Friday, September 18, 2015

Offline: Confessions of a Chronic Poster

Last week I made a pretty big decision that most people don't even know about yet. I quit grad school. (surprise!) But the circumstances behind this event are nonconsequential to this post, and yet I tell you that so you can put the following confessions into context. (And If you wanna know the details behind that big decision, you can ask me offline ;)

So. The scene is set. I'll now proceed.
"You see!? THIS is why I tell you to watch what you put on Facebook. Because now you are going to have to explain to the entire world why you quit grad school. Had you not put that back-to-school photo up, no one would have even known that you were IN grad school in the first place!"    - Mom, last Sunday night
Fair. She was right (of course).  

Now somewhat regretting 'big life event' post,
despite garnering 114 likes

My mom was right, dammit. Just like she's always right when she preemptively says, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BLOG ABOUT THIS ARE YOU whenever I make a big decision, do something incredibly impulsive that has embarrassing consequences, stumble and fall, eat cereal for breakfast, etc. etc.

Current post not excluded.

But good nonfiction writing is, by nature, confessional and self-deprecating. Therein lies the rub.

So I can always hear her voice in my head when I write something especially juicy and self-deprecating. The ironic reality is that the more personal, the more raw, the more potentially embarrassing the post, the better the reading (and the more cathartic the creative unloading). It is the ongoing inner-conflict I struggle with each. and. every. day. 

To post, or not to post. That is the question.

I get equal parts flattered and fearful when someone tells me ,"I really connect with your writing. It's like you say what everyone else is thinking but is too scared to share." Well. Welcome to my life. And this kind of thing gets us into cringe-worthy territory with terms like lack of boundaries and oversharing of personal information which is just going to make us all feel like we are sitting in the same fucking awkward / exhausting / shameful therapy session. So let's not go down that path right now. (I'll save that for another post. Ha. Get it.)

Ok so onward. I wanted to write this post because I've had some surprising revelations in one short week of avoiding social media (because I last dropped the mic on a self-celebrating 'big life event' post when I then up and quit grad school. Ok, just making sure you are tracking here).

With my tail between my legs this past week - more specifically - When I temporarily deleted all social media apps (things like fb, insta, twitter, etc.) from my phone because I was so disoriented by guilt / fear /shame that I could barely fucking breathe or see straight, I learned the following:
  1. Actively participating in social media is fucking exhausting. Like, for real, the struggle is real. It is a part time job for someone like me who gets some sort of mysterious release from posting a random photo of a flower in my mom's backyard. But I didn't recognize this - I didn't internalize and viscerally feel this - until I took a teeny, tiny hiatus from it. And, let's be honest, this was only a junior breather. You who have all but deleted your life presence (well, temporarily lived in denial that you have successfully erased yourself from the Internet when you know - we all know - that each and every post we make is cemented in zeros and o's) will perhaps scoff at this entire 'confessional' and gossip that Susan, poor girl, should get a life (or a husband or some kids or a dog or a real hobby or, at least go volunteer!) already. I know that says more about how I feel about myself than what one might actually be thinking, but whatever. Regardless, I don't care what you think. (But I do, but, whatever. Ha. Get it.)

    I didn't realize how exhausted I was from posting until I stopped posting and took note of how exhausted I was.

    ike, truly. Until I stopped posting for two whole minutes, I did not realize that I had been running consecutive 400s around the track day-in-day out with a smile on my face. Suddenly it felt like I sat down for a sip of ice cold water and some Skittles. Took some deep breaths and watched an airplane fly by. I did. not. realize. how much personal fuel I'd been burning through to constantly be churning out (self-proclaimed) funny, sarcastic, and witty posts. Sharing is caring but it is also like bringing treats to school for your class every single day of the school year. Which gets into the notion of content producers vs. content consumers or whatever the officially coined social media strategist phrase there is. Which, I would know had I stayed in my strategic communication grad school program, but, I digress...

  2. Actively pausing from social media is eye-opening. Everyone needs to 'get a life' and then stop sharing it on the Internet. Or, at least, take two minutes off from posting your baby pics or your travel pics or your food pics or your quippy quotes or your latest Marvel comics news updates and, just look up for a moment and watch an airplane fly by. Perhaps consider curating the content you share. I am suggesting this to you as much as I am now demanding this of myself. One of the most biting yet true things my mom ever told me (sorry mom, but hopefully you see you are getting props for all your sage advice here) was that, "The more you post, the more you devalue your posts. And you come off a tad narcissistic, too, btdubs" (no, obviously my mom did not say 'btdubs', but that's just how I am now hearing it in my head upon further reflection).

    "But MOM. You are not your Likes. Isn't that what the self-confidence gurus are supposed to be saying to the school kids these days!?!?!"

    "I don't know and I don't necessarily care, in this instance. You're my daughter and I'm just giving you my personal opinion of how I think you come off when I see what you are posting on Facebook." Dammit she is right, again.

  3. Actively acknowledging the incredible earth-flattening power of social media is essential. Hi from Planet Earth. How cool is it that my Russian buddy (Hi Agnia) can 'Like' my bike crash photos and I can like her fat cat photos instantaneously from 5,000+ miles away? Or that my Croatian friend, Dajana, could show her new born baby photos to her relatives abroad only moments after he is born? Yes, this third point might sound a bit contradictory as I have sort of been quasi-hating on social media in this post. But, quite the contrary. These revelations are poignant because of the earth-flattening power of social media. Here I am, having these personal discoveries, and I can broadcast them in the middle of the night and you can then read them and agree, judge, roll eyes and/or (hopefully) laugh??
That said, I'm getting tired of writing and am going to go back to bed. But, before I do, I'm gonna go ahead and post this on FB and then actively ignore FB (cause it actually is pretty terrifying for the first few hours after hitting 'Publish' allowing you full access to the tell-all verbal diarrhea I've just excreted). I'll ignore FB and sit tight, hoping I don't get a ARE YOU SURE YOU ARE PREPARED TO EXPLAIN WHY YOU QUIT GRAD SCHOOL NOW THAT THE ENTIRE WORLD KNOWS phone call in a few hours. So.
See you later today when I post a super cute pic of a dog. #dogsitting


  1. You gotta do what you gotta do Susan. I am a big fan :)

  2. You gotta do what you gotta do Susan. I am a big fan :)