Tuesday, 18 June 2013

SoMe Pressure

Does it feel like your attention span is waning these days? Like, it's becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with news coverage of not just the local, anymore, but the global? And, every minute of the day is prime time? And, does it feel like, because people are now interacting with and listening to you, you have to post smarter/achieve more? If you've answered yes to these questions, know that you are not alone. That may or may not be comforting.

There is a constant, nay, continuous demand for our attention from one source or another. I need not go on about the plethora of these sources - online and offline. What I would like to focus on a bit is that demand from Social Media. (Of course, this only works if you do, in fact, use at least one SoMe tool.) And, the attention-grabbing is one thing. But, look at what eats up your attention. It may be something that is of little interest to you, but you still spend a little time to read it or listen to it - just because it's there. Those subjects that are of much interest to you? Those are the blood suckers. And, there's a very real pressure that comes with participating in these media on matters that are of high interest. Most people like to play cool and invincible. Yeeeaah. I gave that up - the little that I had of it - a long time ago. Now, I'm just the perfect human being - flawed, blessed and highly flavoured. Chocolat.

I realized recently, as I scrolled though my Twitter timeline, I was beginning to feel "a way." (That's a legit Jamaican description of feeling deeply offended/shunned/disregarded... Context matters to the definition.) I have been writing for a while and have made the distinction between a writer and a published writer. But, man. Reading about some of the achievements of those who've had their works published, started to make me feel like a small fish in a pond, catching a glimpse of the big ones in the sea of published writers. Sure, there is much to learn from writers on my TL. A lot more to (a) fuel my anxiety and impatience - what is taking me so long? And (b) wonder why some folks are writing what I'm already writing - albeit in secret. I then remembered a quotation attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “Hypocrite: The man who murdered his parents, and then pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan.” No one had forced me to follow them. And, I could, after all, choose not to follow any more writers.

Or, I could do what I did when that feeling kicked in: Remember why I write.

That did it for me, really: #writeorsuffocate. I also write to "use it all up" in pleasing my Creator. I write a blog; novellas; short stories and poems. It will all come together. There is no need for me to look around at others. As Joyce Carol Oates put it: "Don’t be discouraged! Don’t cast sidelong glances and compare yourself to others among your peers! (Writing is not a race. No one really ‘wins.’ The satisfaction is in the effort, and rarely in the consequent rewards, if there are any.) And again, write your heart out." Of course, this assurance goes for whatever your area of interest. You do what you do when you do it - and how. Use it all up.

Still haven't got the attention thing down yet, though, while on, say, Twitter. All kinds of news from all over the world come at you in a single scroll. What stands out sometimes is the range of emotions I can go through in one move of my thumb. Somebody won something; a writing tip; someone was killed; a quotation about kindness; a pic of a cute dog... It takes a concious effort to stick to what you went there for. If you're busy doing something else and are just "popping in for a bit"? All the best with that. I grabbed the following from a Monk episode from IMDB. It's kinda long, but, it's the scene that came to mind when I thought of "range of emotions." One of my favourite scenes, by the way. :-)

MONK. Season 5 Episode 7 "Mr. Monk Gets a New Shrink" Writers: Andy Breckman and Hy Conrad

Dr. Kroger questions his abilities after a patient becomes the prime suspect in a murder. He decides to retire but a distressed Monk is convinced someone else is responsible.

Dr. Charlie Kroger: Adrian, I cannot continue to practice anymore after today. The police think that one of my patients killed Teresa Mueller. I should have seen it coming. I didn't; I missed it. This is all my fault. 
Adrian Monk: This isn't happening. This can't be happening. 
Dr. Charlie Kroger: Adrian, I promise you I'll get you another doctor. I'll call you next week. 
Adrian Monk: Okay! So it's not true! You're not retiring! I mean, you can't because... He can't retire... 
Dr. Charlie Kroger: [to Natalie] This is step one in the grieving process: denial. 
Adrian Monk: Damn you, Charles! Damn you to hell! I hate you. I hate you! You are dead to me. 
Natalie Teeger: That's not denial. 
Dr. Charlie Kroger: No, step two, that's anger. 
Adrian Monk: Okay. Okay, we're all adults here. We can work this out. I can hire you full time, all right? Put you on payroll. 
Dr. Charlie Kroger: This is step three: bargaining. It usually doesn't go around this quickly. 
Adrian Monk: Why me? Why is it always me? Everybody's always leaving me. 
Natalie Teeger: Depression? 
Dr. Charlie Kroger: Yeah. 
Adrian Monk: This can't go on. I mean, it's just too much. Okay, you're right. It's not the end of the world. I'll just have to find another doctor. I owe you so much. Thanks to you, I think I can get past this. Thanks, doc. 
Dr. Charlie Kroger: And finally, acceptance. 
Natalie Teeger: Thank God that's over. 
Adrian Monk: He can't retire! The man can't quit because he's not a quitter. 
Natalie Teeger: Wait, what's going on? 
Dr. Charlie Kroger: I don't know. It's like he's starting all over again, like he's in a loop. 
Adrian Monk: I hate you for this, Kroger! You are dead to me! You understand me? Dead! 
Dr. Charlie Kroger: I really should be heading home. 


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