(…and yes I’m referencing kids TV show ‘The Land Before Time’ – clearly I was a 90’s kid!)
NOTE: this post was written prior to the Level 4 self-isolation nationwide lock-down set for Aotearoa New Zealand on Monday 23 March 2020. Lockdwon is due to begin at midnight on Wednesday 25 March 2020.
Not even a week after my last blog post about reducing and reassessing my social media use Covid-19 became a Global Thing. Suddenly social media seemed like a pretty good way to not only keep up with what was happening in the world but also as a key way to stay in touch with people as we all socially distanced and many self-isolated.
So, I’ve been lured back. I’m now posting photos of my bushwalks for my friends and family unable to go out anymore. I’m taking pictures of my city-to-sea view. I’m sharing my craft and sewing projects on Instagram to show, I hope, creative ways of passing the time. I’m doing it for the friends and family with health and immune system issues who are now self-isolating. I’m also doing it for people like my grandmother. She is over seventy and now largely housebound.
I guess there HAS been a re-assessment in my social media use. I feel my posts are less about status, both literally and symbolically. I post a lot less about writing awards and publishing wins (See: status.) I also feel less like I care about what these kinds of posts signify. You know, career success, awards, external signifiers etc.
I’m here on Facebook for the slow stitching groups whose art works inspire me to slow down and take creative time for myself every few hours. There’s nothing like boro stitch to inspire a few moments of self-care for me.
I’m here for the community pages where offers of aid to those who need it are growing in posts and comments and shares. These gestures of generosity give me hope for humanity.
I’m also here to show my slightly blurry photos of trees that I hope make my FB friends experience the same sense of calm I felt when out walking amongst The Green.
The world is storming right now. Maybe not literally in the climate changed way we thought would be our next challenge. But humanity faces a huge dark storm cloud that is called Covid-19. That is called community transmission fears. That is called self-isolation becoming social-isolation…
Social media (along with The Trees…) is helping me feel calmer about this shit storm. It feels weird to say this but it is true. It’s the connections to my friends; the video messages and texts and shares that show care that make me feel less alone. Social media is, also, I hope, helping me calm others through what I choose to share too.
I feel it is this idea of sharing that will get us through to the other side of this Thing. And the language of social media sets us up for The New World Order. We ‘Like’ things. We ‘Share’ posts. There are more love heart emoticons than angry or sad faces.
This gives me hope for the world, as we, at present, largely retreat to virtual worlds.
I am glad we have emoji kisses and cat icons to send each other when we are lonely. It may not be as a good as a real kiss. Or a real cat. But I know that I, for one, gather the glitchy love hearts and grinning Cheshire cat ready to Share them and hopefully pass on a gesture of goodwill to those who need it.
I don’t seem to have ‘Gotten’ the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) gene. While I’ll admit to having posted more selfies than necessary on Instagram and my online following gets a fair few pictures of my escapades in sock darning these are not exactly the status enhancing posts, I think FOMO usually applies to. No one else really cares that I now have warm feet. Or that I now know my best angle.
I’m actually trying really hard to wean myself off FB as a personal Thing. I waste far too much time scrolling and staring. Yes, I sometimes get a laugh out of a cat video. More often than not though, I’m left feeling upset about environmental crises or cancer kids.
I swore to be rid of FB in March last year after a gun attack on worshippers at a mosque in the Southern city of Christchurch here in Aotearoa New Zealand. FB didn’t have the courage, or the capacity (so they say) to prevent the video live streaming to the world. I didn’t want to condone this lack of technological ownership. Let alone the lax values of human decency I felt this attitude supported.
I posted to say I would be leaving FB last year in March just after the attacks and right before my 28th birthday. I said I would have a three month phasing out so I could make sure my contact details could be shared with those who wanted to stay in touch.
I lasted three weeks. And then I was back. Back because I DID (despite myself) experience a bit of FOMO. Not because of the photos my friends posted about their alpine tramping trips or adventures overseas or dinner dates in KILT dresses.
