The Vibe Changed


I’ve been tempted to log back on to twitter, to save my account before the thirty days is up. I’ve resisted that temptation. I’ve lost track of my phone several times in the last six days, since completely exiting the social media merry-go-round. No sooner was I tempted to get back on twitter, than did I happen to tune in to just a little bit of news. There was a shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Many of the agricultural towns in California have some kind of festival, Garlic, Wine, Strawberry, Grape, Tamale, Pumpkin, Chocolate, Date, etc. I would imagine such festivals are a pretty common thing throughout the country. They’re a fun way to spend a day and tend to supply a nice boost to local economies. Obviously it’s a sad thing that there was another shooting. The rest of the news was generally regarding controversies over who said what and when about whatever all the troubles are in the city of Baltimore. I left the television on while I was doing other things, to see if they said anything else about what happened in Gilroy. Some pundit or news person said, “Let me tell you, there is so much wrong with that tweet.” I stopped what I was doing and looked at the television for a moment before turning it off. I realized, discussions of what happens on twitter frequently take up a considerable portion of the news cycle these days. Twitter. Think about that for a minute or two. I will tell you, I think that is beneath us, as a country, as individuals, as a group, as human beings. I continued on with my evening with renewed resolve to continue to stay off social media.

Having spent several days away from constant interaction on any social media, I noticed the habitual impulse to check the internet for something, anything, was still present. Writing, editing, working on whatever, I’m sure I need to Google something. I’ve resorted to actually using the dictionaries I’ve collected. In doing so, I realized the internet may not have done much to improve my actual I.Q. I began to realize just how pervasive our use of the internet is, how much we don’t think about it anymore. I was reminded of one of my “wake-up” moments on Facebook, before I dumped that site, when upon visiting the profile of an acquaintance, I happened to see that they had uploaded more than seven thousand personal photos, as in photos of themselves, their family, their special occasions, no moment left unshared, in however many years of use. Totally their business, people can do whatever, that isn’t the issue. The issue is, it occurred to me that we, society, has gradually accepted this kind of use of such things as normal, until we’ve stopped really thinking about it. Personally, I think it’s a good idea to do a gut-check every once in a while.

“What am I doing? Why am I doing it, really?”

What are we, as a society, what are we doing?

I’ll tell you that I don’t imagine that the answer to that, or the solution to it, is to get on twitter and complain about it. I’m only in charge of me. I believe in that kind of thinking. That kind of thinking works like this, I think littering is wrong, so I don’t do it. I think it’s super annoying when I pull into a store parking lot and people have left shopping carts everywhere instead of taking the five minutes to walk the cart they used to the cart corral. So, I always, unless there’s really some reason completely at my discretion not to, put my cart back. (Ever spy that perfect parking spot and it’s got like, two shopping carts in it?) These are little things, but, just imagine if everyone everywhere always put their shopping cart back in the cart corral, for starters. But, I don’t know, some people do have trouble walking, sometimes there are creepy people about, perhaps a tornado is coming, I don’t know what all. I am only in charge of me. I’ve found that I’m better off not consuming alcohol, so I don’t. You may not have had that experience.

