for the Sake of Social Media

January was a whirlwind of a month – a far cry from last year where the weeks seemed to slog by. It probably went by so fast for me because despite my best efforts I get sucked in to social media feeds the second I pick up my phone. Even though I assigned Twitter and Instagram a 15 minute limit (combined) per day, I’m too often guilty of clicking that ‘Remind me in 15 minutes’ button over and over and over. . .

But I have a good reason!

Don’t we all.

In the latter part of 2019 I tried to curate my feeds so that I would feel more inspiration and upliftment* from the mindless scroll, instead of the usual frustration, comparisons and disappointment. This worked out way easier with Instagram than with Twitter; that place is just an angry quagmire that gets mud on me way too easily. I’m sure you can relate.

One trend that crops up as I reflect on the first month of 2019 was how much value social media actually added to my life. I’m not sure if the scales completely balance out (in terms of value and time that I’ll never get back) but I’m getting to a place where I can accept that, for all its flaws, social media allows us an infinite number of ways to connect, practice compassion and grow as human beings.

Youtube – the home of countless cat videos – is also the home of my first completed (by no means the first attempted) 30 day Yoga Journey. The daily practice of yoga for the entire month of January kept me grounded and mindful, even though it was hosted on a traditionally mind-numbing app/website.

WhatsApp status updates – which I had sworn off cold turkey back in November – became a recurrent source of inspiration and a catalyst for some bookish conversations. Of course not every status update sprouts holy wisdom, and honestly some people upload like 30 of the most trivial photos in quick succession and make you question why they’re even in your contact lists –. Suffice to say, there is a mute button for a reason.

Instagram – home of envy – awash with pictures of immaculate houses, children, outfits, lives. I stopped following every account that – through no fault of their own – made me question my own self-worth. Until I can get a good grip on my worthiness it’s probably for the best that I stop ‘liking’ every single one of Yendi’s posts and then beating myself up for not being such an amazing mom/actress/model/consultant?? I’m not actually sure what Yendi does for a living.

The Instagram accounts I follow now are mostly comic artists, podcasts that remind me to reaffirm my intrinsic value, book lovers and those people from high school who I would feel guilty about un-following because they all followed me first and that’s just being polite.

Twitter. Oh, Twitter. It’s hard to justify my continued use of Twitter, on the heels of all the positive vibes I just talked about and especially in light of the latest angrily-tweeted about abortion-debate-that-wasn’t. I mean, for health reasons alone I should stop using Twitter because it definitely sends up my blood pressure. But I find myself coming back to it because of the instant flare of connection that happens when someone likes or retweets or responds to one of your tweets. I know this is a false feeling. There’s no real connection between a tweet and a like – I’ve liked enough posts by accident to know that it means literally nothing. But I keep going back.

Twitter keeps me informed about a side of Jamaica I don’t often talk to in real life – the ‘articulate minority’ as one unfortunate MP said a few years ago. My attraction to Twitter is your basic FOMO*, and not a habit I’m likely to kick any time soon.

Despite the many, many, many silly, depressing and sometimes spiteful reasons that people do things on social media, I think these platforms still have options to offer that are positive, meaningful and compassionate. Whether you’re looking at community hashtags like #womeninmedicine, fandom tribes like Harry Potter or the Bloggess, Instagram accounts like alex_elle or Youtube channels like Yoga With Adriene, the good stuff, the soul-filling stuff is definitely out there too.


Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light

Albus Dumbledore

*Did you guys know “uplift” is a verb and a noun?! Mind-blowing.
*FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out

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Lessons in Womanhood

As a black girl child uncertainty was bred into my bones. I was taught to doubt my every thought and decision. Taught to believe someone else’s version of the truth. Taught that my feelings were irrelevant to the task at hand, which was to pave the way for someone else’s vague notions of success. It isn’t that my family deliberately set out to rob me of self-confidence, but these were the lessons I imbibed as a child who was sensitive to the ways of the world.

As an educated black woman I marvel at how much these lessons continue to affect me, particularly in my academic and professional spheres. I note with envy how easily my male colleagues assume roles of leadership. How confidently they navigate their realms, without second guessing, without deferring to another person’s judgment.

I’m acutely aware of the influence that social class must necessarily have on these gendered upbringings. The poor have always been subjugated and have coped with that subjugation by adopting a deferential attitude. This is as much a survival tactic as anything else – the poor frequently have no options for economic mobility other than servitude. And a good servant is docile.

But I don’t want to be a good servant.

I want to be a strong black woman. Strong black women (history says) are rarely ever liked, but they are respected.

If there is one truth I must give the daughter I may never have, it is that her self-worth should never be called into question. That she does not have to shrink to make way for others to grow. That she must go out and make her mark on this wretched, wonderful Earth without fear or hesitation. That she must do this with as much poise and compassion as she can muster because the world will not be kind (though kindness is needed).

This is the lesson I hope society will one day teach: that our black girls are not pawns, no. They have been Queens all along.

*

Credit for the image (as well as my blog avatar) to Zigbone.