Tag Archives: digital media

Unplug and burn it to the ground

An excerpt near the end of my fiction novel about a woman named Sam who is in her late 20’s and a techno-crazed mess who gets herself in all kinds of crazy trouble on a grand scale, tentatively titled ‘Based on True Tweets’. Some of you may remember her and posts on this blog from that piece. I’m threading it together in my head, albeit in tiny slices of moments in a workday when I’m not deluged with minutiae of tasks but she’s still there, trying to work her way through me!


She unplugged herself. She pulled the power bar out, yanking in an abrupt, angry pull so everything went black all at once.  Then she picked up her iPhone and deleted her Twitter account. “Are you sure?” Yes. I’m fucking sure.

She sat in the silence that followed. She heard a small dog bark repeat itself like an apartment minuet and she realized she’d never heard the dog that lived above her before. Tweets had obfuscated her ability to be aware of her surroundings. Digital noise had filled her mind with clutter and in her hampster-wheel life, she’d mistaken the noise for a kind of promise. She had dulled the sharp points of her judgement with replies, retweets, and a kind of sharing that had led her as far away from her self as an information highway possibly could.

In that moment, Sam realized she had to move. Everything about her apartment reeked of desperation. She would have liked to burn it to the ground and stand in the ashes so her feet smelled of smoke and effort and survival. She’d have to settle for a storage locker and a suitcase. Slightly less dramatic, but she would at least know there were ashes where they should be: in her heart, snuffing out the danger that had lit her world on fire in the first place.

She shook her head in disbelief. It all seemed so simple in this moment. At what point had she woken up? She found it hard to believe she could have been so asleep, so utterly unaware of her own destruction. She had to acknowledge she alone had chosen to walk that road to find love, that she had led herself into those places,  kissed men not to find love but to prove it didn’t exist. She only wished she could run down that road now and pull her self back, tug on the coat sleeve of her misjudgment and prevent the inevitable moment when her illusion had turned on her, revealing its true dysmorphic disorder in all its glory. She wanted to whisper to that self: This isn’t what you think it is.  It never will be.

She stood still in the middle of her apartment unwillingly turning back to the past one last time for a look at his face.

Over. Get on with it. Stand up. Move. Pack. Burn it all down. Get your shoes on for chrissakes said an instructive voice in her head suddenly. For some reason, it sounded like Holly Hunter and it was kicking her ass. She left her laptop on the table, her iPhone still plugged into it and wrapped a scarf around her neck absently as she fumbled for her keys in the glass bowl. She’d waited for this moment, when she finally stepped in and saved herself. It felt like tap-dance happy. It felt like salvation. It tasted like a communion wafer that never melted. She wondered, as she closed the door, what her father would think then realized she didn’t care anymore.


Filed under Fiction

Fresh Thanks

Well, I finally had a moment to stop working and look at, and respond to, most of the lovely comments, likes, reblogs, and new subscriptions since I was Freshly Pressed on WordPress. What an experience! Here’s a snapshot of all the countries you lovely people came from:


Isn’t that something? What a world we live in. Ironic, don’t you think, just a little, that it was that particular post? A half-smile worth of irony for me as I look at the numbers from DC and Germany. Chortle, chortle. But it clearly tapped into so many of our experiences as we become ‘electric skeletons’ and connect seamlessly from IRL realities into our digital selves everywhere we go.

Thank you all for reading and making me aware of why I really love digital media; I hope I can continue to get to know all you wonderful new bloggers who have subscribed and we can collectively enjoy the beginning of a great (global) conversation.


Filed under Non-fiction

A kiss isn’t an emoticon: The myth of digital love

I had two long distant relationships this year, one in DC, one in Hannover, Germany. I work in the digital space for a living so it was no problem for me to seamlessly shift from IRL (in real life) to digital life. I do it all day long. My German boyfriend was barely past opening email when I met him but managed, in the space of a short time, to direct message on Twitter, open a Dropbox account, begin skyping at all hours, and even made videos and opened a YouTube account. We hacked the tools to make them work for us and our time distance. Sometimes I’d wake to a dozen love tweets just as he might be going to bed. There was a kind of pause effect that I liked about digital love; it gave me time to think, to process words as a reader. I loved the idea that someone was sending small blips of poetry to me across an ocean as I slept. I adored waking to them, as though each day greeted me with possibility and sweetness, albeit in the glowing light of an iPhone in the early morning dark.

