social media

Twitter iconI originally joined Twitter because that’s what bloggers did and for a while, it was fun. Like the old Internet days of yore message boards where you met all kinds of people and even though there were occasionally dust ups, mostly everyone was cool about it eventually because meeting all kinds of people with different voices, ideas and opinions was the whole point.

Eventually celebrities, brands and politicians discovered Twitter and things began to change.

Twitter is more than ever about tribes. It is not about meeting all kinds of people. It is about meeting people who think and act like you do and waging war on those who don’t. It’s like high school. The crappy pecking order part. That only people whose best days were in high school gleefully embrace because they are out of place in the adult world.

It is rare to meet new people on Twitter who you will want to still know a week later. I rejoice when I find those people.

More often, I find that I meet people who only find me unobjectionable so long as I don’t have any differing opinions, or if I do, I don’t express them very often. Even more frequently I run across people who make me despair for humanity until I remember that Twitter – mercifully – represents but a sliver of humanity even at peak tweeting hours.

Twitter is probably still the best place to meet and be able to interact with those who are closer to gears and cogs of society than most of us will ever be. Journalists. Politicians. Politicos. Think-tank types. Activists. It’s why I am still there, but the flotsam and jetsam that circles them is sometimes hard to wade through, and on really bad days, it’s easy to see why democracy has had an easy time catching on but a difficult time actually working.

My husband thinks I should just walk away.

“People suck,” he reminds me at least every other day.

And by “suck”, he means people have individual personalities that have been shaped by time, experiences, agendas, narratives and other people. These personalities are more, or less, agreeable depending on the alignment of your personality with theirs. Or your level of zen.

I’ve spent most of my life working with people, which is probably a very odd thing for an introvert such as myself who genuinely finds people exhausting and a bit of a distraction.

One of the advantages to having been a teacher is that I learned how to deal with multiple personality types and their variants simply as a matter of survival, so unlike my husband, I am not surprised when interacting is a chore or worse or when large groups of people in an enclosed space – which Twitter is – sometimes collide.

Given that I am not sharing kitten gifs, celebrity or pop culture, it’s not surprising either that I tend to run into people who in real life, I would shun like toe fungus.

I like politics. I am intensely interested in the social aspect of it and the ripples and quakes it creates provincially, nationally and globally. Some of the politically minded on Twitter are incredibly knowledgeable and worth following. Many are like me – just aware, learning and interacting. Some are watchers. Some are sharers. Some are lone wolves. All bring something to the table that makes the wading worth doing.

And then, there are the others.

Within the category of “other”, there are sub-categories. Partisans whose degree of geniality varies. Agitators who might be partisan but whose prime directive is to stir things up according to their own agendas. And finally, the insane, which needs no explanation.

I don’t mind partisans. I don’t understand it, but I don’t mind them for the most part.

In my mind, there is no reason to wed myself in perpetuity to someone else’s version of reality or utopia – take your pick.

No matter how compelling the dogma might be, it just seems a bit Stepford Wife to me. However, keep in mind that 12 years of Catholic school and nearly a lifetime in the United States failed to morph me into a bot, so it’s conceivable that I am just naturally immune to the need to belong or be labeled in a way that so many seem to feel is vital.

Agitators are not quite partisans. They nearly always wrap themselves in the dogma, narrative and agenda of others, but they don’t seem to have a clear centre of their own. If that which they base every belief and utterance where to vanish next week, these folks would wander aimless like walkers, attacking and savaging randomly because it’s the only thing they know how to do. In real life, they are that woman at work. The one nobody really likes but everyone tries to get along with to one degree or other because it’s just easier that way.

Some have a bit of wit and intelligence. You’ll know them because they have a lot of followers, but the number of people they really interact with, or who share their screed, is small comparatively. Majority who follow these types do so for the entertainment value rather than because they agree with them.

Agitators generally have a cadre of groupies who will swarm dissenters like fire ants and at least one Insane follower who regularly immolates him/herself for the cause.

