A Little Positivity Goes a Long Way

I have many issues with the internet, social media in particular, and I’ll probably do an epic post about it once I can get past my inhibitions for doing so*. Right now, though, I want to discuss what I like about social media and why I spend so much time on it. Less and less so, granted, but still more than the average person, I’d wager. I was reluctant to join Facebook and Twitter for various reasons. One, I’m a loner by nature. I don’t like talking to people that much on a regular basis. Two, I have OCD traits that would probably suck me into being compulsive about checking both. Three, I’m very conflict-avoidant and don’t like telling people that they are wrong or that I disagree with them. I’m getting better at it, but it’s still something I don’t like to do. Four, I feel the need to talk to anyone who talks to me, which makes it hard for me to ignore people on Twitter or Facebook. Five, I think it’s a substitute for living life in the real world, and while it’s valuable for people who cannot leave the house for physical or emotional reasons.

I joined Facebook before I joined Twitter, and initially, I wanted to keep my friends list to ten. Then it was twenty. Then thirty, forty, and fifty, and then sixty-nine for very puerile reasons. Every time I added someone, I had to take someone off the list, but at some point, I gave up that weird personal tic and just added whomever I wanted. Which wasn’t many people. Early in my foray into Facebook, I had a bunch of people from high school wanting to friend me. For some unknown reason, I accepted. I hated high school. I have some fond memories of a few people, but other than that, it was a nightmare. So, I accepted, but then watched in horror as their true nature came out. This was right after Obama’s election, and one called for his impeachment a month after he was inaugurated, and another identified him as a proud Glenn Beck fan. These are both people I liked in high school, but I just could not stand what they were posting on a daily basis. Then, I got suspended from Facebook because someone reported that I was posting indecent posts, and I knew it was one of my ex-high school classmates and that it was probably for my political views. I managed to get my account reinstalled, but I mass dumped all but two of my high school classmates.

That’s part of what makes social media tolerable to me. I carefully curate my friends list on Facebook and my following list on Twitter because I don’t need that negativity in my life. it’s tricky because part of the beauty of the internet is the diversity of people found online, and it’s too easy to only listen to people just like you. You have to be open to different ideas and different experiences, but at the same time, you have to draw the line somewhere. That line is different for everyone, but I realized my line is people who are entrenched in their opinions. I don’t want to follow or friend anyone who isn’t interested in having a discussion, but only in haranguing his or her viewpoint (and this is on my side of the aisle, too. Demagoguery and ideology isn’t a partisan thing). I’m interested in debate and discussion, both which are difficult to achieve in social media because of the inherent limitations, and anyone who’s a Glenn Beck fan or wants Obama to be impeached a month into his presidency isn’t a rational human being.I have enough negativity in my head without adding exterior voices to the clatter.

I have to say that I view my Facebook wall similar to the way I feel about my home–I invited you in, and if you don’t respect my rules, I’ll kick you out. I don’t *have* to let you in, and I certainly don’t have to let you stay. I feel the same about my blog, come to think of it. It’s not a democracy, and I have final say as to what gets posted on my wall/blog. I’ve deleted comments from my FB wall not because I was offended but because I was uncomfortable with the material that was being posted. That’s my right because as I keep emphasizing, it’s my wall. In the same fashion, I follow the protocol of someone else’s wall when I post there. My BFF had a prominent public position when she lived here and needed to keep her FB wall clean. Out of respect for her, I refrained from swearing on her page or making crude jokes. That’s not censorship–that’s common courtesy.

On Twitter, things are a little bit looser and more ephemeral. Tweets go by so fast, it’s difficult to see a tenth of all the new tweets. In addition, anyone can follow you if you don’t block them, whereas you have to accept a friend request on FB (or you used to when I started, which was before they tried to be more like Twitter). I have 162 friends on Facebook, which is very few compared to most people, but which is way more than I ever thought I’d have in the first damn place. On Twitter, however, I have nearly 2,500 followers (which, again, is very few in comparison to many people), and I am following 499 people myself. Here, my OCD tics come into play because I keep my following list under 500. It’s mostly because I feel anything over that is pointless because it’s not possible to keep up with even 500 people, let alone thousands.

Side track: How does Twitter curate your timeline (TL?) I’ve noticed that I don’t see tweets from everyone on my following list–or maybe they’re just not tweeting at all. I think there must be an algorithm that allows you to see tweets from people with whom you interact the most or people who engage in your TL the most or something similar.

I go through cycles as to whether I prefer Twitter or Facebook. I like Twitter because it’s immediate. I get all my news on Twitter, and oftentimes, it’s several hours before more traditional media picks up the stories. The downside to that is that a ton of misinformation is spread at the same time as people retweet rumors and speculations willy-nilly, which isn’t helpful. In addition, many members of traditional media are eager to tweet out whatever they learn in the hopes of scooping the competition, so they may tweet things that they haven’t yet verified. I’m not even going to talk about the media stampede into the alleged killers’ apartment in the San Bernardino shooting, which to me represents the nadir of the traditional media. Twitter gave them holy hell for that, but there was little mention of it in traditional media, naturally.

Facebook is a place where you can have more discussion as you’re not limited to 140 characters. The downside is that fucking Mark Zuckerberg has to always fuck with the metrics in a way that isn’t user friendly. Fucking stop switching my home page to ‘Top Stories’ already! The only reason it’s bearable is because usually, the ‘Top Story’ is a picture of a friend’s dog or cat, which is guaranteed to make me smile. Sorry. It’s a pet peeve of mine that makes me very reluctant to use Facebook and emblematic of some of the frustrations I have with FB. Zuckerberg’s goal is to have as many users as possible, of course, and in doing so, FB isn’t as user-friendly as it could be. For example, it started showing what posts my friends were commenting on, which I didn’t like. I tried to figure out how to turn it off, and there isn’t an easy way to do it. The default should be not to show these comments with an option for you to turn it on if you want, but it’s done the other way, I suspect because Zuckerberg wants to spread as many posts as possible to garner more traffic.

