Friday, November 19, 2010

Has My Social Media Experience Peaked??

For various reasons lately, all of this social media stuff has begun to feel quite heavy to me. The twittering, the emailing. The blogging. Actually among them all the blogging may be among the easier to do, since it is sharing my thoughts. Though I have not done so here in over a week.

My spirit has felt heavy lately because I am not sure if I am making a difference with all that I do. I appreciate it when people mention that it does, but one has to feel it themselves, and for whatever the reason, this last month I have not been feeling it. It hasn't made me feel better. It hasn't brought any new opportunities to me. It does not appear to have given me any tools to cause any good in the world I find myself in.I don't mind confessing that this is a more than a little depressing sometimes.

Which brings me to another sad point I need to make. When things suck, I say so. If I look back on something that sucks, I mention that it sucked. If I know why, (which I usually don't) I say why it sucked. If  I am in the middle of something that is beating me down, I will say that I am tired of being beat down. Especially when I am powerless to do anything about it. (Yes, one can be powerless to change something...)

I have always figured that if I can be happy and celebrate something positive when it happens, I should be just as entitled, logically, to lament when things are not working. Because let's face it, sometimes shit doesn't work. And for some of us, (frankly, like me) a whole lot more does NOT work, than does work. And I am not about to ignore the bad luck I find I have to deal with. Yes, I have had a lot of it.

But that honesty gets me in trouble in social media. It pisses people off, gets me called names, or accused of any manner of things that just are not fair. I had a pretty large disagreement with a social connection and friend over the last two days. I don't know, they may be a former friend at this point. I hope that isn't the case. But I do know I need a break from them, because they became very angry at me for being so "negative". And, like many of the articles I read they sort of laid into me about how there is no such thing as bad luck, that nobody ever fails, and that the only reason I am not where I want to be in life is because I do not choose to be happy enough.

This person with whom I had the disagreement is not, however the only person or source to declare this to me. I was more shocked and hurt by their anger with me because it was so personal, and seemingly so unlike them. Yet the incident was actually more of the straw on the back of my camel this month. The moment where instead of either ignoring it or moving passed the fact that someone had read me so incorrectly, I was instead very hurt, and unable to continue the conversation. Perhaps in the future...

But by no means was it unique in my social media experience. Instead of either taking my word for how unmovable my life has been for a while, or otherwise ask me some questions about my situation (which I am willing to answer), many people continue to make the assumption that I struggle because I am not happy enough. That if I were just upbeat all the time, I would have more money. Chances. Friends and success. That I somehow deserve whatever failures and loneliness I experience because my smile isn't broad enough for some people's taste.

I have gone over why I think this is a flawed approach for me. I have gone over it many times here on the blog, in fact. And I am not going to go over all of that again, other than to say everyone has their struggles, and no two people have the exact same type of struggle. So no two people can have the same solutions. What is true for you is not true for me and vice-verca. And I think the world would go a bit better if we just respected that. Especially when someone's issues, as mysterious and perplexing as they are to us, actually do not hinder or damage us in any way. Sure they may be odd to us, even a bit annoying, but are they really keeping us from moving forward? Does the fact that somebody perceives their life in a way that we do not really threaten us??

Which is one of the bigger problems I find developing with my relationship to social media of late. Yes I have made some friends, and learned some things, and found some interesting web sites and articles that I otherwise would not have. And when I can, I apply what I learn. But express your frustrations or try to explain why you have been caught in an unusually potent loop of failure, (which I have been) and the "advice" is almost always the same out here.

"Just do it. The only thing stopping you is you. Be nice. Think high. Refuse to fail, and already know that you are going to make it. Travel the world!!"

And so on and so on.

