My brain has been jumping all over the place and my sleep has sucked, so this post is going to meander more than usual. I’m going to pull back the curtain a bit on how I write posts. Not on the writing itself because that’s usually just put down whatever is in my brain. No, it’s about how I decide what to write about. Normally, there’s something pressing on my brain and I let that flow from my fingers until I’ve said all I need to say on the subject or until I lose interest. Sometimes, it’s both, but sometimes it’s one or the other.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been struggling with my concentration for reasons I don’t want to get into. Suffice to say, it’s not as easy to get shit done as it used to be. Most of the time, I just grit my teeth and force myself to write the post. It may not be as long as it normally is or very good, but I get it done, damn it. Today, however, I’m going to write about whatever is on my mind with no attempt at coherency. Here we go.
Lil Nas X. I didn’t know he existed until yesterday when I read something about Satan Shoes, his new kicks. That he’s selling. Oh, and he’s a rapper? Singer? Both? Anyway, there are 666 pairs and they contain drops of human blood. That’s all I knew when I made this tweet:
*sees ‘human blood’ and ‘Satan shoes’ and Googles*
*immediately feels old and tired*
I’m not offended or shocked. Just embarrassed for him.
I have been thinking lately about changes in my life and how they have crept up on me, but that post will have to wait for Wednesday because it’s my blog and that’s the way I want to do it. This post will be about the lack of change that causes me to lose interest in something I once liked/loved. Specifically, websites and social media, but it applies to other things as well.
Let’s start with Twitter. I used to be heavily involved back in 2008. Or rather, the lead up to the election. I tweeted for hours a day, and I was heavily engaged with other tweeters. I didn’t have that many followers, but I had a lot of interaction. I tweeted a lot about politics, and I kept up with all the minutiae that surrounded it. Over the years, I’ve just…faded on it. Not for any one reason, but all the things that drew me to Twitter eventually turned me off it as well. The intense interactions. The free-for all nature. The tendency to scrutinize every little thing to death, and just the constant noise. The things that made it exciting back in the beginning began to irritate me, and then I just hated it. These days, I mostly tweet about cats, a video I like, and a video game once in a while. I check it maybe twice a day if even that. I don’t follow politics at all for many reasons, so I rarely read my TL any longer.
I noticed the same thing when I was deep into politics and visiting different political sites on the daily. I was heavily involved in a few (and I’m not naming them because that’s not the point), and I commented regularly. After some time, I started to feel constrained because there was a staleness to the interactions. I knew who was going to say what in response to each post, and I did not want to have the same conversations over and over again.
Side note: I know I have issues with relationships in that I either cling too hard or I let them fade away for one reason or another. These days it tends to be the latter rather than the former. I’m not saying it’s an issue in general because relationships don’t have to last forever, but I’m just mentioning it because it’s something I’ve become aware of in the past decade or so and it’s relevant to this post. Online relationships aren’t the same as IRL relationships, but there are some similar landmarks. The difference is that it’s even easier for me to let them go because the person isn’t in front of my face. In addition, online websites are even less real in my mind than online friendships. Therefore, it’s easy for me to walk away from a website that no longer holds my interest.
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. Continue Reading
During my dive into the Buzzfeed rabbit hole, I stumbled across a video of something called ‘The Try Guys’. It was a series of videos by four guys who worked at Buzzfeed doing daring, funny, and sometimes crazy things. I was immediately hooked and watched all the videos of them I could find. The zest with which they threw themselves into activities in which they had no experience was fascinating to me because I’m terrible at doing things I haven’t done before, especially if I have no interest in it. I’m always hyper-conscious about how I look as I’m doing it, convinced that I must look like a total loser. I have a hard time getting out of my own head, and there’s no way I could do some of the shit they tried (such as spending a night in the wilderness by themselves. And, not as a group, but each individually). I know part of that is that they’re men so they have more leeway than I as a woman would (for societal reasons and because of self-imposed limits based on societal expectations), but it wasn’t just that. More on that in a moment.
Let’s get the elephant out of the way. One of the reasons I liked the videos so much was because there’s a very hot Asian guy as one of the four. Eugene Lee Yang. He is insanely hot (though he doesn’t think so because like me, he grew up yellow in a white world, believing that he was ugly. He’s Korean, and he has the same dual-country shame that I do–both his cultures thought he was ugly just as both my cultures did, too), and unfortunately for me, gay. And too young. It’s just like me to go for the person I can’t have. Story of my life. Beyond his hotness, though, the fact that there was an Asian guy being prominent in this series (and often being the best at the activity) really warmed my heart. You often see white people (duh) and more and more black people with an occasional Latinx person thrown it, but it’s still rare to see an Asian person be prominently figured. He’s not a sidekick, which is refreshing.
I have to say, though, that while Eugene is my favorite for many reasons, the one I admire the most is Zach Kornfeld. Why? Because he’s the one who often has the least aptitude going into an activity, and yet, he does it to the best of his ability. Yes, he gripes and complains, but way less than I would if thrown into these activities. He’s like the C student who studies all week to get that C instead of being able to pull an all-nighter and get an A. Yes, the latter receives the better grade, but the former is actually the harder worker. (Yes, Eugene is like the latter, but the difference is that he works just as hard as the others, but his natural aptitude is higher in general.) Zach often mentions his little breakable body that isn’t made to do physical activities, plus he has an auto-immune disease that makes many things painful.
