30 days

I’ve been off Facebook and Twitter for 30 days now. Somehow it feels longer than that.

It’s been a relief to be out of the 24-hour non-stop Twitter cycle re: politics and the unending nightmare. But I’m still keeping tabs on the highlights by looking at the paper every day, and listening to the various podcasts I keep up with. I don’t need to be aware of every bread crumb of outrage as it flows through the day in real-time. An occasional summary will do.

Not being on Facebook makes me realize how central it’s become to keeping in touch with my friends. I’ve loosely kept in contact with a few people via email and texting, and I’m still on Instagram, so I’m connected with people there.

At least once a day I think about something I would post, some pithy little thought or observation I would like to share, but have no outlet to do so. If I can communicate it via a photo, I can put it on Instagram, but I don’t have a lot of followers there. I suppose I could be putting all my thoughts & observations into more frequent blog posts, but that’s an even SMALLER audience since basically no one reads this, especially when I can’t post to Facebook or Twitter to alert everyone that there’s a new blog post to read. (One obvious point being that if I posted here more often more people might read it. Ridiculous.)

What have I been doing with all the time I don’t spend scrolling through social media? I’m not quite sure, honestly. My apartment is still a mess. I did watch all 90 episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine in the last few weeks, but I could’ve done that any time. (It’s pretty good, I recommend it.) I’ve been working on the mess that my Duran Duran photo archive has devolved into over the past year (don’t ask), and made some headway on that. I spent 3 days at Pitchfork, and under normal circumstances there’s no doubt I would’ve been live-tweeting and posting endless pics. I could’ve asked Dan to give me back my password for the weekend, but honestly I didn’t really want to. Maybe I’ll put some pics here on the blog if anyone finds it, or I’ll flood Facebook with them when I return.

My Uncle Jerry died two weeks ago, so I went home for his funeral, and then a week later my Aunt Virginia died, so this past weekend I was at home again for her funeral. I hope the family is done with this for awhile.

Stuff is happening at work. We’re getting ready to move to a new office in two weeks. I’ve been sweating bullets over a couple projects that i just want to be DONE so I can quit stressing. I had constant nightmares for a week about a certain project, and actually had bags under my eyes from lack of sleep for the first time in my life. I think the worst of it is probably over but I have NO confidence that it won’t come back and bite me in the ass later. Whenever I do have confidence about something at work I am immediately offered an opportunity to feel shitty about some failure, so I try to keep my pride at an absolute minimum level. “Waiting for the punch,” as Marc Maron would say.

I drove through an epic thunderstorm on Friday night. I rented a car to go home this weekend for my aunt’s funeral, and about an hour into my trip, there was a lot of lightning in the distance, which I was driving directly towards. The closer I got to it, the more frequent the lightning came (or so it seemed) and it started raining, harder and harder. I made a pit-stop to see if the rain would pass, or at least lessen. After about 10 minutes it stopped, and I continued on my way. There was still a lot of lightning, but it seemed to be behind me most of the time. Then after maybe another half hour, it started up again. It rained so hard, I saw people driving with their flashers on. The windshield wipers werer at their highest setting and barely making a dent. All I could do was follow the taillights of the person in front of me, or the reflective strip down the middle of the road, driving 40mph where I would normally be driving 70+. I thought about pulling over and waiting it out but I just kept going, hoping eventually it would stop, or at least I would be on the other side of it. As much as I hate driving, even in the best conditions, I felt strangely calm during this experience. But I was also mad that I was driving and not a passenger because I could’ve gotten some AMAZING photos and video. I’ve never experienced anything like it — driving across the flat prairie in the dark, nothing for miles in any direction and the sky full of flashing light and electric bolts coming down to the ground. It was scary but also magnificent.

Now I’m back in Chicago and it looks like it’s about to rain again. I’m really glad Pitchfork wasn’t this weekend.

30 days

It’s bleak out there.