But the problem with digital relationships is that you effortlessly enter a world of fiction.

Even as I write this, there are thousands of calls being made between people full of hope, commitment, and a steely determination that their digital connection is as good as their connection in real life.

It isn’t.

Don’t kid yourself. While our cross-media relationships hold incredible power–they do communicate our powerful emotions in words, photographs, and video but the subtleties get lost in cyber space: The small twitch of a finger, anxiously drumming a leg, a poker-like tell of inner conflict that is entirely missed as the face smiles in a pixelated mess of I love you’s, no really, I do’s.

There are no soft shoulders, no forgiving spaces to lean into on a couch, no hesitant moments in a kitchen before a meal where love can heal and eat in peace together. Instead, words can slam into you at 140 characters like a semi doing 90 miles an hour straight into a brick wall. Direct messages are direct alright.

It is also easier to lie and obfuscate in digital communications. One can get carried away with the fictionalized world of the social objects created to imagine a storyworld between you and your loved one. Pictures, video links, mp3 files, Dropbox playlists, Pins, and memos, even couriered packages all begin to shape and form the world you share. Connection, that is, wi-fi, takes on a life or death dependency. And it seems real, it seems like the best possible world, it is never boring or tedious; it is in fact often better than the real thing. No breath is exchanged however, not a single touch is explored truthfully.

Doubt is easily buried in emoticons.

As our globe shrinks to a :):):):):):) and a lmao or a bleakly typed ‘are you there?’, we should not confuse digital love with IRL love. In fact, I think dating sites should really come with a warning, like a pack of cigarettes: “Nothing you see, hear, feel, or read is real. Proceed with caution into this fictionalized world.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love rabbit holes, I really do love escaping into imaginary worlds. And that is the danger. I’m so easily drawn into fiction over reality that the slippery slope ends up in a lot of digital debris and very little to show for my journey. Good fiction should transform you, take you on a journey, and leave you having learned from the storyworld something that you could not have learned had you not entered it. But digital relationships aren’t always authored by a good writer and entering into any old story world is a risk.

Smell and taste and laughter and tactile moments cannot be replaced by digital communications no matter how advanced we are; the smell of just washed hair, the texture of hands holding one another, the visceral experience of sitting across from another person and feeling their truth without having to say a word, without, in fact, a single electrical outlet around for a 1000 miles.

Ironically, the more digital I make my life, the more I savour my IRL experiences. The exquisite pleasure of sitting with my old friends, my iPhone off, wine in hand, hearing familiar laughter, clinking of steak knives on plates, the smell of coals below a dripping grill, late afternoon sun warming my back, the lightness of just being in one place, analog style, with only my five senses to record the experience.

Be wary if you think you can port your relationship into and across digital media: There needs to be a time when the circus puts pegs down into the earth, the tent is raised, and real stories get told and real people sit with one another and share them. For me, without the IRL component, no relationship can be truly alive and experienced. Besides, I am pretty sure a kiss still wants to be a kiss and not an emoticon…


Filed under Non-fiction, Relationships

Will Millennial women have no ceiling?

I was at a soiree last night and surrounding me were women whose careers read like a ticker tape of success–general managers, professors, consultants–and I was awestruck by the myriad of roles these women played in their lives beyond their very demanding careers. Mothers, Wives, Sisters, Daughters…Could it be that these women had it all and if so, how did they get there?

It seemed to me as I chatted about work and life and kids and schedules that these women were like those chinese plate balancing acts–and that there were indeed plates dropping and smashing the illusion of having it all. I was comforted by the fact that I heard ‘husbands’ interjected with ‘support’ in the conversation. In my world growing up, my mother held the support role so firmly that to question who would be there after school to make you homemade cocao would be simply absurd.

I was talking to my teenage son about this great group of powerful women and how they have to balance having children, their homes, their families and he said, well, why wouldn’t their partners be into supporting them? He added that staying home with children isn’t a male or female role, but rather a parent one and whoever is the breadwinner shouldn’t be defined or limited by their sex.

How will the landscape of relationships and work look when Millenials are running the show? I am thinking it will be pretty cool. I think all this ceiling busting we Gen X’ers have done just might pay off in the long run.


Filed under Relationships