I’ve been wearing the same jeans and hoodie for about 2 weeks now. I’ve washed them more times than is good for the fabric but I remember to always put them in the machine inside out. I’m spending way too much time online. Seems like I can’t go more than a few hours without needing a distraction, or maybe it’s more like a craving for interaction.
This process has been lonely. My grad school experience did not include a close knit group of peers sequestered from the rest of the world, coming together for serious bouts of researching or writing. The lack of companionship has been profound. So it makes sense that since I can’t be socially available due to the amount of work required per day that I would look to online interactions as a way to feel connected. I’m grateful for it. I’m also aware of the artificiality. It gets me through my day, but doesn’t help me sleep at night. It’s like using sweet n low instead of brown sugar in my coffee. I’m just gonna let that metaphor stand on it’s own.
I turn in my completed thesis draft to my advisors in about 48 hours. Then the job search begins. I will be the only person in my family to ever have an advanced degree. I don’t even know what that means. I know right now, my children hate grad school because to them it has robbed them of a spring break. I’ve told them that if being bored for two weeks means your future will have more security and stability- suck it up and deal with the boredom. But they’re 10 and 12, and eye rolling is pretty much the only logical response they’ve got.
One of the thought processes that’s been concurrently running through my mind when I take my social media breaks is the difference between curating, critiquing, commenting, and creating. Not sure why they’re all c words, but it rolls of the tongue well. Social media provides a platform for people to engage at so many levels. What is your relationship to the content? And how does that relationship differ between platforms? Are you a content creator, a content commentator? Do you critique the content and generate more conversation? Or do you curate without comment? Why? What does that do for you?
I’m not sure why these questions of categorization based on online behavior are on my mind. Other than my asking myself who I want to be: a generator of my own content or a curator of others’s? That tension is what cause me to close the browser window. This thesis has the potential to be content not yet seen. A large body of my own work unlike I’ve ever done before. So while there is much more instant gratification to be found in the clicking of likes and reblogging of posts, I am only postponing my own actual contribution of meaningful content.
The hours I go without interacting or engaging aren’t necessarily the hours when I get the most done. Sometimes all those avatars messaging me from twitter, tumblr, facebook and others make my laptop into a digital cocktail party and I get to mingle and sashay my way around. And just like any good party, I want to have something interesting to share. So far my thesis research is a crowd pleaser. Which means I’m talking about my topic candidly on a pretty regular basis. People ask questions or share their experiences.
Last night I had a conversation on tumblr with a man who identified as polygamous, and when I asked him if he meant polyamorous, he got pissed. While he lives in the US, his polygamous marriage came from his familial traditions in Africa. He didn’t tell me what country or African culture he was connected to. So I apologized and explained why I half assumed/half asked if he was polyamorous. As I described polyamory, he found it immoral and not something he would allow his wife, or wives, to participate in.
Right. Just reinforced that my thesis is not a cross-cultural analysis. I’m not qualified to pull that off yet.
Ok, my social media break is up. I don’t smoke, so this is as close to a smoke break as I’m gonna get. Almost done only a few days left. I really love my hoodie.