Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Social Media

The Unbearable Lightness of Believing Your Own Hype

This weekend, the news that movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein, is a serial sexual harasser broke with more disturbing details being revealed on a seemingly minute-by-minute basis. As I was reading an article about it, I was caught by surprise when I read that he had hired Lisa Bloom as one of his attorneys. Lisa Bloom is a lawyer who rose to Twitter fame roughly around the time of the start of the BLM because of her wokeness* on the issue. I saw her being constantly retweeted, checked out her tweets, and followed her. She was a champion of feminist causes, including standing up for victims of sexual abuse, and I was ready to roar alongside her.

Fast-forward several months, and I noticed that she was beginning to believe her own hype. I don’t know how to explain it clearly, but the tone of her tweets changed. They became more about her and less about the people/causes she was championing. It’s hard to give a quantitative response as to how bad it was, but it was enough to cause me to unfollow. I stopped paying attention to her, but I still saw her RT’ed on occasion. In my mind, she was a feminist lawyer who cared passionately about racial discrimination and victims of sexual abuse. I was glad she was out there fighting the good fight, even if I no longer wanted to read about her exploits on Twitter.

You can imagine my surprise and dismay, then, when I read that Weinstein had retained her. I was disappointed because it gave him a shield for his behavior, but I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to think that maybe she actually believed he could learn and change, but statements about him being a dinosaur from a different age and minimizing his behavior (saying he didn’t know how his behavior could be seen as inappropriate if not intimidating) really disappointed me. In addition, her refusal to call it sexual harassment and calling some of the women liars…yeah, I wasn’t pleased at all. In addition, everything Weinstein said in his statement screamed spin control to me. Saying he grew up in an era when it was Just The Way Things Are? Check. (I saw a tweet pointing out that this dinosaur was hep enough to name-check Jay-Z, which is also a good point.) Saying he knows he has to do better? Check. Tossing in the bit about the money he’s giving to women in film? Check, check, check. Pandering to his base (bigwig Dems with deep pockets) by saying he’s going after the NRA? Check. The one part that was weird and really offensive to me was the bit about him trying to change this for the last ten years and not being able to. If that’s the case, it makes it worse. He was aware that he had a problem but simply couldn’t help assaulting young, vulnerable women around him? He should be locked up then until he can keep his grubby paws to himself.

I didn’t see real remorse on his part, but this post really isn’t about him. I will probably do that post in the near future, outlining what is wrong with a society that codifies this kind of behavior in powerful men–he’s been doing this for decades without any serious ramification–but that’s not what this post is about. Quick side note: Republicans need to STFU about this. They sanctioned Roger Ailes and look at who they elected president. Weinstein is scum, but at least many Democrats are coming out and saying this. They need to clean their own goddamn house first before crowing over this.

Back to my point, and I do have one.


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No Flag, No Country

Eddie Izzard is hilarious, and he has several bits about being an empire and colonization. It’s funny because it’s apt, and he has the typical British self-deprecatory sense of humor. One of my favorites is one in which he tells how the UK became a great empire with the cunning use of…flags.

“I claim India for Britain.”

“You can’t claim us. We live here. Five hundred million of us!”

“Do you have a flag?” (Funny grimace.)

“We don’t need a bloody flag. It’s our country, you bastard.”

“No flag, no country; you can’t have one. That’s the rules that I’ve just made up! And I’m backing it up with this gun that was lent from the National Rifle (riffle, as he pronounces it) Association.”

(Back to being Eddie)

“And that was it. You know.”

 

I bring it up because of the brouhaha being stirred up over the American flag, which isn’t really the issue, even though it’s become the center of the drama.

Quick background: Colin Kaepernick, an NFL quarterback, took a knee last year during the national anthem as a peaceful way of protesting the systemic injustices that black people, men in particular, suffer in this country. The backlash was swift, and he became a pariah to many white Americans. They wanted him to just play football and keep his politics out of their Sunday entertainment.

Fast-forward to this year and this past week. This president opened his gob and more stupid shit fell out. For whatever reason, he thought it would be a good idea to comment on the situation and said:

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners — when somebody disrespects our flag — to say, ‘Get that son of a b*tch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!'”

Now, I’m not surprised that’s what he said because it’s who he is, but he didn’t have to open his mouth at all. He could have said nothing, and it would have been better than what he did say. Then again, that’s true of approximately 99% of what he says. Before I get into the meat of what he said and why it’s idiotic, the best response to this shitty statement is from Colin Kaepernick’s mother, Teresa. She tweeted:

OT: I really hate the habit of using an asterisk for one letter of a ‘controversial’ word (or more asterisks for more letters), especially in a written piece. Who the f*ck do you think you’re fooling? Like, people aren’t just putting in the g*dd*mn letters as they’re reading? It’s even worse than saying ‘n-word’. There’s a great Louis CK bit about this that says, “You’re just making me say the word in my head so you don’t have to be uncomfortable saying it out loud.” Anyhooooo….

