The Newsfeed in Your Newsfeed

I’ve apparently taken a long leave of absence from blogging:  I blame the flurry of work and writing that accompanied finishing the MLIS (which is done!).

So here’s a little post/essay to interrupt your regularly-scheduled OITNB viewing.  If you’re like me, you immediately tried to find the song that ended the first episode.  Because I find it Deeply Inspirational, here it is:


The topic here is my tangled attempt to explain something I articulated poorly.  I said I deliberately dressed in a performative way, which was vague and confusing.  What I said was a lazy shorthand for what I should have been more specific about.

So, here is the not-shorthand version:

 The personal is very public at this time (see:  social media, particularly Facebook), and it’s often unfiltered (Twitter, anyone?).  Like so many other people, I use social media (Facebook, in my case) to construct the image of myself I want others to have.  We’re all yelling at people to ignore the man behind the curtain, to varying degrees. The genius and pitfall of social media is, that if you put thought into it, you become your own PR person.

 I do something similar with clothing.  I construct an identity that functions as a tent pitched protectively around the things I want to keep hidden.  I’m not talking about physicality, though I certainly could (but that’s not very interesting).  Every time I get dressed, I put on clothes and throw a blanket over myself.  Part of that is shame (emotional, physical):  I need to cover something up.  Part of it is hiding:  my clothes are my blanket fort.

In a contradiction (the confusing part), clothing as performance can call attention to myself, which is not what I want.  It’s inevitable, though:  who can ignore a walking blanket fort?  So what is going on?  It’s deflection:  look at this, but don’t look at me.  In a culture obsessed with distilling things to a perfectly flat surface (a phone screen, a laptop), it’s simple to turn the human form into a “virtual” social media feed.  I ask you to look at what I display and only what I outwardly display.

The outward display leaves limited space for comments and engagement, which is the effect I want to have.  It’s the picture I’m posting to prove that God’s in His heaven– all’s right with the world (here — “Pippa Passes”– talk amongst yourselves!).

Clothing as performance thus provides me with a shortcut way of expressing (publicly) that I’m okay, confident, colorful, and unashamed.  I am representing myself (on a daily basis) in the current cultural vernacular of virtual reality.  Please understand that I am not talking about social media; I’m talking about how 24/7 existence is increasingly interpreted as a newsfeed.  I’m not talking about lenses in the college-essay way, either.  I mean that reality really is merging with virtual reality.  There’s not even a lens of separation.  I am here copping to taking advantage of that.

The real reality– myself, the machine parts that power the display– is safely encased. (I’m not going to blather about whether or not there is such thing as objective reality; head over to Reddit if you’re interested).  Few people deconstruct an object that appears to be working perfectly well.  We count on people not probing beyond their phone screens to see what’s really going on, and I’m counting on people not to pick at my sleeve.

It works remarkably, or maybe worryingly, well.

This post is deliberately image-free.  The featured image is a picture of the sky.  That’s it.  The sky.  Make of it what you will, though, as we always do.


I’ll Have the Usual, with a Side of Enissophobia

I have only a vague idea what psychiatric diagnoses I have, and I don’t really care; I’m not going to get any of this printed on a t-shirt.  My real complaint is that I’ve so often heard about other people’s experiences taking an psychology 101-type course where they had the wonderful (to me) opportunity to study every psychiatric illness on the book and self-diagnose themselves with everything under the sun.  The intro to psychology course at my school was reportedly not of this sort, and I eventually ended up in a chemistry class instead.

The chemistry class, incidentally, was at 8 AM in a winter term, and I finished it with 9 pages of notes, total, because I slept every single day.  I’m not sure what was going on, but I couldn’t stay awake, no matter what I tried in advance of the class to jolt myself into a conscious state; I primarily remember that the desks were the old-fashioned kind, and they were bolted to the floor (which didn’t stop me from passing out).  My course evaluation was an apology note for being disrespectful in the extreme.

I didn't have a cell phone in college, so pictures required a camera.  Therefore, I have little photographic proof I was there.  Here's some!

I didn’t have a cell phone in college (who did?), so pictures required a camera. Therefore, I have little photographic proof I was there. Here’s some!

But back to self-diagnosis.  I’ve done a post about this before (first entry here), but some things never change.  Age like fine wine.  Whatever.  You know, I do plan on getting around to a point here.

I was reading something that veered off on a tangent (very brief, but enough to distract me) about odd phobias; this, of course, sent me to the internet, where I felt sure I could find a very complete list of every phobia under the sun (yep).

