3* Reasons I Decreased My Social Media Usage

I love social media. 

giphy.gif

Okay, maybe not love; but, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and even Facebook have been, for as long as I can remember, ways for me to keep in touch with people from various stages of my life. Or, so I thought. Yet this summer when I completed an internship with a mentor and began to think about the things I wanted to accomplish before graduate school ends in May, something changed. My friend Qua’Aisa often colloquially refers to pre-graduation accomplishments as a “graduate school bucket list” and it has stuck with me ever since. I began to realize that I was spending a lot more time sharing and scrolling through my life and the lives of others than I was living intentionally amongst people with whom I wanted to create memories.

I often joke that I go to bed so late and wake up so early that I nearly pass myself in the hallway.

And while that’s true and I’ve been very productive for the last few years, I realize that productivity came at the expense of sleep and taking care of myself because I was using bedtime for aimless scrolling. Since summer began, I’ve been sleeping more, eating better, and working out exponentially more consistently. So what does that have to do with social media? My uptick in self-care is directly tied to my downtrend in social media scrollage (I’m a Ph.D. student, I can make up words if I want). I used to wake up at 5 or 6am to theoretically be productive and center myself only to realize an hour had passed and all I’d accomplished was failing to sleep and mindless scrolling. But the change in social media algorithms has gone on to make this increasingly visible because when I was mindlessly scrolling things started to look familiar. And then I realized: I was seeing the same. five-ish. posts. all. the. time.

So I said no more. 

No more aimless scrolling.

No more spending time in spaces that drained me emotionally.

No more being entangled on websites that would often lead to drama (ask any graduate student about groupme drama and they’ll tell you stories for days).

So what did I do? And how did I do it? I took the liberty of deciding to–

  • Remove myself from every GroupMe I was a part of and deleting* my GroupMe account.
  • Remove Facebook from my phone (I only posted there sparingly, anyway, after the Russia scandal).
  • Deleted the twitter app (but scheduled posts that align with my research agenda and identities).
  • Deleted the Instagram app.
  • Deleted the Snapchat app.

Typing that out somehow feels harder than actually doing it or having done it.

Northern Lights Simple Typographic Travel Postcard

My plan isn’t to completely run away from or stop using social media altogether. But it is to be more intentional about how much time I spend aimlessly scrolling and the messages I’m digesting and internalizing as a result of my social media usage. It’s also to allow myself a bit more room to enjoy sifting through my dissertation data and write up–no matter how messy and to finally complete some manuscripts I’ve been working on for over two yearsOkay, so maybe this isn’t simply three reasons I decreased my social media usage in a neat little bow. But I share my story to say it’s okay to decompress. And when people go on social media sabbaticals or decide to engage these platforms at arms lengths, we need not continuously question them about what’s wrong or what happened. In my case? I realized I spent much more time LIVING and enjoying my internship when I wasn’t worried about documenting every piece of it or seeing what everyone else was doing.

I’ll be back online for things that matter to me like #CiteASista chats, sharing my travels, amplifying important writings and research by Black women, and even acknowledging some of my dissertation milestones. But I won’t be online to engage spaces that drain me. I won’t be online to debate or argue points with people who are not interested in the actual exchange of information. And no, I won’t be online to see what else is going on in this government of mine and discussing it in an echo chamber.

Instead, I’ll be spending that time hosting Sunday brunches with friends and making Sunday dinner with my parents and sister. I’ll be writing up the stories of women who’ve entrusted me to shed light on the sometimes volatile field I seem to have committed myself to. I’ll be watching TV shows and movies that bring me joy like Mamma Mia, Grey’s Anatomy, and The Legends of Tomorrow.  I’ll be hiking the Seven Wonders of Georgia. I’ll be moving through multiple European countries to enjoy people, sites, sights, and foods I thought I’d never experience when I was younger (I’m not that old).

