What Twitter Stands For


That’s pretty much how it seems to me — especially considering how peaceful my state of mind has become, since dropping off Twitter. Seriously, my internal life is much quieter, ever since I walked away from the 140 characters of overly brief annoyance and provocation.

As an extended bookmarking and link-sharing mechanism, it’s great. But people can’t seem to resist the temptation to editorialize — and that’s a terrible idea, if you only have a few lines.

Under-doing anything tends to be a bad idea, and trying to pack extended thoughts into a condensed “container” has been the bane of my existence. Truly, Twitter represents just about everything that makes life difficult for me (and countless other TBI survivors) in this modern world.

First, it’s too abrupt. There’s no time to really think things through, when all you have is 140 characters. When your brain needs longer to function (and that goes for anyone who really wants to have a more studied life, not just folks with brain injuries), that very brief space is like a vice closing on your cognition.

Second, it’s too quick. People who have conversations on Twitter drive me nuts. There is no way I can actually have a meaningful exchange with anyone — even people who agree with me (and vice versa).

Third, it lends itself to extreme impulse control issues. The two elements above can stoke the fires of anxiety and frustration, tiring you out and further exacerbating an already shaky control over escalation.

There’s more, of course, but those are the big three for me — and the thing that makes them all even worse is the cognitive drain and encroaching fatigue that accompanies following and reading streams of tweets. If you’ve got slowed processing speed (that would be me), it can demand a lot to have even one back-and-forth. I tried it, a few months back, and it went downhill quickly. I got bent out of shape, and so did the other person, and the only thing that came of it, was irritation … and a touch of fleeting rage.

Nope, just not worth it.

It’s a constant struggle, in this world, to keep focused. Especially in the world where I work, it’s brutal. Absolutely brutal. And as the whole restructuring thing goes on, and I contemplate what I will do if I lose my job, I think about what kind of work I really want to do. I’ve been in the tech business for quite some time, now, and over the past 5 years or so, it’s become so much more “interrupt-driven” — which is a disaster just waiting to happen for me. I have to constantly guard against interruptions, constantly managing others’ expectations, training them to know that I will not drop everything I’m doing, in order to allay their irrational fears.

On top of it, the tech world is chock full of “youngsters” who thrive on constant change and interruption. And it’s full of execs who want to pay rock-bottom prices for folks just now entering the workforce, who may be “up” on the latest technologies, and promise to propel them into the brilliant new future ahead. Someone like me, who’s getting long in the tooth and is harder to fire (the longer you live, the more “protected status” you are in the workplace), becomes a liability after a while. I’m at that age where people start to get sick. Their bodies start to break down. Their minds start to go.

So, why would they keep someone like me around?

And why would I stay? Seriously. Why? If there is anything else I can do with myself, that will earn me a living, I should seek it out and do it. Get the hell out of the tech scene, with its stupidly long hours, its constant sitting/standing, its perpetual upheaval and disruption. That’s what it’s about, in any case, and it’s actually not what I’m about.

So, whether or not I’m let go today, I’ve got my Plan B in process. This job cannot be the be-all-to-end-all for me. No way, no how. I need more to my life, and I need to create that new direction for myself — not expect someone else to provide me with the opportunities.

I lost sight of that for the past three months, thinking that this job was going to tide me over for the next five years, at least. Now, nothing is certain. Nothing is fine. I wish to God I could find work that will let me just settle in and play my part for the long-term, but it’s becoming clear that I’m going to have to create that situation myself.

Anyway, it’s all very exciting. And it’s all a learning experience. Fortunately, my job involves work I really enjoy and that makes me good money, so I can focus on doing the things I know will translate into good money later on, and keep my head out of worst-case-scenario land.

Business as usual. Not usual at all. Which is usual.

Just have to stay steady in my own mind.


Choosing progress

Whitetailed Deer 4 Point Buck Closeup
Pick where you’ll put your attention

For years, I have been compulsively productive. Ever since I was a kid, there was a vast amount of ideas and creativity… and, well, product flowing out of my mind. I was always up to something, I always had ideas “cooking” in the back of my head, and of all the people I knew, I was the one with the most original ideas — and the most determined of opinions.