Whatever actual diagnosis someone scribbles down, it’s not going to change the fact that it exists, whatever it’s being called at the moment.  The ones that you choose yourself (from a textbook or Dr. Google) are much more malleable and can be self-adjusted as necessary to compensate for any missing symptoms:  “I know it says you have to exhibit X, but you remember that time I did Y?  I think that counts.”

Clearly, I am halfway to a medical degree already.

Where is this going?  Enissophobia:  fear of criticism.  [Note:  I somewhat doubt it’s very officially recognized; information is scant and varies— just bear with me.]

When I originally found this word on a phobias list (let’s see, ten minutes ago), it didn’t list the sin component; apparently, this “fear of criticism” often involves having committed an unpardonable and unnameable sin, a fear thought to stem from a religious background.  [3/4 way to medical degree]

This is still going to work.

The number of articles about people breaking down their social media personas (generally perfect but untrue) and presenting the reality instead seems higher lately (or maybe it’s just my sometimes-sporadic reading of Facebook, which has often caused me to miss things; I thought Honey Boo Boo was a fictitious character for an unreasonably long time).

Moving on.  When I finally became aware of Timehop not long ago, I did get it on the “it’s free, could be interesting” basis– and it is interesting.  I’ve been using Facebook for just over five years; I broke down when I created the page for where I was working (and figured I should screw up my own first).

What’s really interesting is the shift in realizing that this is not particularly a forum that’s effective for promoting politics; those once-frequent posts eventually crash out of existence.  My life is more peaceful for it– not so much because of fear of criticism, though.  It’s because of not being able to speak to people in person and have anything resembling the back-and-forth of a natural conversation.

Also, apparently most news is now delivered in the form of memes.

The fear of criticism is worse (at least for me) when it involves the personal.  When I abandoned the once-common political posts, I was still trying to figure out what Facebook is for— particularly if you lack much in the way of an exciting life or the energy to concoct one (and I’m still not sure about this one).

Positive news or something funny is always better received than something negative, which does make sense.  I do wonder, though, how much self-censorship is going on because of fear of criticism:  spoken, thought, or implied.  If you commit the unpardonable sin of not appearing happy (for something other than a really good, logical reason), then does it carry the fear that you’re inviting criticism of your decisions, the way you live life in general, your inability to appreciate a situation?  It certainly does for me.

Even public restrooms are ultra-polite.  What?  You take pictures there, too.  Admit it.

Even public restrooms are ultra-polite. What? You take pictures there, too. Admit it.

Any detail of your life you lay bare on social media– which is, of course, what I’m doing now– is something you’re potentially throwing to the lions (there’s that religion/sin thing again).  Many people say that the alternative is to disconnect completely, but I’m not sure that’s actually solving the problem; it’s avoiding it.  Put another way:  if something very specific triggers a negative reaction, you will probably not be counseled to resolve this by avoiding whatever it is at all costs.  Instead, exposure therapy, coping skills, or something similar will probably come up.

Please note that I am not advocating social media exposure therapy as a new clinical methodology.

I don’t have any answers at all, in fact.  Zero.  None.  What I am wondering is why and how social media has evolved into something that provokes a fear of criticism.  I know that presenting a certain self on social media isn’t a new observation; what I’m wondering is if this is the new new cultural unpardonable sin, to open yourself to criticism:  not even necessarily of a political or other unpopular opinion but of your 24/7 life.

Hey, look!  This is something I found entertaining!  Mi vida loca!

Hey, look! This is something I found entertaining! Mi vida loca!  (And I will someday be thrown out of a store for photographing things I find hilarious but have no intention of buying.  Until then . . . .)

I don’t have any current plans to disconnect.  Knowing myself, the best I can do is try to be less paranoid about criticism (and that will probably not go so well; I’m already worrying about hitting “publish”).

But I do wonder if the prevalence of enissophobia has increased steadily with the rise in social media.

Play a Song for Me: Radio Revisited

Long story, but I currently have satellite radio in my car– something I thought I’d never enjoy and didn’t really see the point of.  One station, dedicated to one thing, all the time?  Boring.

I stand corrected, at least in my case, and stand before you an E Street Radio addict.  It’s surprisingly mentally healthy to get in the car and know– with 100% certainty– that whatever is playing is something you will like, it will be commercial-free, and that, if there’s commentary, it’s going to be people who are foaming-at-the-mouth enthusiastic and not afraid to hide that behind jaded coolness.  

In the short time I’ve had this, Bruce Springsteen has considerably improved my day on quite a few occasions (no, I’m not embarrassed to say that).  I was making a longish drive home yesterday– on a road I hate (bad directions, GPS)– and the low tire light flashed on.  My own gauge is dead, and there wasn’t a tire place to be seen, so I was just trying to make it home and hoping for the best:  then a cover of “Stayin’ Alive” came on.  Thank you, radio tarot!

