Tag Archives: facebook

Facebook Engagement Fatigue

I’m not sure what it is about chilly weather, but all the sudden diamond rings abound on my Newsfeed.

marryme

I should start this by saying that I am happy for people who want to get married and then get asked to be married, and that I hope everyone is successful in their relationships, and anything else they put their mind to for that matter. I always feel defensive when I talk about being irritated or annoyed or uncomfortable with this stuff, because folks assume that I am man-hating/bitter/hate love/unromantic, etc. But that’s categorically untrue.

That being said, all the hand photos, to show off the ring, and the #isaidyes hashtag and the really large bridal parties and the floofy dresses and the stuff… I don’t know guys. It has me feeling…. itchy.

mindyno

I think my itchiness comes from the fact that so much of what is shared is steeped in traditions that I find deeply problematic. Rather than coming up with new traditions, making room for alternative partnerships and lifestyles, we are creating hashtags and crafting cute announcements that show just how pretty and fabulous and romantic the whole event it using our iPhones and social media presences. But it’s the same old story (emphasis on old). I think most people’s journey is a lot more interesting than a photo of your hand with a new ring, or a new hashtag, or a new name…

a smattering of results from an #isaidyes search
a smattering of results from an #isaidyes search

Ah yes, the issue of names. On Facebook this is particularly apparent, because all of the sudden your friend from high school that you used to skip class with and drive around with and yearn for college with isn’t searchable under their name. Same with the girls who lived on your dorm floor in college. They have a new name. I can never think about these old friends as anyone other than the name I met them with. I can’t be the only one for whom this is disconcerting (can I?). It feels so retro, so abrupt. It seems so serious, so fundamental. And I guess maybe that’s the point, but who the fuck can keep track of all these old girlfriends, with their new names?

who?

I know people who are excited about changing their name, and that’s fine. But when you look at it in cultural context, I think this tradition sucks. I know this question isn’t exactly earth shattering, but why should women have to change their identifying name, their family name? Think about growing up, being part of your family, but knowing that one day your last name would be different and that you would, symbolically, be part of a different family and no longer your own. That’s fucking weird. I can’t imagine having a name that is different then my name now. It feels right, my name. It has a rhythm, I have a catchphrase, and I’d never wanna be anyone else. I think your name is a large part of your identity and personality, and like it or not this tradition places women in a cycle of having first their fathers and then their husbands determine this identity marker. Oddly enough, I don’t feel strongly about my own future child having my name because they will be their own person, a little monster with their own identity and personality. But I do feel strongly about my name, my ties to my own 3 person original family unit, and no matter what my family looks like moving forward I wish to always have my name to bond me to them and to my memories.

tradition-o

I know people like tradition. And I’m not really against a person changing their name to symbolize a new union. But why not have both parties change it, to maybe a hyphenated name (ugh, I hate hyphenating) or some kind of hybrid, or I mean it could be anything at all! Your drag queen name or an allusion to your favorite poet/character/musician or the street your grew up on or that you met or WHATEVER. Why does it have to be so literal, so patriarchal? And all those other traditions that are played out too, like why are all my girlfriends waiting for a ring presentation when these kinds of decision can (and arguably should) be made together? Why a diamond ring when we all know that tradition was invented and sold to consumers by the diamond industry itself? Why a white wedding dress when that color upholds virginity as the ultimate female virtue, and anyway not everyone looks good in white? Why not rethink all of it? I wish we could all think outside the box more when it comes to unions and love and partnerships.

blaineproposal
Homoerotic, but heteronormative. #justsayin

So yea anyway, love is great and I’m glad people are finding it. But just a heads up, no one’s hand looks pretty in those ring photos. It’s weird. Post a photo of you and your partner and your smiling, joyful faces. That’s what it’s really about anyway, right?

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Gender Options as Defined by Your FBook Profile (duh)

Alright Facebook, I’ll bite. What’s up with the 50-plus new custom gender options?

Full statement here.
Full statement here.

