Posting

All posts tagged Posting

On the struggle with technology.

Published March 5, 2016 by mandileighbean

I absolutely loathe my dependence on technology.

I know this may seem like quite the hypocritical statement as I am using my computer and the internet and social media to update my narcissistic, self-indulgent blog, but hear me out. I want to be a writer, so in this digital age of selfies and tweets and whatnot, I’m going to have to adapt and get on board or die (metaphorically speaking, of course). If people take to Google and social media for book recommendations, I have to be on Google and social media. It’s a concession I can live with to help build my writing career. It’s almost unavoidable.

So let me rephrase my earlier statement: I absolutely loathe my dependence on technology in my personal life.

My phone is nearly always in my hand. If I’m not texting (but hardly anyone ever messages me because I physically interact with those who matter most, which is certainly a good thing) or checking e-mail (does anything important ever really come via email?), then I’m using Safari to check Facebook (I deleted the app to make a statement, but I found a way to be on the social media site constantly anyway). I’m scrolling and scrolling and scrolling on Instagram and Twitter, looking for likes, re-tweets, mentions, whatever. When there’s nothing satisfying there, I play Bubble Mania, Candy Crush or Tetris. I’m always looking down, disengaged and only pretending to listen to the authentic life happening all around me because I’m obsessed with this piece of technology and all the artificiality that goes along with it.

It’s my greatest weakness, and what I dislike about myself the most.

In my opinion (so please only take it for whatever it may be worth), social media only reinforces the crippling need for outside validation that seems to plague the human race. I recently traveled to Philadelphia to see David Cook in concert with my sister, and I took pictures. That in itself would be harmless if the intention had been true, if I had honestly taken pictures to create memories. However, creating and saving and storing memories was only part of my motivation. I wanted to take those pictures so I could upload them to Instagram and Facebook so I could count the likes and comments so I could feel cool and hip and modern, so I could feel like I belonged at the metaphorical watering hole of this super progressive, hyper intellectual, digital age. How stupid. How vain. Why do I need everyone to know where I am and what I am doing at all times? Why do I think everyone wants to know where I am and what I am doing at all times? If I put everything out there all the time, there’s no mystery left. I’m essentially robbing people the opportunity of getting to know me because I’ve created this false persona using technology and social media which could easily satisfy anyone even remotely curious. I’ve created an alternate version of myself for the masses and have rendered myself lonelier than ever. What kind of masochistic nonsense is that?

A wonderful colleague recently told me she’d read a few of my blog entries. She complimented me on my writing (yay!), but said I broke her heart (oh no!). She told me I was too hard on myself, and I know this to be true. Self-deprecation is usually the only humor I can handle, and I am constantly screaming at myself for all of the awkward, dumb, harmful, and lazy behaviors I engage in on a daily basis. Reaching for my phone and idling instead of reaching for a book to expand my mind fulfills all of those categories. It’s awkward to sit in a room – any room at anytime, anywhere – full of wonderfully interesting humans and ignore all of them to go on a phone. It’s dumb to not expand one’s mind and perception through reading, writing or conversation and instead retreat to multicolored candies that need crushing. It’s harmful because it perpetuates the idea that self-love is indulgent and ugly, and that worth is truly determined by society and the media and this new social media. We are all forced to become our own PR people and it’s weird and gross, and I dislike it more and more the more I think about it. It’s lazy because all I need is my thumb and a pair of glazed-over eyes.

Now, I’m not saying I’ll go completely off the grid by any means. Family and friends and loved ones can be scattered from one end of the globe to the other, so it is important to stay connected. I love that my aunt in Pennsylvania likes the memes I share about weight loss, and I love that she likes the sexy pictures of Elvis I find and post from time to time. I love that my cousins in Alabama can be brought up to speed with my life by a few pictures here and there, and vice versa. My coworker is going to the Big Apple today to see “The Crucible” on Broadway, and I’m looking forward to pictures and her review. My cousin is currently overseas serving his country, so we need the social media to keep in touch, to share messages of love and support. These are harmless human connections that are beautiful and wonderful.

But it’s all about moderation, right? It’s all about keeping our minds right and prioritizing.

The best part about the David Cook concert was not the blurry pictures I posted on Instagram a few hours later. It was spending time with my sister. It was shouting out the word “bipartisan” when David was struggling to find it, him thanking me for doing so, and my sister rolling her eyes because I’m “such an English teacher.” What a beautiful moment to feel validated about my passion and career. I did all of that without my phone. When my former phone was destroyed last month and I was without a phone for a few days, I survived. The world did not end. I was okay.

I did lose thousands of pictures, though. That was my own fault because I never backed them up using my computer. I assumed those treasured images would always be on that phone, because I tricked myself into believing technology is infallible and perfect and the answer to every question I ever had. That is simply not true, and I just feel that if I remind myself of that, I’ll regain faith in nature and people and all that surrounds me.

I fell in love with a great friend, but he didn’t feel the same way, and the friendship has since changed and is beginning to fade. Some of the pictures I lost were of the absolute greatest day we ever spent together. This makes me sad for many valid reasons. However, I was inspired to write this post (but really, it’s become a rant, hasn’t it? My bad) because in mourning the loss of the digital images that I never printed (what a metaphor for the relationship, huh? I’ll save that for my next novel), I realized that I felt I needed the pictures because I didn’t trust myself, didn’t trust my own memories and feelings. Those pictures became a kind of talisman that helped me pretend the friendship wasn’t fading, that I was right about everything, so look, look everyone! Look how we’re smiling with our arms around each other! I’m not crazy! There was something there, and I can prove it!

