That’s enough out of you, internet

 

brick yelling
The Internet’s profile pic.

I think I am breaking up with social media. Specifically, I am going to take a big ol’ break from twitter. The relationship is pretty toxic.

I loved social media at first. It felt like I was connecting to people outside of the house, finding peers and a social circle packed full of like-minded individuals.

But does social media make me feel good anymore? Nope. Everyone is yelling all the time about things that outrage them. Constantly. There is a new, greatest injustice every 10 minutes-it’s like a parade of agitation. The speed at which these outrages occur force you to quickly make a decision to either support or refute it. No one does research. No one even reads the article whose headline made them so furious.

And I fell right into the trap. I’m a contrarian by nature or by bad habit, so I have to consider the opposite position of every outraged claim that catches my attention in my twitter feed. One after another after another. Too quickly to reasonably research and calmly debate to come to a rational consensus. Just the right side (the one you already agree with) and the bad side that must be argued against with righteous rage. And each time I would remember that arguing

a)accomplishes nothing (sorry if that is a painful realization for you, but everyone is committed to their held beliefs and nothing on earth will move them from those)

b) makes me feel worse than before.

So I would stop myself from launching into pointless internet arguments, letting the arguments pile up in my mental storage room. But that room is packed to the gills with garbage and I want to de-clutter.

The blame ultimately falls on me, because I liked the provocation that social media provides. Bored? Go look for some excitement on the interwebs. But it was bad excitement, hostile stimulation. Now that I’ve noticed the connection between my argument stockpile and my general level of anxiety, I’m severely rationing my social media use.

And not to put too fine a point on it, I didn’t need to know this much about you all. I wanted to see your pictures of your kids and your pets. I wanted to know about the nice things that made you happy. That’s it.

The upside should be a marked increase in blogging (oh and general peace and happiness in my brain. That’s a pretty significant upside. Should have led with that.)

Remember this sound advice from Lisa Simpson and Paul Anka. It works for monsters, and it works for the perpetually outraged: Just Don’t Look.

And don’t be Homer. “Don’t make us poke your eyes out, dad.”

 

You’re not the boss of me, Kate Bush!

kate bush
Blurry Kate Bush is shocked and appalled at my insolence

Because of the circuitous and weird nature of the internet, I found myself watching an interview clip with rapper Big Boi (who you may know from his work as half of the group ‘Outkast’). In the clip he talks about his favourite songs which includes the Kate Bush’s song “Running Up That Hill”. Big Boi says the lyrics are a big part of why he likes it, talking about a couple switching perspectives to understand each other better.

This did not gel with my standing interpretation of the song’s meaning. With no offence intended to Mr. Boi, I dashed to the Google investigation machine and looked for proof that I was right and he was wrong.

Instead I found first-hand proof from the songwriter herself that Big Boi’s interpretation was the one she intended. And I was disappointed. You wanna know why? Sure you do. It’s because this interpretation is much smaller and less epic than the one I had invented.

(Before we continue, I should mention that my preferred version of the song is this one by Placebo, a much sadder version:)

This doesn’t sound like a song about wishing that you could switch bodies temporarily with your love so that they could finally understand how much it cheeses you off when they forget to buy you a birthday cake. This isn’t Freaky Friday. There is a heartbreaking sadness, powerful sense of love, and a crushing sense of futility driving my interpretation. This is because I am OVERLY DRAMATIC!

The chorus is key. “If I only could, I’d make a deal with God, and get him to swap our places.” You don’t make a plea to god to smooth over a romantic misunderstanding. You turn to deals with god (or the devil, for that matter) when all real hope is gone. When you watch helplessly as some wretched tragedy slowly consumes the person you love, and you would take on their pain in a second if it meant that they would be spared. That is the over-the-top, utterly gothic interpretation of the song that I came up with.

After mulling the situation over, I decided I’m sticking with my version of the song. Yes I know the author had different intentions. Nerts to that. It is my right and privilege as the audience to read/misread the work of art as I see fit. Once the art is in the wild, the artist has no say on how the audience interacts with it.

It’s a curse and blessing simultaneously. Curse because someone, somewhere, is going to read your work in the most hostile way possible and twist your words into something toxic, and you can do nothing to stop them. But a blessing when you accept that you cannot control the audience, so you are free to make the art you want to make for yourself.

Sidenote: this is also why artists should never ever ever* explain their work. Let the art speak for itself. Brett Emmons (singer/songwriter for The Glorious Sons) made this video when his record company wanted to preempt controversy over their song ‘Sawed Off shotgun’:

The important line: “I don’t blame them. I am scared too. But I will not explain my song to you”.

Oh, and go listen to ‘Sawed Off shotgun’ because it’s good tune from these Kingston boys.

 

 

 

 

*no not literally, you overly literal nitpicker. There’s always a possibility of an exception to a rule.

Have a Complicated Christmas

gritty claus

(sing the blog post title to the tune of “holly jolly Christmas” for the full experience)

I am not telling you to take a hammer to your holiday to intentionally make it more difficult than it needs to be. If you are having a bog standard, by the numbers Yuletide, then by all means, enjoy it!

But for the rest of you who are watching with building dread as you approach the emotional event horizon, Christmas is a whole other ballgame.

Maybe you are haunted by the ghosts of dysfunctional family Christmas’s past. The fear that your barely cohesive family unit will encounter the crisis that is perpetually stalking you. The stress of trying to handle the erratic behaviours, dependencies and mental health issues of the people surrounding you.

Maybe you’re trying to stay dry in a booze-soaked season. Maybe all the religious talk makes you nervous and uncomfortable. Maybe you’re broke and alone.

Whatever the reason, it’s okay. It is okay to have a complicated Christmas. You choose how you want to interact with all the ho ho ho and fa la la. Do nothing. Do everything. Go wild. Go grinch. Take the parts you like and embrace them with furious intensity. And ignore each and every part that brings you sadness. I give you that permission.

I hope you find a little bit of happiness in every corner of the room.