It’s only Day 2 and things don’t look good. Not that I thought it would be good, I just didn’t think it would be this rampant. This unashamed. That there was this much simmering racist/misogynist rage in the country. I’ve obviously underestimated the pure shittiness of so many of my fellow citizens. I guess they were just waiting for permission to be their worst selves, and now they have it. We can’t hide from it anymore. We will have to reckon with this. How? I’m not sure. I guess we’ll find out.

There was so much talk during the election about how polarized we were, and how everyone lives within their own echo chambers on social media and only hear from people they agree with, and it was certainly true for many of us. The election results are only making it more so. I’ve seen so many posts from friends on Facebook about “cleaning house” on their Friends list, because they could no longer tolerate the racist and extremist rhetoric coming from Trump supporters they knew. Many heated discussions are taking place in comment threads about it, some saying that we should not be dismissive of Trump supporters because they’re #notallracist, but in my opinion (and the opinion of most of my friends – my echo chamber), if you voted for him you are either a racist or you’re willing to be tolerant of such attitudes, since he so clearly stoked that fire. Not just racism, but Islamophobia, discrimination toward the disabled, and actions toward women that are literally criminal. This is not just a “difference of opinion” that we must all just agree to disagree on and move forward. These are fundamental issues of HUMAN RIGHTS that are not negotiable. Networks of friends and families are splitting apart on these fault lines at this very moment, and the prevailing attitude seems to be “good riddance to bad rubbish.”

I’m lucky not to have this problem. I guess I’d already self-sorted my networks to exclude these attitudes, and no one has surprised me by popping off with comments I can’t deal with. My immediate family is free of Trumpitude and for that I’m grateful. (Extended family has mixed results but I can easily avoid them when necessary.) I fear family gatherings at the holidays are going to be VERY volatile all around the country this year.

I know it’s only Day 2, but I’m having a hard time deciding on a course of action for myself. How much social media do I want to subject myself to? Can I limit myself successfully? I don’t want to abandon it completely. I have many friends I don’t want to lose touch with and I like being reasonably informed about what’s happening. But this is a situation of “too much will never be enough,” and continually beating myself over the head with all the terrible things isn’t necessarily productive. I normally wake up to NPR, read all kinds of news all day long, and have been listening to a variety of political podcasts during the election season, but since Tuesday night I haven’t turned on the radio once. I haven’t listened to any of my podcasts. I haven’t looked at a newspaper or watched any TV news. I haven’t (won’t) watch Trump’s acceptance speech. I haven’t watched Hillary’s concession speech or Obama’s remarks. I will, eventually. But I’m not ready yet. Maybe tomorrow. My mom tells me it was helpful for her to watch it, it made her feel better. But I’m so tired of crying right now, and I know I will cry again whenever I’m brave enough to watch it.

What will my purpose be for the next few years? What can I do? How can I contribute to keeping the damage to our country (and to myself) to a minimum? This is what I have to think about now. . .

 

It’s bleak out there.

Stop spreading the poison around.

it’s pet peeve time.

Something I will never understand: People who post pictures of/tweet about/retweet about/share links/whatever about celebrities or public figures that they actively despise. There are many cultural figures I dislike intensely. You know what I do? Ignore them. It baffles me why some of you insist on cluttering up your social media sandbox with pictures of them, and “news” articles about them, and then your commentary about what a publicity whore this person is or how morally bankrupt they are and they provide no value to society and should be wiped from the face of the earth. Yet every time you do that, you’re giving life to this thing you supposedly hate. You’re feeding it the clicks and the oxygen that it thrives on, ensuring that it will reappear again, so you can hate it again. Ad infinitum.

If you thought about it for 10 seconds you would realize that you’re an active part of the machine that creates those people you hate but can’t seem to live without. Quit hate-watching them. Quit wasting the slightest bit of energy on people who are completely irrelevant to your existence. Quit making all your social media friends wade through your complaints about terrible famous people on their way to finding something that might actually be of value. Once you stop paying attention to those publicity whore celebrities, guess what? You don’t have to be annoyed by their terribleness anymore. They just don’t exist. Then you have space in your head to think about something you might actually like, something that might make you happy, instead of generating useless outrage. Try it sometime.

Stop spreading the poison around.