I’m slipping into the negativity of social media, and that’s not the purpose of this post. I’m all about positivity today, baby! Another thing I love about social media is that I get to see a lot of creative stuff I never would otherwise. The video I posted above was brought to my attention by my dear friend, Ian** (@iboudreau on the Twitters) and tweeted by our mutual friend @scribblemethis (Twittehs again). It’s fucking amazing, and I’ve watched it several times since I became aware of its existence. Azora is amazing, and I Googled her after watching the video. I don’t care for the original song, but I absolutely love her version. Here’s another song she’s signed, and it’s nearly as good. She’s an amazing performer. I hope she does more videos, and I never would have discovered her without Twitter.

I’ve also found several Kickstarters because of social media. The latest is for an Asian American doll, Yuna, and her (black) kitteh, Kamata. I love the beliefs of the company (two friends who have been in the toy business for a long time). They’re trying to create a line of dolls that are diverse in many ways, including body size. The line is called Dream Big Friends, and the tagline is, “We’re all beautiful in our own way, and we can be anything we imagine.” I can’t imagine how excited I would have been as a little Taiwanese American girl in suburban Minnesota growing up to have this doll, and I was not a big doll lover at all at the time. But, had someone given me this doll, I would have cried in disbelief and joy. About ten years ago, I managed to find a biracial (Asian and white) rag doll for my biracial niece, and it was her favorite doll for a while. She carried it with her everywhere she went, and she named it after me.*** Even today, there aren’t that many Asian American dolls, and certainly not ones that aren’t just Barbie knockoffs. When we talk about representation, this is an important part of it. Never seeing Asians in popular culture, especially in the toys I was playing with, only exacerbated my feeling that I was ugly and worthless. So, I’m supporting the hell out of this Kickstarter, and, again, I never would have found it without Twitter.

The biggest thing positive aspect about social media for me is that it can be a supportive community in a time of difficulty. Last night was one of those times. There’s a case of a cop, Daniel Holtzclaw, who was arrested and charged with multiple counts of rape, sexual assault, and other sexual crimes against 13 women. I knew about the case, but I didn’t follow it because one, it hurt too much, and two, I expected him to be found not guilty for a myriad of reasons. Last night, there was a livefeed of the verdict, but I couldn’t watch. Again, I was expecting him to be found not guilty because he was a cop–by the way, he purportedly presented to his victims as white, but apparently, his lawyer emphasized that he was half-Japanese at the trial. I’m not going to discuss that here, but we have to make it clear that he’s not a white cop and that his ethnicity is not the problem. It’s the ethnicity of the victims–mostly black–and the fact that they were afraid of the police for one reason or another that matters. He picked them because of their vulnerability, and his lawyer played up to that heinous fact in court. The traditional media ignored the story until Twitter forced them to pay attention, but almost everyone is glossing over the fact that Holtzclaw is half-Japanese, just as they did with Elliot Rodgers, the UCSB killer. I’m not going to get into that in this post or why I’m so frustrated with the black-white binary of race in this country, but just wanted to be clear that he’s not all white.

Anyway, when I checked in with Twitter, I found out that he was found guilty on several accounts. I was shocked, stunned, and relieved that those women were believed, and I saw many other survivors tweet something similar, especially women of color. I cried as I read about the verdict, and I cried as I read tweets from  other survivors. I began tweeting my own thoughts, and I was warmed by the support I received in return. I read the tweets of a local reporter, and here is her tweet with the breakdown of the verdict.

One of the worst things about being sexually assaulted is how alone you feel afterwards. You think you’re the only one and it’s your fault, and if only…Unfortunately, there are too many people in our society who are too willing to blame the victims, so many survivors don’t find that support in their own circles. I’ve been lucky because I’ve always had strong support with my own traumas, but there’s a limit to what people who have never experienced sexual assault can do for a survivor. Meeting someone else who’s a member of the group is a bittersweet experience. I hate finding out that someone else has been sexually assaulted, and yet, there’s an instant connection because of the shared experience. No two assaults are the same, obviously, but the pain is similar. You can be intimate with each other in a way that isn’t possible with non-survivors.

I found that last night. I tweeted that I didn’t know how much I needed that verdict to be guilty, and I found many who agreed with me. I hurt for the women who had to have their lives torn apart by Holtzclaw and then torn apart again by his lawyer, and I applaud their bravery in testifying in a very hostile court. I hurt for the other survivors who told their truths and weren’t believed. I hurt for myself and the many years I’ve lost because of my own trauma and my inability to believe I didn’t deserve it. This one guilty verdict doesn’t change everything, but it does acknowledge that for once, a man with power who raped several women because he thought they were dispensable and that nobody would believe them, that asshole did not get away with it. Not this time. The tweets I saw from other survivors and from people who were supportive of survivors buffered me in a way I hadn’t thought possible

Last night, I saw the best of Twitter. I saw a community that held the wounded in its collective arms and said, “We believe you; we support you; we acknowledge your pain, and we stand by you,” and I will never forget it.



*Despite my brash appearance online, I’m sometimes reticent in real life to say what I truly believe because oftentimes, it’s so antithetical to what a majority of people believe. Sometimes, it’s situational, such as I can talk about my beliefs with others who believe similarly, which in a way, is more cowardly. But, again, I’ll get to that in a future post.

**Whom I never would have met if it hadn’t been for Twitter!

***One of her quirks was that she named her dolls/stuffies after the people who gave them to her. I loved that about her.

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