Just in case we all decide to abandon LJ, here are some other places you are welcome to find/follow me...
I've been backing up this LJ here at Blogspot for a few years now. Suppose that will become my main blog if I ever choose to delete this one. (I have no plans to at the moment, but there you go, just in case.)
I am on Instagram now as well, just for fun and pretty pictures.
I have a Facebook author page though I continue to despise Facebook for so many, many reasons.
I'm on Twitter and also Tumblr (Tumblr sometimes gets my posts as well, and/or other fun stuff, though I'm inconsistent about that).
There's also Goodreads, for book discussion.
Yeah, really, there are options to LJ, now that I think about it. ;)
I want to pull out my mom voice on the entire internet today:
“Don’t flame people you don’t even know! You were raised better than that!”
Seriously, please, everyone on both sides - on ALL sides - remember the complex human beings at the other end. Today I talked a flame-commenter around to a “You’re right, I’m sorry for saying that” because I responded reasonably and respectfully, and found common ground with them. There IS hope for the country if we all do that.
I'm feeling like I'm harping on the subject of cutting back on Facebook, and I apologize. BUT. I also want to elaborate on my reasons for too-casually comparing FB to a toxic friend in the last post.
What I did not mean: that the people on my friends list were, themselves, toxic friends. To my knowledge, they weren't. Mind you, the vast majority of them, I haven't seen in real life in years; haven't even met some of them at all; so to be completely truthful, I can't judge what kind of friends they are.
But that's part of the problem. My daily free time--and to too great a degree, my daily work time--was being spent involved in the posts of people I hadn't seen in years or possibly had never met. Sure, that's life for us all, this day and age, right? What's the problem? Am I condemning the entire internet because it's composed primarily of people I've never met?
Well, no. I see great value in lots of the internet. I'm picking on Facebook in particular. Not even the professional-page side of FB: I actually think it works fairly well for groups, where everyone has an interest in common, and also works pretty well as a professional notice board for us artists and other businesses (assuming FB shows our posts to our followers, which I'll bitch about in a minute). It's the personal pages, and their associated friend feed, and the culture thereof, that I am mainly disillusioned with. Why, then?
Because of the likes. And the algorithms, which are tied in to the likes.
Every social media site, through its design and through the possibly unpredictable alchemy of its users, develops a feel. An ambience, a mood, an ideal. On FB, the ideal is to get as many likes and comments as you can. Well, sure, that's the case on most sites. But FB makes the game a little more diabolical, because if you don't engage your friends and followers, FB actually does not show your posts as often to them. That alone is one of the major reasons I lost patience with the site. It's really simple, FB, and it's what we all want: just show us every one of the goddamn posts from all the people or pages we're following, in the order they were posted, and don't filter them, don't re-sort them, don't fuck with them in any way. (Look, it's making me swear; that's how irritating it is.)
But FB does filter them and hide them and boost them, according to the algorithms, and we all feel the effects. Because then what we often find ourselves trying to do, subconsciously, is support the popularity scheme. Boost our friends! Get them to boost us! You better not forget to click "like" on the good stuff or else it might actually disappear! And how can that mood NOT result in a deterioration of quality of interaction? In short, what I've concluded is that Facebook breeds competition, not relationships. As a result, people are snarky more often than they'd be in real life, because a funny, snarky response will get likes from other commenters--never mind how rude it is to the person whose wall you're posting on. It also means people will post whiny, trendy, or obnoxiously controversial things more often, because those get more attention and interaction than a quietly thoughtful post would. (And if you do post something quietly thoughtful, brace yourself for the snarky commenters fishing for likes.)
"But Molly, then you were doing it wrong," you might say. "I use Facebook to empathize with my friends and family far and wide, and to feel comforted and uplifted by staying in touch with them." Okay. If that's your FB experience, I won't doubt you, and I'll count you lucky. What I know is that for me, it became anxiety-provoking. And not just for the usual reason the articles give: the ones that say "Facebook is depressing because it makes you see only the awesome side of your friends' lives, and thereby makes you feel bad about yours." That actually didn't happen to me too often, though sure, it makes the list of my grievances.
