Album: I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it.
Label: Dirty Hit
Source: iPhone/Spotify app
Who I want to share this song with: Angel
How I discovered this song: Bought the album the day it came out
Playlists to put on: Driving at night.
“Hey kids, we’re all just the same. What a shame.”
I have a distinct memory of Matty Healy, the band’s lead singer, chuckling on stage while the crowd shouted out those words. It’s something rooted in sadness – that every person thinks they’re destined for something great or that they’re “different” than others. The song, I think, romanticizes what’s not there. The idea of running away to another girl, to drugs, or especially to Paris, a city which is essentially the embodiment of romance. I think Matty was writing about his own experiences becoming a cliched beatnik and romanticizing drug use.
Strangely, the song helped me a lot when I was grieving Abby, my dog. Maybe because the song itself is about a desire for escape, but, also, being held back by this desire to escape. The sound quality of this song is so dreamy and further matches the idea of romanticizing things that are ordinary and possibly even damaging.
So, here’s a live version of the song by the 1975, and an acoustic cover I did.
On Friday February 17th, I had the pleasure of seeing author George Saunders read from and talk about his novel Lincoln in the Bardo. Though Bardo will be Saunders’s first novel, he published numerous short story collections, including Tenth of December, which won the Story Prize and Folio Prize and was also a National Book Award Finalist (think Golden Globes in the literary world).
I have yet to read Lincoln in the Bardo, but I read Saunders’s short story collection, Tenth of December in my fiction workshop senior year. The humor and absurdity of Saunders’s stories reassured me that it’s fine for literary fiction not to be steeped in realism, which is why I decided to see him speak in Cambridge.
Lincoln in the Bardo is a novel about President Lincoln’s grief at losing his son, Willie, in the American Civil War. The book centers around the story of Lincoln going to the graveyard in the middle of the night to hold his son’s body. Saunders explained that he struggled with different ideas of how to tell this story, whether to write as an omniscient narrator, or as someone who witnessed the event. “A couple of grave robbers would be too cheesy,” he told a laughing audience. So, to tell his story, Saunders uses ghosts who witness this event.
This idea to write about this came to Saunders years ago, on a tour of the graveyard, when his guide told him of Lincoln’s nightly visit. Of course, it wasn’t without its challenges. Saunders realized that he would have to write this in a way that was earnest and out of his comfort zone in the absurd.
Now, Abraham Lincoln is one thing familiar to most people. But what in the world is the Bardo?
The Bardo, Saunders explains, is the Buddhist equivalent of purgatory in Christianity. It can be translated into “in-between state,” “liminal state,” or “intermediate state,” and it occurs between two lives on earth, between the death of one life and the birth of the next. Saunders, who is a practicing Buddhist, seems to hold ideas that are most similar to Tibetan Buddhists, who believe that the Bardo is a place in which the soul is no longer tethered to a physical body.
“Think of your mind like a wild horse,” Saunders explained. “It is powerful, but, while you are alive, it is tethered to a physical body that holds it back. After death, this tie is severed, and the horse- or your mind- takes off.”
The Bardo, then, is the liminal space in which this novel takes place. Literally, it is the space between death and birth for the deceased souls surrounding Lincoln and for Willie. This space could also represent Lincoln’s grief. As he processes the death of his son, there is a gap of time between Willie’s death and Lincoln’s acceptance of Willie’s death. In that time, Lincoln wrestles with denial, anger, sadness, guilt. Furthermore, this liminal space represents the Civil War itself, in which a country is divided and fighting to stay united. At this time, American was neither officially united nor was it two different nations, as the Confederacy had wanted. America would be reborn from this war as a different country. As America wars against itself, so does Lincoln, as he knows that his son’s death is a direct result of his own commands.
Saunders read a long excerpt from his upcoming novel with a twist: he had some staff from the Harvard Bookstore read as different characters. Saunders, of course, read the part of the protagonist, President Abraham Lincoln. “This is my show,” he told the audience.
From Chapter 48, page 155:
He is just one.
And the weight of it might kill me.