Map Airplane Travel Postcard

I’ll be living my life on my own terms without the pressures I’d previously placed on myself to do social media. And I’ll do so without feeling like I am traipsing through life on an auto scroll. I write this because I find it amusing that the very things that have saved me and propelled me thus far (#CiteASista, #SisterPhD, #FirstGenDocs, etc.) are the very things I’m still engaging but have also led me to move back and take rests from for my own health and sanity. This is not a plea for people to self-reflect, a critique of others who share nearly every piece of their day online, nor is it a call to action… It’s simply a post by a woman who has helped create online communities explaining in those same places a why I decided to step back from the performativity social media requires. It’s my way of doing something not because something is wrong, but because I needed to care for me before something became wrong.

Cheers to personal growth and self-reflection after unplugging.

I like you… I think

I am embracing a culture of transparency, which, to me, is different than honesty. I will delve into this in a later post, but a part of this culture of transparency is not hiding my feelings. This is especially true when it comes to people I am interested in. Most recently in a text thread, I told someone that I liked them and I am aware that they do not have the same feelings I have.

Ahh well

Oh well

Time will pass and I will be over it lol. But until then I feel how I feel. And I am still going to be me and do things not to get any points for doing them.

This experience did get me to reflect on what I mean when I say I like this person. Like, do I even like them for real? LOL I suspect that there is more I need to learn about this person and won’t have an opportunity to learn, at least not in the way I want. But in the meantime, I like this person right?

So this poem is trying to talk through it. Enjoy.

I like you

Well, at least I think I do.

I do like you

I think

How about this

I like what I know about you thus far

From the moment I met you. There was something. A connection. A vibe. An energy. Anytime I am around you, it’s a yearning. I like how I want to be around you. Observe you. Learn you. I want to know you cuz I like you…

I think.

How about this

I like how you present yourself. From your swag in your walk, your sense of style, your talents and abilities. Your faith. Your compassion. Your drive and commitment to the things you set your mind on. It ignites a fire in me to do better, to find my passions, to explore my heart.

Cuz you are

You are who I want.

I think

How about this

I want the opportunity to explore if this desire is valid.

To see if all the things I’ve listed this far makes sense.

To strengthen what could be

To nurture what could be

To be all that you need and deserve in a partner

To see if the connection, vibe, and energy can be more than fleeting moments of time.

More than fantasies. More than wishes. More than coulds, shoulds, woulds.

I’ll be honest.. I’m not all that special. What I can offer, some other woman probably can. What I’m saying, you may have heard. I’m not oblivious to the fact that you can get these things from someone else.

But I am saying this…

At this moment in time

I want to offer these things to you.

I’m willing to be open with you

My focus is on you.

I desire you. All of you. The things I know and even the things I don’t know.

This feeling is not superficial.

I like you.

How about this… you got a poem.

If that ain’t real, then I don’t know what is.

BCB 8/5/18

 

Why I (Literally) Cite A Sista

Brittany Williams (hey boo!) and I came up with #CiteASista as a project for a course in the summer of 2016. Our professor tasked the class to create a project that challenged whiteness and white supremacy. We threw patriarchy right on under the bus for fun and crafted up a twitter chat about centering Black women’s voices in the academy and all areas of our lives. We had an affirming response from sista-scholars in the twitterverse and at our home institution. Since that first chat, #CiteASista has evolved into a Black Feminist/Womanist digital project that aspires to encourage a citational praxis that centers Black women’s knowledge, builds community across communities of Black women within and beyond the academy, and supports Black women who are developing a Black Feminist/Womanist identity, ethic, and praxis.

createherstock-big-bun-2On a more the personal is political level, I cite a sista because it is part of my ethic as a Black Feminist/Womanist because our society is shaped by both patriarchy and white supremacy.  Choosing to cite a sista is a purposeful and empowering practice that challenges us all to know more, to know more deeply, to know more complexly, and to know more intimately. Choosing to cite a sista is inherently oppositional to people and systems that do not recognize or are challenged by the wealth and richness of Black women’s individual and collective knowledge. I sincerely believe, and know for myself, that Black women have knowledge that comes from lived experiences at various intersections of identities, power, privilege, and oppression. When I was unsure of what I knew, it was Black women scholars (hooks, Crenshaw, Hill Collins, and Dillard) who (re)minded me that I know things beyond my book learning  because of who I am as a Black woman.

