I grew up on the internet. I am used to sharing intimate details of my life online since starting my first journal on Caleida when I was 11 years old. That was over 12 years ago. Since then I have met dozens (tens of dozens, maybe hundreds) of strangers-turned-friends (and lovers, for some) and strengthened relationships with people I knew in person but never really socialized with. Over the years I have received an immeasurable amount of emotional and financial support after reaching out to Livejournal community members, Tumblr and Twitter followers, and Facebook friends.
Social media has had more positive than negative impact on my life especially as an adolescent who started their first online diary while listening to Simple Plan and needing people to tell me it was okay I was a weird black kid (thanks BKWD and Negroclash).
I ended up being someone who people turn to for resources, advice and guidance. I made myself that person because I like to share knowledge and think everyone should be informed. I like to make sure people get the help the need especially when no one near them is offering it. But I cannot continue to be that person online. I am that person in my professional and personal life and that alone is exhausting.
There are lots of people online and in person who think they know me because they identify with my posts on social media platforms. Trust me when I say I am just good at curating my online existence. And that I don’t have as much time or energy as it may appear.
In 2016 and beyond, I would like to protect my energy, especially when it comes to being active on the internet.
Here’s when you should contact me if we aren’t friends or co-strugglers:
- You’re coming to Chicago or the Bay for a visit and want to meet up. This is not a guarantee since I work upwards 60-80 hours a week between jobs and personal projects and I am often too broke to shell out $50 for dinner and drinks. Reaching out to me is still acceptable because if I have the time/energy/money, I would love to see you.
- You want to forward media you think I would find interesting. I think it’s great when people see something online they think I would like or find interesting. But nothing bothers me more than people sending something and asking for my opinion on it, especially if they’re expecting a rapid answer. Unless you want to pay me or we previously discussed similar things, I’m keeping my opinions to myself.
- You need me to refer to you some resources AFTER you’ve exhausted your search. I am a wiz when it comes to finding resources online and I don’t mind sharing my skills when needed. But if you haven’t tried your own search and you’re not in a moment of crisis, please ask someone else.
- You want to send positive energy my way. That is lovely of you and I greatly appreciate it in advance. I am also sending you love and light. But I might not respond to your post or message. I did receive it and it made me smile.
- You want to pay me (or offer a resource I don’t have). Does this really need an explanation? Pay me or offer a resource I don’t have in exchange for my labor.
(Other circumstances apply too)
I love the internet and interacting with people – it’s amazing how billions of people are brought together. But boy, I am exhausted. I feel guilty when I am not active enough online, especially in an time when people measure your commitment to social issues by how much you post on social media platforms. I feel guilty for wanting to spend my time reading a book and writing in my paper journal (they still exist!). I do cool things and don’t post about it online. I also do many uncool things like spill popcorn all over my bed while watching The Newsroom – and that doesn’t need to be posted online though it is endearing. This is guilt I brought onto myself by thinking and feeling too much but also from hearing how I haven’t been active or don’t post as much.
I want to live my life quietly and put the energy I have into my work, strengthening relationships and friendships, and pursuing projects I keep mentioning but have failed to start despite many opportunities. I am not going away from the internet but I am toning down my presence. You can expect to see essays and reading recommendations, a few photos, and a couple snarky tweets here and there. I am always around but not always available.
BTW, if you are not someone I consider a friend or co-struggler but you are interested in becoming a constant in my life, don’t hesitate reaching out me. Just respect my decision to not pursue friendships or collaborations if I cannot at the time you contact me.
Protect your energy, y’all. We need to stick around.