They believe passionately in what they believe. If you don’t, it’s because you are slow-witted and in need of tedious remediation or just plain stupid – depending – and not because you may be skeptical or discerning. Or have a mind of your own.

Occasionally these types hit their marks with enough accuracy to draw wider spread interest and even praise. Unfortunately, this just serves to make them more shrill rather than more accurate.

A few carry the torch of blind loyalty with a bit more nobility. They doggedly stump for the cause minus the mean girl memes, gifs and snark of the aforementioned. They form clans rather than attract clingers. Discussion are had. Many are likable despite the fact that you never really get to know them apart from their mission statement. Often when interacting with them, you are left with the feeling that are a quota that was met, checked off and filed. They are not unpleasant interactions but a bit hollow.

Last there are the nutters. You don’t need to be told when you inadvertently attract their notice although you often will be alerted via a DM (direct message) from someone you follow. Those private missives go something like,

“Back away slowly and then block.”

Blocking is just what it sounds like. Twitter, like many social media and message boards, allows users to screen and to deny other users. In the Twitsphere, blocking is a way to shut out voices that differ from the ones in your head that your prefer and by doing so, limits their interaction within your echo chamber or tribe.

Blocking is a weapon for silencing, a tool for avoiding thought and it is occasionally viewed as a badge of honour because often – provided you aren’t crazy and danger to yourself and others – it’s the people rattling the cages of the status quo who are blocked.

To be blocked is to know you’ve made an impact. Caused someone intellectual discomfort. Reminded the Emperor that not only is he naked, he never had clothes in the first place.

By now, you might wonder if I do indeed enjoy Twitter for all protestations of my loathing of it.

I like some of the people I have met and interact with. I’ve had good discussions and debate. But I know that I won’t be a regular much longer. It’s not a tool change. No one has ever changed the world via Twitter and no one ever will. In my opinion. Change is what people in the real world do. They do it. They don’t tweet about doing it.

For all its virtual reach, Twitter is a small place that most people will never visit because life and change is for doers and Twitter is about mocking that really.

The agitators on Twitter, for instance, revile those who are out in the world-changing the things that the agitators hold dear.

A good examples? Deborah Drever. Young MLA from Calgary whose Facebook page was scraped and pictures used out of context to try to force a recall of her after the last election.

She was hounded in the social media until it spilled into the news and forced the Premier to remove her from the caucus. She would have to sit as an independent, which put her riding at a disadvantage. Something that no one, clearly, had thought of before they began their petty campaign tantrum.

She could have quit. They wanted her to quit.

But today, she is still an MLA and she’s out in her riding, interacting and changing things because ACTIONS – real world ones – are the only things that count. For all the bile that was spewed at her, she did what her bullies won’t – she ran for office, got elected and is in a position to affect life and lives.

The majority of people in the world don’t care about the pictures on anyone’s Facebook page but their own and no matter how something flares in a news cycle, something else will replace it quickly enough.

Same can be said of Twitter. It matters only to those who are there. It’s a good place to meet like-minded to talk, speculate and share theories but after you’ve finished, you push away from the keyboard and you go do something in the real world that matters more.

Twitter itself is an illusion.

I am still only partially recovered from last weekend’s training session. I went into that one on the heels of post-holiday-lag and a late night phone intervention with N1, who read my post about his mother.

N1 reads my blog here and there now (Hey, kiddo.) and though I suppose this should push me to censor a bit, I probably won’t.  He’s sixteen.

“I’m not a child,” he tells me.

But he’s not a grown-up either (sorry, N1) and certainly, I know things from a perspective historical and experience based – about our family that he doesn’t.

Long story shortened – I find out via Facebook (the joys of a mixed feed) that N1 was planning to make a little trip to his mother’s for the purpose of retribution.

First of all, violence is not a good idea. Second, it would have accomplished all of nothing.

So we talked and came to terms and in the end, N1 couldn’t have made the trip anyway because he’s totaled not only the car that my mother bought for him, but his dad’s car too. Within two weeks. I think only my mother has a better record for auto accidents than that in our family.

But as a result, I got about 5 hours of sleep before the Friday training and we worked on twists.