Have exported this grief. Some three thousand times. So far. To date. A mountain. Of boys. Someone’s boys. Must keep on with it. May not have the heart for it. One thing to pull the lever when blind to the result. But here lies one dear example of what I accomplish by orders I-
May not have the heart for it.
This passage in particular stood out to me because it shows the collision of the personal and the political within President Lincoln’s own life. Politically, he must move forward with the War, keeping the country in Union, when, personally, he has been directly affected by the carnage of the war. While Lincoln carries the weight of his dead son, he also carries the weight of “a mountain of boys,” who are dead as a result of his orders.
I am excited to read Saunders’s debut novel and see how it compares to his short fiction.
It was New Year’s Eve, and a gust outside plummeted the 35 degree weather to windchill of 20 degrees. And I felt nothing but warmth.
That was the theme of my Christmas this year. I asked for a parka, an electric blanket, snow boots. Moving from Charleston, SC to Boston has proved to be quite a change of climate, which, of course, was to be expected. After getting off work the other night, I ordered take out from 12 Hours, a place that serves a variety of Thai and Asian Fusion. I walked there in my new Lands End parka that dropped to my ankles and surrounded my head in a halo of faux fur. It was like walking the streets wrapped in a bed quilt. As an added bonus, I looked like Lord Commander Jon Snow of the Night’s Watch.
The next morning, I awoke wrapped in my synthetic down comforter, woolen blanket, and flannel sheets. The latter two items were gifts from my mom; they were both things I considered buying for myself and never put on my Christmas list, but here I am. As you can imagine, I stayed in bed for a few more minutes (like 60) and scrolled through social media, email, and Indeed jobs and internships.
When I finally got out of bed, my roommate, Donna, greeted me. I went to the kitchen and put the Keurig on. While I was waiting I shouted down the hallway, “Do you like coffee?” I had already started walking towards her bedroom.
“No, not really,” she said.
“Smell this!” I said. I pointed the open end of the bag toward her.
She humored me because she loves the smell of coffee, though she doesn’t enjoy drinking it.
“Oh my god,” she said. I was satisfied with her response, but I ended up being slightly impatient for her to stop inhaling the strong aroma that the grounds emitted.
I got this particular coffee while I was in my hometown, Roanoke, VA, at the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op downtown. This store offers bulk coffee, which means you can pour your own beans into a bag and also grind them yourself. The roast that I got is called Mind, Body, and Soul by Equal Exchange. I wish I could tell you all of the undertones in it, but I’m not a professional, or amateur by any means, coffee taster. Still, I love a quality cup. My friend, Ally, who manages a coffeeshop called Oceana in Tequesta, FL, spoiled me with the coffee that they roast. Since she brought me coffee from her shop, I have never again settled for Starbucks. If you live in South Florida, consider stopping by. Also, you can buy their coffee online. I hope my bank account doesn’t suffer too much from my newly acquired taste, although I’m still saving tons by making coffee at home rather than buying it out at a cafe.
Since I got this coffee on my last day in Roanoke, I kept it in my car rather than bringing it into the house. As we packed away my things, my dad said, “You’re right, Alex, that coffee smells damn good.”
After driving from Roanoke to Boston, smelling this coffee for 12 hours, I was eager to finally drink it. I was not disappointed – it was just hot enough to create a warmth that radiated from right below my sternum. In me, it struck a sudden inspiration, and a sudden realization of this morning’s theme. I am so lucky, so grateful, for the warmth and comfort of my apartment and the gifts I’ve been given. I am grateful for the contrasting and refreshing air outside, for its invigorating nips and the gear I have to fight against the bigger bites.
I feel within and without the contrast and ironic juxtaposition of my desires. On one end, I desire adventure. I am always hungry for to try new things, to be awe-struck by sublime visions, to travel to new places. Changes, like rocks in a flowing stream, oxygenate me. The idea of my life becoming stagnant is depressing. I made this analogy a lot in my college essays, and I think that was because I was going through a transition. I now find myself at another.
The other side of the coin is that I crave comfort. I crave familiar intimacy with those who surround me. People who warm my heart and help me to relax. People who calm the reverberating echoes of my mind. People who, in a sense, keep me warm.