I’ve gotten so tired of social media, and politics, even as a topic, I’ve deleted many past posts and rants on the subject. Gone forever. Yes, I ripped Facebook and the practices there-of apart on several occasions as I was making my decision to exit that platform but what of it now? To me, it’s gotten to feel like whatever brand of tennis shoes everyone is wearing whether they actually like them or not. You know, there’s yet another social media site out there, Mastodon, that some have migrated to.”We’re going over here now!” The Social Media Pub Crawl, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Or, is there? The migration continues but the conversation stays the same, and no one knows why so the migration continues and the conversation stays the same. That said, I am still thinking about setting up a companion page to this one to share photos, my photography, nature pics, not every moment of the family Christmas. (I’m only in charge of me. Some people are thrilled to share their family Christmas and good for them, okay…) I am still thinking about a Tumblr page for poetry, I don’t consider Tumblr to be social media so much as a page hosting site, though some do use it as social media. Beautiful images, poetry, creativity, art, inspirations, great quotes, songs. But, I am not sure I want to give up more of my time as the less time I’ve spent online, the less time I’ve wanted to spend online. I’ve noticed how much the use of social media really detaches us from our own individual, day to day, reality. I’ve gotten some things accomplished. I’ve got far more time to read than ever I realized. I’ve cleaned out files because as it turns out, I really don’t have to keep five copies of a manuscript for one book, and how did that even happen? I’ve said it before, there used to be plenty of things online that made me laugh, or were inspiring creatively, or there was new music, cool things to discover. Now, what I see, instead of the super cool party where people are sharing amazing things and everyone is grooving on it and getting along just as humans, what I see are repeated patterned social dynamics of what amounts to popularity contests, sycophancy, if not a lot of symbiotic sycophancies, the cliqueyness, the “one of us” mentality no matter what the particular group is, and that’s among the people who are getting along, however disingenuous much of it may actually be. The reality of that is, it serves no one. Not really, it doesn’t even really serve those seemingly at the top of the heap. ( I’m talking about souls here, people. Deep souls. ) Never mind those who’ve no interest in getting along. Never mind the supremely competitive for whom much of the internet “like” system was built. Don’t even get me started on all the hypocrisy. These observations aren’t particularly enlightening to anyone using social media with any self-awareness. For me, all that, is one gigantic, if not offensively transparent, bore. For me, all that became a drain. To begin with, I was getting a lot out of social media creatively. As it went on, not so much, which gives me no reason to be on there. I want to engage in endeavors that are going to fill my creative well. Now, you might say, “we” supply the content, on the internet. But the truth is, if you’re using social media, no matter how much good, great, creative content you pump out there, sooner or later someone in one of your feeds ( if not you yourself, or me, because I’m passionate about some things now and then, right? because it can be tough not to get swept up in it…. ) is going to get into something political or “topical”, and you can’t control everybody, society should be free. But what I’m really saying is, the vibe changed. The vibe changed and I could feel that change in the energy and I’ve taken that cue, and I’ve slipped out the back. You dig what I’m saying? It’s good to know when to leave the party.

I re-watched the documentary “The Center Will Not Hold”, about Joan Didion, one of my literary heroes. It’s a great documentary. She has a wonderful quote, that I’ve quoted before, from her essay “Goodbye to All That” from “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”ย  ~

“And even that late in the game I still liked going to parties, all parties, bad parties, Saturday afternoon parties given by recently married couples who lived in Stuyvesant Town, West Side parties given by unpublished or failed writers who served cheap red wine and talked about going to Guadalhara Village parties where all the guests worked for advertising agencies and voted for Reform Democrats, press parties at Sardi’s, the worst kinds of parties. You will have perceived by now that I was not one to profit by the experience of others, that it was a very long time indeed before I stopped believing in new faces and began to understand the lesson in that story, which was that it is distinctly possible to stay too long at the Fair.”ย  Joan Didion

So, I’m thinking about these other possible creative projects. I’m working on whatever I’m working on, writing. But I’m thinking about my time. I’m thinking about those with seven thousand personal photographs out there on their social, or how many tweets I’d liked because it was somewhere around 35k, or something equally ridiculous. I’m realizing that I want what I put out there to have a positive effect, whether it makes a person think, offers perspective, or inspires, or gives someone some sense of solace or pleasure, just generally ultimately contributes to a better vibe, a better feeling in some way. I figure those of us involved in creative endeavors are all tangled up with one another in this era we are in together, we are having an effect on one another, one that we won’t know the full impact of for years.ย That is important. I think that is largely a good thing in some regard, I hope. We are of our time, in that sense. Every writer affecting any other writer is of the same ilk as Hemingway and Fitzgerald were to one another, or Syliva Plath and Anne Sexton, that matters. But, I also think it is important to be in some awareness of that creatively and to not be stuck in this time, to not be mired to it, or a time, to keep moving forward, to find a timelessness that will outlast this moment, and to keep reaching for the uncharted. “It was the Age of the Birth of the Internet, of Social Media and…” And…ย  ย I’m thinking about what I want to spend my time on.

I’ve been tempted to get back on twitter, but, no. It was time to leave the party. I’ve thought, well, how will I promote my work? That’s never been my strong suit as it is, but the fact is, I had to remind myself to use Twitter for that. I think I can find more productive ways to use my time.