Remember when we used to go on Facebook to see pictures of people’s kids, read amusing Buzzfeed listicles – did I just say “listicles” because if so I hate myself – and see what drunk Phyllis posted last night?
That was so fun.
Remember when we used to go on Facebook to read meaningless shit instead of discover new developments in the systematic dismantling of what was left of American democracy?
I loved that.
Now, people who don’t post about the proto-fascist authoritarian dicks in office stick out like devious outliers while I sit there scream-thinking: “I don’t give a fuck about your cat. BETSY DEVOS THINKS GUNS SHOULD BE IN SCHOOLS BECAUSE GRIZZLY BEARS.”
On the other hand, if we didn’t have an occasional cat thrown in – or, my personal favorite: frolicking river otters – this shit would be unbearable, and it’s already unbearable.
Endless streams of bad news, of people referencing “alternative facts” as if that’s a thing other than, um, falsehoods. Our President tweeting about TV show ratings and slamming our judicial system, the very balance created to save our country from the likes of him. Not to mention the whole Putin situation. Ummmmmmmm. FUCK.
I pick up my phone, scroll, feel flames rise through my body, a sense of panic and rage and sadness and hopelessness, then throw my phone. Pick it back up, Google: “Does Spain take Americans?,” “Is Trump going to nuke the world,” and “What does anxiety disorder feel like and do I have it?”
Swear I’m getting off social media for good. Realize it’s only been THREE GODDAMN WEEKS, feel a sense of hopelessness, wonder how the hell we’ll get through. Commit to no more news.
Ten minutes later, get back on my phone thinking fuck these assholes I’m not going down without a fight.
“Fake news” everywhere. Real news conveyed as “fake news” because it hurts Trump’s baby feelings. A top presidential adviser plugging Ivanka Trump’s products as if our government is some new branch of QVC. The White House getting filled with Wall Street executives even though Trump campaigned against exactly that, but now suddenly his supporters don’t seem to mind. HOW WHY WHAT FUCK AGAIN.
Where are we?
It’s a dizzying dystopian fiction. It’s a constant sense of “is anybody else seeing this? SOMEBODY SAVE US.”
As if I can’t find reality. As if what I’m seeing before my eyes is not real, and yet it is real, and yet if it’s real, how the fuck are we expected to simply go on about our lives? WHY IS EVERYONE JUST SITTING HERE?
On the other hand, do we have a choice? Do we engage for knowledge or disengage for sanity? I go back and forth all day.
My go-to coping mechanism lately has been irate Facebook status updates. I guess it makes me think I’m doing something, while lying in bed naked at 2am.
I write some super brilliant (!) shit, then I reread it and add and subtract this and that, and then I hit “post” and wait…OMG will they like me!? A few likes come in, a couple comments. A share! Wheeee!
I am making fun of myself, but this is all real and true. True facts. Not alt-ones.
I’m a bit of child when it comes to this stuff and have no shame in admitting it. Welllll I have a little shame.
But what I’ve learned about social media is this: If not used thoughtfully, it engages my baser self. It engages the part of me that wants instant gratification, approval, and attention. It engages the part of me that wants to be RIGHT. It brings me fear and by the end of the day, I’m spinning in circles and essentially useless, mentally.
You know what? I’m tired of that shit. Now is not the time for me to run around trying to be right. Now is the time for me to run around trying to be helpful, trying to share what we know in a way that can be consumed, digested, and relatively useful for others. Now is the time that I ask myself how I’m using my time, voices, and commitment to resistance.
Look. You know me. You know my anger rants are like air to me, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop writing inappropriate, poorly thought out Facebook posts that strike me as amusing at the time but later seem irrational and somewhat unhinged.
I’m committed now. I’m all in.
I’m not writing some manifesto on social media behavior. I don’t care how people use it, and it takes all kinds of voices.
I simply just realized in a very real way that social media has to a large extent turned into a sort of self-congratulatory echo chamber for me: I throw out ideas and people who already agree with me respond with support, which makes me happy, and sometimes new people respond with dissent, which makes me mad.
WHEN DID I BECOME FIFTEEN AGAIN?
As the months (years? SHUT UP.) have passed– I realized I was completely swept away in anger and fear, and neither of those are particularly helpful to the world. Anger is an amazing fuel for action, but as an end in itself, it’s something of a dud. Also, it’s miserable. Like if I get mad only to get madder, I’m simply discontented. And useless.
The truth is I am a bit lost. A good portion of what I knew to be true about my personal life has crumbled in the past few months, and everything I knew to be true about my country and the people in it and the direction we’re capable of heading has also crumbled, and I feel a sense in me that I need to take a serious look at what I’m contributing to the world. You know? As a human being. As a writer. As a mother.
I’m questioning ALL OF IT.
I believe something fully though, and I believe it more every day: We already have what we need to make a real, clear, and vital difference in the community around us. We have what we need to survive, to get through this together as a fucking people. We have what we need to lift our voices and be drivers of change and hope rather than festering powerlessness and fear.
We make art. We write and we sing. We show up to school board meetings. We donate to the mission. We talk to our neighbors. We volunteer in schools. We rally. We march. We raise kids that love. We give money to the motherfucking ACLU.
And totally we post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, duh. And our blogs. Yeah dude, I get it. I get the hypocrisy.
I just wanted to remind you that she persisted, because I had to remind myself. I got a little lost in apathy and rage and generalized confusion. It’s easy to forget where you stand, who you are, and what you’re capable of.
This is a weird world right now, and it’s easy to get so overwhelmed we find ourselves recklessly spinning, forgetting perhaps that we will persist, even through this. Plus, if he nukes us we won’t be here to know the difference. Goddamnit I was trying to be positive.
For real: I see you. Your fucking talents and voice. And I hope you use them. And I hope you use them loud.
Because the world may be crumbling, rearranging, and exploding around us, but we are never powerless. They want us to believe that, they want us to get lost in restless anxiety and fear, but we persist by returning to the strength and creativity and fertile resistance we’ve got inside, and letting that run this fucking rodeo.
Also river otters. And each other.
I promise this post was not written for this moment, but I need to let you know I’m teaching the last two live sessions of my ONLINE “Write Anyway” workshop this April and June. April is the only evening workshop I’ll teach this year.
If writing is your thing and you’re not doing it, I hope you’ll join us. We work through and deconstruct the fears blocking us, and I know there are many. I have them all.
We fucking need you.
Please email me with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.