I actually had the opposite problem, as someone prone to anxiety: I'd see posts about something upsetting happening to someone I sort of know somewhere, and I'd feel my worry ratchet up. Not just worry for THEM, but worry for my own family: if this upsetting thing happened to an actual person I'm reading about right now, WHAT IF IT HAPPENS TO US? IT TOTALLY COULD. Because that is how anxiety works. Yes, it's stupid, but it's also very common, which is why I think FB is doing a lot of harm to an awful lot of people, because, remember, thanks to the interaction algorithm, you get a lot of comments on passionate complaint/rant/life-is-unfair posts. So people post them a lot on FB. They actually don't post stuff this whiny on all sites on the internet. If you spent most of your time on Pinterest, you'd think the world was mainly a pleasant place devoted to baking cupcakes, collecting pretty clothes, and squeeing about fandom. (If only! Ah, I do like Pinterest...)
By the way, as a psychological aside, the more time you spend fielding commiserating remarks about your annoying problem, the longer you're spending thinking about it. You're giving it life. You're choosing to feed the wolf of anger instead of the wolf of serenity. You're *wallowing*, when you could be doing something else.
I could have been doing something else instead of scrolling and liking my way through the friend feed, and monitoring the likes I was getting on my own posts. That right there is probably my number one grievance against FB. There was writing and reading I longed to do. Family and neighbors to talk to face-to-face. Exercise to get. Things around the house to sort out and fix up. A whole real, actual world to look at and get involved with. So why had it become so seemingly important to ANSWER ALL THE NOTIFICATIONS several times per day--per hour, even?
It wasn't. It was not important. I finally grasped that. And life has become so much more peaceful, my outlook so much more reasonable, after letting the FB fog clear from my mind.
This whole post is probably pointless. Most people either fall into the "Yep, I already hate FB" camp, or the "Noooo! You're wrong and I heart FB!" camp, and I won't change anyone's mind. But it was on my mind, this bit of statement for the defense, so I wrote it down, mainly to sort out my own thoughts. If it does spark any useful ideas in anyone else, so much the better. I do wish you all peace and happiness, whatever your camp.
Now I already feel like I'm wallowing in anti-FB resentment, so I'll go read one of those books I so wanted to read. :)
My stress and anxiety levels in recent months have been so much lower than last year's. I could yet stand to improve my overall happiness, but "equanimity" does now describe me far more often than it used to. As a result of being calmer, I sleep better, which means I have more energy and don't get sick as often, so my physical health's much improved too.
There are lots of changes I've made, large and small, that I would say have contributed to this improvement. But here are a nice tidy three:
1. Ditching Facebook (and not replacing it with some equally time-devouring online activity). I've discussed this in previous posts. But just in case you wanted an update, I still think this was a fabulous, wondrous move, on par with breaking up with a toxic friend. (In fact, it basically WAS breaking up with a toxic friend. Or at least, a conglomerate of mostly non-toxic people who, together, somehow added up to one gigantic toxic friend.) I miss it less and less with each passing month. I'm stronger in my solitude; I have wise thoughts and am happy to keep them to myself or tell them to someone I know in real life rather than feeling any need to rush online and share.
[Edited to clarify: I'm not calling any individuals "toxic friends." I'm fond of everyone I was friends with on FB, and am happy that I'm still in touch with many of them via the *several* other ways available to us these days. It's the Facebook environment as a whole that I'm calling toxic. Too many posts, too much snark, too much drama, too much getting messaged and tagged for unnecessary reasons, too much intrusion on my work and thoughts. It felt like being trapped at a loud party I wasn't allowed to leave. Not everyone has that experience on FB, clearly, but that's what mine was like. So I post this because if anyone else is suspecting FB is detrimental to their peace of mind, I want them to know it's quite possibly so. And I want them to feel healthier too, so I do recommend reconsidering one's relationship with the site. Not with the people, necessarily--that's not the same issue.]
2. Meditating every day, or almost every day.
(I have yet to achieve the Avatar state, however.)
Yeah, meditation's all trendy and stuff these days. In fact, I hesitate to even mention that I do it, because it's so ridiculously trendy, except I must recommend it because the results are marvelous. I really do feel calmer and more compassionate on average, even with just 5 or 10 minutes a day of sitting with my eyes closed and somewhat half-assedly telling my thoughts, "Shush, come back and focus on the breath, and stop replaying that hilarious YouTube video from earlier." The practice of noticing what my thoughts are doing in the first place is the valuable part, it would seem. And though noticeable progress did take months in my case, it was so worth it. I would sooner go back to Facebook than stop meditating now. (Yes, even that!)
