Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: advice

Everything’s easier on the internet

a tangled web we weave.
Socially networking like a bawss.

I’m a heavy internet user, but I’m trying to lessen my time on social media. Why? It’s having a negative effect on my mental health. I realized that if I hopped on Twitter first thing in the morning, it would negatively affect my mood for the rest of the day. I now take Wednesday and Saturday off, and it makes me feel better. I’m thinking of adding Monday, but I haven’t done it yet.

I’ve noticed something about the online world vs. the real world. It’s much easier to be stuck in an echo chamber because you can tailor everything to your preferences. It’s not a bad thing because why would I want to see tweets from right-wingers all day long? Apparently, Jack (from Twitter) doesn’t agree and is considering messing with the algorithm so that you see tweets outside of your bubble, which, no, Jack. Just no. Look, I get the reason for thinking this is a good idea. Like I said, it’s easy to just hang out with people you agree with and for your opinions to harden into rigidity. However, the solution to that is not to force heinous tweeters on hapless users. While the idea is a good one, it’s too much of a benevolent dictatorship for me. Ideally, the user would have a healthy mix of tweeters she followed, but let’s face it–most people aren’t that self-aware.

It’s also easy to craft theories in your head that work perfectly but don’t stand the sniff test when taken out into the real world. It’s the academic fallacy in which you can talk about a subject with your friends/colleagues for hours, come to an agreement with them, then think everyone in the world thinks that way. I see way too many philosophical arguments that don’t have anything to do with real life, and it’s especially difficult to burst that bubble because we all have a bias for believing what we think is reality. I tested this during the 2012 election by randomly asking people in the real world (people I knew, not just strangers) who weren’t on Twitter what they thought of some hot Twitter topic, and they never knew what I was talking about. All my friends follow politics more than the norm, and they still didn’t know about the Twitter outrage of the day.

I see this all the time, especially on certain progressive sites, including one of the advice sites I frequent. There are buzzwords that get thrown out willy-nilly, and it only works if everyone agrees on the meaning of said words (or phrases), which, sadly, is often the case. I had a discussion with Ian the other night about how heuristics are important, and I’ll get to that in a minute. It’s true that they are important, but it’s also true that when heuristics become FACTS, it can be a problem. For example, the term ’emotional labor’ gets thrown around a lot these days. It started as a way to describe situations in the workplace in which the worker has to suppress her own emotions in order to do what needs to be done at work. A good example is retail. Colloquially, it’s come to mean managing the emotions in a relationship (any relationship, but most often romantic), and it’s often relegated to the woman in a heteronormative relationship. By the way, that’s another word that is more useful in academic settings–heteronormative.

Anyway, now, people are throwing emotional labor out there to mean anything from having to deal with someone else’s feelings to having to set boundaries and a half dozen of other things that may be tangentially related, but not actually emotional labor. Another one is the word toxic to describe a situation. I’ve seen it used in situations which have negative aspects, say, the hubby doesn’t do the dishes every night, but isn’t necessarily bad in and of itself (he does the laundry, takes care of the children half the time, makes a decent living, remembers anniversaries, listens to his wife, etc.), and I think it dilutes the term when it’s used so loosely.
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Wish I May, Wish I Might

I’ve been going down the rabbit hole in the archives of Captain Awkward and Ask A Manager, and I recently realized it’s because they’re my version of soap operas. I don’t mean that in a denigrating way because there are real people writing those letters and real people commenting. I mean it in the sense of watching the communities interact is fascinating from a psychological perspective, and it’s now my joke if only to myself that it’s time to hush up because my stories are on. In addition, it’s interesting to feel like I have a handle on someone’s personality just by reading a lot of their comments, at least the regulars–and it’s always exciting to spot a crossover. It’s reached the point where I can read a comment and think, “I bet so-and-so wrote this” and usually be right. This is both the plus and minus of having a dedicated community–and the reason I usually move on from a website after a few years. I’ve moved on and they haven’t, but that’s another post for another day.

The Awkward Army (the self-given name for the Captain Awkward commentariat) is aces in supporting someone who is in a bad relationship. They are mindful of reasons why she (and it’s usually a she) may not be ready/be able to leave, but they’re supportive of her as a person. They remind her not to let her partner gaslight her or point out the strengths they see in her from the letter she’s written (or even just the fact that she wrote the letter in the first place), and if I ever needed to break up with someone, they would be the first online community I would seek.

However, one thing that bothers me is this. Oftentimes, the letter writer (LW) will say something like, “This is the only person who will tolerate/love me because I’m so weird.” They will rush in to reassure her that of course this isn’t the only person who’ll love her and offer stories of how they once thought that way and now are with the loves of their lives. Once in a while, someone will say, “Even if you don’t find someone, it’s better to be alone that with someone who makes you feel like shit all the time” which I really appreciate because well-meaning or not, the constant reassurance of you’ll find someone else is bullshit. For many people, this is true. But, for some, it isn’t.

I am one of those people. I’ve been in several relationships in my life, and I have not yet found someone who will tolerate/love me for the weird, fucked-up person I am, and it’s been five or six years since I’ve dated someone. There are a whole host of reasons for that, but I’m not sanguine that if I started dating again, I’d find someone whose luggage was complementary to mine (thanks, BFF for that description!). I don’t want to fall into Geek Relationship Fallacy (#5), but it’s hard not to feel with my particular combination of likes/dislikes, wants/do not wants, hobbies, etc., the chance of me finding a long-term partner is slim.

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