I always thought that my ideas would turn into something more than just my ideas. I thought they might actually bring me some income. I thought that all the stories I wrote would catch the attention of the reading public and make a name for me.That never happened — mostly because I could never fully finish a lot of the works that I started, and also because the ones I did finish either didn’t make a very good impression or never got much promotion from me. I’m a creator, not a promoter. And I’m a person who enjoys my solitude. So no, a life of fame was not in my cards.

I’m not sure that fame and fortune was ever my top priority, though. Nor was publicizing the steady stream of creative works that flowed forth. The main thing for me was that I could figure out what I thought/believed… and why. I wanted to have my own mind, my own thoughts, my own outlook — not something handed to me by others. And while it never made me rich, it gave me a freedom of spirit and heart, that I haven’t often encountered in others.

It’s a lot of work, making up your own mind about things. You have to be willing to suspend a lot of your beliefs and prejudices, in order to let the truth of your situation come through. It’s also scary for some people, to admit that things are not certain, that they’re in constant flux, and ultimately, we’re both alone in the world — and never alone. It’s a scary place to be, in a world that is pretty scary, in itself.

For some reason, though, it never scared me. It was scarier for me to go along with the crowd. It felt like I wasn’t making good progress.

I need to get back to that sort of progress again. I need a break from all the social media chatter.

The past weeks have been altogether too loud for my liking. All the violence, all the threats, all the arguing, all the name-calling. It’s just too loud. And it’s a little embarrassing, hearing all my friends and relatives resort to over-simplified versions of what The Truth is. And then demanding that others agree with them… or else. And doing it on Facebook lets you say all sorts of things you’d never say to someone’s face. It lets people feel bold and outspoken, when they’re really nothing of the kind in person.

Lesson learned — it’s not worth getting pulled into debates online. Objectively, I have absolutely nothing to do with the Paris bombings. I have nothing to do with the San Bernardino shooting. I have nothing to do with gun control or troop deployments or religious convictions. And if it weren’t for the news, I wouldn’t know anything at all about any of those things — and more.

So… It’s time for me to just step away from all that loudness. The name-calling, the accusations, the culture wars.

No more checking the news to see what foolishness people are up to, today. I’m cutting back on my Facebook activity, and I am not getting into any more discussions with people about hot-button issues. There’s no point. It’s just a terrible distraction that saps my energy and leaves me with nothing left. And for what? Nothing changes from talking alone. Nothing is made better or worse by anyone getting upset and pitching a fit. It continues on with a life of its own.

I’m tired of the “emoting” scene — where people think that outpourings of prayers and good thoughts are actually making a difference. People seem to think that so long as they feel something, it matters. They care. They feel for people. They support them. They feel like they’re involved and invested. They post to social media and share and make their voices heard. But they don’t actually DO anything.

It’s become incredibly important for me to act. Do something. Don’t just talk. Take action.

And so I shall… Take care of myself. Get stronger than I am. Write to Congress. Treat people with respect and dignity. Get active. Do something constructive. Use my energy for something positive, not just running my mouth. I got some exercise this morning — and strained my hamstring a little bit in the process. Now I’m headed out for a walk to work out that soreness. I saw a little group of three deer, recently — a four-point buck, a two-point buck, and a doe. Maybe I’ll see them again today.

Because life goes on. We just have to choose what we’ll do with it.

Good-bye Facebook app, hello sanity

What a relief

Well, I’m halfway into my second week without having Facebook on my smartphone, and I realize I’m really enjoying it. I’ve been having some real issues with irritability and anger and aggression over the past months, and I think that my Facebook activity was really fueling those issues and making things worse.

And when I say “worse”, I’m talking about road rage that has been flaring up more and more over the past few months… blow-ups at home over little things that escalate very quickly… things getting tougher at work between myself and others… and more. These are just a few of the things that have been getting worse over the past months. They are not things that I can afford to just let run rampant. I’ve lost jobs over less, and it’s not worth it. Especially for someone with my irritability and impulse control issues.

But how could Facebook have made things worse for me?

Well, first, there’s the sleep thing. When I don’t sleep properly or have enough rest, it feeds my irritability and aggression. With Facebook, I was spending an awful lot of time staying up longer than I should have, and waking up earlier than I should have – and instead of going back to sleep, checking FB and reading everything that was going on with people. I was literally losing sleep to Facebook, which is not something I should lose to anything – especially not a social network where people are either posting inane crap or fighting.