3. Cool tip I heard somewhere that works: when feeling stressed in a rushing-around, not-enough-time kind of way, I intentionally slow down, to the degree of doing something fully three times slower than I have to. It wouldn't make sense to take your whole day that slow, of course, but doing one minor task that slow, as a token gesture, shows your brain that it's okay; taking 45 seconds instead of 15 seconds to put away the bread isn't going to make the world collapse. Also it buys you a little time to think, breathe, get your next move figured out. It works. I like it.
Calm down, world. Calm down.
In my teens and twenties, when I woke up in the morning from disturbing dreams, I often found that a good way to dispel the lingering feeling of dread was to do something about my hair. That was something I generally had to do anyway in order to get ready for the day, but its oddly therapeutic quality struck me time after time. I'm not the sort of woman who particularly likes doing hair (my own or anyone else's), and am merely average at hairstyling. So I could only conclude that the therapy came from letting go of troubling thoughts by focusing on a mundane task, especially one associated with vanity and a certain amount of whimsy. Doing my hair centered my attention on the here and now, and made me think about what I wanted today to be like, or at least what I wanted today's hair to be like.
I didn't know at the time that this was mindfulness. The mindfulness gurus tell us that to find peace, think only about this moment; be immersed in what you're doing now, and do it with full attention. Do that as often as you can, and those little spells of tranquility will sweeten your whole day; indeed, your whole life. It works, these days, when I manage to do it, but it's the kind of thing kids and youths do instinctively and frequently, and we stressed-out multi-tasking grown-ups have to read lots of books and web posts about before we remember how to do it. And then it still takes tons of practice.
As a kid I used to go out in the backyard and just wander, touching plants and watching the creek flow and swinging on the hammock. I knew what each tree's leaves and fruits and flowers looked like and felt like and smelled like. I'm pretty sure I'm not that familiar with my own garden now, even though I'm one of the primary people in charge of tending it. Now I'm rarely taking my time in the garden and noticing all its details. It's usually a chore I'm rushing through to get to the next ten things I have to do; or gardening is something I'm doing for exercise, and I'm listening to a podcast while I do it, so it's not really the relaxing communing with nature that my childhood lazing in the backyard was.
I don't think it's just about growing up, either. I suspect it's the modern lifestyle, a way of living our parents didn't experience, and indeed, no other generation has ever experienced. With the entire world and its trillions of webpages in our pocket at all times, and our hundreds of "contacts" expecting us to pay attention to their updates hour by hour, we're enslaved to our devices rather than being free to wander and relax. It's no wonder every other person you know is stressed, anxious, and/or depressed, and that we have to ask Google what's wrong with us and find our way to mindfulness posts to figure out a solution. (Part of the solution being, with some irony, to get off the internet more often.)
Quitting Facebook has freed up more of my time, and indeed, I've filled those hours with going outside, sitting or wandering in parks or my own garden, browsing books, and interacting with people in real life. It's all felt a lot healthier than coming up with appropriate comments for an endless scroll of status updates. But I still have worries and troubling thoughts--part of the novelist mindset, I guess--and obviously I had bad dreams and needed to fix my hair to get over them even before the internet was a part of my life.
So: keep fixing your hair. Keep studying leaves in the garden. Keep noticing what's actually around you. I'm mainly telling myself this. But I'm telling you, too. Yes, you. In fact, fix that one piece of hair--there, you got it.
It's been more than a week since I quit Facebook, and I'm starting to feel that going back to it, to the old levels of interaction, would be about as appealing as re-entering a dysfunctional relationship. So yes: I recommend quitting Facebook. I'd be deeply pleased if the next mass exodus online was from Facebook. As long as we don't replace it with something even more annoying.