In the academy, C.R.E.A.M. means citations rule everything around me. Citations are the capital and currency of the academy. If I want sista-scholars to get their due, then I do my part to cite them when and where I can (manuscripts, syllabus, references to other scholars, etc.). I cite a sista because I want sista-scholars to get the reward for their labor.

london-scout-41030Before and beyond academic credentialing, research protocols, or IRB approval, Black women knew/know things *and* our knowledge is valuable, particularly when the knowledge of our position is structurally marginal (as women within patriarchy and Black within white supremacy). More plainly, my non-degree holding Black women family and friends all have knowledge that inform how I navigate and negotiate relationships, counter systems of oppression, manage the responsibilities of adulthood, and understand the ways of the world. While the citational practice might not carry as much weight in non-academic areas of my life, giving them credit for their knowledge is a culturally honest practice. Here’s what and how I cite often Black women beyond the academy.

  • “I don’t do ouuu’s and ahhh’s. Singing background is a trap.” Effie White (Dreamgirls) | I cite Effie White’s knowledge of the world in my own understanding that people will use your talents and gifts to highlight their own with little to no reciprocity.
  • “I don’t care how pretty other people are. You be beautiful because you are beautiful. Don’t ever let me hear you diminishing your beauty or light again. I won’t have it.” Pamela Anthony | I cite Pamela as a fellow #SistaBigBones whose knowledge of the world informed my own confidence, assurance of self, and the early stages of my re-evaluation and critique of “thinness as beauty” concept.
  • “Live your life the way you want to live it because folks will have something to say about it anyway and you’ll be the one living it.” Mama | I cite Mama for her knowledge that I will reap what I sow. So, make sure that I’m sowing what I want to produce, regardless of what others want harvested in my life.

final-cite-a-sista-logo-01
I say all of this to say that there is power in who we choose (not to) reference as a source of knowledge. Who we choose to include/exclude matters. Dr. Kishonna L. Gray established #CiteHerWork (2015) to encourage people to cite work that women do. Citing a sista is what we encourage at #CiteASista. Including Black women in your citational practice is not hard, but it is an intentional practice, not because Black women are quiet and keep our wisdom to ourselves, but because our knowledge is overlooked, erased, or silenced by systems of power that manifest in the delegitimization of Black women and Black women’s knowledge. The practice has transformed my work and my life in empowering, endarkening, and culturally honest and authentic ways. When you are figuring out whose knowledge to draw from or be inspired by in the future, don’t think long or hard: just #CiteASista.

New Music Friday: Nicki Minaj “Queen”

Nicki Minaj has released her highly anticipated 4th Studio Album QUEEN today and the internet is ablaze.

DkQ8XYZXcAAB3qs

For full disclosure, I’m a Nicki fan and have never steered clear of admitting this even when I have to express my disappointment of some of her actions (e.g. her commentary on sex work). At the first playthrough, I found myself infatuated by the overall sound of the album, the seamless transitions between the songs, and variation of the imagery in the lyrics and sounds of the beats.

Like most Rap fans who genuinely enjoy hearing *Black* women Rap, I often have to wait a moment and listen to the music on my own as a means of weeding through stans, perpetual critics, and people who generally hate anything and everything a Black woman does no matter what.

DkRQlgTXcAAywLr.jpg I am, however, enamored by several tracks on the album and feel the tweets, posts, and reaction messages are warranted– finally. I say this because while I love Nicki, I have not liked any album as much as I’m enjoying Queen since Pink Friday and that is really hard to admit both publicly and in written form. This isn’t to suggest that I thought Nicki’s albums were bad. Again, I. Am. Not. Saying. Nicki. Ever. Had. A. Bad. Album.

