Tag Archives: social 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!

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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.

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Analog vs Digital Love: How Memory Is Curated

I am reading a great book called Paris: A Love Story by Kati Marton. It’s a memoir that takes you back before the days of the internet, when phone calls were made with phones still attached to walls. When letters were written transatlantically. When people were together fully, with no second tier of attention, person, thing, or device to interrupt them or tug them away from the moment.

I remember those days too. I remember being in love in university and the feeling of a lazy day in bed then rushing to the theatre, where my boyfriend would race through Noel Coward dialogue then rush backstage and kiss me between scenes. Most days we lay on the rocky shores of Dallas bay beach in Victoria and drank wine and talked of art and life and our love, replaying our first disastrous date over and over and laughing in our own secret world. There were four am whispers that spoke to our 20 year old innocence, full of hopes and dreams and big plans. Sun set, sun rise. Always holding each other. We had no cell phones or computer, only a bare room, a shared bathroom with other renters in a big old character house, a bed, and sparse little cooking area. No one in the house loved us because we were so in love. We felt bad about it but there was nothing to do be done. We needed long baths and we had to cook in the middle of the night and rehearse dialogue loudly ‘with feeling’.

I wrote love notes and left them on pillows. If we were apart, we had to wait all day to speak to each other. I used to run from the bus stop to our apartment after hours of separation. There was no digital bridge between us, only the haphazard will of time marking off the distance between one touch and another.

I don’t have any text or tweets or emails or Facebook  statuses to look back on. No skype conversations, no digital footprints of our great love that held thousands of words and gestures, tears, and laughter. Not a trace.

Fast forward to now and I can’t seem to get out of the mire of leftover digital debris of love now gone. Just when I think it’s all been tidied away I come around the corner of a digital file to read:

“My heart and soul is with you all day. xxx”

or

“Counting down the days until I hold you in my arms again. I should be landing soon, same gate! Hope it is warmer in DC!”

 

Tweets, emails, instagrams–endless trails of relationships held in the ether. When I read these I don’t see an image or have a feeling. I just see text. A lot of short text messages. In fact, one of my Twitter direct message streams between my boyfriend and I equalled 995 pages. Yes, enough for a book.

I wonder as we gently open our memories and look back if analog love will feel different than digital? I think it does. In my analog love, there’s only the pictures that run like an old movie in my mind: us running for the bus, laughing so hard in a movie lineup I pee my pants, roses by the bed, champagne bubbles making me hiccup. They all seem saturated and three-dimensional and evocative and there’s nothing else attached to these images. Only the feeling, made more precious because they exist in my personal memory and nowhere else.

But when I look back on my last few relationships, they are crowded with so much confusing digital noise it’s hard to just see a simple picture. There’s so much of our relationship that happened in fractured transmedia style stories told across multiple platforms that it’s harder for me to pull a single moment out and cherish it. There’s a lot of content. There’s also a lot of sadness in those digital remnants that is harder to ignore and let the simple happiness shine through.

Yesterday I was walking along the dyke near where I live and ran into an 84-year-old man who was photographing a bird. I stopped and we started chatting. He took up photography only a year ago and felt completely lost with the digital camera at first but he showed me his pictures and they were National Geographic quality. I was stunned. There was the owl he was watching, flying towards the viewfinder with his wings outspread and his head upside down. Amazing capture. I said, you need to publish these! He just laughed and laughed. I said, what do you do with them? He said ‘I don’t do anything. My wife doesn’t want me fooling with the computer. I just like taking pictures.‘ Turns out, he hands his entire sim card over to a Nature Conservancy every few months for free.

So there we were, just being in the moment, enjoying two short-eared owls hunting for vole with no purpose other than to just marvel in their beauty and try to capture it on film. It felt really pure to me. The old man said, ‘I get these pictures because the birds trust me. They know me. I come here everyday for 3 or 4 hours.’

Bill, shooting the owls hunting by the dyke.

Bill, shooting the owls hunting by the dyke.

