Tag Archives: community

This is community, not social media

13 Jun

12:44 pm

Hey, all. SO, I have been offline for a few days–it was my birthday yesterday, and it was one of those semi-perfect days that just unfold because you don’t make a bunch of plans and/or don’t put that much pressure on having the “perfect” day. ANYWAY, I ended up going on Facebook for the first time in literally 60 days, and what did I find?

The short answer is, not much! I only got three birthday messages, which might be because at some point, I hid my birthday from my profile (I don’t remember doing that, but apparently I did). I would normally have been bummed about that, because half the fun of Facebook was counting how many happy birthdays or messages you got from your “friends” on your day. I wasn’t bummed, though; I was just sort of like, eh. Aside from that, I really did not miss anything–maybe one event that I would have liked to have gone to, and maybe one or two things that I would have seen if I had been going on regularly these past two months.

What I didn’t miss was the overwhelming amount of not only useless and irrelevant information, but the inability to normally interact with “people” on the platform (normally, as in, what humans have been used to doing and what we are wired to do, which is thoughtfully and intentionally engage in a a social exchange, not a lobbing of comment here, sentiment there).

What I got in return was this realization that I was taking Facebook WAY too seriously–seeing how I never posted regularly, I can’t really imagine (and don’t want to) what it’s like for people who post everything, all the time. For me, it doesn’t mean that much after having been off for 60 days; when I’m on the ‘book, though, it’s like, that, inside there, becomes my world, the platform takes root in me and just sort of owns my mind, forcing me to seek validation from it.

Anyway, last night, I almost immediately found myself scrolling mindlessly again, not really all that interested in the posts, feeling actually more disconnected from people. I liked finding things out, but I didn’t like it enough–or more than I like/love–how clear and calm and FREE I feel when I’m not participating on this platform. It really just reinforced my desire to keep actually living, with intent; reaching out in person; finding out the news from actual people, local news sources, second-hand from my circles of in-real-life friends who are spending hours a day scrolling, mindlessly. I mean, the point here is that, I was mindless in my scrolling, and it was like, I wasn’t even able to engage with my so-called friends (which is maybe the point of social media, is that, you get to do and say whatever you want, in a relative vacuum). It was an exercise in frustration and disappointment.

I do miss “On this day/Memories,” but I have my photos and journal to remind me of my past life/lives, right? I actually miss my groups, but I can always go on every few months to catch up on those. I did miss a few events–someone’s going-away party; a business down here closing–but, eh, in the grand scheme of things, it’s SO worth the sense of clarity in not knowing everything about people in exchange for missing a few parties or events.

I have started blogging more in the past two months, have reconnected with this community, and truly get something out of blogging and reading/commenting on others’ blogs. It is a real exchange, a true sense of community–nourishing and stimulating rather than draining and boring! I am glad to be blogging more as it’s given me a comparison as to how one can connect and build community virtually, in ways that can actually work (for me, anyway). Social media dos not work, and I believe that it’s partly due to the lack of true exchange, a lack of anything but short sound bites (from you) and insincere replies (from others), insincere because no one is all that invested in you, in-real-life, unless you are actually friends (at which point, ya don’t really use Facebook to sustain your friendship, you call and/or hang out!).

Anyhoo, I had a good birthday: we actually went to a restaurant, where the tables were six feet apart, parties were limited to six people, and the servers has to wear masks. I mean, I felt fine, not in any way scared or paranoid. We have only had about 75 positive test cases in our area, which could be because there just haven’t been that many people tested rather than we just didn’t have the community spread that other places had. I will say that my family (living in multiple different US states) are really, truly scared. And, I don’t envy the sense of fear and paranoia that’s sort of infected the mainland alongside the coronavirus. I cannot comment on if that fear has been stoked, but I can say that people here are, in general, used to natural disasters like hurricanes (and the ensuing make-the-best-of-the-chaos-and-keep-living mentality that comes with these events) and therefore, I think, more community-oriented (what’s mine is yours, and vice versa; there were no land-grabbing wars around toilet paper here when the shortage arrived). That being said, it’s just going to take a while for things to go back to normal, but, they will; they very much will, whether we are ready for it or not.

Happy Saturday, all–may it be peace-full…

The power of positive thinking

12 Aug

1:31 pm

I wish I had this power!