Since moving, I’ve realized the importance of physical touch. I’ve talked to Donna about this a little. I’ve wrote poems about a flower withering without touch (If you’re laughing, that’s fine, because I’m laughing too). I’ve been making friends in Boston, but not friends who I can yet feel comfortable hugging. I know this may sound strange, but one thing I miss most about my friends from Charleston is physical proximity. I miss hugs, sitting next to them on the couch, or leaning on them when I start dozing during a movie. My family is not huge on physical touch, save for my dad, who is an amazing hugger. But, as I sat on my bed New Year’s Eve morning, enveloped in warmth that is in many ways provided by them, it wasn’t hard to imagine that I was being hugged. That, through these gifts, they reassured me comfort, stability, and safety in my many adventures, far from home, and in the strangely uncomfortable but thrilling climates I constantly seek.
Before I finished writing this yesterday, I went to meet my friend Mickey at her house for Irish Breakfast and New Year’s Eve adventures. She greeted me with a bear hug.
Moving to Boston has exposed me to some great music: I live with another amateur musician, and I’ve made some excellent discoveries on Boston’s radio stations, namely 88.9 WERS and 90.3 WZBC Newton. Both of these stations are publicly funded and run by universities (Emerson College and Boston College, respectively). Public funding keeps these stations authentic, as they play music they feel is worthy of listening to, rather than run by the pop music market to play what people buy. Furthermore, the young DJs keep the music fresh.
This year has been a year of rediscovering old favorites, such as Green Day, the exponential growth of the 1975, and some newly discovered artists, such as Mitski, Angel Olsen, and Car Seat Headrest.
22, A Million – Bon Iver
I was skeptical of Bon Iver’s newly acquired experimental electro sound. I’d heard his single “33 God” on the radio, and I was puzzled by it at first. But something about that little loop “I’d be happy as hell if you stayed for tea.” I then decided to give the entire album a try on a long drive. “22 (Over Soon),” the album’s opening track, is just as haunting as “Skinny Love” with dulcet symphs and manipulated human voices. Something about this makes the track overly emotional and yet somewhat detached, like a sad robot of some sort. Bon Iver does not fail to show their mastery of instrumentation, and 29 #Strafford APTS is a treat for aficionados of the band’s original folk sound.
Puberty 2 – Mitski
Mitski has the voice of an angel and I’ve listened to “Your Best American Girl” and cried more times than I can count.
You’re the sun, you’ve never seen the night but you hear it sung from the morning birds.
I’m not the moon- I’m not even a star, but awake at night, I’ll be singing to the birds, “Don’t wait for me. I can’t come.”
These two lyrics sum up the doomed love described in “Your Best American Girl.” Two things that can never naturally occur, the pain that the lover feels, and the blissful ignorance of the beloved. In addition to this song that would fit perfectly on anyone’s drink wine and cry playlist, Mitski also adds some upbeat songs like “Happy,” “A Loving Feeling,” and “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars.”
MY WOMAN – Angel Olsen
If you sense a “Girls in Rock n Roll” theme in my recent listening patterns, then you are correct. Angel Olsen’s MY WOMAN is an album that sounds like it’s straight out of the seventies. Olsen’s vocals range from howling to musing. Each of the songs either packs a punch or is downright dreamy. From the longing frustration of “Shut Up, Kiss Me” to the resigned “Never Be Mine,” Olsen creates a timeless soundtrack about a timeless subject: love. This album is the perfect soundtrack for driving around when you feel slightly despondent.
Revolution Radio – Green Day
How could such a politically tumultuous year be complete without America’s favorite punk commentators? Green Day has always been fearless about voicing its viewpoints. Green Day has mastered garage punk fire in songs such as “Bang, Bang,” which also contains the most chill-inducing drum solo I’ve ever heard. Other songs, such as “Outlaws” and “Forever Now” boast Green Day’s theatric arena-rock sound that they’ve acquired over the past decade.
Teens of Denial – Car Seat Headrest
Finally, a good band from Virginia. Car Seat Headrest is a band that can keep their music on grassroots streaming website bandcamp while also being recognized by Rolling Stone as one of the top 50 albums of 2016 (it took fourth place). Grungy, angsty, and deadpan humorous, set to killer instrumentals, whose production preserves the beautiful rawness of rock and roll.
