When social media first came around, I did not jump to join the masses. I preferred to be invisible. My life, as the cliche goes, had taken some bad turns and there was nothing about it that I wanted memorialized in photographs, much less posted for the world to see. I didn’t believe I had anything worth showing and so, I stayed as far off the grid as I possibly could.
When I was 23 I left my hometown, and in 12 years went back once, for half a day. I kept in touch with one person, who would occasionally tell me that someone had messaged her on Facebook to find me. Another friend reached out to my sister to ask her where I was. I would get the messages and let them go unanswered.
Truman Capote wrote of grief in In Cold Blood—he said that it draws a circle around you which separates you from anything outside of it. That’s what fear did to me in my 20s, and I disappeared into that circle. I didn’t want to be seen and so, I made sure I wasn’t. Continue reading →
*I’m doing exactly what they tell bloggers not to do—changing the schedule. I’ll be posting Monday nights now. For the most part. Unless I can’t.*On August 5, Kim Kardashian is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at BlogHer‘s annual conference in L.A—one of the biggest conferences for women bloggers in the country. In explaining this decision, Elisa Camahort Page, a co-founder of BlogHer, told ABC news, “She has parlayed her influence into a huge media, commerce and mobile app empire, including making tens of millions on her app alone. And it’s an empire with women in the driver’s seat.” Apparently financial success alone merits this prominent space on a platform supposedly intended to promote female empowerment.
I suppose, given how so many people have already deified her, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. And yet it does.
It seems to me outrageous, and incredibly sad, that BlogHer would hire Kardashian to be the voice of their conference. Maybe I’m crazy, but I could have sworn that blogging had something to do with actual writing, even if in the most tangential of ways. That ideally, being a presence on social media might be about more than just the numbers–that as feminists we could strive to make it also about contributing something of substance to the world around us. (Hold the laughs until the end please.) Continue reading →
It happens after every major tragedy. An outpouring of love and grief and support on all platforms of social media: inspirational memes, profile-picture overlays, petitions, indignant status updates, political hashtags. It’s all just so very…right there. Our collective rage. Our sadness and terror and wishes for things to be different. On our screens and in our feeds: over and over and over again. And each time it happens, I have to admit, it bothers me. I really struggle with it. Each time social media goes wild–about a mass shooting, a gorilla, a parent who needs eviscerating–I take a step back from all of it and try to understand what’s happening.
We are all so used to instant gratification now. Click a button and there it is: proof that you’ve said something–done something. And not only do you have the proof but all of your friends, followers, and stalkers have it as well. There, I stand with Orlando. Or Paris. Or rape victims. I wrote a meme about how I will raise my boys to respect women. I have done something helpful.
Here’s an old post for my new friends. I wrote this in December, when I had only been on social media for a few months. I was overwhelmed and confused and scared for humanity. I’m still all those things, but not quite as much. Progress, right?
So here it is–the list of wisdoms I’ve gleaned from social media:
1. I had no idea how much I missed a couple of people from my past until I re-connected with them.
2. The most delicious of all the features across all platforms: you can be friends with someone without following them. Just because you’re my friend doesn’t mean I want to see or hear a single thing you do or say. Which, let’s face it, would be a pretty cool feature in real life too.
3. Social media messes with the natural evolution that’s supposed to happen in your life. Sometimes people are taken out of your life for a reason–it can be a beautiful gift, but it’s very hard to receive it now. No more survival of the fittest. Now every last slobbering, sweaty, unfit remnant of your entire life survives—and posts pictures of its survival for you to enjoy. Continue reading →
I’ve never been a particularly jealous girlfriend but I am a very jealous writer. When I see someone promoting a piece on Facebook or Twitter, I feel something a little bitter and slithery churn in me: “Not fair,” I think in my whiniest adolescent voice. My better self might know that it has nothing to do with fair, but that better self doesn’t always get a say.
Now raise your hand if any of the following scenarios churn something ugly in you:
Someone else’s kid makes Varsity and yours doesn’t.
Your friend drives a BMW P series (or whatever) while you have a shitbox with a tape deck and half a bumper.
Some perfect-looking skinny bitch is…well, a perfect-looking skinny bitch.
Don’t lie—your hand is up by now.
A writer you know signs a book deal with a big-time publisher.
David Bowie’s death a few weeks ago unsettled me—not the death itself, but the phenomenon that followed it. Initially, as my social media feeds filled with pictures and quotes and song links, I was uncomfortable and annoyed. Then I started to feel like a sociopath—the world was letting out this great, collective gasp in mournful unison.
Why wasn’t I?
