Why I Have Trouble With Social Media

I have trouble with social media. I grew up in the age of Prodigy and AOL, getting into chatrooms, playing 8-bit games, coyly trying to pretend I was cooler than what I actually was, by presenting myself to be my ideal self.  This seems to be the norm with people in my age group, how we were introduced to the internet and how we interacted with it.  If I looked like how I presented myself, back in those early days, late 1990s, I would be tall, smooth-skinned with long, Pantene-esque hair, and a good cook. Now, in my forties, I’m not any of those things (and I’m ok with that), but what we wanted to be versus what we turned out to be is a right of passage, of self-discovery.

MySpace was the first real venture that encouraged us to put our actual faces on the internet.  Oh to think how innocent we were then! Then Facebook, before everyone’s grandma joined in.  Gazillions of photos instantly available for any situation! If you missed an event, there are photos! If you want to see how your old high-school sweetheart turned out? There’s photos of him and his kids! And in the back of our heads, every time we take photos, we are thinking about how this will look on the internet.  Photos are more staged; smiles are doubly encouraged to show WHAT A GREAT TIME WE ARE HAVING.  All I can picture is the montage of photos they show at the end of someone’s life so we’re all inspired to think, “She was always so happy!”  Was she, though? The face we put on for the internet (read: what the masses see, not your physical close circle) is not who we are.  To post a picture of vulnerability, of sadness, of truth on Facebook or Instagram, or whatever social media the youngsters are using comes across as a call for attention.  If someone isn’t smiling, there’s going to be a good reason for it, right? But they were smiling in all 1,000 of their other photos, so this is just a hiccup and they’ll be better! Photos that show us not having a good time, slumped on the couch in our three-day old pajamas, those are real… but it’s not what the people want.

I think about Anthony Bourdain a lot.  I mean, a lot.  I’ve read his books, followed his television shows, and thoroughly enjoyed his commentary on life.  In Kitchen Confidential, he was open and honest about his mental health issues, as well as his fall into drugs and alcohol while working in the restaurant business. There are no circulating photos of this time period of his life, of him passed out in an alley, of him cutting off pieces of his fingers from slicing vegetables because he was too high to be working.  These would be photos of truth, but they aren’t circulated because people don’t want to remember that. They don’t want to see the truth of life.  The imagery shown of him traveling to different cultures, hugging grandmas who cook their monthly stipend’s worth of food just for one television show, of him meeting old friends on cobblestone streets and drinking fine wines, it’s awe-inspiring.  He connected with so many people, more than he could ever know just by the broadcasting of his shows.  You can easily find photos of him in picturesque locales, practicing jujitsu, hanging out in someone’s backyard for a crawfish broil.  These are the social media faces we put on.  He had his inner-turmoil.  It wasn’t seen, it wasn’t visible, and I feel like he and others like him aren’t empowered to show these vulnerable sides.  Social media has taken this away from us.

I guess my point is that we have stopped being true to ourselves because we’ve changed the idea of truth.  Social media has made us feel like we need to show the brighter side of life, even if it isn’t the truth. Let’s be real to each other.  Even if you feel like you need to keep posting those fun and smiley images, talk to people and tell them who you really are.  That’s most important.

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Slytherin Pride Day!

I have so many feelings about being a Slytherin. When the books and films were released, I always thought myself a Gryffindor. Everyone did, right? Because the main characters were so brave, adventurous, and were highlighted prominently. Pottermore obviously changed that, when I placed the virtual Sorting Hat upon my virtual head and was sorted into Slytherin.

I became depressed, not in the usual way, but in the way that my geekdom had failed me. How could I be a Slytherin? I kept imagining Draco Malfoy’s sneer as he told me “You’re stupid, you don’t even deserve to be in the same house as me.” But that was my problem. I had this perception (no thanks to the films) that Slytherin were these snooty, know-it-all, selfish, conniving jerkwads. I’m not any of those things, at least I don’t think so. I stand up for my friends, I get shit done, at least I could be a little Ravenclawish. But no. Slytherin. It’s in my blood. It’s in my Meyers Briggs profile. (INTJ watup!)

It took a year of me denying the fact that I was sorted into this house before I started to feel comfortable with it. Here’s a truncated list of Slytherin qualities:

  • ambitious
  • cunning
  • strong leaders
  • achievement-oriented

I’ve come to realize that those qualities, in the mind and body of a teenager (like the films and books) make them exactly those snooty, jerkwads that teenagers tend to be. As an adult, Slytherins are much more relatable. Yes. I am ambitious! I have so many projects on my table that sometimes I get overwhelmed. Cunning? Hell yes I am! I seduced my husband with my wit, and particular knowledge about ubergeek stuff that I knew he would dig. I’m also proud of my ability to encourage others to get to the end-game so I don’t have to. It’s part of my enabling scheme to help others. I get off on helping others, too, so it works for everyone. Strong leader? Holy shit, this will take a paragraph.