Why Are You Okay? – Band of Horses
Domestic nostalgia and heartbreak, the restlessness one feels in white picket fence suburbia, growing into someone you thought you wouldn’t be. This album was one of the most played of my summer. Band of Horses never fails to make hauntingly beautiful music. Among my favorites on the album are “Hag,” “Casual Party,” “In a Drawer,” and “Lying Under Oak.”
I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it – The 1975
This list is in no particular order, but I did save my most favorite for last. I could write an entire blogpost about this album alone. It changed my life and speaks to me in unimaginable ways. From the satirical narcissism of “Love Me,” to the hopeful heartbreak of “A Change of Heart,” the out of touch and depressed romanticism of “Paris,” this is one hell of an album, and, frankly, if you’re putting The 1975 off because of their boy band, poppy sound, you’re seriously missing out. The melodies are delicious and the lyrics have a full of substance and wisdom .
I put “A Change of Heart” on the album, because I’d never heard a song about falling out of love before. It reminds me of when I had graduated high school and all of the things that high school is romanticized to be – a coming of age, a place to find forever friends, etc. – was a facade. In the same way, this song talks about a girl that the speaker falls out of love with as he realizes that she is not as unique or interesting as he once thought. “Was it your breasts from the start?” Matty Healy muses. “They played a part.”
You used to have a face straight out of a magazine. Now you just look like anyone.
Not to mention, “A Change of Heart” deflates much of what was romanticized on the 1975’s first, self-titled, full-length album, particularly in the songs “Robbers” and “The City.” In “Robbers,” Healy gushes, “She had a face straight out a magazine.” Earlier on the album, he sings, “If you wanna find love, then you know where the city is.” In “A Change of Heart,” he directly responds to this: “I never found love in the city/I just sat in self pity and cried in the car.”
The 1975 has grown from a pop band playing songs about the mundane life of a teenager in Manchester to a band that analyzes their own position within the media and the messages that they send to their many fans.
This is not really for me. It’s so I can represent all the different ways in which queerness manifests itself in the population and in individuals. I am a part of the population that is scared shitless. This is to let you know I am more than a statistic. I’m a friend, an acquaintance, a classmate, a coworker, a daughter… but yes I’m also bisexual.
I like girls and boys. Some close friends know that, but I never felt the impulse to “come out” until now. Because I am bi, it is easy for me to *pass* as someone who is straight. It’s easy for me to reveal my genuine attraction to men and hide my attraction to women. Especially since I am single and my love life is something at the bottom of my list of priorities.I want people to know, especially after this election, that the LGBT community isn’t something sanctioned off or easily identifiable. I wish it weren’t an identifier, but, nonetheless, it is a part of who I am. I wish that preferences between men and women were the same as between vanilla and chocolate ice cream. My sexuality, I’ve felt, is something that is fluid and changing, not something static. But, as it makes it easier for others to understand, and slowly as misconceptions about my orientation are being dismantled, it’s easier to just say, “I’m bi.”
Some people think this is a weird mutation or something to be corrected. Honestly, nothing feels wrong with anything I feel for other people, man or woman. I’ve been tricked into feeling guilt and shame, but what LGBTQAA person hasn’t? What I feel is not some impulse from my mind not functioning properly. I have anxiety and depression, so I know what that feels like, and this is not that.
In high school and for much of college, I was confused and afraid. During my last year of college, I started coming out to friends and family. I felt more at ease. I’m still sometimes afraid to tell strangers. Most people don’t care, and I’m thankful.
I’m cis and I wear things that range from a baseball hat and Nikes to a dress in which Jessica Day would feel at home. My womanhood is an essential part of who I am, while I also understand it doesn’t conform to conventional femininity. I don’t dream of marriage and children. I dream of travel and love someday.
My family doesn’t quite understand me, but they’ve always loved me. For that I’m extremely grateful.
My friends are mostly female, and I love each and every one of them. Some of my friends and I express our love through physical touch. They aren’t worried I’ll somehow violate them. We share beds and couches and even seats sometimes.