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One Love, One Love

Late Monday night, a situation unfolded on Twitter that was glorious to behold. Ian commented on it first, and then I had to check it myself. Apparently, Ted Cruz liked a porn video tweet and much merriment ensued. It’s of an attractive (in a bland American porn sort of way) ‘older’ blond woman (meaning probably in her late thirties to early forties) watching a younger blond woman being fucked from behind by a young man. We on Twitter sharpened our knives, and we went all in. I did a bunch of Ted Cruz orgasm face memes, and it was a blast. This tweet made me choke on my own laughter:

I couldn’t read it out loud to Ian, but he guffawed as well when I showed it to him.

I haven’t laughed like I did over the Ted Cruz Twitter porn scandal in a long time. Twitter is at its best when we all come together as one and mercilessly mock people who deserve it.

Of course, there were wet blankets who scolded people for kink-shaming. I don’t want to get into that because it’s not the point of this post, but they didn’t understand or chose not to understand that nobody was kink-shaming Ted Cruz over the porn itself but because he is so anti-sex and anti-queer and anti-anything with a whiff of sexuality. He has a stick so far up its ass, he shits twigs.

I also marveled at how bland and boring the porn actually was. I mean, it’s racy for him, of course, but it’s…meh. I heard that it’s supposed to be a stepmother watching her stepdaughter get fucked, which is yawn. Even if it was her hubby and the babysitter, it’s pretty vanilla. I’m somewhat surprised, actually, because usually the most repressive people are the freakiest freaks in their sex lives. I would have expected him to enjoy being dressed up as a pony and being taken for a ride. Literally.

Ian pointed out that it’s a rookie mistake to like a porn video on Twitter, which I hadn’t thought about, but is so true. There are so many options for discreet porn viewing in this day age. There’s no need to like a goddamn video on Twitter! Pornhub pointed this out to Ted:

They’re really trying to help a brutha out!

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Exercise, Activity, and Mood

I have struggled all my life with depression. At times, it has been chronic and crippling, to the point where me brushing my teeth was a major accomplishment. Right now, I would say I have a low-grade enduring depression that flares up into serious depression from time to time. It’s my go-to when I’m under stress, and the difference is how alien the encompassing depression feels now as in comparison to how comfortable it was back when I was in the middle of it day-to-day-to-day.

I would love to say that I worked on my depression and that’s why I’ve gotten better. I would love to be able to give a list of things you can do to feel better. I would love nothing more, but I can’t because that’s not how I emerged from the suffocating embrace of depression. Sure, I did my due diligence by seeking out therapy and medication through therapy, then starting taiji which has helped a great deal, but it was an outcome, not the main intent, but nothing I did consciously to help my depression mattered as much as the indirect results of other behavior such as the aforementioned therapy and taiji.

However, I’ve been in and out of therapy for the past thirty years, and I’ve been practicing taiji for almost nine years. Neither are an easy or quick solution, and I didn’t go into taiji with the intention of easing my mental health issues. That’s just been a nice side bonus. I will say, however, it makes me more aware now how fragile my mental health balance is. I went through a period recently of deep depression, not as bad as it was before, but still pretty intense. I knew it wasn’t from within me, which made it almost worse. Rationally, I knew there was no reason I should be depressed, but I also knew I couldn’t talk myself out of it. It lasted a few weeks, and I just gritted my teeth and powered my way through it. I was terrified it would last forever, but it faded after two  or so weeks.

On Saturday, I had to get up early to pick up Ian from the airport. Without thinking, I checked my social media. Then, I remembered that it was my day not to be on social media, and I quit. I felt bad, but not too bad. I can’t tell you how much better I feel on the days when I stay offline. I don’t think it’s viable for day-to-day life, but it’s nice to get a break twice a week. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed while scrolling through my TL, thinking that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. I mean, it is, but not more so than it has been in the past. There is a lot of shit in this world, and there always has been. Having it flash past my eyes on a continuous basis leaves me in a state of numb depression. It’s something I’ve railed about before–how overwhelming all the bad news can be. It’s easy to feel hopeless about the state of the world and think that there’s nothing you can do to alleviate the pain.


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Explaining “That’s Too Bad” For the Uninitiated

Before I get into the meat of my post, I have one request from everybody when talking about this president. Stop saying, “Can you believe he said ____?!?” Yes, yes I can. As I’ve said before, unless that phrase is followed by, “I’m sorry to all the people I hurt, and I realize that I’ve been so wrong”, nothing this president says surprises or shocks me. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still disgusting and disturbing, but it’s not surprising. I feel we’re wasting too much energy on, “A president can’t/shouldn’t/won’t ____.” This is who he is. He’s not going to change at this late date. He’s been spouting hateful shit all his life, so do not act shocked now. It’s amazing how many people, mostly white, were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt or said it was just an act. Many of us minorities knew exactly who he was from day one.