I hate leading. I hate it so much I italicized it. I’m not fond of being the center of attention. But I’m a badass leader. I like things to be done in a particular way, and if it’s not done to my exact specifications, it’s garbage. So, to prevent more garbage, I have a habit of just sliding into a leadership role. For example, being a guildmaster for years in a MMO and moderating other groups. I guess you can say that I hate garbage more than I hate being in a leadership position. I used to get paid to tell people what to do. I thrived.

Playing video games my whole life taught me to be achievement oriented. Like I talked about in my previous entry “So My Therapist Told Me to Start a Blog,” I crave that little endorphin rush whenever I achieve a specified goal. Especially if there’s little blips or happy pop-ups celebrating my achievements.

Also of note, Merlin was a Slytherin. It’s standard for all Slytherins to name drop Merlin because he was always considered badass. Those that know me in real life, I have an unnatural obsession with Arthurian legend. I connect with the different variations of the story. The Dark Tower by Stephen King is one of those variations, and I believe the Man in Black / Walter / Randall Flagg / Maerlyn, (he has many names) etc., also known as the main villian, an underthing to the Crimson King, had to have been Slytherin. He manipulated Roland Deschain’s path to his advantage, so that Roland could learn what he needed to learn, bond with whom he needed to bond with, lose what he needed to lose, and grow into what he needed to be before he climbed the Dark Tower, his life goal. I relate to the Man in Black. I see why he did the things he did.

So looking back at my behaviors, I was always a Slytherin. I needed a stupid online test to tell me that, but it just helped me embrace myself in a healthier way.

So My Therapist Told Me To Start a Blog

I know she meant well. She recognized that I’ve been progressing.  Over a year ago, she had me start a journal. She didn’t care what I wrote in it, she just wanted me to get in the habit of writing my thoughts down.  And I took to it, in my normal fashion… which is to say that I went ALL IN.  I got a fancy graph paper journal, some fancy Japanese fine-tipped markers of varying colors, and searched for days for the perfect Bullet Journal templates.

Mind you, she didn’t tell me to do all this. She didn’t mention anything about bullet journaling, fancy markers, or tracking EVERY SINGLE GLASS OF WATER that I drank for the day.  I chose to do those things myself, because I felt that if I was going to do something, I better go all out because I’m a data whore.  (That’s probably another blog entry)  I can honestly say I journaled for about 3 months. I spoke to others about the benefits of it, like I was selling this snake-oil remedy for everyone’s depression problems.  Then I stopped.  I’m ok that I stopped, I’m journaling in my head (RE: Letters to Nobody).  My hand hurt, and it was depressing seeing my empty calendar.

So now she says to start a blog.  I have diverse interests, I write stuff, I art stuff, she thinks that I can teach people some cool stuff.  Now here’s the problem with starting a blog if you have a personality like mine.  I grew up with the internet.  First with Prodigy, then AOL, on past dial-up, forums, MUDs, MMOs, chatrooms, FB, Instagram, Tumblr before it sucked, etc., etc.  Just like 99% of society, I thrive off the feeling of internet recognition. I’ve been saying for years, “I’m famous on the internet!, ” when I’m really not. I just have people I talk to on the regular.  Internet recognition like Thumbs Up emojis, reshares, engaged conversations, roleplays.  It’s the musical sound you get from a trophy or achievement on Playstation or Xbox.  That small blip of satisfaction.  No one else gives a shit, it’s just a small bit of endorphins letting you know you accomplished something. You were seen for JUST A SECOND, even if it wasn’t by human eyes. 

And a blog.  A blog is where you throw down whatever content you want.  In my case, a bunch of ragtag off-beat stuff.  And I want people to read it.  I want someone to connect with it.  EVEN THOUGH I SAID IT WAS FOR ME.  I’m not supposed to care if anyone reads it because I told myself this blog was for me. But that endorphin pool sitting below the surface rumbles… it says… LET ME OUT BECAUSE I KNOW THIS FEELING! So I start joining these stupid FB groups to promote my site.  I made a logo! I started a Twitter account (OMG WHY!??!?!!) in hopes that I use the right hashtags to entice someone to this free blog.  I’ve read articles on how to promote my blog, how to pin it to pinterest, how to stylize and SIGN UP HERE FOR 10 LOW PAYMENTS. Oh gawd, it’s so dumb what our brains and chemicals make us do. This is a rabbit hole I don’t wish upon anyone.

She meant well. I’m going to do my best and write about subjects I care about, even if I don’t have a gimmick or solid theme.  I think my little dead-eyed poop emoji logo is appropriate.

The End. -A