I’ve never been in a serious relationship. The closest thing I ever had to an * SO * was a man. I’ve been on dates with both genders. I’ve fallen in love with individuals of both genders.
In some ways I’m a cliche. I am a writer, specifically of poetry and essays. I am a deep thinker, and writing is a strange compulsion that I have to properly express my thoughts. Of course I have left-leaning political views, and I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Virginia primary. I’ve wrestled between Christianity and atheism, and I am now studying the Bible.
I cast my ballot on Friday for Secretary Clinton. I was foolish enough not to worry about the outcome until it came. I ignored the possibility that the man who is now elected the President of the United States would ever be where he is.
I worked last night and checked the results at my break. The count was low, but Trump was winning. “It’s okay,” I thought. “There are still more votes to be counted.”
But she never took the lead.
I listened to NPR and watched the nation light up in a red flame. I don’t like to describe it that way because I have friends and family with Republican views, and I respect them. But this was the color that represented a man whom half of the Republican party had denounced.
I texted my friends. “I’m scared.” I read America by Allen Ginsberg. I felt guilt. If I had been more open, would it have changed people’s votes? I foolishly thought this to myself. That maybe people wouldn’t be so quick to slap people like me in the face if they knew it was me they were slapping. I think I was merely grasping onto some kind of control or responsibility in this chaos. I felt the pain of all of my Facebook friends, even if we were only classmates, as they posted about being who they are and how that is scary. How the identity of individual Americans and this election is a paradox, but a reality nonetheless.
My vote felt like a joke. A vote is powerful, yes, and, together, would have changed the outcome of last night’s events. But as I sat helplessly watching the vote count come in, watching everything unfold, knowing that my vote on Friday was all I could do, it all felt like a mockery of that right.
Today, I’m doing something else in my power. I am choosing love. I am choosing to be open and honest. I am choosing to be here for anyone else- female, lesbian, gay, trans, bi, pan, asexual, agender, queer, black, hispanic, latino, Muslim- who is scared.
I’ve been reading Facebook, and I want to say thank you to all of my Facebook friends who are scared for me and people like me. Thank you for standing in solidarity with us, even if you are male, white, and straight. Thank you. Remember to choose love today. Many of us are hurting.
It was last Sunday, just after 10. I was allowed to go home from work, and I started my journey home, but not before texting my dad that he could call me now. He, and the rest of my family, had been trying to reach me all day. I can’t remember who called who, but I was rounding the corner around the store when I pressed the phone to my ear.
“How are you?”
I said something like oh I was fine because I just got off work and I could go home and go to sleep. Then he said–
“I have bad news.”
It’s always awkward, the warning of a tragedy before a tragedy. As if I had to compose myself a certain way so I could react appropriately. An uncomfortable laugh bubbled from my throat.
“We had to put Abby to sleep.”
The rest is a blur of words and medical terms and her disposition throughout the day. How Dad and Reagan took her to the vet. How Kate stayed behind and didn’t want to see. How I choked when he said, “We tried to see if she could FaceTime with you.” They told me that Hatcher had wished he hadn’t FaceTimed with her. Reagan told me that she had no energy and she hardly even acknowledged anything around her. This didn’t change the fact that these were my dog’s last moments that I was too busy to see. But maybe, as my family seemed to insist, she was already gone that morning.
Grief and I are not familiar with one another. I’ve lost a family member before– my grandmother. I was only six then. When my dad told me about her death, I think I was mostly inquisitive, trying to figure out what it meant. We were on a boat at my other grandparents’ lake house. “Did she go to heaven?”
This was enough understanding for six-year-old me. The sun was setting over the water jetting underneath the speed boat, and I thought of that, at the time, as a supernatural confirmation of my grandmother’s eternal resting place.
In my late teenage years, I witnessed grief. I was 17 and it was the beginning of my first week working on the Blue Ridge Scout Reservation. The week before that was staff week, during which there were no campers (or Scouts) and all the staff prepared for the coming season. I sat with a ragtag group of buddies I had made over the past seven days, and someone wondered aloud where was Zach, the Director of Waterfront?