This was playing as I entered the city that's not actually my hometown but is sort of close.  And yes, I know that the lyrics don't match the title, but you can't tell me that KARMA/GOD/BRUCE WASN'T SENDING ME A MESSAGE.

This was playing as I entered the city that’s not actually my hometown but is sort of close to it. And yes, I know that the lyrics don’t match the title, but you can’t tell me that KARMA/GOD/BRUCE WASN’T SENDING ME A MESSAGE.

I have radio on the mind at the moment; music in general often is, but it’s specifically radio at the moment.  #1 is that I was particularly grateful for satellite radio yesterday.  #2 is that, as of 3:38 AM last night (morning?), I was lying completely under the covers, wearing cans and listening to one of my multi-multi-hour playlists, thanks to the roller derby/mud wrestling/whatever upstairs.  If, from #2, you deduced I was pretty awake at the time, you are correct; that’s when I started thinking about satellite radio stations that could theoretically exist for extreme niche audiences.

And yes, I realize the Hedy Lamarr image really isn’t technically correct for satellite radio, but I’m just going with radio communications in general.

Here’s the segue:  early AM insomnia-meets-noisy-neighbor ideas!

(disclaimer:  I could have sworn I jotted some of these down, but the only list I see begins “peppers, shredded cheese,” so I’m not sure what’s going on with that)

I Have an Opinion about the Internet

Okay.  Never read below the line, right?  Maybe we could put this on a call-in show an delete the comments section from news articles (etc.) entirely.  Wouldn’t that improve your internet experience?  I’m thinking this one could be isolated somewhere in the high, high numbers.  Maybe an opt-in.

This is the first article that appeared in my Facebook feed at this moment.  I’ve deleted the candidate’s name, because it could really apply to any potential nominee (and has probably been said about all of them):  “[person]’s is spoon fed by Wallstreet criminals.”  It’s not clear what that candidate’s what is being spoon fed by, in case you think I’ve taken away too much context.

(see also:  Moff’s Law, for how to handle this better– but why it usually doesn’t work.)

Lather, rinse, repeat about . . . anything.

Stolen from the internet at some point, but it really says all that needs to be said.

Stolen from the internet at some point, but it really says all that needs to be said.

Spoiler Radio

Does anyone besides my next-door neighbor have a television with cable?  And, as far as I can tell through the wall, he watches mainly wrestling and SNL reruns– no network dramas.

Because everyone is waiting for an entire season of X to hit Netflix, the entire internet population (including me) starts screaming “no spoilers!” as soon as it does.  The result is that people who have finished a season of X are dying to talk about the finale of whatever it was but aren’t clear when it’s acceptable to do so.

So:  spoiler radio.  Maybe an hour of programming devoted to each show?  Callers must have finished viewing the entire episode/season.  Fandom can speak freely about whatever the pressing issue without fear of ruining it for anyone.

N.B.:  I’ve already seen all of Orphan Black, season 3, which isn’t on Netflix yet.  TALK TO ME.

*keeps mouth shut, with difficulty, which is obviously very, very hard*

*keeps mouth shut, with difficulty, which is obviously very, very hard*

“This One Time”

Do you have a really good random story that is pretty much impossible to work into conversation?  But you really want to tell it?  There’s a radio station for that.

Forget disrupting conversational flow, because this station doesn’t have it.  Just call and plunge right in:  “This one time, see, we had all this red Kool-Aid mixed up– okay, that’s another story– but anyway . . . .”

And then you can return from the patio, smile politely at your host, and get back to discussing work politics.  Or whatever civilized people do.  I really don’t know, myself.  I’d go ahead and tell the Kool-Aid story, which is why I need this station.

Shockingly, sometime after I took this picture in Target, these PJs found their way to me.

Shockingly, sometime after I took this picture in Target, these PJs found their way to me.

Unpopular Opinion Channel

Oh, yeah, this was one I thought of last night.  Remembered it right now because I have headphones in (again, same reason; it’s either Stomp or Riverdance right now), and I’m listening to one of my favorite Queen songs:  “I Was Born to Love You.”

There is no shame here.  Clearly.

Anyway, the Unpopular Opinion station is where you can call in and anonymously admit that you like whatever is going to get you called out on the internet/Twitter/social media.  Or you can just say on the forum of your choosing (in a non-abrasive way) that you like whatever it is and let people deal.