I always appreciate artists pushing their creativity and trying new things. This is what Nicki did with Roman Reloaded and Pink Print. This is what Kanye did with MBDTF and 808s. This is what 3 Stacks did if you listen to his sound on Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik versus Speakerboxxx/Love Below. 

Queen sounds like a return to Nicki’s earliest sound on Pink Friday and the lyricism that made many of us (me) fall in love with her. The samples on the album are reminiscent of 1990’s Rap heyday particularly those on Barbie Dreams, Good Form, and Coco Chanel. While the tracks on Queen have a range from critiques and call outs of male attention and affection, reminders of her lyrical growth and personal development, and even showing ownership of her body; there are, however, some places where Nicki seems to show she has yet to learn from constructive criticism. Though I hope Nicki will continue to grow and learn from her fans and even the commentary from her critics, I would be lying if I said I was not in love with this album so far…

All that said, my personal favorite tracks on the album (in order) are–

  1. LLC
  2. Barbie Dreams
  3. Hard White
  4. Ganja Burns
  5. Chun-Li

I’m excited to continue listening to the album and see how the tracks make me feel as time goes on. However, it’s still early and I’ll be curious to see what the mainstream says. *eyeroll* Have you all heard Nicki’s new album? What are your favorite tracks? Sound off in the comments/ on twitter and let me (us) know.

Is “No” a Dirty Word: On our Culture of “Ghosting”

This morning on Facebook, I’d written a status asking about ghosting and the word no. The status said–

I have a question for Gen X/ Millennials… why is it so hard for people to say “no” in lieu of ghosting? Saying no is responsible. It shows you considered something but for whatever reason, it won’t work out at this moment. How is it that people will allow your email, questions, etc. about something they can tell is significant to you (and significant more broadly) to go unanswered and unreplied to on a consistent basis? Now, I’m emphasizing the consistent piece because I found an unanswered text last night, I simply did not see, to which I apologized for, answered, and moved on with yesterday’s business. But why have we as a culture normalized ignoring people when saying “no” is a simple answer? Has no become a dirty word?

I was prompted to write the status after sending several emails and texts to people about employment, educational support, fitness support groups, and even in hopes of getting together a team of people to visit the Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia.

I could not understand why the people I’d reached out to had failed to reply either saying no or acknowledging receipt of my message and suggesting they’d been away or needed more time.

As an overachiever and sometimes people pleaser, I know first hand the desire to do everything. I overextended myself so much the last few years and this past spring semester to the point that my body had finally had enough and I had to rest for 2.5 weeks due to illness and general exhaustion over the summer. I learned from that mistake. I said no to writing opportunities shared with me;  I said no to taking a course on data sets that, while not required, would be great for developing my skill set; I said no to additional conferences on top of the few that I have committed to at an earlier date. I. Said. No. 

createherstock-desk-tapping-neosha-gardner.gif

I realize that saying no is hard, but I genuinely believe it to be better than ghosting. What is ghosting you ask? When people agree or have the option to (dis) agree to something and rather than getting it done or saying no because they can’t  (or don’t want to) they fail to reply or acknowledge it at all. Ghosting is at an all-time high in both the dating and working worlds and I can’t believe I’m saying this– but it’s downright unprofessional to do to your colleagues and peers.

createherstock-2018-tiny-home-chillin-neosha-gardner-27_orig.jpg

I know professionalism is laced with specific connotations. I know that there are gender and racial disparities in who gets asked for what and how often. I know that some people feel like they HAVE to say yes because of their positionality. But hear me when I say this: ghosting might remove the temporary burden of having to say no or do something else, but it changes the way people view you.

Perhaps some of us don’t care. Perhaps a few people considering us unreliable is a cost we’re willing to pay. But for me? I refuse to do it to others and I refuse to accept its continuation to me. I’m at the point where ghosting is considered an answer and where I’m keeping track of how often people are unreliable to protect my peace of mind.

I am convinced that saying no is an alternative to non-response or ghosting… Are you? 

createherstock-2016-adair-park-neosha-gardner-8_orig.jpg