We quieted down as the Camp Director bade, expecting some customary first week remarks about procedure and a pep talk. Instead, he warned us of bad news, and told us that a State Trooper had found Zach’s crashed car. Zach did not survive the crash.
I cried. Not because I knew him or would miss him. I cried because it was horrifying to me, how someone not a few years older than me could be gone just like that.
Grief is strange. I sobbed like a lunatic in my bed, convinced that Abby’s spirit had visited me and whispered words of comfort. My empty room felt full of presence. The last time I felt anything like that, I had a fever.
The next day, I went through the motions. Everything was the same. I still walked the dogs. I still drove my car between Brighton and Allston. I cut the curb and got a flat tire and spent hours between being towed and having my tire repaired and my car realigned. The complication was mundane, but it tethered me to reality. Mentally, I was focused. Emotionally, I was clouded and numb. I paid the $200, went home to change, and started my next job.
At the same time, everything was different. I found tears running from my eyes, I found I was out of breath, I saw Abby in the dogs I walked where she had not been before.
In the midst of this, I shared Abby’s photo on the Internet with my friends, the caption skimming the surface of the bad news. I thought likes and comments would be comforting. I watched the numbers go up… hearts, likes, crying faces. I felt nothing.
Abby was gone, but she was everywhere I looked.
After another, perhaps more forgetful day, I got home and took a long shower. I sat in the bottom of the tub with the water still running. I closed my eyes, and even the water beating on the back of my neck sounded like her name being said over and over and over again.
I was supposed to do laundry. I was supposed to eat dinner. I slept instead.
In the middle of all of these feelings was a certain shame. It was something I could project onto others easily, but luckily I found I never had to. I never had to give anyone an ear full of why this next statement is bullshit. Still, I had anticipated it. Maybe, in anticipating it, I threatened to undermine the validation of my feelings.
She’s just a dog.
First of all, dogs are magical creatures. The poop everywhere and eat everything, but they have variant and colorful personalities. And, furthermore, they have nothing for loyal owners but unconditional love.
So, yes, she was a dog and that was enough. But more importantly, she was my dog. She was a part of the Worthy family. As I look at the number of years she was alive – 11, far too short in my opinion – I realize how short but also how long that really is. When Abby and I first met, I was nearing the end of my elementary school salad days. Now, I am a college graduate in the “adult” world up in Boston. She was with me for my most formative years – throughout middle school, high school, and college – and quite literally watched me grow.
I remember how my Dad, Kate, Reagan, Nana, and Hatcher, the rest of my family who saw her before she died, told me that I was spared a tragic scene and that I would want to remember her in a different way.
So, here’s how I remember Abby.
As a kindred outcast of the Worthy clan, she and I had no passion for sports. We sheltered ourselves behind my bedroom doors from my mom, dad, brother and sister’s abrupt protests at the Gamecock’s football game.
As a constant companion on the swinging couch of the screened-in porch, keeping my company as I plowed through summer reading.
As the WORST labrador retriever. You never cared to swim. Swimming is literally what you were bred to do. During our hike at Tinker Creek I remember trying to coax you down to the stream for a glass of water, but you wouldn’t budge from the bank.
You were humble – you always thought you were in trouble when we snapped at your sisters for eating something they shouldn’t be.
You were talented – you could raise one eyebrow at a time on BOTH sides of your face.
You were a fast eater – so fast, in fact, that we replaced your regular food bowl with one dappled with rifts and valleys, forcing you to eat a little slower.
You were a distraction – a literal and peripheral pop-up. You sometimes decided that it was YOU who belonged in my lap, not my laptop.
Which also brings me to the apparent confusion of your own size. You grew up with smaller sisters, so it’s easy to see how you could have thought yourself small as well. You were able to contort yourself into a lapdog. You somehow got along better in the “small dogs” pen at Doggie Day Care after feeling out of place among dogs your size.
You were steadfast. You always kept beating your tail when you were happy, no matter what was in the way. Even if it was Roxy’s (our Yorkie) face.
You were a gymnast. You greeted my father and I by running into our arms, head butting us, and somersaulting onto your back for a belly rub.
You were a comfort for when I was lonely and a friend for when I was friendless.