I am thinking differently about digital these days. In part because of Bill, my new friend, but also in part because I am seeing how my life has changed since being immersed and connected all the time.  I’m not sure where this is going to take me but I’m curious to know others thoughts on analog versus digital experiences, and how we will remember in 10 years, and, more importantly, how our hearts will be curated in the ether.

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Filed under Memoir, Relationships

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.

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Filed under Non-fiction

Ocean’s 11, the big gamble, and a lightness of being

Today as I walked up the very same hill I’ve been walking up for 4 years as a government employee, there was a beautiful, dusky light, filtered through the trees and spilling over softly onto the road. Everything felt like cotton candy, with no edges, rolling together as easily as waves abundantly tidal and endless.

Because today I was no longer an employee, but an entrepreneur. I’d just finished teaching social media storytelling all day for Continuing Studies at Royal Roads University under my company name, ‘What Is Your Story?’. It has been a long journey, and for some of us born with this gene, liberty and our own path, no matter how difficult looking or risky it may appear to others, is as important as air. Oh, the breath I took today! Deep, from my toes, filling my lungs up, so my cheeks smiled in recognition it had been a long time I’d been holding my tight, struggling breath inside.

It kind of felt like this scene from the Ocean’s 11, you know the one? After all their hard work, they pull it off.

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Filed under Non-fiction

Getting to the truth of the matter

I create in the digital workplace and so I use a lot of social platforms, yada yada, and I’ve noticed there seems to be this race to get the newest, the most viral, the most influential tool possible so ‘I can have a lot of friends and have a great Klout score and show all of this off to everyone in the whole wide world!’ Indeed, there has crept into everyday conversation a sort of sick measurement stick that I am not at all down with.

In fact, I’m writing a Transmedia Code of Ethics for myself and those I collaborate with because as I begin to work on larger Transmedia projects, I am realizing how idealist I really am. I keep wanting my experience with people to be like it was when I worked in the theatre, where we all sat around a table, read a script, and began to craft and shape the vision of the playwright. We would move from the table to the stage, incessantly talking to one another, from lighting to props, sound designer to actor, director to stage manager, and then, finally,  all of us collectively to the audience. Then people clapped and gave us money.

Heaven.

What I love best about the theatre was our absolute dependency on each other. If I did not put a certain prop at the right time in the right actor’s hand, and the lighting cue was missed, the show would fall apart. At every moment, the show depended upon, was entirely reliant upon, all of us as a moving entity, working seamlessly in the dark with watchful eyes.

What came after opening night was an euphoria that only this kind of intense collaboration can bring. The pranks offstage to mess with the actors (I was never guilty of this of course), shenanigans’ of the actors purposely missing lines, booze smuggled backstage, last-minute frenzy of costume changes, and then the moment when the lights come on and you realize you made it through! Followed by the stern reality of the Director’s ‘notes’. But woven into the experience was always this sense of family, because we needed one another in order to get to the vision of the storyworld we’d created.

This is what I’m trying to create and this is what I’m up against: people talking about themselves versus the art, people preening about their ‘followers’, people eyeing your client list like hyenas, people wanting to use you to line their own back pockets. It’s disheartening. Actually, its total bullshit.

I think this is the ugly side of digital. This incessant desire to blow up personal brands like great ego-driven helium balloons that hover and vie for attention, crowding out the notion of creativity and collaboration and shared vision. I wonder, is it possible to get back to that table of theatre, where I can sit around with a group of talented people, and feel like family? Trusting implicitly that it is the art, not the commerce, not our personal brands, not our number of followers or likes, not our goddamn personal agendas, but rather, the exhilaration and devotion to the craft that is at stake? That together we are only able to create this art and must depend on trust to reach that place.

Is it too utopian? Too naive? Perhaps. Perhaps.

But I believe, as John Keats famously wrote that ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty’. I won’t settle for less.

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Filed under Non-fiction

Burning Authenticity

You read it everywhere. Be authentic. Be real. Show your colours. Wear your stripes. Live out loud. Be yourself.