Perth Amboy Station

I’ve mentioned how I use Perth Amboy repeatedly:  it’s a stopgap term for whatever I’m trying to come up with, can’t remember, but will definitely remember at 3 AM.  Whatever it is, it’s something that’s missing too many variables to Google.

So, for a good night’s sleep, call the Perth Amboy station and ramble about how you read this novel where someone loses a Phi Beta Kappa pin, and it may have been his father’s, but you’re not sure, and you’re pretty sure it’s 20th century and Southern.*  Callers who have the same syndrome call in and offer the assistance that Google can’t.

*Seriously, I’m really pretty sure I read this, but I can’t figure it out.

My headphones are now doing that fried-wire thing they do when you’ve mangled them from overuse.  I’m sending the bill upstairs.

Another true story of being out of touch:  I’m using earbuds right now (the ones that seem to be fried and are currently distorting Chuck Berry), but, last year, I thought maybe I could replace them with another set of the big ones, which are so old I don’t even remember where they came from.  I kept hearing about Beats, so I finally looked them up:  if they’re so nice, they must cost about $20, right?

No.  Not right at all.  Did not replace.

I’m to Chicken to Put This on Craigslist

Okay, last one.  This one is clearly pretty personal, and I’m just going to leave it here, since it’s obviously autobiographical.  I think it would belong in the missed connections: m4w.

Dear dude in beanie who catcalled me as I was walking home,

First of all, I’m not even going to pretend to myself it was a compliment.  The guy driving was speeding, and there’s no way you saw anything about what I look like.  Probably what registered was that I was wearing a dress, and that was sufficient.  Please mention to the driver that he shouldn’t speed there; there’s a playground there, and there are kids on it during the week and on Sundays.  More than the catcalling, it makes me mad that you were speeding where children might duck into the street.

Moving on.  I don’t frequent the m4w section because . . . we’ll save that for another time.  But, if you found the brief glimpse of this ancient Old Navy dress so tantalizing, perhaps we should get better acquainted.  See, when you said whatever it was you said– and I didn’t catch a word of it, so I’m just going to interpret for myself– I was thinking about what I needed to do when I got home.  Cleaning, specifically.

The dishes are clean, and I did a pretty bang-up job on all the floors last week, if I do say so myself, but the bathroom is due for one of those good scrubs.  It’s tiny and has no ventilation, so I don’t like doing that (eau de mix of tons of chemicals).  I think we could really get to know each other if you stayed here and got that really sparkling clean while I go get a nice coffee and read (Apocalypse Baby— if you read it, too, we’ll talk book club– that’s the next level!).

Let me know when you’re done.  And gone.  Oh, and you might want to bring headphones.  Unwelcome noise is surprisingly annoying.

One Request Before I Go, DJ!

No point, as usual.  I need a coda, and I love this song/live version.

That Football Thing That Happened, Y’Know?

I didn’t watch the Super Bowl.  I don’t have a TV, and I was feeling blah to the extreme Sunday [insert dull medical story] and didn’t go anywhere.  I’m not that interested in pro football, and, until Sunday evening, I didn’t know who was playing (thank you, Twitter!).

So:  This is Super Bowl commentary presented by a person who didn’t watch it.  What you’ve got here is the social media Super Bowl experience:  running commentary on a game you’re not actually viewing.  If you can wipe the game from your mind long enough to imagine this, you’ll see it’s pretty surreal.  This also features my homegrown 3-part Super Bowl video angst series, which will probably feature heavily in my commitment hearing.


I read an article on Autostraddle, in their weekly recipe roundup, about Super Bowl foods (January 31; FYI, my goal is to try to make the roasted vegetable macaroni and cheese cups and stuffed portobello pizzas, because I need to get to cooking [1]).  I post a comment:  “Is it an option to make some food items and consume while watching Netflix?”  This currently has the most likes of any comment on that article, which probably says something about the readership.[2]

By game day, I figured it was time to figure out Who was versus-ing Who.  I dug into my Super Bowl-related knowledge, and came up with this:

(posted on Facebook, 8:28 PM, gameday)

Okay, so is THIS the game that’s on tonight?
GO BEARS!!!!!!!

<p><a href=”″>Chicago Bears Super Bowl Shuffle – 1985</a> from <a href=””>ASU Alumni Association</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

I give up.  I know there’s code showing, and I have no idea why.  I’ve looked at visual and text, and for the life of me, I don’t see what’s up.

