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Self-care and social media - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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Self-care and social media [Jan. 25th, 2017|05:18 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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Last weekend I was at ConFusion in Detroit, which I told you I would be. And it was lovely and I had a great time, hurrah. I will probably want to talk about some things inspired by the panels I was on or witnessed, but that’s in a little bit. Right now I wanted to say: I do not have the passwords to my social media accounts on my laptop, and on my phone I only have the password to my Twitter.

This is deliberate, and I wanted to talk about it this week especially. Not being on Facebook for the weekend of the inauguration was definitely what is known in technical terms as a really great thing. But even if it hadn’t been the inauguration specifically, I find that taking breaks from social media periodically is a good idea. It helps me to see what I might be taking for granted otherwise. It gives me mental space. When I’m traveling, I can’t default to doing the laundry/unloading the dishwasher/checking Slack/taking out the recycling/checking Facebook/etc. I have some separation from all of that. I try to be sparing in my use of Twitter at those times.

This is hard for people in my life to remember. “Did you see the picture of–” No. I didn’t. Because I’m not on social media when I’m traveling. “I really loved X’s post about Y, did you–” No. Not on social media. It’s not up to other people to keep track of my computer quirks. But what their comments do is remind me of how submerged in social media I can be on a regular day. How obvious it is that someone will have seen the picture of and read the post about. Because that’s what we do.

It’s not wrong that that’s what we do. Social media is not bad. But taking it for granted, never taking a moment to asses its role in our lives–well, I can’t think of anything that’s a good plan for.

Maybe if I had kept reading social media all weekend, the sheer volume of political speech going on at the moment would have crept up on me. I’m part of that; I have been more overtly political in public social media in the last year than ever before. But suddenly the Twitter feed that used to be book release/politics/cute dogs/science news/personal yammering is politics/books maybe/politics/politics/politics/oh please give me some cute dogs/politics. Should I curate it differently? Spend less time on it? I don’t know. But whatever the answer is, I should be aware of the shift in balance. I should arrive an answer that is conscious of where and how political energy/focus is expended and not confuse it for happy fluffy things or interactions with friends just because it’s coming through the same channel those used to (and may again).

Occasional breaks help me do that. And for me it helps that they are coincidental: not me sitting down with a schedule and saying, “This is the right time and the right duration,” but chance handing me the opportunity to reevaluate. Maybe it’ll work that way for you. Maybe it won’t. But I think we have a strong cultural bias at the moment that staying up to the minute on news is what smart, engaged people do, and I don’t think it has to be like that for every single minute. Sometimes rest, perspective, and a chance to look for depth are called for.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux


[User Picture]From: asakiyume
2017-01-26 12:14 am (UTC)
That thing about "have you seen--" I get that all the time because I'm not regularly (or at least, not regularly and devotedly) on Facebook. And I've come to the conclusion that it's harmful for interpersonal relationships if people think that posting something anywhere means that all their friends and family will (or should) see it, and that therefore they can assume that they have. That assumption steals away an opportunity for a personal exchange about whatever. "Yeah but if I've already posted the thing, I don't want to bore the person by repeating the story, especially since they will have already seen it." And--I remember this from when I was the guilty party saying things like that--even if the person *hasn't* seen the thing, you can sometimes have lost the impetus to talk about it if you've already posted about it and gotten comments, etc.

I've concluded that it's a good idea to save some things to share with people **personally**. That's what makes them personal friends and not just an audience. And, conversely, if someone is my friend (or family member), and wants me to know about something, I expect them to tell me about it personally, not count on me having seen it on social media.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2017-01-26 12:27 am (UTC)
I particularly agree with this because even if you're on social media constantly, it's easy to miss something. It's easy to have the particular medium's filter decide that you didn't really want to see your cousin's engagement announcement, your friend's baby pictures, etc.

I know that I used to send out emails telling a whole bunch of people whenever I had a new story out, and I lost that email list over a decade ago. That behavior shifted to social media. For the number of short stories I sell, I think that's fine. For things that are inner-circle, I know who to email. But what about that intermediate ground, the group of friends I will want to contact with only the biggest pieces of news? I no longer have a default for how to figure out which people those are and how exactly to approach it. And I've been thinking about that.

I have never put everything online; I have never pretended to put everything online. Two pieces of particularly annoying fallout here: one, when I was trying to converse with an old friend after not seeing them for ages, and they interrupted the beginning of my sentence with, "Don't tell me things you put on the blog, I know all that. I want the real dirt." Two, when a different old friend asked for letters, and I was gearing up to write one when I thought to ask whether they wanted paper letters or email. "Don't worry about that, I know all about what you're doing from the blog. I didn't mean you."

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[User Picture]From: asakiyume
2017-01-26 12:35 am (UTC)
Wow, that *is* Ow-y! I take offense on your behalf because telling a story in a transmit-fashion (as when you post a blog entry) isn't the same thing as actually *talking* about it. [ETA: that's a tangential reaction to my main point, but just, wow, I can't imagine being told not to talk about something I'd covered on my blog! And, for my own part, I'm often interested in hearing more about whatever-it-is that someone's discussed on their blog.)

Edited at 2017-01-26 12:36 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2017-01-26 12:37 am (UTC)
I have also noticed that a great many non-blogging old friends do not notice that "I have read your blog" and "we have interacted" are not the same thing. So they end up acting more like fans of mine than friends, which...it's not that I have stopped liking them, it's that their me-related effort is exerted in a way that does not reach me.
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[User Picture]From: asakiyume
2017-01-26 12:51 am (UTC)
Yeah... what real friendship is seems to elude a lot of people. I don't know if it's partly that they're satisfied with forms or... I don't know.
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From: athenais
2017-01-26 04:52 am (UTC)
I always think I'll be taking a break from social media when I travel and that really isn't true for me anymore. Even two years ago when we went to Namibia I was so sure I'd be wholly off the grid. But no! Namibia has wi-fi in the towns and at the lodges! I was not off the grid for more than two nights.

Having moved to Dreamwidth means fewer of my friends are casually reading my posts now. I post less frequently than of yore. I hope this will translate to "not everyone knows all my business, we can have conversations again about what we've been up to."
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2017-01-26 02:59 pm (UTC)
For some reason I didn't process how readily available wifi would be on my travels last year, even though the hotels all said they'd have it. I think the last few years have made a huge difference in the US about how ubiquitous and how good the wifi is in things like hotels. I don't know if it's that recent in Finland and Sweden, but certainly the wifi was ubiquitous and good even in the far north. I did manage to go to the side of a mountain here in the US with no wifi and only roaming for my cell, but it took some doing. This is why I leave the social media passwords off my laptop: because the external tech will no longer limit me automatically the way it did when hotel wireless was a joke.
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[User Picture]From: tesla_aldrich
2017-01-26 08:59 pm (UTC)
I have been having an especially hard time with Facebook lately, and in fact essentially quit it at the beginning of the year. These days it feels like a lot of people shouting at one another. But I miss the sense of quiet conversation that it used to provide - hence my dipping a toe back into the LiveJournal waters.

There are a few people whose updates I explicitly miss when one or the other of us goes away from social media, and you are among them. I'm glad you're taking the breaks that you benefit from. I'm also glad that you come back.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2017-01-26 09:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you, and I'm glad you're taking the breaks you need also.
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