Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Social Media is a Basic Bitch

The world of Facebook is becoming dangerous to my writing. This is the most pressing issue of my life outside of the obvious, and it's serious, very serious to me, because writing is not only or just 
something i want to do
something i hope to make money off of
something i enjoy
something i'm proud of

writing is for me a survival mechanism. Writing and reading, and they always have been more than just entertaining, more than just escapism. They are the ways in which I translate life, the ways in which I understand myself as a human being and understand other people, the ways in which I turn all the suffering I experience into something else, something I can then use or move with or work with or move past or elevate or change; I can change my narrative:

but only with words that are in fire, and I'm losing my fire inside the never ending roar of Facebook and twitter. Never ending roar of opinions, outrage, demands for attention (including my own), and processed thoughts. Social media is a basic bitch.

Most of the best writers are not on social media. Yes, you can name a few, Joyce Carol Oates being the most obvious, but mostly, everyone I can think of off the top of my head who I revere as unique and brave and truly trying to carve something different with their words, something that takes immersive thought and processing, something that takes confidence, they are not there, or if they are 'there' they are barely there. Even Roxane Gay, who tweets a bit, is almost silent on Facebook, which I have come to see as the particularly troublesome place for writers.

Ottessa Moshfegh

Zadie Smith

John Irving 

If you are a journalist this probably isn't true. Journalists by nature take in enormous amounts of societal input and then create reports with research. 

But if you are any kind of a creative writer, the way your brain must work to produce work that is truly alive, unique, saturated...

Social media is five, ten percent high-quality, and the other ninety percent is repetition or argument or watered down versions of the original idea, framework, creation. I'm not talking about people's personal posts, which is a whole other thing, a wonderful world of listening to someone's inner thoughts out loud, but an addictive world as well. The human interest stories and shares on Facebook are what make it so addictive. 

It feels urgent and important in a way that completely confuses my brain. Like living in an ER waiting room.

I used to take in enormous amounts of poetry and novels. Now I take in an hour a day of poetry or novel. 

I spend an enormous amount of time on Facebook. I get all–100%–of my freelance work there, mostly from private groups I am a part of, and my freelance career has been increasingly successful. I've recently been published in The Rolling Stone and Washington Post and The Guardian and I am very proud of that, very proud of all my publications.

I also finished my novel and it is out to beta readers.

This is amazing. I still can't believe I actually finished it. I'm proud of my accomplishments, very proud.


I can feel that the part of my brain that cored into the processing center, that created a crystal ball which reflected and illuminated the way I see and know the world into a thousand words that only I could produce, that part is being dulled. Stultified, that wonderful word.

I have been thinking about this for a few years. I realized this was happening and over the last two years I've observed a noticeable decline in the wonder of my imagination and the clarity and fearlessness of my perspective. 

Hillary Mantel

Obviously this is a hundred times more so since Trumplestilskin took over. My Facebook feed is now 50% what is happening in our country (as is right, I myself share on this frequently) and 40% essays and short stories and writing world announcements, and 10% personal- a quick estimation. 

But even before, yes, I could feel it happening, could feel myself going slack jawed and stupid when the feed opens, and the word feed is so perfect, as if I open my eyes and mouth and the stream of feed just pours into me, while I sit as dumb as a rock, taking it all in, and most of it is not the quiet, intense, passionate, intelligent depth of writing that I have lived off since childhood, almost none of it is. 

I am not a snob. I love, without irony, cat memes, hilarious YouTubes, the sappiest music you can imagine, the Kardashians- I don't let anyone tell me what to like or what is worthwhile. Yet the brain is a machine–one we cannot understand, but still–and like the bowel, reacts badly to being fed shit all day e'ry day.

When I lose the ability to write my poetry and my stories and my novels in the fearless and clear way that I have lived off of doing my entire life, I feel absolutely horrible. I feel as if I am anemic. I feel stripped of my power, as if someone had taken my sexuality and smothered it to death. I feel as if I cannot process the world: I am overwhelmed, insecure, more neurotic, and feel that I might be slightly worthless.

Maggie Nelson

My writing has already suffered from the fact that my mother (hi mom) and my children (expect for Ever) do not want to be written about in any real way and I decided to write less, almost nothing, about Ed's bipolar (which I'm reconsidering due to misery from silence). Some writers, many writers, write about people anyhow, regardless of how the person feels about it, but I don't.

But my greatest source of therapy, of solace, of peace, of comfort, of self esteem, has been diminished, greatly, and I have suffered a lot from this over the last three years, I really have. It's depressing as hell. And yet, this is my fault also, but I cannot see the way out all the same. For example, I could try to write things out of my life, and then erase the people somehow. Perhaps I will try this. 

A journal that no one can read? No. This is not it. It must be public, stuck on a door with a pin, or posted on my blog, or published in a magazine, but public, or it loses the magic.

I also know how true this is of social media and my fearlessness because now a days, when I read a novel or memoir, I am obsessed with wondering 'how did they find the courage to write these words?' when my entire, ENTIRE life, I always thought instead 'I will write any words I please, and never care what anyone thinks! Writing is everything to me!' But this was when I was a true outsider, and now I have in the last ten years somehow become finally a person that suburbia does not need to groan and roll about with as if I am a stone in the stomach, and I can pass as 'normal' and I have a better relationship with my family of origin, and I have witnessed ten, twenty, a hundred, five hundred arguments and 'burn them on the stake' chorus' on Facebook over a writer's words, where they said something that offended someone, hurt someone, disgusted someone, and those voices have made a home in my head where the cast of elementary school and middle school used to reside, telling me I am stupid, ugly, weird and wrong, wrong, wrong, now these Facebook judges reside.

How to solve a problem i can clearly identify but have crafted my days around? 

I already avoid FB over the weekend. I try to not go on all together most Saturdays, and maybe go on for an hour Sunday.

It is the rest of the week when I am working, and I am addicted to this great street meeting now, and how do you solve a problem like Maria? 

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