Now, yet again, plenty of people are already being critical of this move…

hermoineeyeroll

and I have to say I think that’s an unproductive first reaction. The fact that they are dealing with this at all is stellar. And they put together quite a list! Here is the full list as assembled by Slate, 56 options:

  • Agender
  • Androgyne
  • Androgynous
  • Bigender
  • Cis
  • Cisgender
  • Cis Female
  • Cis Male
  • Cis Man
  • Cis Woman
  • Cisgender Female
  • Cisgender Male
  • Cisgender Man
  • Cisgender Woman
  • Female to Male
  • FTM
  • Gender Fluid
  • Gender Nonconforming
  • Gender Questioning
  • Gender Variant
  • Genderqueer
  • Intersex
  • Male to Female
  • MTF
  • Neither
  • Neutrois
  • Non-binary
  • Other
  • Pangender
  • Trans
  • Trans*
  • Trans Female
  • Trans* Female
  • Trans Male
  • Trans* Male
  • Trans Man
  • Trans* Man
  • Trans Person
  • Trans* Person
  • Trans Woman
  • Trans* Woman
  • Transfeminine
  • Transgender
  • Transgender Female
  • Transgender Male
  • Transgender Man
  • Transgender Person
  • Transgender Woman
  • Transmasculine
  • Transsexual
  • Transsexual Female
  • Transsexual Male
  • Transsexual Man
  • Transsexual Person
  • Transsexual Woman
  • Two-Spirit

gagaconfusedGIF

I know, that list is cray! But don’t fret if you don’t know all those terms off the top of your head. Here is a helpful glossary from the Daily Beast! This list is pretty thorough, and it certainly proves that this did their homework, so brownie points for research and execution!

SYTYCDgif

I fully support including Cis options, even though it’s not very common to self-identify as Cis. I kind of think self identifying that way is a nice way to show that you are an ally, but that’s just me thinking out loud. I think my personal favorite choice is two spirit, just because it sounds so lovely. My other favorite new function is the select your own pronoun option. The use of incorrect pronouns can be a very personally hurtful experience for some folks, and in most public spaces we generally don’t engage in pronoun check-ins (where you ask a person which pronouns they wish to be referred to by.) Being referred to as ‘him’ when you feel you are a ‘her’ or a ‘they’ or a ‘zhe’ (an example of gender neutral pronouns, which are not yet an option) is super awkward and isolating, and I applaud this functional link (which isn’t immediately apparent to folks even if they are open minded and respectful of fluidity.) That’s a big win!

bbtcelebrationGIF

I don’t have it in me to criticize what I think is an important first step. Instead I will make my own wish list of what I’d like to see them do in the future with these options. Some people think gender options should be removed altogether, but I’m not convinced. I think defining gender for oneself is the most important and empowering tool, and to that end I would love to be able to type in whatever I want into the custom field (I tried yesterday to change my gender identity to ‘dope chick’, but it didn’t take.) It would also be cool is the Male/Female options weren’t removed from all the other options as if they were ‘normal’ and the others ‘other’.

other-ing, so lame.
other-ing, so lame.

Another tricky point is that these options are generally used by Facebook to shape advertising content. I think that sucks, for all sorts of reasons that run from personal privacy to gender assumptions to ad-overload in general. I don’t want my personal information being used without my knowledge as a marketing resource (and I know I’m shit out of luck with that at this point, but it’s still not cute.) And also I hate that my ads are all about fashion and babies, neither of which I focus any part of my life on at this time. And advertising is a classic chicken and egg question. Do they assign certain ads to women because we really do want/need all this shit, or do we want/need it because we are sold a bullshit view of ourselves and our place in the world by ads? (Hint: The answer is both.) So I think that until the gender options are ‘no string’s attached’, a pure choice of self-expression not linked to ad content selection, none of us will truly be free to be our ‘true, authentic selves’. At least not on our Facebook profile. But maybe that’s not even the point…

probably won't find your 'true self' in your online profile... #justsayin
probably won’t find your ‘true self’ in your online profile… #justsayin

I can’t wait for the moment when this crap doesn’t matter. As this move highlights, gender identity is sewn into how we talk about, refer to, categorize and relate to other people in lots of complicated ways. It defines romantic relationships (boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife), familiar relationships (mother/father, aunt/uncle), and it sets the tone for how we interact with other people. We make assumptions about their personalities and interests, and we make hundreds of those assumptions in a split second. But the binary system is so reductive and simple, it doesn’t begin to cover the complexities and grey areas that most humans exist with and within. Online interactions are not going away, and blending our real-world and online identities will only get harder as those identities continue to overlap and morph. A huge company like Facebook paving the way for more inclusion and fluidity is phenoms. Giving consumers the option to define their gender and pronoun choices and privacy options in their way and on their own terms is the ultimate goal, and I do believe this is a major victory towards that end.

firststep

leogatsbycelebrationGIF

The Internet is Really Really Great… For Porn

Ok this isn’t gonna be about internet porn, thats just a fun song. Check it.