Because, see, as I've said to some friends today, what’s unusual for me this time is that I’m not replacing FB with some other online network. From about age 21 to 27, I was deep into IRC. Then I segued into LJ. Then when LJ started to become a ghost town, I went with everyone to FB. But this time, after axing the majority of my FB connections, I’m not transferring my online interaction to any new site. If anything, I suppose I’m replacing it with books and real life, which is probably where my focus should have been all along. It does take some getting used to, though, since I’m turning 40 this year and that means I’ve spent almost half my life entangled in these sites, more deeply than was probably ever wise for my quiet-loving and sensitive personality.
And when I put it in those addiction-ish terms, I begin to think people aren’t so far off when they throw around words like “detox” and “withdrawal” for leaving a social network. OMG my problems are so nerdy. But the detox, I think, is working, and the withdrawal symptoms are clearing, so if I dare, real life is here, waiting for me to dive in. Or books, in the hours I can't take real life. Always fine to dive into books.
Short version: I've broken up with Facebook.
Long version, in the form of a mental conversation held with myself many, many times over the last couple of years:
Me: I need to cut back on all the ways I waste time.
Mind: Such as Facebook?
Me: Maybe, but, you know, other stuff too. All the activities that are mostly just adding to my stress instead of helping me.
Mind: So, Facebook.
Me: Haha, but it's handy to have a login there, in case people need to tag me.
Mind: So that you can come to the site and wind up wasting tons of time on Facebook.
Me: I guess, but also, I mean, the news, I should avoid the news. That's just an endless stream of upsetting stuff.
Mind: So is Facebook. Which also is half advertising and news stories these days.
Me: Well...I could just try avoiding Facebook but going to it sometimes...
Mind: We've tried that. You suck at it. You end up spending as much time there as ever. Pull the plug.
Me: But I have to keep my author page. Marketing says I have to.
Mind: So keep that. Pull the plug on the main one, though. You know it felt good that one time you did it before.
Me: Well...true...but people might forget about me.
Mind: People you've never met, or hardly ever see? You were just complaining about how you wanted more time to yourself, and more time for the people you know in real life.
Me: Hm. Then. Okay. Yes.
Also, I was tired of having snark lobbed at me on my page when I don’t do that on other people’s pages. Tired of people forgetting there are human beings on the other end of the internet. Tired of keeping track of everyone else’s drama. And tired of the clickbait, and the ads, and the hiding of posts, and everything else FB does wrong. I’m sure I do have “issues” to work out (look up "generalized anxiety disorder" and "highly sensitive person" to name two of the major ones), but I would submit that so do lots and lots of my friends list, and they may not even realize how much worse FB is making those issues.
Today in the wake of clicking the "delete" button, I feel drained and still tired, but lighter. Freer. Once I unhook the Pavlovian reaching for social media from my brain ("An interesting thought! I should post it on Facebook!"), I will probably be freer still. Of course, I did come back here, to social media, to discuss it, but LJ has always been better at being a solid and fairly sedate record of life, rather than a snark-comment badminton-match like Facebook. (And lately, like, almost no one is around on LJ anyway.)
Stuff I'm doing and enjoying instead: Amazon Prime's music library is pretty sweet. That has supplied me with a delightful soundtrack of all kinds of stuff the last few days. And I've been watching "Merlin" on Netflix, and am now in the early episodes of season 4. Adorable Arthuriana angst and sparkly magic and all-too-easy slash potential! Yay! And of course, loads more time for reading and writing. (The reading lately is book 2 of Cinda Williams Chima's Seven Realms series - fun mostly-teen high fantasy with a refreshing Native-American-like slant to some of the tribes.)
This weekend I plan to spend more time outdoors, sitting under leafy trees, gazing at Puget Sound, picking flowers, that kind of thing. May you be fortunate enough to do similar. Cheers!
And, to look ahead to 2012, I suppose we all need to frame our resolutions. I have yet to fix on a really good one for next year. But if it helps, I will share with you the two absolute best New Year's resolutions I ever made. I don't remember the exact year of either of these, but they were from sometime in the past decade.
The first was no more getting into arguments online. Yes, that means no posting obnoxiously controversial opinions either.
The second, in a similar vein, was no more indulging in road rage. (I never discharged firearms at fellow drivers, but angry passing or speeding or swerving to "get back" at annoying drivers doesn't help any of us, especially ourselves, does it now?)
