Musings Opinion

The Performative Nature of America

Always Camera Ready

It’s quite incredible how much society has shaped us into thinking we need to be “on” all the time. We have to be ready with the right inspirational quote, or drop a spicy take on some topic, to have a well-told story, to have the perfect Instagram-ready vacation photo no matter how you felt in the moment, or if you’re the more nuanced type, to also be mindful to not “say the wrong thing” to spark outrage online for simply sharing a thought about … anything. 


I Complain, but Only Socially

There may be some irony in writing about my issues with people who complain online, much like those people who are online for the days leading up to Lent broadcasting their giving up of Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/something online. My hope is to share my reflections on all the complaining I read online.

What is your purpose in sharing with everyone that you can’t stand your boss or how tired you are because you stayed out too late last night? Attention? Advice? (Hint: Probably the former in almost all situations.)The ability to share has become so easy and readily available that we often fail to filter our thoughts properly – or at all. It’s one thing to vent to a couple friends over a drink at a bar. It’s more private. It’s conversational. Your friends can corroborate with you in real time. You can banter back and forth. But most of all, your friends can speak (or smack) sense into you if you sound like an idiot.

When you examine someone’s stream of consciousness on Facebook or Twitter, for example, take note of overall themes of content. Is the content focused on a certain topic? Or is it completely random? But perhaps most interestingly, what vibe does it give off? I have a few friends on Facebook and some I follow on Twitter who seem to find it difficult to find positive things to say. I often wonder why they choose to share the things they do on such a consistent basis. After a while, it gets really old and nobody wants to hear it anymore.

I also wonder if those who do complain about themselves or everything else in the world really think it’s so terrible that all that’s left to try and feel better is vent about everything online. By the way, this also works well in the “I can’t sleep so I’m here on Facebook” or “should be doing something else more important than Facebook, but am on Facebook” situations. Pro-tip: Facebook friends will not help you sleep or get back on task. Ever.

Though perhaps I take the biggest issue with those who complain merely to complain. Don’t mistake me for someone who think you should bottle up everything that bothers you. The problem comes in when venting or complaining is happening strictly for the sake of itself. Have a problem with your workout schedule or lack thereof? Start going to the gym, running outside, or otherwise get off your butt. Spending too much time on social networks? Spend less time on them! Got a beef with something the government is doing? Sure we can talk about it, but if you want to try and be part of the solution, contact your representative and make your voice heard. Besides, I’m pretty sure those pictures you share on Facebook that have some slam or inspirational quote about how government should be something it currently isn’t has little to no effect on the actual government.

My main point is this: if you’re going to point out flaws in something, at least put the energy into finding or being part of the solution. Otherwise, I’m not really sure what your point is in making a big fuss over it. It’s a waste of energy and time that could be better spent doing something else.




Musings Random

Planning to Unplug

In a bit of irony, a couple weeks ago I recently got into a discussion with a client (who’s also a friend) about unplugging from everything while we were discussing a Twitter application developed by the company I work for. She was talking about the anxiety that’s already building up as she plans an unplugged weekend. While I won’t exactly be completely “off the grid” during my sabbatical, I will definitely not be as accessible overseas (phone, text, no work email) as I am now.

I’ve unplugged before for a couple days here and there during camping trips and the like. What I’ve found so interesting about those times when I actually don’t stay so connected is that I’m OK disconnected. The world doesn’t stop if I don’t read an email or text and reply 30 seconds after it’s delivered. I don’t worry about keeping up with what the latest trends are on Twitter or what my friends are sharing (or complaining) about on Facebook. We all worry life will fall apart without being online and available. Somehow we all found ways to live without it growing up, at least those of us in their upper 20’s and above. As children, nobody told us we needed to be connected to be well adjusted and “better” human beings. (Well, perhaps I won’t speak for newer parents and kids who won’t know a life without ubiquitous high speed Internet most everywhere they go.)

Being in cultures that have been formed in rich histories and still exist in them will bring new perspectives and chances to reflect and see the world. I hope to connect to people around me in real life (“IRL”) and spend more time away from this Internet thing. I’ll be forced to because I’m not going to be near anyone I know, so if I want to be social at all, it will have to be with people I don’t know right now.

After talking to a friend this week, I’m also giving some considerable thought to taking a break from Facebook for the month, save for posting blog updates. So consider it a warning to any Facebook readers here: if you want me to know what’s going on in your life, I expect an email from you or some time where we hang out together – in person even! – when I return to the US. And if you want to keep up with me, email me to ask or follow me here.

Don’t worry, you’ll still get updates from me via trip details, (probably new) perspectives on life, and see a few photos once in a while, just don’t expect it too frequently for the next month.