Look, here is the thing; it doesn't work that way for everyone. I am not saying that a good attitude is wrong. It is more useful than a bad one. Nor am I denying that there are ways to attain just about any dream at some point. But I do maintain that it cannot be done by everyone alone. That those who have nobody on whom to rely, nobody to guide them, nobody to offer advice, invest a little seed money, or any other of a million things that makes it easier for us to succeed simply do not have as good a chance, or indeed ANY chance of getting ahead. I am a firm believer in the fact that nobody ever truly succeeds 100% alone. Even those bloggers and authors out there who claim that they had nothing and nobody and still climbed the mountain to become a king are sort of fooling themselves. Something or someone was there at the right time. Yes, those things have to be used and hard work must be put into turning them into one's advantage. I don't deny the hard work of some of the people that have "made it". I simply deny that you can squeeze blood from a stone.

In other words, if you start with nothing, as in truly nothing. (No knowledge, friends, network, money, job, location), the odds of rising above nothing are very low. And the truth is some of us don't have those things, and never really have. And to some of us, they just don't come easily. And that is the crux of the matter.

Let's say your problem is legal blindness. You can see shadows, or things that are very up close. But for all purposes, you cannot "see". Going forward will be more difficult for you. But through much hard work, and the proper guidance and resources, a legally blind individual can attain a very normal, fulfilling life in Western society. That's inspirational.

But one solution not suggested is to simply, "Start seeing! You are only blind because you are not thankful enough!" In fact, that is almost sickening to ponder saying to a struggling blind person.

Yet we say that to people with less defined, unnamed handicaps all of the time.

Not everybody's issue has a name as obvious as "blindness". Which means that the solution to a person's issue may not be at all obvious. And half of their struggle may be just trying to figure out what the hell has gone wrong with them and their life, and find a way around their unnamed but severe obstacle(s), without having to alter it. But like the blind person, the solution isn't going to be "choose to be different". Some of us have to identify the obstacles and walk around them, and not eliminate them, as so many people out there advise.

How to find a way around them? Social media is my attempts to do so. To connect. Find ideas. Take baby steps towards a new career and possibly a new type of life. To find people who think like I do.

One of the things Too XYZ was supposed to be about was making sure that the things that suck in my life, and life in general are not ignored. Are not shoe-horned into "blessings in disguise", but actually taken for what they are; gigantic pains in the ass caused by more powerful people or unchangeable circumstances. The goal is to find others who have suffered in similar ways.

But there is another side to Too XYZ. This blog, while often pointing out the unfairness and the bullshit, also has a great deal of material dedicated to getting around the bad luck. Or at least the struggle to find a way to do so. It is about the effort. The journey. The weariness of a man who wants to be helped on his terms. Who is willing to learn and change, but not willing to pretend. Who believes that our natural tendencies need not, and probably cannot be run away from, but maybe can be slowly changed over time, when outside circumstances at last improve. Someone who wants to improve but doesn't want to read about going to bed tonight and waking up tomorrow as Seth Godin. (I don't even want to wake up in fives years and be Seth Godin. I want to wake up five years from now knowing I am a better Ty Unglebower.) Who wants to remain true to his world view, while still illiciting enough compassion, interest, and energy from other people to help him fill in the gaps that are missing. And maybe along the way helping a few other people fill in some of their own missing gaps.

Yes, social media. I do complain about things when they never, ever, ever, ever, ever,ever change, no matter what I try to do about it. (Keeping in mind, my efforts will not be your efforts, but they are still difficult.) Yet I have positive things to say as well. I have tried to look at some things differently. I am not always lamenting. If you doubt this, I suggest you read this. And this. That one as well. And throw in this one.And for God's sake, if I can find something positive to think about for this...

So am I giving up? I don't know. It doesn't seem like that to me, though I am somewhat exhausted. I have pursued some new avenues of information, and I am constantly pondering what I can do differently that doesn't involve forcing change to who and what I am today. But will I be continuing the Twitter, blogging, thing? I don't yet know. I may not, honestly. I do know I need to think about whether this experiment was the latest to not work for me, or if it is too early to tell. Or if I simply need to tweak something. Or if my mind just happens to be very, very tired this month.