Note:  This was on YouTube (many times) yesterday; as of today, all versions are gone due to copyright (I did actually mistakenly think I was posting the official version).  This one may disappear, too; I couldn’t tell about copyright.  It’s the 1985 Chicago Bears “Super Bowl Shuffle.” [3]

Then the tweeting began:

Of course, I wasn’t actually following anyone remotely qualified to say anything ESPN-esque about the game.  [4]

It’s good to know that you can call yourself a “Patriot” in the 21st century and not spend all your time yelling at feminists on Twitter.

In theory.  And yet I was called a fascist and told “zeke heil” [sic] today (after stating that while we disagreed, I respected the individual’s right to state an opinion)

’85 Bears Super Bowl look on point.

[1]  Start cooking source:  everybody.

[2] Currently having a collective Angel Haze-related meltdown, because life goes on.

[3] This song is actually still worthy of being taken seriously.  They say:   “Now we’re not doing this because we’re greedy, the Bears are doing it to feed the needy.”  In 1985, all profits ($300,000) from the song did indeed go to the Chicago Community Trust, which serves families in need.  The involved players’ promise to keep profits directed towards those in need has never changed; in 2014, someone (not in any way involved with the team or the production of the video) tried to claim copyright to appropriate profits.  She was immediately sued by a group of the players; they won, and profits continue to go those they were intended to benefit.  (source)

[4] This also seems like a good place to repeat my conviction that the revolution will be tweeted.  The “comrades” are not going to “come rally,” but they’ll have a lot of 140-character remarks to make.  From the couch.

[5] See upcoming thesis on commonalities among those who professed support for the ’85 Bears on social media.

[6]  I read that linked article about fair use and copyright.  I need a lawyer to advise me if copyrighting this phrase is possible.  Also, look for yet another Kickstarter to raise the electronic filing fee if so.

[7] Also, if you have my copy of that book (same title as essay), give it back.  My DFW collection is -1.  [8]

[8] Furthermore, if you’ve got Readme, that one has been gone a LONG time, it’s a hardback, and it’s time to reunite it with its owner. [9]

[9] Oooh, I misclicked when I was looking at the Readme page, and he has a new novel due in May!  880 pages, billed as postcyberpunk– sounds about right.  [10]

[10] These footnotes are getting meta or Infinite Jest or something.  I feel guilty for liking Neal Stephenson, because he’s a little problematic in his novels and a lot as a person.  At any rate, I more or less expect him to announce any day now from an undisclosed location that he’s joined an extremist survivalist group, burned as his government-issued ID, and will subsist on bartering, etc.  You read it here.


My Saturday, The Picture Book (Therefore, Suitable for Young’uns)

Woke up, ever so cheerfully!  And coherently!  And optimistically!  As always!  You could see the exclamation marks and happy emojis around me!

Good Morning Baltimore, Hairspray!

#selfie #wokeuplikethis #no-makeup

Breakfast of Champions.

All my rowdy friends are coming over this morning.

All my rowdy friends are coming over this morning.

Reading, Internet:  now, later:

This content sponsored by Valentine's Day

I have no level of technological frustration.

I have no level of technological frustration.

Lunch, because it’s always food o’clock (snacks are omitted, because that’s a lot of food images to find):

They don't have breakfast; they have lunch.  EXPLAIN.

They don’t have breakfast; they have lunch. EXPLAIN.

More reading, computer, and random crafting:

Pro tip:  make it unique.  Make it say "you."  Assuming you're aware who you are . . .

Pro tip: make it unique. Make it say “you.” Assuming you’re aware who you are . . .

Got ready for a walk, because I’ve been feeling better.  Stood up, and then didn’t feel better.  So a nap happened:

So I was lying there, talking to myself about the good ol' days . . .

So I was lying there, talking to myself about the good ol’ days . . .

Much later . . . supper:

Is it a little surreal in here, or is it just me?

Is it a little surreal in here, or is it just me?

Decided to live it up:



And partied down:

Technically, that's one way to party like it's 1999.

Technically, that’s one way to party like it’s 1999.

Wrote this post:

Please make season two free okay thank you

Please make season two free okay thank you

And found accidental humor during image searching:

Not apologizing, not explaining.

Not apologizing, not explaining.

Goodnight, Clarice.

No, it’s not Christmas.  Time is a construct.  And this is the HAPPIEST song EVER!

Alternatively, good morning:

Now listen to the rest of the album.  There, you’ve got something to do today!

I do not have a whiteboard.  Or a chart.  Or a starring role in a TV show.  Or a band.  Etc.

I do not have a whiteboard. Or a chart. Or a starring role in a TV show. Or a band. Etc.

I have an idea for a slightly more constructive post series with actual substance, but that will begin on a day that does not feature impromptu naps.  FYI.