Archive | October 13, 2015

Cubs Win, Bernie Sanders and Anne Lamott

Tuesday, October 13, 2015–On this day in American History:

  1. The Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Divisional Series. They now go on to play in the National League Championship Series, the winner of which plays in the 2015 World Series.
  2. The first 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary Debate was held in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  3. Writer Anne Lamott gets sassy on Twitter.
  4. It was my first full day off of Facebook since I can’t remember when.

Having the whole day off Facebook went better than expected.  I stayed busy and on the go throughout the day, and even got my pantry cleaned, organized and looking much improved.  I didn’t check my phone repeatedly for updates, but instead talked and texted on it quite a bit, and a whole stack of mail was sorted and discarded.  So, really, the change initiated to help push past fatigue was quite successful. I’m doing it, and it’s exciting!  I was, sadly, too busy to get my full five mile walk in, but I am still on target for my weekly goal, fingers crossed.

I found I didn’t miss checking Facebook until it came time to sit down to watch the playoff baseball game and then the Democratic debates.  I missed interacting with friends, though team loyalty and politics are volatile topics on Facebook and not always pleasant.  To find the news, I checked Twitter, but much of it wasn’t as accessible to me as it is on Facebook, which has a selective newsfeed.  I’m not sure how I will proceed, but when it comes to information, being off Facebook already feels like a bit of a disadvantage.  I am also missing out on most of the writing challenge news, so that may drive me back faster than anything.

Yesterday’s Twitter included some haughty tweets by the popular writer Anne Lamott, whom I met last year at one of her book signings.  It isn’t unusual for Anne Lamott to be sarcastic. After all, she’s known for her wit and outspoken humor, but I was a bit miffed when she turned the sarcasm on the presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, because of what she characterized as his being too loud.

I guess I don’t really agree with this assessment. I see him as passionate about the issues; I see him as speaking to a large group of people; if he has a bit of a hearing deficit, I can forgive that, even overlook it entirely–if she’s even right, though I don’t think she is on this matter.  I listened after the debates to an MSNBC interview with Bernie Sanders, and there was no mistaking that Chris Matthews was louder than Sanders.  Lamott seemed to be reaching to have something funny or otherwise derogatory to say.  This made me think a little less of her, not of Bernie Sanders.  Women have been saying for years that they do not want to be evaluated by their looks or demeanor, hair styles or age, yet Lamott’s focus turns these tables on Sanders.  It seemed as if she was trying to make herself seem superior to him, a man of vast public service contribution as well as a graduate of the esteemed University of Chicago.  This time Lamott’s chiding just didn’t sit well with me–her varied and overdone tweets about what she assessed as his being too loud.

When Lamott said Sanders will never be president because of his shouting, one millennial tweeter who happens to be her son, Sam Lamott,  schooled her by saying, “never say never.”  When several people favored this tweeter’s admonition, Lamott reacted defensively (and again sarcastically), saying:


Of course, it’s supposed to be humorous…and I’m sure it drew several laughs from the crowd.  Yet, this sort of arrogance, to me, illustrates exactly what is wrong with social media.  The 162 you see beside the star (*162) naturally represents people with well over 40 followers favoring Lamott’s quip.  They clearly want to be included in the big group, the “in” group–the group of tweeters who have lots of followers, not just a few (under 40, in fact)…and more importantly, to be aligned with her via her opinions–or, in this case, attitude. This approach proliferates a class system where more is more, based on ego and an otherwise utterly vacuous measurement, because then (if we have lots of followers) we can feel smug and self-righteous and as if we have arrived.

In this mentality, everything’s a competition…and that fits right in with playoff games and presidential debates; might as well take it down to the level of social media, where people are supposed to be “connecting.”  Hundreds of twitter followers clearly means we are smarter and happier and probably even wealthier than those with much fewer.  This is a reductionist philosophy if there ever was one.  Akin to the Facebook “like,” the number of followers (like the number of “friends” or the number of “likes” accumulated) becomes a measure of one’s worth, one’s identity.  Social media is the new country club.  Status is everything; how many followers, how many friends, how many likes, how many pins, how many favorites…which all have their own complicated cultural qualifications.  This is the sort of silliness that annoyed me on Facebook.

It seems arrogant and sophomoric, not to mention short-sighted, to believe one’s worth is congruent to the number of followers, as people come to Twitter at different times and sometimes very briefly.  As one tweeter from Maple Grove, MN pointed out in response to Lamott’s address to “annoying people”:

“@ANNELAMOTT, weird that the word “follower” is used when really

we are curious about what ppl can express in 140 characters or less.”

Likewise, if a person is new to twitter, or if they are trying to keep a low profile maybe expressly because they do not want to play the game, they naturally may have few could be by choice, and have little or nothing to do with their ability to secure an audience.  In the aggregate, a large group of tweeters with few followers is still substantive; those opinions are not necessarily diminished by their lack of volume.

And why the elitist stance coming from Anne Lamott after all?  I imagine she would just laugh incredulously at my reservation here, saying, “I was joking, dumbhead!”

I know I’m not going to win any fans by criticizing Anne Lamott (whom I like (!), as she says about Bernie Sanders).  Perhaps she is just a Hillary supporter.  Perhaps she decidedly set out to make Bernie look bad just to keep him out of the running…or to knock him out of Hillary’s way.  If so, I think both she and Hillary herself took care of this matter.  I wouldn’t say Sanders is out of the running, but I would say that between Anne Lamott’s Twitter and Hillary’s live vitriol, Senator Sanders looked like a bullied middle-schooler just wanting everyone to get along.