Sure, I slip up on both these counts from time to time. But even following them 90% of the time has led to a dramatic reduction of my stress and irritation levels. Imagine--just imagine--the widespread peace and harmony if everyone in the world adopted merely those two simple resolutions. For the first one, Internet traffic would probably drop by half. Or maybe the time spent in flame wars would be diverted into creating and laughing at LOLcats instead. Hey, that'd still be a global improvement on the whole.
But I cite those two resolutions because anger is my biggest flaw. I suppose if you have a different main flaw, you might draw more benefit from a different resolution. Share your own ideas if you like. Happy New Year, whatever you wish to start or stop doing!
One of the most common search terms that land people on my webpage is "what did ginny catch percy doing." In case you don't recall, this question references Chamber of Secrets, in which Ginny giggles secretively about something or other she walked in on Percy doing. At the end, it's revealed that all he was doing was snogging Penelope Clearwater. Yawn.
But! Not until today did I run that Google search myself ("what did ginny catch percy doing"), and my parody of Chamber of Secrets comes up as the very first result--at least when I run it. To the tiny degree I understand Google, I gather results may vary based upon the user's location, browsing history, and who knows what else.
Still, kind of amusing and cool. And I suppose it means I need to pick up Prisoner of Azkaban again and get back on that parodying horse. I apologize for the long delay on that. It actually takes longer to compose the parodies than to read the books, is the reason. That and having novels of my own to write and market. I know; excuses, excuses.
I'm revising a novel that I originally wrote in the mid-1990s. And rather than update it to modern day, I decided I needed to keep it in 1995-ish, just before the Internet invaded every last person's life, because otherwise there was no good reason for the protagonist to be unaware of a horrible thing that happened to his high school best friend. These days, you know everything that happens to your friends, former and current, because they post it on Facebook, or Tweet about it; or, if they have a modicum of privacy and dignity left, they email you personally. ("FYI, this happened...")
But back in the '90s, though we did have telephones and the post office and even, increasingly, email, we were far more able to lose track of friends--even good friends. I just don't see that happening anymore. Unless someone makes an unusual effort to stay off sites like Facebook, and is one of those people who seldom answers email--or changes their address a lot and neglects to tell their friends (and such people are regarded with large amounts of hostility from their families and acquaintances, as you know)--then you're sure to be in touch with them electronically fairly often. As to phones, nowadays everyone carries a cell, and long-distance is bundled into the monthly plan, so you don't have the excuse of cost when it comes to ringing up a friend in another state.
In short, staying in touch has become much, much easier, to the degree that I have to set stories in the grunge era if I want my characters to have startling, heartbreaking discoveries about each other and feel bad for not knowing about them sooner. Yep. Life is tough on us writers that way.
It is here!
Download and listen to Operation Dracula, our intrepid volunteers from around the globe reading an excerpt from the original Bram Stoker. Our selection is the (abridged) ship's log from the doomed vessel, the Demeter, which carries Dracula to England.
Music generously provided by Michael Gordon Shapiro. Thank you so much to Mike as well as all the readers, especially those jumping in bravely at the last minute!
( Transcript of lines and readers... )
(If you signed up via LJ, I used your LJ username. If you got volunteered by someone else, or signed up on Facebook, I used your first name. More or less. Thus concludes my organizational system for Operation Dracula.)
In related news, I highly recommend this brief and hilarious comic-strip version of 'Dracula'. Thanks for finding that, Katy!
Sign-up will be open until next Monday, Oct. 11. Then I'll close the door, divvy up the excerpt, and hand out lines. You will record yourselves reading them aloud and email the file to me by, say, Oct. 24, one week prior to Halloween. (I think I can take just about any normal audio file, and will let you know if it doesn't work.) I'll piece them together in the right order, apply spooky background music (professional composer madbard has graciously allowed me to raid his stuff), and put it online for your listening chills in time for Halloween.
Once more, I highly encourage youngsters, oldsters, foreign speakers of English, and those with strong regional accents to apply, as well as all average folk. The more varied the mix of voices, the cooler the end product. It says, "Literature is a realm any person can enter freely, and appreciating it will therefore save the world and keep it safe for democracy." Or something like that. In any case, our project will say, "Halloween is fun!"
To listen to the previous projects, check out 2007's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" or 2008's "The Raven". We didn't do 2009. I had a young infant and stuff.
Edited to add: For those curious, the entire text of Dracula can be found here for free (and probably other places). Our section begins with "Log of the 'Demeter'" (the ship's name)--though whether we cover the whole thing or just the more exciting middle-to-end section of the log may depend on the number of participants.
Rest assured I won't click that "cross-post to Facebook/Twitter" box on any comments I make on your posts.
And while I do have my LJ posts showing up on FB (and have for several months now), it's actually fed the other direction: namely, I have FB check for new public entries (it won't catch friends-locked ones) and put them up as notes. It only posts my entry; not your comments.
I have a permanent LJ account, so fleeing elsewhere wouldn't make much sense, although I still could someday. Anyway, I've long since left behind the notion of using LJ as my main source of drama and personal confession, and use it more as my Authorial Blog. (I'm not fond of self-promotion, but they tell us we have to do it.) So, honestly, I don't care much if you pingback my entries or cross-post your remarks upon them, except in the rare event of my locked and obviously sensitive-material posts.
But, again, I won't do that to you, since that is obviously not what most people wish to see done with their posts.
Chances are LJ will scramble to fix that brilliant little idea quite soon here, given the uproar...
Recipients can upgrade for $9.95 (instead of $19.95) for one year by enrolling in our automatic payment plan or make a manual payment of $15 (instead of $25). Please note that these coupons are not transferable and cannot be used to renew existing paid accounts. Recipients must specifically decline the Holiday coupon in order for it to be credited back to the sender.
If that all makes sense to you, and you want to be one of these 10, sign up here. First come, first serve. I got nothin' to lose. Cheers!
Two great bits of publishing news:
An old entry of mine (http://lemonlye.livejournal.com/85020.
And an old novel of mine, recently refurbished, got accepted at The Wild Rose Press as a contemporary romance! It's called Summer Term, and I'm sure I'll bore you later with the details and excerpts. For now, "yay" is all!
Posted via LiveJournal.app.
how many arrows pierced isildur [sorry, I didn't count]
hagrid stripped ginny and molly [uh...]
naked eowyn kissing aragorn [again, sorry. Photoshop isn't my strength.]
do legolas and aragorn kiss [alas, no]
aragorn and eowyn make out naked [see above]
girl falls off refrigerator on broomstick [I have no idea. But my website isn't what you're after.]
when i was in taiwan i had a dog named gandalf [how nice for you]
frodo tortured by merry [heh. Domlijah dies hard.]
long-haired draco dirty harry licking greenhouse [Dirty Harry? Really?]
you can be my sugar daddy i will do whatever you want script [was that a movie?]
draco and harry kiss in detention in half blood prince [someone has made that happen; just not me or Rowling]
harry grabbed ginny and tongue moan hi mum [well, that's more or less canon, at least]
one day there was a nice house and a lady called molly she was 19 years old. she saw the nice house and molly said to herself i think i should get this house. she asked the man if she could have the house the man said yes it is 1500 ponds. molly said ok when should i pay it. the man said today or next week. she said ok ill pay it next week. the man said ok. molly went in the house and 3 years later molly died of canser. after she died a man named joe wanted the house there was a difrent man and the house [I KID YOU NOT. Who enters Google terms like this?]
To be fair, many of the fandom search terms were non-pervy. I just cherry-picked the good ones. :) And plenty of people were in fact searching for me and my works, so that was gratifying too.
LJ doesn't like most of those either, incidentally. But it allows some of them to pass without the red underlining, so it's apparently a step hipper than MS Word.
Dear Esteemed LJer,
As you may have heard, Live Journal is turning 10 next month—and one of the ways we’re celebrating is by publishing a beautiful anthology that will highlight 100 favorite journals and communities from over the past decade.
That’s why we’re writing: your LJ is on our shortlist for possible inclusion in the book! Congratulations! If your entry makes the final cut, you’ll receive a $20 LJ gift certificate—not to mention that you’ll have one of your LJ entries highlighted and preserved for all time in the Live Journal 10th Anniversary Anthology.
The entry we’re considering is:
Cool! And it wasn't even one of my parodies. Heh.
As a sidenote, ZOMG I'M ON AMAZON!1!!1! AND BARNES&NOBLE!!!
Ahem. I'll announce that more coherently tomorrow, perhaps.