You were never happy until I or Reagan or Hatcher or Dad or Kate or Nana was happy. You were a true people pleaser. So Reagan said it must have broken your heart not to have the energy to love us back during your final hours.
I talked to my mom two days after Abby died. She said that the fact that dogs live such short lives is the tragedy of dog ownership. That this pain is part of it. And it’s true. We can’t own a dog and avoid this fate. Still, even in the depth of my grief for Abby, I never for a second questioned whether this pain wasn’t worth owning a dog. It was.
This is not a typical social media is evil, vapid, and should be done away with post.
Social media, I find, is a great way to connect with people. Yes, sometimes this connection is superficial, such as high school classmate who posts a half-hearted “Happy Birthday,” to your wall every year. No exclamation point? No smiley face? Who are you- Dwight Schrute?
Sometimes this connection is a little bit more. A friend sees a link that makes he or she think of you and shares a link to your wall. A friend announces exciting “life event” such as an engagement, graduation, job offer, etc. Finally, there is the most useful thing that Facebook has to offer, which is a listing of events that are nearby or that friends are interested in. Through this, I’ve found some fun and free events where I’ve been able to strike up a conversation with a person or two.
While all of this is true, how much social media is too much?
To me, it’s when you feel it sapping away time and energy that you could be investing into other things. This breaking point is obviously subjective and different for everyone. I feel that I’ve reached this breaking point.
Social media– especially Facebook– is keeping me too tightly tethered to a place where I no longer live. I check Facebook constantly and fill my head with updates from my college friends. I love this, but I feel that I’m neglecting the roots that I am trying to grow here. I need to put more energy into my immediate environment.
While it would be painful for me to continue with this habit, I know cutting back won’t be easy. It’s almost like leaving something twice. Or maybe it’s that leaving is not an event that happens all at once, but slowly. We shift our weight from one point of the map to another and become more invested in what is immediately around us.
Doing away with social media, not technology
Both social media and technology- cell phones, text messages, video chats- connect us to faraway places and faraway friends. There is, however, a major difference.
Social media is much more one-sided. It is a conversation ruled by delayed reaction and censored for the public eye. You don’t write a status update, a tweet, or an Instagram caption on social media the same way you text a friend. Social media posts, much like what I am writing now, are intended for wide audiences. The user constructs their posts and profiles, subliminally or otherwise, to position his or herself in a certain light. In other words, social media posts are a performance and a promotion of self. This doesn’t make social media a bad thing. It’s great to see what your friends are doing in their everyday lives or otherwise. Like digital scrapbooking, it’s a great way to catalog memories.
But that’s just the problem for me. I find myself falling down the nostalgic rabbit hole of pictures of graduation and before. Pictures of my last hurrahs as a college senior. It doesn’t help that most of the friends I follow on social media are either in South Carolina or Virginia. While I love staying up to date with them, I need to focus on things here. It’s like that old cliche: you can’t start writing the next chapter if you keep rereading the last one.
Technology, however, can connect people in a more direct way. In text messages, phone calls, and video chats. These ways of communicating are all nuanced in their own ways, but they are, more or less, similar to one on one conversation. Social media is like an open mic. Everyone has their say. Some people listen, some people don’t. It is not a conversation in the natural sense.
If, however, I limit my communication via Facebook, it means that I can also use more energy to have deeper, more intimate, and ultimately more fulfilling conversations with my friends.
! Storage Almost Full
Keeping with the technology theme of this piece, I am now comparing myself to an iPhone. My storage is almost full. I’m full of apps that manage my needs, such as food and water, sleep, income… a million different things. Right now, my past is still taking up a lot of my time and energy. So much that I am not putting enough time and energy into the people that are immediately within my physical community. By significantly decreasing my time on social media, I hope to invest this time and energy into making connections with people here.
So while I will be on social media for a limited amount of time, I will not be removed from the face of the World Wide Web, and, if you’re so desperate to keep me around, I’m only a text or phone call away. But I will be significantly limiting my time on Facebook and taking a hiatus from other social media accounts. I need to make HERE my first priority for a while. And I can’t do that if my sights are directed elsewhere.