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Pickle Me This

March 2, 2021

Something to Be Said for an Island

During the past year, I lost all my patience with the hive mind. I don’t think I’d ever blocked an acquaintance on Facebook before, but this year it’s been something of a reflex, and not even without sometimes telling that acquaintance to fuck off first , as in *typing it right out there in the comments thread,* instead of just yelling at my screen as per usual.

I mostly have quit Twitter altogether, because constant access to everybody’s thought processes like a ticker-tape was turning me into a misanthrope.

I still marvel at all those curious enough to put the big questions onto social media, beyond maybe, “What are your plans for tonight’s supper?” I am here for the minutia and your photos of your cats. But oh my god, I have never cared less what you think about vaccinations, or lockdowns, when you’re local nail salons should open, and my aversion to the airing of these concerns is so apolitical—the over-anxious bother me as much as the laissez-faire types. (Though it’s worth noting that I don’t have many of the latter in my circles, really. And if I did, I probably told them all to fuck off last April…)

I think it’s because I’ve found this very tenuous balance of keeping it together, and anything that causes me to waver makes me irate. And I don’t mean “anything” in terms of data, facts or news stories—I am always happy to consider these, because it’s not like I don’t inhabit reality, but it’s just other people’s feelings, other people’s fears and worries about the same things I fear and worry about—I just absolutely lack the capacity to take them on board.

Which is why my blog has more than ever seemed like a beloved retreat. Where I go to write pieces for myself, and I don’t even share some of the posts on social media because I really don’t care what anybody thinks of them, and I write these pieces for myself more than anything. If someone shows up and finds my thoughts worthwhile, then that’s terrific, but it’s not like I’m broadcasting them, you know? It’s “I don’t care what you think,” but not even from a place that’s defensive. Like really, all the work I can do right now is the work in my own head.

(It’s worth remarking that I have infinite capacity for other people’s blog posts, for their thoughtfulness and process, for work that makes me think. It’s the more surfacey, less exploratory kind of content that I just can’t contend with.)

And the strange thing about all of this is that while I’ve also been having no truck with the virtuals, I’ve been trying very hard to be zen about the actuals. Accepting that the behaviour of others is beyond my control, trying to trust that most people will make good-enough choices for our community, and trying not to lose my mind about people who don’t, because that anger serves no one. Possibly this is easier because the actual people are more theoretical these days of isolation, and virtual people are all getting up there in my online grill, having ideas and opinions, and everything.

(It is possible that the latter group of people drives me up the wall because they are proof that Project of Live-and-let-live is a lost cause? Or does Live–and-Let-Live only work if you keep people at a remove [ie not while receiving a tickertape of their every waking thought]?)

On the weekend, there was an article in the newspaper about “conspirituality,” which is the kind of nonsense I’m all over—if you ever want me to read an article, make sure it’s about a cult, is what I am saying. And I checked out the Instagram account for the woman mentioned in the first half of the article, and couldn’t stop scrolling because her audacity and entitlement was just so fascinating to me, like all I want to do is figure it out… But I won’t. And eventually I had to stop because if I didn’t, my brain would have exploded, and I just have to let it go, let that whackadoodle woman do her whackadoodle thing, and let all her whackadoodle fans respond to her posts with the worshipping hands emoji.

Like I’m reconsidering the idea of society as a web, is what my point here, or maybe I’m talking about (just?) the web as a web instead. This blog as the place I’ve got out in the country, off the grid, where we’re collecting the water in a rain-barrel, and while you’re welcome to stop by and I’ll pour you a cold glass of lemonade, there is really something to be said for an island.

4 thoughts on “Something to Be Said for an Island”

  1. Sharon says:

    oooo…. reading about cults has also been a whole pandemic thing for me. the leggings MLM cult (i can’t remember what they are called but the woman who founded the scam is a mormon and the leggings are accidentally obscene) was one rabbit hole i fell down on a saturday night. and then on a totally different saturday i read about justin beiber’s hillsong church. in the end, it’s all the same scam though is what i’m realizing. and it’s all very cliche. but the way the same scam reincarnates is fascinating.

    1. Melanie says:

      Do you mean the LulaRoe cult? Because I fell down that rabbit hole one day too and it was CRAZY.

      1. Sharon says:

        yes! that’s them…. it was a wild ride.

  2. Melanie says:

    I’ve given up social media for Heathen Lent because I just really can’t hack it right now with all that is going on. I’m trying not to put my head in the sand about politics but I have to say that not know every detail about what is going on in some peoples lives has been really refreshing. (Plus the amount of people who aren’t me getting dogs has been upsetting in a way I can’t talk about online.) I can’t really say I have been more productive with my time – except maybe in the cooking and knitting sense (finsihed a fair isle toque for my dad today that only took me about two weeks – not four months like my sister’s Christmas present) but the noise level of EVERYTHING was getting to be too much. I’m still posting on my site though and not even bothering to push it through to Twitter and letting people know so I can definitely relate to that. People know where I am on the web if they really want to find me which makes the people who I am communicating with just that much more special right now.

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