Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: Twitter

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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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.


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Social Media: The Silencing of the Lambs

Brief Background

apples and oranges
Flourishing social media interactions.

Like many people, I consume social media on a daily basis–mostly Twitter with a healthy side of Facebook. Several years ago, my brother pushed me to join both, and I resisted with all my might. “I don’t like people!” I cried, digging in my metaphorical heels. After he pestered me for a week or so, I reluctantly gave in. I started slowly, just dipping my toe in the social media pool. After a few months, however, I was all in. I started tweeting and Facebooking with abandon, enjoying the freedom of saying whatever the hell I wanted whenever I wanted. In the beginning, I spent more time on Facebook, posting the results of all the FB quizzes I took every day. Believe me, I was fucking annoying with that shit. Then, for whatever reason, I gravitated more towards Twitter, probably because I got heavily into politics after Obama’s election, and Twitter is more real-time than is Facebook. In addition, someone on Facebook reported me for ‘inappropriate content’, and my account was temporarily suspended.* I hopped over to Twitter and didn’t look back.

At first, Twitter was like crack to me. I was a heavy user, and I felt as if I was involved in a community. I mostly followed people who were into politics because that’s what my passion was at the time. It was exciting to talk about these issues with people from all over the world. Then, after PBO’s reelection, I started to sour on Twitter. Why? Because most of the political talk wasn’t an actual discussion–it was the same old people saying the same old thing. No matter what PBO said or did, people would react in the same way they always did, depending on who they were. Conservatives hated everything he did, of course, and wanted to see his birth certificate, too. Progressives were never satisfied, always wanting PBO to go further than he did. If they were feeling generous, they said he was a good Republican president. If they weren’t, they called him an Uncle Tom and worse. PBO stans thought he couldn’t do anything wrong. Any criticism against him, they declared it was because of racism or Republican obstruction. I’m a huge supporter of President Obama, but that doesn’t mean I think he’s perfect. There are things he’s done/not done that I’m critical of, and I think that should be OK. What I realized, however, is that the people who were complaining about W. being a dictator weren’t mad because he was one, they were mad because he wasn’t their dictator. So, the people who voted for the angry black man** were furious because he meant what he said about trying to work with Republicans.

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