The fatigue. Don’t deny you’re feeling it.
If you are a daily participant in social media, you’ve got to be getting a little sick of it all. So much complaining and judging, justified and otherwise. So much trolling. So many egos.
It starts to affect you. I know. I let a Twitter troll get under my skin recently. A stranger criticizing my opinions because I’m not the target demographic for contemporary pop music. (“You’re too old to get it,” etc.) It’s the kind of thing critics are supposed to laugh off, and most of the time, I do. But this one got to me. I found myself acting tense and stressed at home with my family. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The troll had won. He’d set up shop in my brain.
I got over it. But during the 24-hour fugue state the nastiness had thrust me into, it occurred to me that social media has by this point completely taken over how we communicate, how we think, how we speak, even how we’re governed. That’s sad.
I decided to look for some positivity out there. I looked to the musicians and artists first. It didn’t take me long to find cause to reclaim my normal state of general optimism and (relatively) good humor.
David Byrne must have had me in my mind when he started sharing posts from his Reasons to be Cheerful site via Twitter. A recent piece on DocumentJournal.com outlined Byrne’s idea: “‘I’d get up in the morning, read the paper in bed, and it would really put a damper on things,’ (Byrne) says. ‘I ended up angry, depressed, and furious.’ Rather than being swept under by the growing tide of despair, Byrne decided to take stock and began collecting reports that made him feel optimistic about the future of humanity. ‘For my own mental health, I needed to do something,’ he explains.”
Reasons to be Cheerful proved to be exactly what I needed when I found it. It focuses on positive ways in which we can evolve and chip away at the surrounding darkness. It leaves the hate to the haters.
Patti Smith’s Instagram was my next stop, and it too seemed to turn up the signal and drown out the noise with its ego-less observations and its photographic meditations on the simple everyday beauties we seem to ignore with increasing ease in this era of disruption. Smith posts photos and accompanying text that seem to float in a pleasant ether somewhere to the left of and above judgment. This strikes me as beautiful.
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This is Tom Verlaine, the co-founder of the legendary band Television, that inaugurated CBGB’S. There is none like Tom, synthesizing Coltranesque improvisation, surf music and Sufi like mysticism, to form his unique style, highlighted by masterful use of the tremolo bar on his Fender Jazz. Master. Thank you Tom for your inspiring presence, expressionistic performances, and your poignant and humorous nature. Happy 69th birthday Tom Verlaine. You have indeed intoxicated angels.
Carlos Santana posts often, and I have been deeply moved by his vaguely Eastern, love-suffused prose-poems on possible means of returning to our truer, kinder natures and transcending negativity.
An example: “You may select/choose a different way to live/With light/love for the highest good/of all everyone and everything... please remember/ego is not your amigo/holy spirit is/peace on earth/Carlos.”
These people are doing important work. We who have social media voices should all emulate them. Because, as the old song goes, "One way or another, this darkness has got to give."