I hope it’s fair to say that I’ve never used this blog as an outright rant before. I’ve posted food reviews, my adventures in publishing and writing, popular culture analysis, critiques of American culture, trans and queer civil rights, general progressive stuff, funny family stories, and promotion for my own work. And while I try to look at things with a critical eye, I actively try to write, even when from direct experience, with an eye toward connecting with other people. I know I’m not an island, and my experiences are not unique (although some of them are certainly uncommon). When I’m feeling particularly pressured or overwhelmed I try to do my processing offline, whatever privacy is afforded me who spends so much time either online or in a small town where everybody knows everybody else.
But I am going to break from whatever form I’ve cobbled here and register a few complaints. If you’re not interested in reading that, I understand completely. I still believe that other folks out there in my universe will have felt similarly and so for whatever that’s worth, you all have my unending empathy.
I am really exhausted. Seriously. I know I preach that I have a great work-home balance, and I do, but I feel like every minute of my day is scheduled, except the hours from Emile’s bedtime until my bedtime. And most of that is spent staring at the television in a zombie trance. The pressure to keep grant money flowing at work, to stay on top of my household’s entropy manufacturer, keep my connections to friends and acquaintances, be there as a mentor whenever it’s requested of me, take care of myself, support Susanne and Emile, and oh, yes, find time for writing, is all a heavy set of objects to juggle. I said this was a complaint, and it is, but I’m genuinely okay with my schedule and responsibilities, even if it is breakneck and a ton of work.
My complaint is less about my immediate workload and lifeload, and more about what increasingly looks like extraneous stress. I’m looking at you, Facebook. I joined the social network in 2007 because a good friend had posted his birthday party pictures there, and I wanted to see them. I thought it would be like Friendster and MySpace, places where I already had accounts but that had never quite sucked me in. I was more of a LiveJournal junkie when it came to flame wars and intense conversations about transitioning and friendship and being the “best progressive possible.” Maybe it’s not even all Facebook’s fault, even as the design of the damn thing is to be as intrusive and all-encompassing as possible. I can get with the idea that I took FB head-on because I was trying to grow my “online presence” as much as possible three, four years ago. And Facebook’s tendrils have grown over time, now watching what I search for when I’m on the Internet anywhere. I made an author page, so I have to throw content that way on a regular basis. I have sweated when I see someone unfriended me, and of course it’s no accident that Facebook never notifies users who precisely did the dumping.
But the world has gotten a lot harsher, more judgmental, less reasonable, since Barack Obama was elected President in 2008. People stopped watching broadcast news and generalist magazines. There are so many choices for consumers all along major media that we have settled into a narrow focus of opinion, a virtual echo chamber that only reinforces whatever opinions we had last year. We’re not growing so much as intensifying, the latter of which is decidedly unprogressive and anti-intellectual. All of this attention on the narrative of polarization, which is an incredible lie about contemporary America, is heightened online, where the wingnuts and trolls live to write inflammatory comments and foster anger. If I’d wanted to keep in touch with old friends from high school, distant relatives, close friends, and coworkers, I am disappointed to so often find pictures of Muslim target practice figures, meme after meme of some reductive political statement, angry comments threads on my own (and friends’) walls, and disproved “facts” about everything from teen pregnancy to the Federal budget to global warming. If I want to click like on a picture of a friend’s new baby, I first have to shuffle past ALL CAPS conversations about what a shit this or that politician is. It gets tiring.
I have most certainly without a doubt posted a lot of political stuff online. I’m right in the thick of it, I know. Like everybody else who posts about political stuff, these issues are important to me and I worry a lot about why our elected representatives seem to think they can put their own reelection campaigns above the public interest. But I think I have to disengage at this point. I’m too tired of explaining to allies why they’re being crappy allies, and then being told I owe them an apology. I’m too tired of see friends fight over trivial matters, or having to ask my associates to be nicer to each other on my own wall. I’m too tired of spending emotional energy over crap I can’t control, like what Congress is doing. I am 43 and about to be a parent to two, not one, kids, and I’m a month behind on my manuscript revisions, and there are three more books to work on after this one. And a nonprofit to manage. And a darling spouse to oh I don’t know, maybe get to go on a date with once every other month.
I don’t really have time for you anymore, Facebook. You’re like that relationship I had a decade ago that turned to crap and all my friends kept telling me that the sex had better be fucking fantastic because the rest of it stunk like a dog pile. DTMFA, Facebook. I just can’t anymore. I’ll be better off if we get some space from each other.
The baby is crying for more rocking, so guess what? He comes first.