Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Get on the Bus, Old-timer.

There's this dude I know. Let's call him "Wayne." Wayne may not have been the one who coined a term I use all the time, but he's the first one I ever heard say it, so in the World of Liz it's "Wayne's" term.

Wayne gets "tired head" when things are mentally taxing, emotionally draining, or overwrought with drama. And lately I have been getting tired head quite a lot. When my children have more than one activity on our family plate...tired head. When the bills aren't getting paid and it's not even because I don't have the money....tired head. When I have to catch up on the shit-storm that is social media....tired head. 

Some people call it the "Overwhelm," (people like Brigid Schulte, who just published a phenomenal book I'm reading) some people just cry "too busy!" The feeling manifests itself in my world like this: my brain matter feels like it's actually turned into sludge. Like there's no integrity left to it at all and I'm simply an amoebic life form existing on whatever autonomic functions can be carried out in whatever is left of my brain stem.... because everything else has liquefied.

Have you ever had "tired head?"

It's stopping me from doing things that I really want to do! I'm opting out of my beloved Bikram Yoga thanks to this ridiculous feeling. I'm unable to make decisions with any confidence. And whatever part of me that I fancy creative or in any way unique has turned into dull grey ooze. No sparks. No vigor in my mental combustion. It's just....tired. (Thanks, "Wayne!")

So I've been researching what it means to "opt-out" of social media, because that's got to be my number one time suck, emotional drain and point of fury/envy/false expectation creator. People of my age (older than CDs, older than iPhones- my God...that's old) say they're going to opt-out all the time. It's called, "Quitting Facebook" because that's pretty much the only major media we consume in great number. And it's a total lie and adult version of a temper tantrum. You kind of can't do it. At least not forever. 

Woodrow Hartzog and Evan Selinger wrote a piece published by The Atlantic, in February 2013. Ancient history, but let's see if we can pull out anything germane to this discussion. In their article, "Quitters Never Win: The Costs of Leaving Social Media" they say that by opting out, we "miss opportunities for self-expression, personal growth, learning, support, and civic exchange." And that's true enough, but half of our collective dismay at social media is self-expression run amok.

In another piece, written by Alice Marwick, on Social Media Collective - a research blog, the notion of opting out is entirely ridiculous from the start. The problem with opting out is that she'd "miss out on 75% of the invitations in my friends group. And I don’t think it’s for anyone else to say that I should expect my friends to cater to my socially abnormal preference, or that I should prioritize my own personal irritation at Facebook over the very human impulses to connect and socialize." 

And to that point, I agree. Because my Dad is so disconnected that it drives me to actual anger that he can't just read my status updates, tweets and see my Instagrams to keep up with my life. MUST he insist on a phone call?!? A phone call....he won't even text! I'm overwhelmed dammit ...and my head ...suddenly ...tired .....because talking to my father shouldn't be a factor in the overwhelm. It just shouldn't. Except that maybe I'm getting all caught up in a whirlwind of sludge, because, as detailed by PJ Rey, in The Society Pages article, "Part of our collective insistence that social media is something we opt-in to—or, at least, may opt-out of—stems from an underlying moral conviction that the old ways of communicating are more genuine than the new ways of communicating—the “appeal to tradition” fallacy, if you like."

And I do like, because my Dad's refusal to use social media is like any other old-timer who refused to drive a car in the past. Once that's how Americans started getting around, I bet it was super inconvenient for all of his friends. Joe won't drive. Edith won't ride an elevator so she's walking up 45 flights of stairs...see ya 'round Edith. We'll be shitfaced at the bar by the time you haul your old bones up those stairs. 

So we can't really opt out. This is our social landscape. And it's making me very, very tired.

Photo Credit: khalid Albaih via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Nathan Congleton via Compfight cc