Why should I have to? I don’t have to, and that’s my point. I want to reduce my dependence on technology and social media in my personal life because I need to love myself and my life in reality. I don’t need the approval of others, and I don’t need to know everything about everyone because then what will our conversations be made of? What will I discover in intimate moments?

When I’m at the dentist’s office, or waiting for friends at a bar, I’ll pull out my journal or a book, but never my phone. That’s a new resolution. That’s a promise to myself.

I’ll post to promote my writing and my writing career, but not to start some drama or for attention or to start a pity party. That’s a new resolution. That’s a promise to myself.

And now, I’ll post those pictures of me and my sister and David Cook, since I invited you in.

Enjoy the weekend. xoxo

 

 

On blog comments.

Published April 3, 2012 by mandileighbean

At school today, I was the bathroom monitor. I read short stories to keep my mind from going numb, like my ass was from the uncomfortable seat. It was disheartening.

But then the attractive, young substitute who likes to paint and sketch and play guitar talked to me, and that went well, in spite of my social shortcomings and inability to keep from being awkward.

After school, Melanie and I enjoyed a late lunch. Stomachs satisfied, we decided to indulge our creative appetites and went for a walk along the railroad tracks near Melanie’s home. I have always wanted to take off running along tracks, to follow them to remote destinations. I imagine it’s an anachronistic desire, but it lingers all the same. We left the tracks to follow tracks in the dirt before heading back. It was definitely inspirational, not only visually but audibly as Melanie gave me awesome, awesome advice.

As inspired as I was though, I fear I fell short with this prompt. Critiques are encouraged! I would love to make this piece better. It falls flat, particularly at the end.

But, that being said, I hope you enjoy it.

THE PROMPT: “Not-So-Anonymous Commenter” You’ve been writing a blog for a number of months now without issue, and then suddenly you’re confronted with an anonymous commenter who posts unwarranted slams against you. A techie friend helps you use the commenter’s IP address to get the address of this rogue. You head to the house ready to pick a fight – but when you knock on the door, the person who answers is someone you know.

THE PIECE:

As an aspiring writer, I knew that it was important me to have a blog as a way to get my name out there and as a way to connect to my readers. I stumbled at first, trying to increase the amount of subscribers and figure out what kind of posts readers would want to read, but after a couple of months, I really hit my stride.

And then March happened. I hate March. Come to think of it, I have always hated the third month of the year. I can trace this intense dislike back to school, when March would roll around and time would slow impossibly because there wasn’t a single day off in the whole month. March was long, tedious and more often than not, brought misery through overstaying its welcome, and its gray, damp weather. I hated March, and maybe karma is the reason I suffered my first internet hater during March. Some nasty man or woman tore apart my writing, which would be fine if they offered a critique, but the anonymous hater didn’t. The attacks on my writing became attacks on my personal life, and I became incensed. I was enraged, to be honest, and I employed my techie friend to help track down the physical address of the hater via the IP address. I was fairly surprised when the address turned to be less than ten minutes from my own.

I picked a day towards the end of the month and drove over. Steam was pouring from my ears, and I knew my face and most of my neck and chest were flushed. The anger and anticipation of the confrontation became a palpable heat that radiated from me. I parked along the lawn of the house across the street, marched over and banged on the door. I was seething, and thought it might be best to forget the whole thing – at least until I calmed myself and brought myself under some sort of semblance of control.

Then the door opened.

My jaw nearly cracked against the concrete. Standing before me was the boy I had been in love with for all of middle school and most of high school. I hadn’t seen him in years, and was surprised to find that he had not really changed. All his physical traits and personality quirks I had found so attractive as an adolescent remained – as far as I could tell.

“Pam? What are you doing here?” He was smiling, as if I was coming to have drinks and catch up and be all cutesy and nostalgic.

“What the hell is your problem?” I roared. His face fell almost instantly.

“What?” His eyes darkened with what must have been genuine confusion, but I was not going to let up.

“Don’t act like you don’t know why I’m here! Been reading any blogs lately, huh? Left any rude comments?” I was leaning further into his home, his sanctuary, eyes wide and wild and breathing ragged. I hoped I was scary and intimidating.

He looked away and started picking at the paint on the doorjamb. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He was an awful liar and he knew it – hence why he avoided eye contact and looked for a physical expulsion of his nervous energy.

“Bullshit! If you don’t like my writing, that’s one thing, but to call me pretentious and a fraud is awful! What did I ever do to you?”

He was shrinking in size somehow. He mumbled, “I’m sorry. I just –“

“Go to hell, asshole!” I turned and stormed away. I was proud of the dramatics of my exit, but also that I allowed my anger to have free reign. He had been rude and mean – that was plain and simple. There was no reason I had to listen to him excuse his actions, or try to rationalize his actions with some contrived explanation, or endure his apology that would be forced and anything but sincere. I felt vindicated, and decided that my next entry would be all about confrontations, and how sometimes they’re necessary. Everyone has a right to defend their creations, and everyone has a right to express their emotions.

%d bloggers like this: