My trusted old laptop died its last death today and we decided to not resuscitate. There comes a time when you just have to stop pouring money in an ageing device that you need to be reliable but is getting the opposite of that as time goes by (It’s 10+ years old. I know how this sounds. Apologies for shocking you.).
The first thing I did after I went back online was announce the news on Twitter. I received commiserations and a new laptop recommendation. And I felt a little better. Social networks are insidious, mostly because there are so many truly lovely people on them.
I often catch myself thinking in status updates. I seriously doubt I’m a rarity in this respect. You know, you see something funny or tragic, or interesting, and your brain immediately composes a tweet or a status update and insists you share it with the world immediately. Or — the worst — something makes you so mad the only way to relieve the pressure is dump it all in a rant on the network/s of your preference.
We’ve all seen them, the impassioned, righteous or simply mean rants that can ruin your whole day by making you engage with their authors. That is, until you learn better and start controlling yourself, which is what I try to do. The fact remains, however, I think in status updates, whether it’s to brag about my writing progress, whine about it, or just try to be funny because I made a humourous observation.
I try to fight it. I will not allow social networks to take over my life (except for those many moments when I just have to check if anyone’s responded to my tweet or liked my Facebook status about, say, apricots). I refuse to have a smartphone for that very reason. The temptation would be too great and my actual life would suffer. I don’t want this. Restraint needs to be applied (said the one with the pack-a-day habit who schedules her smoking).
Somewhere along the way of resisting the urge to share my joy about Cat’s first story written — not drawn in a cartoon, WRITTEN! — on her own and my resentment of certain foreign policies I realised the problem contains the seeds of its own destruction.
I can resist tweeting about politics, largely because I have no time or energy to argue with people with only fractional, if any, knowledge of how the world actually works (in even more horribly brutal ways than popular ideologies would have the innocents believe).
I also have no intention of antagonising potential future readers: I unfollowed Stephen King because his constant political tweets got on my nerves not because I disagreed with him but because he was only tweeting about politics. And that’s Stephen King and not a beginner in the book business. His sales are guaranteed. I’ve yet to make a name for myself if ever. When it comes to politics, I follow the golden rule comparing opinions to bottoms. It could be exasperating but it works.
I can also resist posting about my frustration with this or that with growing ease. Once, it was a huge effort to restrain myself from going for the jugular of utilities, telecoms, or individual idiots from the neighbourhood who, say, let their single-digit-aged kid hold the wheel while they drive. My latest rant was aimed at our internet provider but, hey, they left us without internet for two days and this is not an exaggeration.
Herein lie the aforementioned seeds: I’m restraining myself rather than embracing the temptation. I’m being careful what I talk about in public and although I’d never (d)evolve into a happy-only, all-positive child of sunshine and rainbows, I do try to minimise the negativity I spread around. Which ultimately leads to a tiny little bit less negativity online and that’s a good thing.
Negativity is for the family: that’s why we’re a family, after all, to take it all out on each other when we’re feeling cranky for whatever reason. Love is about absorbing your loved ones’ negativity, safe in the knowledge they would absorb yours, as it is about everything else that’s not negative.
So, I guess I won’t stop thinking in status updates anytime soon but I’ll keep on getting better at resisting the urge to turn these thoughts into actual status updates unless they are funny (hopefully most), profound (highly unlikely), or hopefully helpful (I try). And I’m not getting a smartphone unless I really, really, really, need to, which I can’t imagine happening at all. I’m safe.