Issue 8: Do It for the 'Gram
On the detriments of social media and why I want to quit it (but probably won’t)
Happy Sunday, folks! Welcome to Issue 8 of Blaxplaining. Keeping this week’s issue short and sweet since your girl is feeling like poop today. Also, just want to give a digital elbow-bump to my new subscribers! This week: my love/hate relationship with social media; and, as always, a few articles that I’ve recently enjoyed.
Anti-Social, Social Kween
Ah, social media. The bain of my existence, my creative inspiration, my unhealthy obsession, as well as my source of information. It’s all of these things to me, and it’s no wonder why I have such a complicated relationship with it. Since COVID came and ruined life for everyone, I’ve heavily relied on social media to stay connected with people and see how they’re getting through quarantine. But, I played myself in two ways: 1) I’m anti-social as hell and social media will never change that. 2) Since I don’t really use social media to be social, I end up mindlessly scrolling for hours eventually getting upset that I’ve wasted such a large portion of the day being a creeper. I’m going to be 100% real with y’all, I have a boring life, which I’m totally okay with, but social media makes me feel ashamed for wanting to be boring. Instead, it’s encouraging me to live a life worth posting which is just weird and dependent on other people’s opinions of what is exciting. I go over this contradiction in my head at least once daily, and my ideal solution would just be to quit it, but I have this strange feeling that I just can’t disconnect. I’ve been online for 15 years already, and so much of our lives are intertwined with social media that even the number of followers you have can give you a personality trait. They ask for it on job applications, at networking events, on Tinder (I mean who asks for phone numbers anymore?), and you can even make a career out of it, so to quit it cold turkey seems like I would be doing a disservice to myself.
My first experience with the internets was in 2005, first with Xanga then with MySpace. MySpace is truly the G.O.A.T -- it had your girl coding, graphic-designing, and curating playlists at the age of 12. Then came Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Vine (RIP), Tik Tok, and now I have no idea what those little Gen Z whippersnappers are up to. I primarily use Tumblr and Instagram now, and it’s hilarious to see how different they are from one another. Tumblr gives me peace: it’s my personal mood board that makes me happy, and the best part is, I don’t have to talk to anyone or post to constantly post to gain followers. Hell, I can’t even tell y’all the last time I checked how many followers I have. (Shameless plug: here’s my Tumblr...you see that I have an affinity for making up words lol). Instagram, on the other hand, is a whole ass mess but I literally spend 90% of my time on it. I truly appreciate the fashion finds and the anti-racist infographics, but it’s the people that ruin it for me. If I see one more story with people at the club amidst a pandemic, I’m going to lose it. Also, influencers -- I don’t get them. I respect their hustle, but I don’t know what is genuine or fake anymore because of them. Did they really like that product they posted or are they getting money for a positive review? Was that photo really candid or did they have a whole-ass photoshoot for it? Don’t even get me started on the clout-chasers or people who do horrible things just for it to become viral (looking at you cereal man).
Speaking of terrible people and trying to differentiate between fact and fiction, it also turns out the social media is doing a number on our common sense with the spread of misinformation. We all have that one family member who watches right-wing conspiracies and falsehoods on YouTube and then shares them widely on Facebook and Twitter, without even an inkling to question the sources or do a quick google search. Our own Doofus-in-Chief even participates in this damaging cycle with his Twitter fingers. He lies, then a right-wing outlet spreads his lies and uses incorrect data, and now poof, it’s somehow now a fact. The intentional spread of false information on these platforms undermines people’s ability to separate fact from fiction and polarizes us even further. I don’t know who to blame anymore. The social media platforms for their allowance of misinformation or people for not using their sound judgment? Either way, there’s a lot of people using social media to do a whole lot of talking, but not enough listening or questioning.
Okay, so will I still use social media? Probably. Despite everything I see wrong with it, I still want to be connected to something, even if it is a connection-by-application. I guess I have this nostalgia for social media pre-2012, where every post isn’t monetized or for clout, or when having an online presence was optional. I just want to be clear that no one is making me stay on them, but social media addictions are real and just like any other addiction, you have to wean yourself off them. So if any of you have any tips on where to start, let a girl know.
Zadie Smith’s metaphorical take on social media, in her short story “The Lazy River”
Vox’s Zack Beauchamp on how social media is rotting democracy from within
How one woman became radicalized over her mother’s community garden
A brilliant take on my home state’s fake governor, Brian Kemp, and why he’s trash.
A roundup on everything that is happening in Lebanon 🙏🏾
One Last Thought…
I’m starting to think that Joe Biden lost his damn mind. Earlier this week, he had the causacity to say that “unlike African Americans, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community”. First of all, whet? Second, how did Black people even come up in this conversation? To this day, I am still wondering how we had the most diverse group of Democratic presidential candidates in history, but ended up with an old white man. I’m still going to vote for him for sure, but I’m going to need Uncle Joe to just not say anything until November 3. He just needs to choose a Black woman as a VP and let her do all the talking because otherwise, I won’t make it.
I always look forward to reading your thoughts, so please feel free to leave a comment, reach out to email@example.com, or hit me up on Instagram (@tylerrharriss). If you like this post, please click the heart and share it! And if you’re not a subscriber, go ahead and hit that subscribe button!
Until next time,