It’s not like I didn’t try. I put up a few different elegiac Bowie pictures, but took them down soon after. It just felt icky. The fact was, I wasn’t grieving. Sad? Sure. But not grieving. And so it felt like I was trying to co-opt his death and make it mine in a way that it wasn’t. I was using this awful thing (though there are things way more tragic than the death of a 69 year-old man who lived an incredibly full and exciting life) to get…well what was I trying to get? Attention, I guess. Isn’t that always the point of a social media post? Whether it’s for personal or professional reasons, posting something on social media is us waving our arms back and forth, trying to signal to people that we need some attention. Look over here. This is where I am. This is what I’m doing. This is how I’m grieving.Continue reading →
Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch. -James Baldwin
Here’s why I’m a lunatic. Last week I was writing in my journal—wrestling with questions about being present in my life, wondering if blogging was actually making me a worse writer by making me less here. And here’s what was going on in my head:
Actually this might make a good blog post, all about the tension between blogging and my “real” writing—wait, a post like that would never go viral, needs to be something sexier—maybe something political? Hillary’s a hot topic, maybe I should write about her—but am I smart enough to write about politics, informed enough? Maybe another vagina post, vaginas are really hot right now—maybe I’ll go get my vagina steamed and write about that…
When your search history includes “Where can I get my vagina steamed in New Jersey,” it’s time to step away from the computer and do some thinking. Continue reading →
egotist, n. a person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.
–ambrose pierce, the devil’s dictionary
i am both an aspiring memoirist and a very private person. what can I say? the onion that is me has many layers. memoir writing chose me—it’s what makes me feel tethered to something instead of just flung out into the wild by myself. and i’ve been told that in order to get published, i need a “platform” (i assume to have something off of which to jump when the insecurity arising from social media engagement is too much to bear). so to attain that platform, i’ve started a blog; and to build up that blog, i’ve made a deal with the devil: facebook.
so here i am, a few weeks into my social media blitzkrieg: i’m on facebook (go like my blog’s page); i’ve turned myself into a twidiot (go follow me @danifleischer); and i’m hash-tagging my ass off on instagram (go follow me @sum_of_my_pieces). i tend to go balls out once i set my mind to something.
and actually, social media has been really helpful—facebook especially—because now there’s a quantifiable way to know whether or not i should like myself—to know exactly how liked i am, how worthy my words are, and most importantly, how i stack up against my friend from third grade whom i haven’t seen in a quarter of a century. plus, as an added bonus, if you have a fan page, facebook gives you “insights” into its activity: how many people saw each post versus how many engaged—and of those who engaged, how many merely commented and how many liked it. so now the over/under on how long it will take me to jump off that platform is one simple math problem away.
which is all to say: this is why i didn’t have a facebook page until now. let’s set aside for a moment the privacy issue, as well as my belief that there’s a natural selection in life that weeds out people who aren’t supposed to be in your life anymore. and let’s forget about the problem of comparing my insides to others’ outsides. what’s most troubling is that i can’t help but measure my worth by how many likes each post gets. once i put something out there, i’m finding it really goddamn difficult not to care how it’s received.
and this isn’t just about ego, it’s about my writing—my writing—which creates the perfect shit-storm of doubt and insecurity. ‘shit, should i have posted that? did that make me look dumb? why hasn’t X liked it yet—i wonder if he’s mad at me. oh my god, that picture of the thing in the place with the person barely got any likes—see, i knew it! i knew my writing was shit and i’ve been living in a fantasy world to think that i’ll ever get published and—oh my god 6 more people just liked it! yeah i knew it was funny.’
don’t even pretend that you haven’t asked yourself those same questions or felt a similar shame when you post something that you think will kill and instead it dies a slow, painful death. it all feels like i’m standing in front of the class in my underwear. actually, given the personal nature of my writing, i’m standing in front of the school naked on a windy day, watching my underwear get raised up the flag pole as i try to cover up all my shivering bits.
now look—i realize that a lot of people are idiots, and i shouldn’t worry about what they think about me or my writing. all i have to do is look at how many likes someone’s spinach omelette gets, and i realize that maybe mass approval doesn’t say much. (i really don’t get the food pics people. unless you’re a professional chef or that picture can reach through my computer and give me half of that omelette, i really don’t give a shit what you’re having for lunch. but what’s more troubling to me than the actual pictures is how many people like them.)
i also realize that if i want to get published i’d better grow some thicker skin, and that my career does not hang in the balance of how many likes a ralph waldo emerson quote gets. (but sidenote: i put up an emerson quote that’s one of the truest and most eloquent things ever said, and it only got 6 likes?? why am i always so much more right than everyone else?)
yet despite all the things that my better, more confident self knows to be true, my lesser, more fearful self cares about the social media response. and over the last half decade or so i’ve actually done a lot of work to create a better sense of self-worth—work that, i believe, has yielded some positive results. and yet social media has me fixated and almost blinded, trying to make this blog of mine wildly successful in the one month that i’ve been doing it.
what i know i should remember—what’s difficult to call up when i need it to resonate the most—is the pride i should feel at just putting myself out there, results be damned. there was a time not too long ago when the idea of rejection would have kept me quiet and alone, not doing the thing that i love to do.
in an interview in the new york times, marilynne robinson said: “it comes down to fear; the fear of making self-revelation of the seriousness of ‘i sense a sacredness in things.’” i do sense a sacredness in some things, and that admission carries with it a vulnerability that scares the shit out of me. but here i am anyway, because how can it be any other way?
so let’s cut the bullshit: if you’re sitting there with a bemused grin on your face—if you’ve been mildly entertained, or identified in any way with what I’ve said here—if you really do like this blog, then click the link below and like the damn blog. it’s hard to put yourself out here like this and this fledgling writer needs some support.