This relates to the post of the day because of what happened with the USS John McCain–side note, it’s really distracting to my brain that it’s named that because I keep thinking they’re talking about the senator for whom it was named (and his father)–and this president’s reaction to the news. When informed that the USS John McCain had been in a collision and ten naval officers were missing, this president replied, now famously, “That’s too bad.”

The reaction and backlash were swift. “How could he say  that?” “Omigod! He’s sunk even lower than I imagined!” All the responses were in this vein, which was very annoying for reasons mentioned above. I know we’re all still clinging to the notion of how a president should and shouldn’t behave (and, by the way, this president has shown how much of that is tacit and not explicit), but get the fuck over it. We have to deal with the way things are, not how we think or wish they should/would be.

My formula for figuring out what this president is going to say on any given topic: What is the worst thing I can think of him saying, and then what’s even worse than that? Double that, and it’s close to what he’s actually going to say. Look, I’m not saying don’t be outraged at what’s happening in our country–I’m just saying it’s a waste of your emotional reserves to be continually shocked and surprised by what this president says. Some people are addicted to the outrage, though. I felt that when I’d see people ranting about Morning Joe day after day. Dude. You don’t have to watch. Also, it’s who he is. You know that!

I realize the president is different in that we can’t (or rather, shouldn’t) just turn him off and pretend he doesn’t exist. Still. We need to accept that he is an ignorant, thin-skinned, bullying, narcissistic, incurious, cruel, sociopathic asshole in order to better deal with him. There is no better side to him. There is no deeper layer. He is exactly as he appears, and we would do well to remember that.


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The Stick and the Carrot

the line can be blurry.
It’s not always that easy.

One of the positive and negatives about social media is how easy it is to call someone out when they show their ass. It’s a positive because it’s the great equalizer. If someone is on Twitter, you can talk to them–at least until they block you. I will note that if you swear at a check mark (verified account), you might have your account restricted. Twitter frowns heavily on that, though they are just find with actual threats and harassment. So, telling someone you hope they get killed probably won’t get you a rap on the knuckles, but calling them a fucker will. You can guess how I feel about that, but that’s not the point of this post.

It’s great when there’s something important like making sure the abomination that was ‘repeal and replace’ didn’t pass, and it was glorious to watch the cavalcade of angry and passionate tweets on the subject. Of course, this was in tandem with the actual protesting and calling of recalcitrant senators, and it worked. In the 11th hour, Senator McCain strode dramatically onto the Senate floor and voted no. You could hear the gasps throughout the Senate, and he was able to ride off like a hero. I and several other people noted that Senators Collins and Murkowski, both women, coincidentally*, had stood firm throughout the whole debacle, and I thanked them for their dedication. I also noted that the Dems stood together throughout the whole thing as well, and they deserved to be commended for it.

This doesn’t seem very controversial, but I saw several people angry about having to thank the three Republicans for doing the very least they could do, the basest of decency (in their eyes). Now, I understand that feeling; I really do. While watching all this play out, I had both a feeling of sickness in the pit of my stomach over the cruelty and a sense of disbelief. How could anyone be so unfeeling and monstrous as to take away health insurance from 20-some million people. The so-called ‘skinny repeal’–by the way. I hated that the media played into the Republican framing (as they always do) as if it were a pair of jeans or a latte–‘only’ took insurance away from 16 million. Then, there were several Republicans saying they’d vote for it only if they were guaranteed by the House that the bill wouldn’t become law.

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Third Saturday Social-Media Free

So, this is the third Saturday I’ve been social-media free. I managed to remember it this week and didn’t even peek in the morning when I woke up. I had to check something from one of the people I follow on Twitter, and I managed to do it without looking at my TL itself. It’s a weird feeling of being simultaneously disconnected and in tune. Disconnected from social media and the world at large, but in tune with myself. Which is not necessarily a good thing. I may try extending the blackout through tomorrow if it continues to go this well.

My teeth are hurting. They have been on and off for the past few months. At first, I thought it was a sinus problem, but now I’m not so sure. I know I grind my teeth, and I used to have a mouth guard that was made specifically for me. I bit my way through it though, and it’s not cheap. Anyway, when I eat hot or cold food, my teeth hurt like hell for several minutes. They dully ache at other times. I know I need to see the dentist, but I’ve been dragging my heels on it. I hate going to the dentist for several reasons, not the least because I haven’t gone in a few years, and I’m embarrassed about it. My dentist is really good, though, and I like the dental hygienists, too.