So what.

When push comes to shove, we all don masks to suit the occasion. Put your hand up right now if you don’t have a single mask and I’ll come over there and find one you use at least once every day. Okay, I can’t see you but I know you have one in our closet somewhere. The point is, this being authentic thing, in particular when it refers to social media, is a great concept. Letting your personal seep into your business, showing your ‘real’ face, being in the moment, yada yada, love it, let’s be friends, I’ll allow you to see my geolocation, let’s do lunch, can I take your Instagram without makeup? Favourite my authentic tweet, that’s all I ask.

But what does it really mean to be authentic? I feel like lately I’m just coming around the bend of my authentic self and can see it up ahead. I had to have my entire heart, illusions, ideas, philosophies maybe even my whole psychic homeland razed to the ground until I did, but now I am beginning to see something damned exciting ahead of me and what makes it exciting is that it would be me, living as I want to live, calling my own shots, deciding what, when, and whom is best for my life, my success, my pleasure, my high-maintenance, creative, quirky, self.

For a long time, in fact, until the end of my last relationship, I had inside me someone who wanted to ensure someone else’s happiness first. It made me a great doormat. It costs me about half a million dollars in lost revenues. It gave me a shit car to drive. It let me say no to my son for anything extra. It told me a whole Pandora’s box full of lies. It looked really beautiful but was really, really ugly inside. I was going through life like I was Lennie  from Mice and Men but with no George to protect me, just believing one day–one dayI’d find a field of rabbits, and a happy home, and get all blissed out and live off the fat o’ the lan. Wrong.

The day is in fact now and I am here ready to get fully realized.

I can see so clearly how it’s done now. My authentic self ditched Lennie and is now asking, what’s in it for me? Sound crass? Cold? Calculating? Too bad. I am going to let my light shine. I’m going to burn the sun out with it. I’m going to be my truly authentic self.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

-Nelson Mandela

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Filed under Relationships, Writing for Social Media

How Twitter is Like Marriage

For Twitterists’ worldwide, it is common knowledge that our Twitter habit is a daily investment and one that we have committed to wholeheartedly. But for those considering getting into microblogging, there are a few things to consider first before you commit to Twitter. I often say to clients that Twitter is like marriage.

Here’s why:

1. Commit. Enter into the union or in this case, the Twitterverse, with the intention you’ll be there every day, for better or worse.

2. Be diplomatic. Don’t expose a mommy blogger’s spelling mistake for the sake of winning. Be magnanimous in your relationships.

3. Be supportive. Give shout outs to your tweeps when they need them. Retweet and mention the young entrepreneur you know is struggling to build their business. It’s like virtual roses–a little love goes a long way.

4. Contribute consistently. Be a long-term partner. It’s not all about you. Contribute to the conversation and deepen your relationships so they can live offline.

5. Be loyal. Play in your city’s sandbox. Support local causes, events, businesses’.

6. No eye rolling. Being sarcastic, patronizing, or giving a virtual eye roll is not being a good partner and it certainly isn’t be a good tweep.

7. Crack jokes. They say that shared humour is what sets great marriages apart so unbutton the collar a little, let your humour show through in your tweets, it’s okay to be entertaining!

8. Don’t go there. Avoid diving into topics you know will incite a riot, fight, or cause you to lose your credibility. Bad taste is bad taste, be professional. Play nice.

9. Shut up sometimes. That’s right. Zip it. Over-tweeting is like someone shouting in your face. It’s rude, childish, and will only alienate you from the community.

10. Celebrate success. Be a cheerleader but make sure you’re cheering for yourself only 20% of the time–give positive daily support to your relationships on Twitter the remainder of the time and you’ll receive lots of micro karma back.

Unlike marriage, however, Twitter doesn’t require any big fat diamond but don’t kid yourself–it will cost you. But most Twitterists’ will tell you it’s so worth the committment.

*Note: this post also appears on my business website, www.whatisyourstory.ca because it’s a weird hybrid of personal and business.

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Filed under Humour, Relationships