Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: poutrage

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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Keep Your Football Out of My Politics!

clutching my pearls.
Where are my smelling salts?!?

I watched the Super Bowl, but this post is not about the spectacular collapse of the Atlanta Falcons that I couldn’t stop watching, much like a horrific car crash. I want to talk about the commercials, many which could be considered political in nature. * I had seen the Audi commercial in which a man is musing about pay inequality and what is he going to tell his daughter before the Super Bowl, and I read about the backlash by people who considered it anti-male. Basically, the man says in a voice-over (and I’m paraphrasing), “What am I going to tell my daughter about her worth? How her grandfather was worth more than she was? How I’m worth more than her mother is? Will I have to say the same about her? Maybe I won’t.” I thought it was OK, but people on my Twitter TL responded very positively. To me, it was hard to feel positive about it because it’s fucking Audi. Rightly or wrongly, I view them as a 1% car, so I rolled my eyes a bit at the ad. However, I couldn’t understand the vitriol aimed at it. A semi-prominent female conservative…I’ll call her a pundit for a lack of a better word…tweeted that we passed the Equal Pay Act so they were just being ignorant. We all know that when a law is passed, everything is magically better, right? It’s a fact that men get paid more than women do for the same job,** laws be damned. In other words, Audi is right. Men are still paid more than women are, and I applaud them for addressing the issue at the very least. It’s astonishing to me how people see this as anti-male. Stating the facts and saying you hope it’s different for your daughter is about as milquetoast as you can be for a protest ad.

The thing is, when you’re used to getting perks simply for being who you are, anything that challenges that is seen as a threat or as a net loss. Especially if you don’t consider the perks you have as being given to you. “I earned this through hard work! Nothing was ever given to me.” They don’t understand that other people work hard, too, but aren’t afforded the same pathways of advancement as they themselves have been. There is a plethora of documentation about these phenomenons, and it’s willful ignorance at this point to not realize it. But, I also understand that it’s not easy to understand a negative. What do I mean by that? A lot of privilege is not being exposed to negative preconceptions people have about different groups. For example, I have been asked to show my identification when writing a check at my local grocery store. I watched the person after me, a white woman, pay with a check and not have to show her identification. I’ve been followed in stores and stopped by police while being Asian in a white neighborhood. I remember being in a gas station in a rural area of the Midwest (can’t remember if it was Iowa or Wisconsin), and the woman refused to look me in the eye. When she was giving me my change, she dropped it on the counter next to my outstretched hand. When I used to fly regularly, I was ‘randomly’ searched every time I flew. If you’ve never had someone refuse to touch your hand because of the color of your skin, you won’t see it as a privilege to be treated pleasantly as you shop.
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