I love twists, but to do the standing ones without falling over, I need sleep and calm happy sinuses. I had neither.

By the time inversions rolled around Sunday morning, I was just enduring. Sometimes I think a big part of the training is survival. It’s like a special forces unit. Or Officer and a Gentleman.

Well, I have other options, but the nagging sense of being a quitter in the face of an obstacle that is largely myself is familiar.

Pray a bit to Ganesh and remind myself that it is just two more training weekends and a final weekend of testing. Woot!

This last week was a slow slog toward catching up on the rest that eluded me and ended with my toppling over in yoga class yesterday because I mis-aligned myself in a standing twist. Definitely left a mark.

But I thought I would score a bit of zzzzz on Saturday morning due to excellent training of the child – who can feed and water herself. However, the lengthening days means that birds tweet merrily from 4AM on (and they will only be getting up earlier in the next two months), coupled with a husband who wanted to get a jump on reno and a daughter who hacked up her breakfast like a cat who’s been grooming too much – and I am still tired.

And I have work to do.

Next Saturday I am presenting at the county library’s writer’s workshop, I have been stepping up my blogging on Care2 and 50 Something, applied for a new online job – for money … it’s an actual paying job … and I have to finish all my yoga reading this weekend because the next training weekend is the 30th.

I should have titled this post “ricochet”.

An author who friended me on Facebook is beginning her new year using a Bikram yoga dvd to get in shape. Bikram is basically one of the “hot yoga’s”. It’s creator lives in L.A. and stews over the fact that he hasn’t been allowed to lay copyright to the asanas/postures that make up the Bikram practice. As nearly as I can understand it without having gone to a class, there are 26 asanas that do not change from one practice to the next and the yoga is practiced in environments of 105F with 40% humidity levels. Oh, and hydration is frowned upon.

Anyway, this author has been updating on her progress and made a comment on the difficulty of doing the program in front of a mirror.

And I went – mirrors? Because I have yet to see mirrors in a yoga studio or be told by a teacher to go watch myself in a mirror. Aerobics is done in front of a mirror. Weight-lifting. Super narcissistic stuff. But yoga, as I have been taught and as I have read, is an inward focus for several reasons but one of the better ones is that to safely get into the postures – you have to be paying attention to what your body is telling you. Something, I have found, that people don’t do much of when they are worried about how they look.

My comment on the mirrors and inward focus elicited this reply:

Bikram is not chanty, third eye, meditate on the pretty flower yoga. Bikram is HARD CORE yoga and your posture counts! Hence, the mirrors!

Whoa! Step back from your organic fiber Lululemon mat there Yoga Princess.

Of course, I didn’t take that advice and launched a reply in spite of Rob’s advice to just let it go. But afterwards, I wondered how yogina that was of me. I had spent the evening before reading B.K.S. Iyengar’s definitive book Light on Yoga and nearly all of what he had to say struck deep chords. I wasn’t getting off to a good start as a budding teacher myself if I could let someone else’s misinformation ruffle me, was I? And picking a bone on someone else’s Facebook profile is just bad form.

So I deleted the comment though this post is certainly not the highest of the roads I could have taken. A more enlightened person wouldn’t have even written about the incident. But I am not quite the hemp wearing navel gazer yet (though I got the most awesome hemp yoga pants from Rob for my birthday) and feel compelled to set the record straight.

I don’t chant. I barely meditate though my inner focus is improving. I am all about the breathing and listening to my body because I am more concerned with still being about to use this body 25 years from now than I am about being a certain size. And it’s not posture. It’s alignment and it matters because you can really hurt yourself if you aren’t properly aligned though anyone who is paying even the slightest attention can align themselves without having to gaze at themselves.

Oh and there are no fucking flowers involved. Flowers? That is so Beatles. That’s TM, not yoga, and a tired Hollywood propagated stereo-type that should have been left behind with 80’s sitcoms.

Competitive yoga is like turning to the dark side of the force, and we all know how well that turns out in the long run. But it was bad, bad, bad to take it personally. Gotta work on that.