The play I am in is in tech week. (The final week where a lot of little pain in the ass details are worked out, for those non-theatre types out there.) Thanksgiving, a potentially stressful event in its own right, is coming soon. I continue to fight this month old cold. So I think I will at least give some of that time to pass before making a 100% final decision.

Do you ever want to stop doing all of it? Think you ever will?


Laryssa said...

"I am a firm believer in the fact that nobody ever truly succeed 100% alone." I somehow got in an argument with my students about this yesterday. I absolutely agree with you, but a lot of my students disagreed. They think you can find it in yourself to succeed. I'm sorry, but they are either superheroes or lying to themselves. If my parents didn't push me throughout my life, I would not even be close to where I am now. I probably would have never gone to college, to be honest.

Empoprises said...


While I don't delve into subjects as deeply as you do, I have been blogging for a while - since October 2003, in fact. I've changed my blog strategies repeatedly over the years, alternating back and forth between multiple focused blogs and one catch-all blog, and changing from using a pseudonym to posting under my own name.

But one thing that has stayed constant over the years is my definition of who I want to please - myself. If I write things that delight me, then it doesn't matter whether my posts are greeted with apathy or disdain.

There are drawbacks to the "please yourself" approach, of course, but in the end that approach is what has kept me going for the last seven years.

Mehul Kar said...

I get tired of social media ALL The time.
I've stopped bothering with creating relationships, because most of the're right, they aren't going to lead anywhere...
It's probably a conceited way of going about it, but I could care less about working on new relationships right now. I'll have a 3 minute conversation with you..but "network" is too big to manage already.
as for the rest of the issue..about nothing ever changing and so already know that i don't believe in luck (so maybe that's where we differ). Actually, it's not that i don't believe in luck, it's just that I take good luck as a bonus, and bad luck as In other words, I don't rely or depend on either.
In Hinduism, there is one verse in the Bhagavad Gita that says something along the lines of: we have control over action, never over the fruits. Perform action for the sake of action, instead of for a consequence.
Whenever I find something on the internet that excites me, or I think about something that excites me, I tweet it, or blog it. It's nice to see when other people get excited by the same thing, but I'm really not interested in discussing my interests with random online 64x64pixel pictures.

Again, sounds conceited, but this way the question my time online worth it? doesn't even come up. I'm here because I am...I could leave whenever I wanted.

JMH said...

I recently had the chance to unplug from social media for a couple of weeks and I really didn't miss it. In fact, when I checked in, all of the insularity just made me cringe. It was like watching a movie you used to love and wondering why you ever thought it was so awesome in the first place, or running into your ex at Whole Foods and being mystified that you'd actually spent two years of your life with that person.

There are people out there living their lives - getting hurt, falling in love, saving the world, creating art, being persecuted - and not documenting one iota of it on Twitter or Facebook or a blog. This knee-jerk compulsion to self-analyze, to live in our heads and plumb their depths isn't native to everyone. And I'm beginning to think those who live without the need/desire to share/network/dissect are better off. I've started to really envy them, truth be told.

Ty Unglebower said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. Some valid points being made. It just saddens me how people can be friendly to long as you are happy. But then when you have no trouble mentioning you have not been happy for a while, you are suddenly responsible for THEIR positive energy. It's not a very nice way to care about someone...

Laura said...

I think you've described privilege pretty well, here. Generally, people who are coming from a position of privilege (be it financial, social, biological, etc.) tend to ignore or deny that the difficulties of others are not the fault of outside circumstances beyond their control. They tend to base their view of the world on their own personal experiences and take every opportunity to devalue or invalidate the experiences of others that are different from their own. That said, I think there is something to say for those who wallow in their victimhood. There's a fine line between recognizing reasons/causes for circumstances in someone's life and taking a backseat to those circumstances and allowing them to hold you back.