The other big (maybe bigger) thing was the level of conflict and aggression that seems to have taken over FB in general. Especially during the election… geez, what a bunch of loons we all turned into. And it’s still going on, as folks continue to argue and fuss and attack each other about politics and who’s to blame for what. The thing of it was, even though at first I was really turned off by all the aggression and arguing, and I managed to stay above it, after a while, I got sucked into it, and I found myself starting to act like other people there — which was NOT what I wanted.

At all.

I found myself actually posting things and responding to things that I never would have bothered with before. It wasn’t just disrupting my peace of mind – it was totally wrecking it. And over what? A few sentences that couldn’t be properly discussed or understood more deeply?

The other thing was the constant distraction. Having online media so readily available hasn’t exactly done wonders for me. And having Facebook on my smartphone at work, just gave me the opportunity to step away and lose myself in it for 15-20 minutes. Like smoking a cigarette… without the lung cancer. But even with milder doses of pointless distraction… still not the most productive use of time. In fact, it was breaking up the flow of my day — from morning till night. Not good.

The vacuousness of it just drove me nuts after a while. All those little snipes, back and forth, either for or against, for or against… just for the sake of sniping, like a martial arts match that’s just there for the competition’s sake, not actual self-defense. Social media, as entertaining and distracting as it can be, is not a place where I can really hone my own views and discuss with others to the degree I like. That just doesn’t happen online. And as a result, there is a lot of misunderstanding — and yet more resulting conflict. It just feeds on itself, like a wildfire. And what long-term good actually comes out of it? Sure, social media can fan the flames of revolution, but then what? Does anybody have a clue?

Who can say? I can’t answer that here in this forum. All I can say is, leaving Facebook behind has done a couple of things for me:

1. I am resting better now. I don’t waste as much time lying around looking at people’s blather/jokes/rants/truisms. And not only am I going to sleep when I go to bed (instead of lying there for half an hour reading FB), but I am actually giving myself time to wake up before I jump into the day.

2. I realized that the mindset I was getting into — combative, argumentative, aggressive — which was affecting my driving and personal relationships, is NOT what I want to have in my head. When I was on FB, my mindset was like a WWE match. All the time. And I thought that was okay. Because it’s how everyone was, and it was fun. Energizing. Entertaining. But after getting off FB, I realize that my mindset was pretty corrupted — wasted, really — and I need to change.

See, the thing that hurt me the most with FB, was getting used to the bad behavior, the fighting, the insults, the accusations, the protests, as “normal”. That is NOT how things have to be. It’s how some people are, but it’s not how I want to be. I don’t want to be that person who sits with an electronic device and praises those who share my opinions and snipes at people who don’t agree with me. I don’t want to be that person who posts wildly about all my pet causes and gets into shouting matches with people who don’t agree with me, or simply have a different perspective. I don’t want to be that person who thinks that just because I have very strong opinions, that makes me right and it gives me the right to go after others who disagree with me.

For a long time, I kept Facebook at bay and didn’t get involved. Then I gave in. Now I remember why I kept it at arms’ length. And I’m getting back to that old way of being. Seriously, I have so much going on in my life right now, the last thing I need is yet another leech on my time and energy and peace of mind.

Good-bye Facebook.

Hello sanity — it’s been a while.

New Year’s Action #1 – uninstall Facebook app

Good-bye FB

I have a smartphone for work – I wouldn’t have one, otherwise. They are too expensive and they are one more thing for me to lug around. The only *real* use for it is to check my email when I am away from work, look up directions, and google businesses so I can find out their hours.

I installed the Facebook app on it, about a year ago, and I cannot begin to count the hours I have wasted “liking” what people are saying, or getting into “discussions” with people that serve only one of two purposes: to agree or to disagree. No one’s opinion has ever been changed due to Facebook comments, to my knowledge.

It’s all very entertaining, to lie in bed before I go to sleep or right after I wake up, and read what people are saying, but what has this actually added to my life? Practically nothing, aside from some laughs. There are some good jokes there, but is this what my life is supposed to be about? Lying in bed laughing at jokes?

My life is precious to me. My time is at a premium. Sleep and good rest is essential to me. So, there was only one logical course to take — to say “Good-bye Facebook smartphone app.”

And I uninstalled it last night before I went to sleep — it has stolen enough resting time from me.

Today is the first day of my Facebook-less life.