This is Day 14 in the 31 Day Writing Challenge, 31 Days of Breaking Free from Fatigue


© debra valentino, all rights reserved,

On Going Off Facebook

IMG_0085_Fotor Dorothy

Something odd happened to me today.  I no sooner got finished telling someone how happy writing makes me, than within hours I felt sick of it.  I thought maybe I would drop out of this challenge, even though I never had that thought before.  I thought maybe I don’t really like the activity of writing so much that it eclipses all other activities.  I thought maybe I don’t really want to publish a book, after all.

I got busy with my day and didn’t think too much about it again until I sat down to write my post just now for Day 13.

A question came up on Facebook on our Write31Days group page, and yet again the very defensive administrator with a lot of bravado was rude in response to my follow-up question.

I decided just to think about her retort; perhaps to address it tomorrow, if not disregard it altogether.

Then I poked around for a bit, and independent of the thought of her curtness or any other specific impetus, I decided on a bit of impulse just to deactivate my Facebook account.

I’m really surprised I did this.  And yet I am not at all surprised.

Ever since I started this challenge, and the actual putting into practice-do as I say Breaking Free from Fatigue-I have really been too busy for Facebook.  And I also have not been as reliant on it…

Facebook was a perfect go-to when I was fatigued, but now that I am trying so hard to push past the rest it required, I find I not only don’t have the time for Facebook, I also find I am losing interest in it.

For one thing, I have a stack of books I want to read, a party to plan, a bunch of writing to do, and a house to prepare for guests, along with meals to prepare to feed them.  Plus, I am still trying to walk 5 miles a day.  Just the party prep could take me the whole of the rest of this week.  I wonder what life will feel like without the daily connection that is Facebook?

Actually, as this 31 Day Writing Challenge continues, I think going off Facebook is the perfect thing for me to do.  It’s such a perfect idea, I really don’t know why I didn’t think of it in the first place.

Perhaps it was because at the time this writing challenge launched, I was involved with 100 Days of Happy Photosand wanted to finish that challenge, which was also initiated on Facebook. In fact, tomorrow is our last day: it will be exactly one hundred days that I’ve been sharing in the group, mostly daily, photographs of things that bring happiness my way each day (the featured photo above is one I took for this group).  I feel a little badly about abandoning the 100 Happy Photographs project, but I can always post my photo(s) here, if I want to. Or, I can explain when I return.  I will go back on Facebook in time–I just don’t know when.  Perhaps I will wait until this 31 Day Writing challenge is over.

Most importantly, being off Facebook will give me more time to focus on the new habits I am trying to build, in order to replace the physical rest that dominated my days.  This will be a great day for me, if not being exhausted ever occurs–a day I’ve long awaited!  In addition, I feel burned out on the pettiness that happens on Facebook, which I try most of the time to ignore.  I get tired of the superficiality and some of the practices that goes on there.  I feel as though I am looking for deeper, more meaningful connections, as I have always had in real life, since I try to avoid wasting time frivolously.  When I was fatigued, I had a lot of reading time but not always the best concentration.  Facebook was great for little blips of interest, even though I often fell asleep laptop in hand.

Yet, being as communicative as I am, it is difficult for me to spend five minutes and then disappear for six days–or worse, just to post a photo of a contorted cat that says, “Hang in There,” or some such thing, and then move away.  I don’t think in soundbites.  I may be too expressive for Facebook.  Too contemplative, maybe.  I don’t like the rituals that remind me of junior high/middle school, even though, again, I rarely let myself be bothered by them.  I’m just aware…and I need a break from all of it, apparently.

Besides, now that I am finally beginning to feel like a normal person, I want  to return to in person relationships, not just virtual.  I think this break is going to be beneficial, although I will probably miss all sorts of important news and changes in people’s lives.  I guess someone will have to call me, or I just won’t know…

This move is a big change for me, as I have been reading Facebook posts nearly daily for the whole latter five years or so of my recovery.  The operative here is “move.”  Alas, movement!  This has been my goal for so long.  It is exciting to be finally achieving such an important goal (even as my head hurts just a bit still).

Indeed, while almost completely unanticipated, going off Facebook feels like a huge evolution.  I mean, I knew I was aggravated with it at times, but I never realized I would be able to make such a swift, clean break.  I also guess I never let myself realize just how aggravating it has become.  I always tend to focus on the positives, and there are many positives to social networking.

Perhaps blogging fulfills a similar sort of social need that Facebook does?  There certainly is not the same amount of interaction.  Same with tweeting, I suppose, which is also different from the Facebook culture.

I do worry somewhat that people won’t know what happened to me, since I made no announcement of my leaving, and maybe even that I will lose “friends” I don’t want to lose.  But anyone who cares should know how to find me here; at least they say they are reading my blog.  All and all, if they really want to connect, I’m sure they will be able to find me some other way other than Facebook.

I don’t think anything urgent will happen while I’m gone–except, OOPS, I was supposed to go pick up a Halloween costume for $6.00 for our granddaughter from someone I don’t know and will no longer have contact information for.  Oh, my.  Like I said, I really didn’t think it all the way through.  At the time, it just seemed like the perfect thing to do.  Surely it is better than stopping my writing challenge, no?  Better than giving up writing for good?  And by for good, I mean for forever.  If I have to choose between writing, moving and Facebook, Facebook is going to lose every time…

I do wonder how much time will pass before I return to Facebook.  I’m hoping that I at least take the rest of this month off.  It’s going to be interesting to see how this goes.

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I?

This is Day 13 in the 31 Day Writing Challenge, 31 Days of Breaking Free from Fatigue


© debra valentino, all rights reserved,