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:

NSFW


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.

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I Wish It Would(n’t) Rain

First of all:  YAY, I went away for the weekend!  Sorry.  I’m very excited.  We can argue about the meaning of “vacation” all day, but I’m counting this.  So there.

Also, before I move into quasi-content:  vote on the 2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.  I can’t actually buy your votes, but why aren’t more of you voting for The Smiths?  I’m not even talking about music here.  I’m talking about how this would somehow involve trying to figure out how to get Morrissey and Marr on the same stage.  Or in the same building.  At the very least, it would be a very, very exciting year for this ceremony.


Also, to go ahead and get this out of the way, I was going to quote something from Furiously Happy at the end (I did anyway).  When I flipped to find it, I realized I had inadvertently written something pretty much along the same lines thematically as the Australia chapter of that book (except not clever, funny, etc.).  That was probably part accident and part some sort of back-of-mind recall.  In my defense, that was the first book I’d been able to complete since August, owing to a mental crash-and-burn (which I’ll say again, but that’s due to no current external circumstance; I get paranoid about that sort of thing re: myself, so I feel like I need to say it), so I’m still getting the pieces picked up.  It’s also after 2 AM.


Photos Go Awry . . . Before I Even Leave Town

I had a nice little plan set up, which is probably when the universe decided to heave buckets of rain down.  See, I was anticipating one of those photo albums of mountain-type fall pictures to show (read:  prove) that I’d been outdoors and all that stuff that I hear other people do.

I’m already taking weird pictures to demonstrate I do normal things.  I realize other people Instagram fascinating meals and exquisite culinary preparations.  I took a picture of this . . . whatever I made last week:

WHOEVER is currently in charge of the kitchen on OITNB (because I lost focus so many times last season, except when some favorite character was disappearing) will now have to relinquish it to me.

WHOEVER is currently in charge of the kitchen on OITNB (because I lost focus so many times last season, except when some favorite character was disappearing) will now have to relinquish it to me.

Technically, I sort of used a recipe.  More importantly, EXCHANGES.

Oh, I did take a picture of coffee last week.  This reminds me of a chromosome pair I saw once in a photo, but I haven’t figured it out yet.  Let me know if you recognize it.

Requisite coffee photo of vaguely biological looking splotch.

Requisite coffee photo of vaguely biological looking splotch.


“He Says They’ve Already Got One!”

Anyway, that’s why I wanted some more impressive pictures.  Most of the ones I take around here are of garbage and other street debris.  Seriously.  Tons of those.

However, the weird-person-staring-at-street problem could be remedied, if I could have taken home my new friend, the Trojan Moose:

Calling him/her/whatever Bullwinkle seems very obvious.

Calling him/her/whatever Bullwinkle seems very obvious.  Please note that it is really raining indeed.

I also grew attached to a kindred cow and pig inside (not so much the raccoon; I was afraid it would go through my kitchen trash).  I’m not sure if I could have also remained in this apartment if all three had come home (and how I would have gotten them here), but it would have been lovely to have them around.


Apple:  Now Bringing U2 to All Devices

This is in a parking garage elevator.  Some enterprising soul made it picture-worthy.  It may be that I don’t have a great concept of what constitutes vacation picture material:

Good one, Banksy-in-training.

Good one, Banksy-in-training.


I think I did better with the yarn-bombed bike.  Of course, A) taking a close picture while B) not walking away might have helped.  I was distracted.  There were also things up ahead.  So sue me.

I just want to ride my motorsickle. Stop fighting me on this one, autocorrect.

I just want to ride my motorsickle. Stop fighting me here, autocorrect.  It’s a word if Arlo Guthrie says it is.


The Ballad of the . . . Well, Not Sad Anything, Really

What else have I got?  Here’s a house I saw that was falling apart and looked cool:

#lifegoals: be known as the creepy old woman who lives here in a distinctly Southern Gothic manner

#lifegoals: be known as the creepy old woman who lives here in a distinctly Southern Gothic manner

There was a version of that one that had me standing in front of it.  It does not appear here.  No pictures of me will be in this post.  The vacation was good, but I certainly don’t like the way I seemed to look in it.  This has been a message from the voices in my head.

Other assorted buildings:

Roofs! Tiles!

Roofs! Tiles!

Some sort of really interesting church!

Some sort of really interesting church!

No idea, but I stalled everyone on the sidewalk to take a picture because it was interesting.

No idea, but I stalled everyone on the sidewalk to take a picture because it was interesting.  I have even made it larger here, for your viewing pleasure.

Classy ™ Starbucks ™.

Classy ™ Starbucks ™.


“Sweeping Every Category Except Congeniality, Which Is Not Something the Women in My Family Aspire to, Anyway”

There’s some other stuff, but I’m not going to deluge anyone with a slideshow.  What I am going to say is that the past five or so days have been a lot better than some other recent ones, not for any reason relating to external circumstances (read:  no one’s fault, etc.).  I already put in a brief plug for Furiously Happy [link to blog; it may cheer you up] in the previous post, and I’m going to do it again here.

Here’s why:  most people would probably think I had a boring vacation, and I certainly don’t have a lot of wild ‘n’ crazy pictures to show.  Everything I did (well, except for the getting soaked bit) was something I like to do, though.  I probably went too slow for most people.  I probably took more naps.  Lord knows I had a more “interesting” eating schedule.  I also veer off sidewalks to look at strange things, duck into oddball shops where I will buy nothing, and pretty much set up shop in bookstores.  I even like old bricks.  A lot.  And if none of that is your thing, that’s also fine.

Here’s where I’m going to stop babbling and quote the book:  “It doesn’t mean I’m a failure at appreciating the good things in life.  It means I’m successful at recognizing what the good things in life are for me.”


“Better to Light a Flamethrower than Curse the Darkness”

I would absolutely not say I deserved any of this weekend, but it was such a wonderful relief to have five days where I felt like a human instead of a mole person.  When I try to tell people what the “good things” I’ve done or experienced are, I feel pretty paltry and want to fade away again.  So tonight I’m not caring about that part.  I’m going to bask in the feeling of not feeling like crawling back in bed and staying there.

Is this a picture of someone on a good day or a bad day? You decide.

Is this a picture of someone having a good day or a bad day? You decide.

And I also really want to thank [this sounds like a speech.  I should sleep.  I’ll be doing a pageant wave next] a few of you who helped me keep this up these past few days, especially since I’ve been so bad about hiding from, um, everything. Also the person who told me to quit shading everything on social media (none of it’s a lie, incidentally; it’s finely-presented truth) so that things look like they’re going fine until I end up in some train wreck situation (this isn’t social media per se, so those who never want to read this blathering will simply be able to ignore it).

I’m going to try to return the favor and be better about responding.  I will try to answer. I’m working on it.  I may be asleep or have the phone off at some times.  Otherwise, I’m  trying.


Finis, in the usual manner: