Someone asked me on Saturday, why my Facebook time line was full of political stuff. ‘What happened to pictures of cakes?’ He said.
I gave a brief explanation to which he replied: ‘Sometimes less is more…’
It was all very amicable, but it did leave me thinking about what and how I post. Here’s what I think.
It’s my Facebook feed. It’s my blog. It’s my Twitter account. You don’t have to friend me, follow me or read me. Even if you friend me, you can mute me. I won’t mind. I’m not asking you to agree with me. I’m not asking you to repost my wisdom. I’m not asking you to read everything I post. By ‘you’ I mean anyone who friends/follows me.
I don’t police what other people put on their feeds. It’s their space to do what they want with. If I don’t like it, I deal with my own response to it, not their stuff.
I know I post a lot. I know what I post isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I’m fine with the idea that people might not want to read it. It isn’t compulsory. I have masses of friends who don’t read my blog for example. Sometimes they apologise.
I wonder why.
It’s really difficult to explain that I don’t write for ‘you’. I write for me, because I have to. Because it’s a compulsion that drives me. It’s also why I post stuff. If you want to read what I’ve posted, great, but I’m not holding a gun to your head.
I don’t monetise the blog. I don’t use the blog to advertise anything except the thoughts and feelings I have, the knowledge I learn or the things I want to think about. I’ve done this deliberately to give myself the freedom to write and post without compromising myself to anyone or anything. The other arms of social media I use are extensions of that utterly selfish desire to please myself.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been increasingly using my Facebook feed to look into deeper questions that the EU referendum has thrown up and ask people if they have the answers to some of the things I’ve not been able to find out/figure out for myself. I’ve also used it as a space to shape and think about my own thoughts, fears and ideas more clearly. It’s a huge issue. It’s a huge issue I think it’s important to think about and not wander blindly into. It’s such a huge issue that there isn’t room inside my head for all the stuff I want to think about. Putting it on social media is like laying it all out where I can look at the wider picture. It’s brilliant for when it’s all tumbling around in the tiny space of my cranium, driving me mad, keeping me up at nights.
I accept that not everyone is as worried about it as me. I accept that other people might prefer not to have what’s happening in their face all the time. I accept that some people think it is impolite to talk about politics or sex, or religion. I’m not one of them. I never have been. It’s not a new facet of my personality. Nor is the fact that I write/talk/think a lot.
That’s where the mute/block/unfriend thing comes into play. By all means use them.
I started using the internet as a place to dump my stuff. It was and is, a place to level out what was happening to me in a life I often find overwhelming. Initially it was parenting that did, now it’s everything that’s happening in the world. The fact that I have dialogue with people about it en route, is an added bonus. It’s great, but it’s not the point.
Parenting still has a massive influence on why I write and post. It might not seem like it now, as the children feature less and less, but it’s true. I no longer need a place to vent because I get no sleep, or because I don’t know how to deal with head lice without losing my shit again, or because I need reassuring that a four hour tantrum won’t melt mental synapses in a six year old.
Now I need a place to vent so that I can, in my real life, try to guide my children into the adult world without loading them with my fears, my worries, my own preconceptions. I need a place where I can try to sort out how I feel from what is real, so that when I sit across the dinner table from my children and we talk about immigration, or health care, or how academisation will affect them, or if we can afford to send them to university, or how wanting to go and study in France will be affected by Brexit I can try to offer them balance rather than the screaming hysteria I so often feel.
I need this so that I can say: ‘I don’t know, but this is how we find out.’ I need this so that I can say: ‘I looked into this, and this is what I thought, but this is what is real.’ I need this so that I can say: ‘This bit is scare mongering, but this stuff is the real shit, and I’m worried.’ I need this so that I can model for my children what I think responsible adulting looks like, because that’s what I think appropriate parenting is.
I’m not asking you to agree. I’m not asking you to model my behaviour. I’m telling you this is how I operate. If you don’t like it, well you’re not my child. You’re not my relative. You don’t have to meet me at parties. You have options. Use them.
Dumping here means functioning better in my real life. It works for me, and I don’t want to let it go. I don’t want to compromise it by thinking that there are things I can’t say in case ‘you’ don’t like it.
And there is still cake. There will always be cake. Even over the last few weeks there has been cake.
There has also been theatre, and books, and snorting discussions about dick pictures. There have been cocktails and fancy restaurants and afternoon teas. There have been Sixties themed parties, and visits to gin palaces, and escapes to London. There has been Amanda Palmer, and poetry and the Royal Academy summer exhibition. There have been restaurants, and birthday parties and Crystal Maze type escapes from underground nuclear bunkers. There have been family dinners, and pub quizzes and Daniel Kitson. There has been Nina Stibbe and museums and Art House. There has been friendship, so much friendship and love and connection. There has been family.
There has also been laughter, and stupidity and silliness, and more laughter.
And that has been possible, partly because of the other side of things, the darker, more stressful, more mental side of things not being shut up inside my brain, racketing around, clamouring to be heard, heaping depression and misery and sadness and mentalness like coals upon my head, until all I am fit for is the basket weaving department.
Cake will undoubtedly feature again when I am less afraid, less disgusted, less troubled by the world. If you can’t wait, it’s been nice knowing you. If you can, hang in there. Cake is never off.