What I was missing was the digitally enhanced connections to RL events. You see I found my main use of FB was to say I was ‘Interested’ in events and activities happening in and around my city. It was 50/50 whether I’d actually end up going but I liked being able to calendar an actively interested life with candle making workshops and tree plantings and charity knitting events.
So I went back to FB. I said to myself I’d just lurk occasionally to check out the events listed. But again, the more pervasive use snuck in and after not-very-long-at-all I was back to scrolling screens way too often.
The thing is this. I don’t like who I am on FB. She cares too much what people think. She’s more than a little self-obsessed. She tags articles to read about worthy things like Trump’s America and Climate Change and then gets distracted by less worthy things like shoe sale ads and the best filter to make your skin look great.
So, here today, with about a week until the anniversary of the Christchurch Terror Attacks and ten days until my 29th birthday, while I’m not going fully FB free, I am going to make another attempt to reduce use and re-assess how and why I use this social media app.
One thing I do want to do is increase my online presence in a professional capacity as a Creative So, I will utilise FB’s networks of connection with a professional page. This will be my main use of FB from now on. I also plan to still continue using Messenger (which is usefully actually a separate, although linked App) for direct contact with already-made friends.
I want my online presence to be less about ‘Me’ in a selfish-scrolling-time-waster kind of way. This might seem oxymoronic (isn’t that what the internet is all about?) but I want to try and re-work my relationship with the web-based world.
This attitude is built partly on societal context, that looming Awful of an event anniversary. It’s also informed by a workshop I attended about copyright which led us into exploring ideas of web publication and by association rights of ownership of content.
This discussion made me reflect on the images and words I’ve posted and how, although I have written them and they are about me, they do not really belong to me. You could say the same of this blog, I guess. But I treat this blog as an out-reach and connection medium to others. In contrast, FB, has, until now, had a more personal life update function for me.
I plan to have my public professional FB page where I post links to blog posts, news on any publication happenings, any relevant events I might run and/ or be interested in supporting such as book groups, writing workshops or poetry readings.
I have also already gotten rid of Twitter. Not that this is a big step. Not like with FB to which I have become quite attached. I never could get into Twitter properly. I’ve tried three times to become a ‘Proper’ Twitterer. And three times I’ve made accounts and then rarely looked at them. Twitter is just not an interface that works for me.
So, I’ll blog at Geographic Hearts and try to do so much more regularly in 2020 than in previous years.
I will have a professional public Facebook page as mentioned earlier.
I will also be more active through email to keep in touch with the people who I want to engage with. And to be totally honest, these are the people who are the ones commenting on and Liking my posts anyway… The medium might change. But the level of connection will remain much the same, I think.
I’ll also endeavour to update my LinkedIn Profile as a grand professional gesture. I will endeavour to actively keep it current.
All this refinement and review of my web presence and social media accounts will, I hope, give me more time to do what I want to do most.
And that is write. Write blog posts. Poetry. Short stories. Essays. Finish my debut novel and get it ready for assessment by a publisher.
Reading a great deal more is also up there on the time bought back from social media lurking. That is reading Things (books, feature articles, poems, even recipes) rather than social statuses and the starts of things that I Bookmark and then never finish.
This idea of reading more relates directly and intrinsically with the goal to become a better writer. For, to write well you need to know about the tools and skills such as grammar and syntax. A lot of this I feel can be picked up by regular exposure and considered consumption of the written word. There are also the intricacies of figurative language if you’re a poet (a moniker to which I wholeheartedly identify with.) I also feel the need for a wide knowledge of the world, both the time and context in which I write and from which I was born.
My time, my era, my generation, is one I think, of over-sharing and under-reflection. Contextually, we live in a world of servers burning through vast amounts of energy as we all bounce efforts at connecting with each other in a desperate multifarious way.
The essential question I believe, is no longer who you connect with but how? I also believe that this is the wrong question to be asking a lot of the time.
Instead I ask:
Who are you?
Who am I?
Who am I to you?
And, who are you to me?
These, all questions of identity and relation which I feel are important as we consider where we are and where we want to be.
Lastly, I ask how best can we act to make the world a better place?
Sometimes, I feel, it is through not doing something that we can make the biggest difference. Through the absence of one thing we make space for a different kind of better.
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