(This show includes puppet sex. Its hilarious. Ave Q, off Bway, but tickets here.)

So puppets are fun, but that wasn’t totally just for funsies. I wanna talk about how this fast paced digital age is making love harder. And not just harder, but maybe even impossible. First, a love story.

Nice. Kicks.

(Short shorts alert.) That is my favorite photo of my parents, all time, taken on their first date. Sort of. See, they met in high school sort of, then became friends in college. (Daddy was an athlete and Mommy was taking his ankle. Precious.) Then Mom moved out to Arizona for a bit, during which time they wrote letters. As in pens, paper, and the USPS. When she came back it was clear they were in love, they got engaged, and a wedding ensued (if i could get my hands on the wedding photos for you I would. Ken had a perm and Patricia can’t stop crying. Classic.) They have been married for 28 years. I am lucky to be able to bear witness to their functioning, loving relationship.

I maintain that how their love unfolded would be impossible today. First of all, they got to know each other over many years, and they did so by spending time together face to face. No texting, no facebook, nothing even close to instantaneous. On that note, did you notice that whole letter writing period. That is an extended absence, a period of longing. They weren’t texting every day, or even on the phone, and they still made a concerted effort to write each other. There is something about the way time works. Now, I have relationships whose entire story arc is only hours long. There is this whole new communication that we all type and read, which is kind of weird and sometimes confusing. Also, we get to know people now in digital space, usually before we get to know them in real space. This, to me, is the hardest obstacle. I mean, its not like I’m not who I seem to be on facebook, but that sure as shit is the prettiest funniest most care-free version of me. And once you think you know someone, if it turns out thats not the truth or whole truth, its really hard to accept that they aren’t who you met on screen (personal experience.)

I know constant communication seems great, but isn’t there something to be said for learning someone slowly? I know couples who fight for days, simply because when they leave mutual real space they fight via text message. So the fight never really ends and no one has time to cool off, and it just spirals into jibberish. Not cute. And honestly, if you just met a person, what the fuck is there to say in a text other than “hey i wanna hang w/ u soon.” (or something less lame. Obviously I’m bad at dating. And texting.) I maintain that love is not just about knowing someone’s thoughts and feelings, but it’s about their physicality. You have to love how they laugh at your jokes, love how they stand when they are cooking or washing dishes. You have to learn the way they like to spoon and kiss, the way they look when they are concentrating, the way they sit when they think you aren’t looking. That stuff is not digital space stuff, and it won’t happen in the time it takes to text. I think if we don’t slow down, we are gonna lose love and have to figure something else out. I know it’s survived the entire course of human history, but this age is unlike any other. ‘All you need is love’ may be true, but just because it’s the thing, doesn’t mean it isn’t breakable or loseable or ruinable. Sometimes, I feel like I’m forgetting, like we are all forgetting, how to fall in love.

“No, this trick won’t work…How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?”

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

– Albert Einstein

Anti-Women Politics. Really Very Infuriating

Shout out to my partner in crime Amanda for sending me this article. Things like this make me really angry, and sometimes after a day of recovering from last night it’s nice to get riled up. This, kiddies, is gonna be a rant.

In an article you can find here, although I’m gonna paraphrase it so it’s up to you, I learned just how cracked out old white men really are. Our government wants to cut all funding to Planned Parenthood. If you’ve never been to PP, let me tell you about them. They provide basic healthcare, including diabetes screening, breast and cervical cancer screenings, PAP smears, and STD tests. Mostly, they provide for low income women, including minors. PP began in 1916, and since then they’ve been working to provide comprehensive healthcare that respects the rights of individuals. (check out their facebookpage, I’m borrowing heavily. Yay research!)

Of course, no one is really talking about all that. They are taking the brilliant reductionist approach, and talking about abortion. Which PP does do. Legally. And, it doesn’t use any of the government funds to do so, cause that shit is already prohibited. Some people think PP is a waste of the governments money, probably the same people that think universal health care makes us socialists. But these same people have no plan in place to protect the women who depend on these services. ‘Sure, but Lexi,’ you might ask, ‘why do women need their own healthcare places? Do they have special needs?’ Well, you, the answer is OF COURSE WE DO! First of all, when modern medicine was coming into being, it was being written by men. By men and for men. So women’s bodies, from the start, are marked as ‘other’. Why do you think menstruation is such a big deal? Cause men think its fucking outrageous that we can bleed for seven days and not die. If women had been the pioneers of the profession, it would just be a normal part of life. Which it is. In fact, it’s kind of awesome. God women are cool…

But I digress. Women focused/friendly healthcare is hard to find. Especially if you are broke and/or uninsured. Women have unique needs, and marginalized women have unique concerns. Birth control is a huge deal, especially when you consider that some women might have partners or husbands who oppose using it. Screenings of all kind are also important, as most diseases are treatable if caught early. To say that an organization who provides these things is a waste of money is incredibly short sighted and does not take into account the needs of ALL women.