Side note: Both Zach and Keith (Habersberger) are lactose-intolerant, and yet, neither shies away from eating cheese by the bucketful on the show if need be. As a fellow lactose-intolerant person, I shudder whenever I see it. I also wonder if Eugene is lactose-intolerant because the vast majority of Asian people are, but that’s neither here nor there.
I was a reluctant adapter to social media, but now am a heavy user. I have written before how I’ve cut back on my social media intake by not checking on Wednesdays and Saturdays (unless there are very special circumstances). I’m considering cutting out Mondays as well because I still feel as if I’m ingesting it too much.
I get my news from Twitter, then I check it at other venues to verify that what I’m seeing on Twitter is legit. The downside to social media is that anyone can post anything, and there are many people who are gullible and prone to falling for everything they read. I’m rigorous about checking my sources, but I’ve fallen for the ‘satire’ pieces once or twice myself. I haven’t posted anything fake in years, but it’s always hovering at the back of my mind. I remember the last time I fell for a fake piece of news. I carefully checked the website, and it looked legit. It was MSNBC or NBC or something like that, but it ended in .de rather than .com, and my eyes had glossed over that part. I distinctly remember that one because I had checked it so carefully I thought. Now, I make sure to cross-check before I post/tweet anything, and I wish other people would do the same.
Side note: I really hate all the ‘satire’ sites that have cropped up lately. They seemed to have died down somewhat, but there was a time when it seemed as if every other piece of news was from a fake website. Yes, there’s The Onion, but everyone* knows it’s satire. In addition, it’s not just satire to make up a crazy story about someone without any social context to it. I remember getting caught right after marriage equality was passed by a story that Michele Bachmann’s husband had left her to live his very gay life. That was on me because I was too eager to believe that story, but at the same time, what was the point? Just to say, “Hur-de-dur, he’s closeted!”? Even if that were true, there’s no bigger picture to that joke, no social context jab that they were making. “He’s closeted” isn’t satire–it’s either a lie or the truth.
I do feel a twinge of sympathy for The Onion because it’s really hard to lampoon this current administration. Anything that sounds too outre, they’ve done. In addition, I would hesitate to spoof something even worse in case they decide it’s a blueprint and not satire. However, all those other sites can go straight to hell–they’re only doing it for the clicks.
Anyway, my mom called the other night, and she said, “So, about that president of yours.” I immediately said, “I don’t want to talk about him. It’s too depressing.” I have to think about him and his dreadful administration way more than I want to, and it’s the last thing I want to talk about in a casual chat with my mother.
I’m an empath, and it’s tough in these times. All my life, I’ve been able to feel the negative feelings of others around me, and it’s taken me decades to erect a decent shield around me so it’s not constantly bombarding me. It’s one of the reasons I suffered such deep depression. Not only did I have to deal with my own shit, I had to feel every bit of anger, sadness, depression, and pain around me. It was one reason I isolated myself so much–I couldn’t deal with the constant negative sensation input that I was feeling.
It’s late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, and I’m loving this social media-free Saturday thing. I had a bit of a conundrum, though, because a friend of mine was going to be attending a difficult event, and I remembered a few hours ago that I told her to tweet through it. I checked my mentions, and she had tweeted me (and a mutual friend). I wanted to be supportive, so I checked her tweets and answered one of them. I didn’t look at my other mentions or my TL, and I feel like that’s a good compromise.
I also realized that the air conditioner had been running for the past few hours. I checked, and my thermometer said it was 79. That wasn’t right because I had bumped the set point to 76, which means the temperature should have been less than that. I felt the air coming out of the vent, and it was cool, but not cold. Damn it. The air conditioner had shut off. I didn’t want to go out, but I was sweating bullets. I hate the heat as I’ve mentioned several times before, and I knew it would only take one push of a button to reset the air conditioner.
“It’s dark out, and I don’t want to,” I said to myself grumpily. I also didn’t want to sweat bullets all night long, either, and if I didn’t do it, no one else would. I grabbed my phone to set my flashlight, then went to the side of the house. There were bugs everywhere, and I tried not to think about the new bites I’d be accruing. I’m covered in bites, which is another reason I fucking hate summer. I pushed the button and went back in, and then I waited to see what would happen.
I know it’s a little thing, but it felt like a mountain to climb before I made myself do it. I’ve been in a funk lately, and I’m struggling to get out of it. I’ve written before about the difference between internal depression and external depression, and this is definitely external. I acknowledge that I have no reason to be depressed, and I don’t know what’s causing it, but it’s still there. I don’t want to kill myself, but I do have intrusive thoughts such as, “No one cares about me”, “What is the point of life?”, and, “I’m tired of being alive.”
Everything takes extra effort. I went to taiji class last night at the other studio for the first time in months, and I almost talked myself out of going. I’ve realized that I hate driving at night now, ever since my accident, even more than I did before. Let me rephrase: I hate driving on the freeway at night. Even if it’s not dark, I just get tense in a way that I don’t while driving during the day. It doesn’t help that there’s no air at the other studio, which is not fun, believe you me.
My stomach is hurting, and I think it’s the honey dew melon this time. I’m discouraged because after I gave up gluten and dairy, my digestive problems cleared right up.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.