I also should go to the doctor to get my thyroid meds checked again, along with what food sensitivities I might have. I already know I’m lactose-intolerant and have a sensitivity to gluten, but I’m starting to realize that there are other things that affect my digestive system in a negative way.

It’s Sunday. My self-imposed ban of social media is over. I checked my mentions and responded as necessary, but when I started looking at my feed on Facebook, I found myself getting tense. I haven’t even looked at Twitter yet. I think I may go a second day without checking my TL and feed. We’ll see how far I can take this!

On a different note, I’ve been watching more clips of best and worst auditions for various talent shows, and I have a few general tips. One, don’t ever compare yourself to icons like Whitney, Mariah, and Michael (Jackson), let alone sing their songs if you’re not an absolute powerhouse. Match your songs to your personality. Well, first of all, make sure you can sing. After that, though, the song has to match your voice. This young woman who said she sounds like Whitney had this kittenish voice which would have been better suited to…um…well, not Whitney.

I also have a top three list of songs you should never sing in audition. I’ll give you the reason for each. 3. Proud Mary by Tina Turner, especially if you’re a white dude. Yes, I know there’s a CCR version, but people singing it in audition are definitely trying to do the Tina Turner version. From her growl to her wiggle to the outsized attitude, it’s a performance that I have yet to see anyone else pull off. 2. Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen and a million other people. The reason for this is a bit different. This song has been covered within an inch of its life. I love this song and have heard dozens of covers, each better than the last. Most people who try to sing it in audition want to put their own spin on it, but butcher it mercilessly. I have only heard one good version of it, and it’s mostly because the guy’s voice was amazing. The arrangement was pretty pedestrian, but he made it his own.

By the way, I saw David Williams’ comments from the initial audition, and he wasn’t mean at all. Plus, he’s hot. But that’s another post for another time. Anyway, Kyle’s version is pretty much a straight cover, which is why it works for his voice. If you can sing like this, then go ahead and sing Hallelujah. Otherwise, stay away from it.

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Social Media Addiction and Me

social media all day long.
You were always on my mind.

I woke up this afternoon (Saturday) and forgot what day it was. I went about my morning routine, and then as I was on the toilet, I checked Twitter as I usually do. A few minutes later, I remembered that it was Saturday and that I was NOT going to check social media on Saturdays. Oops. Now, I could have just said, “Fuck it, I’ll do it tomorrow”, but I didn’t want to fall down that rabbit hole. I decided I’d just stop and not look any longer.

Easier said than done. It’s so embedded in my genetics now, any time I’m on the toilet, I almost automatically check Twitter. I don’t know why the two are connected (shit on shit?), but it’s a reminder for me that I need to be more mindful about my social media usage. It’s become like second nature to me, and I have to stop myself from checking. It’s weird because when I’m not checking, I don’t think about it. The minute I’m on Twitter and/or Facebook, I get sucked in, and I waste way too much time scrolling through my feed/TL.

Right now, I’m fine. I haven’t looked at social media in a few hours, and I don’t care. We’ll see how I am in a few more hours.

Oh! Funny note. I sent my father a Father’s Day e-card to my mother’s email because my father doesn’t do email, and my mom called me that night saying all she saw was a pink background. I was puzzled, and I told her to check the flash thing we had to deal with the last time as well. It wasn’t that, so I told her to try to open the card again from the email. Then, she said she couldn’t find my email, and she spent a few minutes looking for it. I sent her another version of the card, and then she realized that she was looking for my name, but the emails were being sent by the website. So, the other email didn’t disappear; it just wasn’t sent directly by me. It still wouldn’t work, so I sent the same card to myself to see what was the problem.

Side note: I know I can take control of her computer, but I didn’t want to do it for two reasons. One, I don’t want to set up the software. Yes, that’s a lazy reason, but I think I’ve established I’m a lazy person. Two, I want her to learn how to do these things herself. I don’t want to just do them for her, even if that’s what usually ends up happening.

Anyway, I clicked on the card, and I only had the background as well. I refreshed the page, and then it loaded. YAY! I figured it out! Now, the next problem was explaining to my mother what she had to do to see the card. With someone with computer savvy, I would simply have to say hit the refresh button, but that’s not my mother. This is how I explained it to her. “You see the white bar at the top of the page? Where you put in the website’s address?” Fortunately, she knows what an address is, and, oh, I remember the days when she didn’t. Once I’ve confirmed this, I say, “See the i in the circle next to it?” We had just talked about this the last time I needed to help her with a card, so she knew what I meant. Unfortunately, she was panicking at this point, and she said, “Yes. The I. Should I right click it?” “No, Mom, don’t right–” “Right click it?” “No, Mom. Look next to the–” “Right click it?” “NO, MOM. DO NOT RIGHT CLICK IT.”

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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.

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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.

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