Ok so real quick, abortion. I can’t bring myself to say that you have to believe in abortion to be a feminist. But on the other hand, a movement does have to have some perimeters or it is meaningless. So when Sarah Palin says she’s a feminist, I say well that just a crock of shit. She is a woman who is a product of a movement that she in no way supports. I mean, encouraging women to be more politically active is great. But all of her other stances are anti-woman. My personal views on abortion are not relevant, what’s relevant is that I support each woman’s right to make her own decision. To say otherwise means that you support forcing a woman to endure a dangerous, 9 month period of physical change and discomfort. It also means that women don’t matter as much as a potential man. I really really hate that abortion is such a marquee issue, but I understand that people wanna weigh in on who gets personhood. Mostly, however, its a medical procedure and it shouldn’t matter why it’s necessary and for that matter if you don’t have a uterus you shouldn’t get a say in the issue at all. Because you will never be effected by the debate the way any woman would be.

Whew. Ok that was a lot. Here’s the thing though guys, no one wants to have an abortion. It’s not fun. Its an agonizing decision and a really shitty experience. I think if we had better healthcare and eduction we could avoid the whole mess way more than we do now. But you can’t force women to be pregnant. And taking away money from an organization that does so much good is irresponsible. If you wanna wear your feminist badge, its gotta be about the needs of all women, not just those of us with a voice.

Confidence

This is gonna be a personal story with a video attachment. That’s right, I’m coming out of the gate swingin!

I (as mentioned in my ‘About’ page, check it out!) am getting a Masters degree. (I’ve started calling in my Mistress degree to call attention to the inadequacy and bias of language, but that’s another story for another day.) Last semester I was in a class titled ‘Thesis Seminar’. All of us were gathered to prepare to write our thesis, the seminal project in our MA journey. We spent all semester commiserating, discussing, freaking out, and working super hard on proposals and definitions and personal essays. The culminating event was a night of creative presentations (we are all completing artistic thesis’, ie a thesis w/ an artistic component.) Everyone got a chance to show some of their work, whether it was photographs, videos, or a reading of plays or novels or memoirs. I cannot express to you how impressive each and every student in the room was. Each scholar was a talented expert in their field, and it was painfully clear to me how hard we’d all been working and how great all of our projects were going to be. I was moved and inspired by every single one of my classmates.

The other realization that was painfully clear was less positive. I realized that all of us, myself included, had spent all semester down playing how smart we were. I accounted for this by acknowledging that the room was filled almost entirely with women, mostly artists, and many projects occupying a queer space in academia. We all made jokes and expressed insecurity, and none of us had owned our expertise. We were all being quiet and hesitant, afraid to believe that we knew what the fuck we were doing. And all of us do. All of us really do.

This is not a phenomenon that is exclusive to academia. It happens everywhere. Women are much more likely then men to quietly succeed, to second guess themselves, to attribute their success to some factor other than themselves. This is a huge obstacle to personal success and fulfillment, in any field. I for one am trying to succeed more loudly, to let people know about my work and how cool I think it is and how proud I am so be earning my Mistress at age 23 (I’m a baby, I know.) So don’t be shy about how smart and dope you are. Make sure you own your intelligence and expertise. It might not always be easy to be a smart woman, but confidence in your abilities is the only way to make it to the top. You don’t have to be a bitch about it (unless the situation calls for that) but remember this: it ain’t braggin if you’ve already done it.

And now, a video that (in part) discusses this. This is the full video, there are also shorter clips if you don’t have 15 mins. But you should just watch when you do have 15 mins…

Now go have an intelligent convo w/ someone, and don’t you dare apologize for how smart you are or how much you are talking. Dominate the convo. Be proud. Be loud.  Be… well, I ran out of rhymes, but just remember that confidence is not bitchy-ness and that you deserve to shine to your full brightness potential. Those who think you are too bright should fuck off or buy sunglasses.