Seriously, I have been thinking a lot lately about why some people ruminate and others don’t.  I have spent my entire life thinking a certain way, and it’s not easy to change that.  In fact, it’s not really that easy to see it, to understand it, and to embrace the fact that NO, I don’t have to think this way.  It feels good, and safe, and scratches some itch to keep doing things the same way–and some part of this ruminative thinking is healthy and is what’s helped me process my reality and life–but I guess at some point, you just get miserable and tired enough to TRY SOMETHING ELSE.

I keep a journal, and that’s where I dump all my negative thoughts–but, when I think about those thoughts from an above-myself view, I see that I, me, this person, this alcoholic, doesn’t actually see them as negative.  To me, they’re just thoughts–my thoughts, the ones I always have, the type of thinking I’ve always done.  From the ground, I am this, that; she and he is this, that; I am feeling down and it’s because of this, that; I don’t believe that this is going to work because of this, that.  You get the picture.  If only I could see that most of my conclusions are based on no facts; they are of my brain, inside my head, not informed by any fact or stimulus coming at me from the real, outside world.

It’s not that simple, though, to decipher negative patterns from legitimately angry or sad or even happy or joyful thoughts–these are thoughts that help guide you on your path, and inform your decisions!  It’s not easy to realize when let’s say, PMS, is changing your thought patterns, and for no apparent reason, you just feel irritated, angry, heavy, negative.

What I have been trying in small increments to do is to think above or around the negative thoughts.  To ignore them, to bypass them and like, go to yoga instead.  There is this part of my brain–maybe it’s Wolfie, the alcoholic drinking voice; maybe it’s his cousin–who says, YOU HAVE TO consider these thoughts, you have to legitimize them by taking them seriously; at the very least, you have to acknowledge them.  And, I might be wrong here, and I might be feeling around in the dark, but I’ve come to realize that NO, you don’t have to do any of those things.  You can just move on with your day, trashing thoughts and feelings that are ruminative–you can just keep moving, it’s OK.  Don’t confuse moving forward with running away.  (And, my favorite aunt once said, It’s OK to run away sometimes, too.)

So, yeah, I’ve been in my head lately.  I got a job contract renewal, so that is GREAT news–nine more months of staring at my computer for eight hours a day, in my office, alone.  Getting paid well, though, which is a relief because…I have expenses, and I have dreams that need major coin (I want to buy a house soon, I think).  I am grateful, even though it’s not a “dream job.”  And frankly, I don’t have the time, money, or energy to do a “job I love” (an oxymoron?) for a lot less money but one that is out in the “real world,” with actual other human beings.  (Btw, A LOT of people work remotely these days; it’s a great thing, so why am I even EVER complaining about it!?)  Actually, I’ve been on a quest to find that perfect new job, that perfect new career–which means, I’ve basically turned job searching, trolling the job boards, teasing out job descriptions into a hobby (sad, I know).  And what have I learned?  Well, that most writing, content, or communications-related jobs are just the same job.  Really.  So many jobs, so much of the same thing.  I can see myself doing something along the lines of international development or public health, but that will have to be a future focus.

We are doing “aight” here in our new home, but it’s very likely we’ll move back to where we came from (the tropics–ahh) when our lease is up.  I don’t want to be negative here, because I have major issues, it seems, with meeting and making friends, but:  I have never lived in a place that is so seemingly averse to community engagement.  A major complaint among people here is that there is no sense of “community,” and everyone asks why.  I think I’ve figured it out:  people here don’t want it.  If they did,  they’d work toward it.  Like, it’s a chore for people to say hello, to make small talk here; I have never lived anywhere like it, honestly.  I’m from the Midwest, and um, we talk to each other there.  I lived for many years in San Francisco and then, SoCal; even if they can come across as superficial, Californians are super-duper friendly.  I think New Yorkers are some of the most genuine people I’ve ever met.  And, we moved here from a place where two Cat 5 hurricanes ripped through the landscape; if people hadn’t come together, no one would have eaten, had ice, showered, or been able to read a freaking book for six months!?  I think sometimes I forget that younger people are JUST NOT USED TO COMMUNICATING IN REAL LIFE; I think growing up always online has created people who are oblivious to their surroundings, which, um, include other human beings.  Just my two cents.

On that note, I am going to exhale, and try to have a GREAT day.  Thanks for listening to my brain on static, and now I am going to turn off the radio for a while.

(Wine?  Yep, I’ve been thinking about it a bit more than usual–more than I have in the past few years–but I won’t drink.  “Boredom” is a symptom of something else, and I know it should not be treated with booze.)

