Reflections on Social Media

So, yesterday was the new year according to the HMEPA calendar — I did an hour and fifteen minutes of ritual, and my apartment still smells like frankincense incense and oil. I prayed to the Horai for their blessings in 699.3 (because we all need that right now), alongside gods I worship on a personal basis, after sundown on 3 July; I did a more or less ordinary noumenia ritual on the 4th.

I’m taking a hiatus from Twitter with scheduled posts going out — at least until 9 or 10 July, when I’ve had some time to properly think some thoughts about social media use out to their conclusions.

I don’t consider blogging social media; it’s perennial media, and while we’ve all had to adjust communication styles on blogs because you used to be able to say very personal things on them — LiveJournals were like our diaries back in the early 2000s, were they not? — words said on a blog in 2019 are relatively like carving something into ephemeral granite.

However, I have some preliminary ideas about where I’d like to go moving forward, and I present them here as what they are — feel free to give feedback or to just skim, you do you.

  • I want to take some of my Twitter threads that are interesting and flesh them out into blog posts after downloading my Twitter data to mine it for content that I consider important and useful.
    • These include things about purification, miasma, lyma, and the like — I did a Twitter thread that I really like.
    • The one I made about Delphic Maxim 107 was a fun and good experience; it was very intellectually thrilling to take something concise and collapsed and work it out into something that did more justice to the topic.
  • Maybe instead of tweeting so much, I should write a blog post and then tweet concise thoughts related to it for a few days afterward.
  • Perhaps writing out how I approach disagreements with people on the Internet would contain helpful information that others can adapt to their own situations.

One of the reasons I’m taking a slight break is that I see our communit(y/ies) devouring themselves, I do not like this, and I do not know how to respond with anything constructive yet.

So, on Twitter, I’ve scheduled a lot of posts that are about taking a step back from social media, of jarring people out of complacency with the cycle of rage and division that the algorithms reward with likes ❤️ and hate 🤬. We owe it to ourselves to be better than we are, and we can get there. I have a fundamental belief in the goodness of people and the power of mutual emotional labor, in building people up rather than tearing them down.

Spotify is the second reason.

I screenshotted my Spotify “related songs” auto-play and sent it to a friend last week because it was the most jarringly paggro content that Spotify’s machine learning algorithm has ever given me. It anticipated the storm of emotions going through my head in the special way that the machines we use do — they know us better than we know ourselves. I looked at the good in that playlist, at the lightlessness that was its shadow, at the tension between hopefulness and despair — songs like “This is Your Life” (Robin Schulz) and “Love & Hate” (Michael Kiwanuka)¹ juxtaposed against others like “House on Fire” (Sia) and “Everybody Hates Me” (The Chainsmokers). The music platform is just as jarring as any other modern tool that tries to control our attention, such as how Twitter will push us into echo chambers howling for blood to keep us on the platform.²

The third reason is light and harmony and oscillation, and I cannot really put it into prose. I’ve been writing fragments of poetry about it; they may never become more than just private fragments, like a pendulum gradually working is way to stillness.

That third reason is intimately related to the fourth one, which is that I need to get into a place of stillness with my writing again because my attention has been fractured, and it needs to be seamless. I build an eidolon of a story in my head long before I write it out, and holding the entire image is important so I know what to do. When I build the image up properly, I can average 1500-2000 words per hour.

In addition, I’m in the semi-final stages of weaving together a religious poetry chapbook that I’m calling Acts of Speech. It takes poetry I’ve written over the past 10+ years to comment on the tensions among performative, public, and private speech in a religious context. Basically, I naively started out wanting to put some of my poems (many of them on this blog; some not) in some nice binding, and then the High Concept snapped into place. I may have to write a few more poems for it to round out the ideas.

So those are some thoughts right now. For everyone who celebrates the rollover to 699.3 at this time, I hope that you have a wonderful year.

  1. I’ve been listening to “Love & Hate” on intermittent repeat over the past few days. The strings make patterns of rotating light in my head that are very pleasant, and I love the lyrics.
  2. Incidentally, I should say something about politics — the affective impact of social media can keep a lot of us from doing what we should related to social justice, and what we do do on social media is often fragmented; conversely, subscribing to a newsletter (such as 5 Calls) coordinates individual activity to increase impact. Twitter has been very effective at groundswell movements like #MeToo; it is much less effective at things like tactical diplomacy and intracommunity engagement. I could go on forever about the power of emotional labor and conversation and building relationships (basically, I’ve come to understand a little bit more this Autostraddle post was really talking about; when I originally read it years ago, I didn’t see myself in it because I’ve always had a personality that other women have found too intellectually masculine, so reading it led to dissonance in my head about whether or not it was valid when people called me femme when that appellation was just surface-shallow). Those skills are not very valued in our culture because they’re coded fem(me), and they have the most impact when used privately with people you genuinely care about, not in the glitzy glow of a viral post retweeted by strangers.

2 thoughts on “Reflections on Social Media

  1. would love to see you do more in-depth blog posts. i think there’s a book in there too. blogging then tweeting salient bits sounds like a pattern to investigate, at the very least.

    i’ve withdrawn from most of the online communities for a long time now, just couldn’t take the ugliness and snarkiness and division. the only ones i’m in have avoided it in different ways- the Neokoroi by basically dying out, and Hellenion by finally being in a pretty good place overall. however, i don’t even know most of the social media platforms any more. i’m very much looking forward to your approach on this topic. cuz devouring each other is where it always seems to end up.

    love the ‘eidolon’ in your writing process. i never really teased the process out like this, but mine is very much the same when it works right. i’m going to try actually thinking of it in this framework and see if i can get back to that hyper-productive phase. gods above and below, how i love it when that happens. and it just so happens i’m working on a Helen piece right now with the eidolon slant.

    i need to go revisit my old LJ. you’re right, it was very much a sort of public diary. i don’t blog as much as i should now, the quickie social media have taken over more than i ought to allow them.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes, I think more in-depth posts will be fun.

      The reason I made that suggestion regarding reaching out to YSEE and Labrys in the Hellenion tapatalk is that I am also fatigued by the divisiveness, and the only way to ameliorate things is to focus on healing relationships. I’m hoping to make a positive difference with the posts I will do here; and also, rather focusing on division, I want to frame them all in a healthy way?

      And I’m happy the idea of an eidolon works for you, too! 🥰 I hope that you’re writing the Cylon Helen story I’ve always hoped for — like nobody ever writes the version of the myth in which Real Helen is hanging out in Egypt the entire time wondering why Menelaus won’t respond to couriers. Like in my myth headcanon she gets initiated into various mysteries because she’s there and might as well, and she brings them back with her.


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