human nature–to cluster with like-minded people. We all do it, but for whatever reason, only liberals are called out on it. I’d also like to remind McCain and her ilk that many liberals don’t live in bubbles. There are plenty who live in very red areas and are doing their level best to turn their states blue. I admire them because they’re doing yeoman’s work, while I sit in a fairly reliable blue city, relatively safe from destructive policies.

More importantly, I’m tired of all this talk about how we (liberals) have ignored the white working class and/or look down our noses on them. As I said in my first tweet, it’s not necessarily untrue that some liberals do look down on the white working class, and I’m not against including them in our umbrella. I’ve written about this subject before, most recently in this post*. We do have a problem with talking about the poor in our country. We avoid it like the plague, even liberals. We talk about the rich and the middle class, but the working class and the poor? No. We just ignore them. We pretend they don’t exist, or, worse yet, we blame them for their situation. It’s a failing of all Americans, and I do not want to sweep that under the rug.

Continue Reading

You’re Not My Real Mom!

Don’t you fucking tell me what to do, was my immediate response when I saw this tweet. Someone had quoted it and added, “LOL NO” to the tweet, which I found amusing. I was just going to move on, but something about the tweet stuck with me, so I decided to check out his TL. I found that I agreed with much of what he said, but the bad taste from his initial tweet remained in my mouth. Since I thought the person was being earnest and arguing in good faith (and had some good ideas), I decided I’d make a post in response to it and to the general notion that it’s on PoC to reach out to working class white people.

One, the tweet assumes that this isn’t already happening. It is. Some of us live in cloistered Democratic bubbles*, but many Democrats live in heavily Republican areas and have to interact with working class white people on a regular basis. Two, we’ve come to believe this idea that all opinions are equally valid. They’re not. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but that doesn’t mean their opinion is right. In addition, respect is earned. I can be civil to people who have loathsome (to me) ideas, but I don’t necessarily extend them respect.

More to the point, I’m tired of white dudes telling PoC what we have to do. If he had stopped after the first half, I would have been fine with the tweet, but it’s pretty galling for him to lecture PoC like that. There has been a lot of this going on, and I’m not here for it at all. I’m a big believer in everyone having a place at the table,** but I do think that if you’re in the majority, you should do more listening than talking. In addition, to put it bluntly, this is a white people’s problem. Yes, all of us have to deal with the ramifications of this white resentment, but the onus is on progressive white people to do something about it.
Continue Reading

The Buzzworthification of News: You Won’t Believe the 10 Ways It Sucks

it's all about the bait
CLICK HERE NOW WIN FREE SEX

I saw a post recently from a mother chastising people with pets for calling themselves parents. She felt offended by it, but didn’t want to say anything in person because she felt that would be rude. In the piece, however, she had no problem being condescending, saying it’s fine that people choose to be childfree and lower themselves to taking care of animals, but it certainly, most definitely, wasn’t the same thing. Nope. Uh-uh. She wanted to make sure that everyone reading that got that point, so she repeated it several times.

Here’s the thing. Most people who have animal companions/friends* fucking know that being a parent isn’t the same as taking care of animals. Even the ones who call themselves parents mostly do it as shorthand. I don’t use the term myself, but mostly because I don’t want to be a fucking parent, not even in jest, not even of my cats. I don’t freak out if someone else calls me my boys’ mom, though, because I know they don’t mean it literally. I know my cats are not little people (though they might think I’m a big, dumb cat), and I’m fucking glad they’re not.

A couple of my Tweet pals pointed out that her assumption about childfree people being that way out of choice was faulty and hurtful. I agree with that, but personally, I’m just miffed because of the hectoring tone. I find this to be a problem with much of popular online media, and I have to point the finger at Buzzfeed and to a lesser extent, Upworthy. Listicles, hot takes, contrary views, all aimed at garnering more clicks. Recently, there has been a spate of ‘why you shouldn’t eat this food’ articles which basically boil down to, “I don’t like this food, so you shouldn’t, either.” The first I noticed was about mac and cheese, and the most recent was on onions (by Buzzfeed themselves). I read the mac and cheese one despite my best intentions, but I gave a hard pass to the onions one. There was one in the middle about lemons or some other innocuous foodstuff that I’ve blocked from my brain. If you look at the title of the first article, it’s called, Mac and Cheese is the Worst. The title of the second is For Everyone Who Fucking Hates Onions with the url being, It’s Time to Admit that Onions Are Disgusting. After reading the first article, my takeaway was, “I hate mac and cheese, and I want everyone else to hate it, too, so I don’t feel bad about myself.” If you hate mac and cheese, hate mac and cheese! No one is forcing you to eat fucking mac and cheese. You’re grown. You don’t have to like what other people like, for fuck’s sake!
Continue Reading

A Ripple in the Ocean of Time

I found out today that a Twitter peep of mine has died after a long battle with cancer. I was caught off-guard because the last time I talked to her, she was doing better. She’s not someone I talked to on a daily basis. Indeed, our interactions were random and infrequent. However, every time we did talk, she was upbeat, uplifting, and very warmhearted. She was generous of spirit, even when she was tired from chemo or whatever cancer was doing to kick her ass. I didn’t know her well, but what I do know is that she was passionate about PBO, women’s issues, and black women in particular. She frequently liked or RT’ed tweets of mine that had to do with social issues, including ones that affect Asians. I appreciated that because my Asian-related tweets get the least love of all my social issue-related tweets. I didn’t even know what she looked like until her sister tweeted a GoFundMe for her funeral expenses through her account (@GoBrooklyn). Her avatar was a painting of an elegant black woman with a large white flower in her hair, and that’s how I pictured her in my mind.

Her death shook me and genuinely made me sad. I’ve ragged on social media several times, but one thing it’s done that can’t be duplicated in any other way is to connect people all around the world.  I didn’t know @GoBrooklyn’s age, job, or where in America she lived, but it didn’t matter. We met in a cozy cafe on a rainy Sunday on the street of Twitter as we sipped steaming cups of peppermint tea. We chatted about how elegant FLOTUS is and how she and POTUS need to get a room. We talked joked about being minority women in America, with that tinge of ruefulness that accompanies such knowledge. She was always interested in what I had to say, even on days that she was barely able to get out of bed.


Continue Reading

Can’t We All Just Get Along? FUCK NO!

It is a mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

–Aristotle

shut up! no, you shut up!
When two rights make a wrong.

The North Carolina Republican Party headquarters in Orange County was firebombed Saturday night. There was a swastika painted nearby along with the words, “Nazi Republicans leave town or else.” No one was injured, for which I’m grateful. I have my doubts as to the belief that a Democrat did the bombing, but that’s not the point of this post.

Last night when it became known that this had happened, I saw Democrats saying they were going to donate to help rebuild the headquarters. I thought that was pretty cool and an example of taking the high road. I didn’t think much about it, but then I saw other Dems express their disbelief that any Dem would help the NC Republicans. NC Republicans are particularly heinous in their attempts to oppress minorities, trans folk, and anyone who isn’t them. They passed a terrible anti-trans bathroom law that has cost them dearly and has caused a public outcry. In short, they’re terrible, and I could understand why some Dems wouldn’t want to give them money. I know it sounds like I’m saying, “Both sides,” which in this case, I actually am. Some people want to give, others don’t. That seemed to be the end of that.

Except.

Continue Reading