Sitting and zoning out, or, this too shall pass

5 Oct

4:49 pm

Just sitting.

And zoning.

And eating cheese quesadillas and vanilla chocolate chip ice cream.

And not doing a whole lot of anything.

I’m baffled as to why my motivation can go from 10 to 1 in a matter of 24 hours, and does this every other 24 hours? I cycle in and out, in and out. Two steps forward, one step back. It is almost 5 pm and I’ve done a total of jack shit. (Part of my frustration is the fact that I remain in search of work, and others are searching, too, and we’re all facing the same, bigger-than-ourselves social problems that just Can’t Be Fixed by four (white) folks who aren’t from here. Sigh. I let it get to me; they seemingly don’t. And, it’s probably frustrating me a LOT more than I’m consciously aware of–which, essentially, is contributing to my feeling helpless, which always makes me want to escape with wine. I am impatient, I guess, and don’t like sitting with frustration=How’s about a glass of wine to “solve” that problem, hmmmmmmm?)

I wonder, is it that I simply don’t have a deep well to draw from anymore, when it comes to motivation, perseverance, and joie de vivre? I mean, staying sober takes a lot of that out of you, and keeps on wringing and wringing. In fact, I’ve read about studies showing that your willpower to resist temptation (drink, food) decreases the more tired out you are from other, mentally-exhausting tasks (think, you’re more apt to chow down on that Snickers if you’ve spent the day doing something mentally exhausting versus if you spent it chilling by the pool). Maybe this is part of getting older? Or, is it that I actually NEED more time off? Maybe I am (and have been, for a while) utterly burnt out, after all these years of overachieving, such that I can find neither interest nor rationale for anything whose main reward is “accomplishment” or “success?” The words ring hollow now, and I can only imagine the actual concepts banging around inside my soul like two empty milk cartons. They hold no weight.

I know I need to stop going against the grain, rest if I need to rest, sleep if I need to sleep, etc. BUT…when do I need to give myself a kick in the rear?

And, I’ve talked about this before, but sometimes I have so little energy/motivation (compared to how I used to feel, before I got sober) that I can’t even be bothered to drink! Sometimes (often?) drinking served as a way to not simply make myself feel better, or happier, or less depressed; but as a way to make myself see that I was trying to make it better. If I was drinking, at least I hadn’t totally given up, right? I was at least TRYING to make things better. I was trying to motivate myself to feel good, and that made me feel like I hadn’t completely given in to the lethargy and depression. Today, even if I wanted to drink, I really can not be bothered to pick up a bottle or even pour the glass. I know it won’t work, and I know, deep down (on day 201 today) that I can’t go back. I can’t go home again when it comes to wine.

I’ve figured out a few things lately, though, that help. One is physical activity. I’m not talking about a run, or a swim, or a walk, but all three, over a 4- or 8-hour period! I’ve often thought that if I could ONLY JUST STAY IN CONSTANT MOTION, then the urge to drink wouldn’t be so strong. This helped early on, and it’s helping me now when it comes to freelance writing: a solid bout of activity, 4 hours let’s say, helps to calm my mind, clears out all the raging thoughts, and allows me to actually sit down and work in a concentrated fashion.

Sooner or later, though, we all have to just sit with it (literally, in my case.) Sit with it when it sucks. I can do that, right? Yes, I can do that. I can have it suck and just sit with it. I have learned how to do that, and that it is much less painful than going out and drinking to avoid the sitting. What makes it easier, by far, is having someone else–a community, as it were–to sit with me! That’s where you guys come in.

For instance, I’ve realized that even IF I don’t get shit done, and I feel bad about it–like my world is crumbling, like it’s the worst thing ever–when I come here, I am reminded that it SO isn’t that bad. There was something so horrible about being hungover alone; it was better to share the burden once in a while with someone else, not that I did that a lot after my college days. Same is true of this sphere: when I come here with my problems and you sit, we sit, through them; I see that they might not be as bad as I thought. None of you are worrying, or freaking out, or telling me that my thoughts justify drinking, so…maybe they actually don’t? It’s an amazing sounding board.

So, now I feel sick. And, my sports bra is too tight. And my sciatica is acting up. And, obviously, my “illness,” which I would consider the extreme mess of thoughts that race through my head on a constant basis, is in full swing. But, I’m sitting here. With you. And we’re not reacting because there is nothing worth reacting to. Nothing to do but wait. And breathe. And know that this too shall pass. And I am still whole. And something got done, actually–I am stronger. For this, I thank you guys.

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