I am currently engrossed in Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, which details her fifteen plus years of research of studying the effects of technology on how we relate to one another. She interviewed a man who is both married in real life and on Second Life, an alternate virtual world he accesses on his phone. He claims his online life is where he can truly be himself, making it possible to bear his real life with his real family. WTF? In my eternal struggle to pull my head out of my ass and put down my iPhone only to behold a sea of people staring at their phones, her book is setting fire to my brain, especially in regards to social media related depression and anxiety.
Facebook depression is a recent phenomenon that is mostly documented in teenagers, where the source of one's crap ass attitude is placed squarely on the fact that everyone else’s online life seems truly magical according to your news feed, whilst your life remains a steaming piece of shit. Thank God we've found a new and effective way to make teenagers feel inadequate! It does happen to adults as well, probably because Facebook can bring out the moody teenager in all of us. I took a hard look at my FB presence, which has been scaled back and now consists of the occasional inspirational quotes/musical offerings/news articles, pictures from races I have run and vacations, and shameless self promotion if I am fortunate enough to be involved in some literary goings on about town. World, check me out. Damn, it must kick some serious ass to be me!
What Facebook doesn’t reveal is that I spend a lot of my downtime in a supine position staring at the ceiling wondering what the hell I’ve done with my life. When that gets old, I throw in rationalizing how I cannot possibly run errands or exercise or write today because of insert rotating lame excuse here. There are no life or death deadlines, there's enough toilet paper to make it until tomorrow, tomorrow will be better weather to do things outside, no one knows whether I do or I don’t do these things, so who gives a rip? Great news! I’ve decided to focus on the things I truly want to do and not cave to things I don’t want to do out of guilt. Bad news! I often don’t want to do a damn thing.
I had to really check myself before I wrecked myself recently when I decided to attempt to tell a story next month at the Moth here in Chicago. For those of you not familiar, the Moth is a storytelling organization out of New York that has a popular podcast and puts on live events all around the country….the stories are told without notes, limited to five minutes, and judged and scored. (www.themoth.org) Upon contemplating what it would take to be ready to tell a story in front a big crowd without the written words to crutch out on and the paper to hide behind and to have strangers judge it and give it a number, I just kept asking myself why I would want to do all that work and subject myself to possible humiliation for something that was going to last FIVE minutes?
And there I was, clubbing my dreams like a baby harp seal.
When I figured out that I was cloaking my fear with laziness to put a more comfortable spin on it, I started to fight back. I've been working on the story, working on producing more stories. Still not writing as much as I’d like, but what I'm managing to put together is helping me to keep my eyes on the future and off the ceiling.
The point behind this overshare is that there are compelling ups and downs behind all of the online avatars where everyone controls what’s represented about their identities….we often present only our best news, our most flattering pictures, our most hilarious musings. But perhaps our most meaningful connections happen when we are vulnerable, when we take chances and fall on our faces, when we say or do the wrong things, and the people in our lives choose to love us anyway, because we deserve to be loved for who we really are.
Lately I've been relying on a pick me up more powerful than any drug ever invented....I crank up Keith Richards singing ONLY TO ME. I mean, if you're not inspired by a guy who changed the face the rock and roll, who has been married almost thirty years, who has survived drug abuse and Mick's bullshit and falling out of a palm tree to write a best selling book and who still pines to be a librarian, check your pulse. You might be dead.
Exciting things on the upcoming agenda.....storytelling class show May 14th here in Chicago, perhaps I'll be fortunate enough to get my name pulled at the Moth, where even if I completely eat shit, I will be buoyed by love and support. Story Lab show in June will feature an overarching tale that may explain my love/hate relationship with technology.....come check it out if you feel like hearing some new voices sharing their experiences. Ciao for now.