Sunday, December 11, 2016

euphorically tweeting

Today, I begin writing about the euphoria of Twitter, the quick hit rush of blurting, the joy of sensing that I might be heard when my voice seems so small, especially in light of the emergence of this new political disaster.

Things I expect to find:
  1. Immediate references to the 2016 election and that one guy who can't stop endangering our country with his tweets.
  2. Lots more of #1.
  3. Warnings about "your brain on Twitter."
  4. Neurobiological analysis of how Twitter rewards (yum!) circulate within our limbic system.
And this should be interesting. I'm maybe more interested in:
  1. Theorizing the neural turn and how our renewed attentiveness to neurobiological systems and rhetoric help us to both understand, and maybs to alter our social media practices, especially 
  2. in Twitter. Because brevity. The ease of the "quick hit," the endorphin rush, the euphoria that feeds our feeds (clev/not clev, but this is part of it, the shift in our desire toward clever shortform articulation).
And then, the exigence for my writing about any of this:
  1. Exploring how Election 2016 has meant more tweeting for me. And not only more tweeting, ...
  2. ... but tweeting without shame, with far fewer retractions (i am a serial deleter because of some of the things i have written about -- and presented at the conference of the 2016 Rhetoric Society of America -- shaming in social media, especially for academic rhetoricians, who are "supposed to know better" (than to post THIS or THAT).

Sunday, September 25, 2016

social media is people!

not a selfie, but so very much about
self, self-identity, choice. there's
a great story about my determined 
choice to be photographed in THIS
dress. MINE! 
... messy, icky, less-than-ideally *curated* people. Following my interest in conceptions of "self" that have shifted through time*, on into our selfie loving cultures, I am currently collecting resources on the contemporary ability to "curate" selves through social media. Of course, we have always been curators (of selves). What I am interested in exploring is the emergence and uptake of seemingly helpful discourses reiterating the everyday claim that we choose to be in certain ways; we choose to represent ourselves strategically. Cue Goffman, but wow ... there are many fine voices articulating this by-now quite obvious reality.

What gets me is how we in Rhetoric and Composition (and in Writing Studies, Digital Media Studies, Digital Humanities, etc., etc.) are exploring and teaching curatorial practices as forms of sound rhetorical knowledge that we should possess, that we should be wise enough to obediently practice. I am interested in these helpful discourses even as I find many reasons to resist their pedagogical desire.

All of this is to mark the beginning of my work on the next book, C'est Mwah! I am referring to my book on selfies and the constellating images, films, screen moments, and discourses that help shape our investments in taking selfies, sharing selfies, and dissing selfies. Me? I'm pro-selfie, but it's complicated. More in the book. 

*it was Diane Davis who finally helped clarify my thinking. Her work on rhetoricity has been generously instructive in ways words cannot describe. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

things i learned about myself at the conference(s)

I love conferences. I have always loved performing. People often say that they enjoy my performances, so I like to think it's time well spent, and, lucky me, getting to do this thing I love! Also, I like people. I enjoy my professional relationships; however, I am a trained extrovert, so it doesn't always come easy. That's what this post is about.

Over the last 2 weeks, I've presented 3 times in 2 different cities. It was a lot of travel, bingewriting and freakout editing, and it was all jammed togeth in a tough schedule. These are not ideal conditions for anyone, but for a trained extrovert on the tail end of some difficult personal losses (both parents, both very recently) and in the midst of career uncertainty, it was extra tough. I learned quite a bit during this tough time. Rather, I re-learned many things about who I am, how I am, and just what I think I'm doing as a social, professional being. Because this is about the learned/re-learned stuff, please know that these lessons have been a long time coming, have a long history, and may have nothing at all to do with these particular conferences and the lovely people in attendance; it's more about me in social/professional life, in general. So, what did I learn?

1.) I learned that I really, really care - a lot - about what I present, and how. I love live performances, and I want to move my audience. I read often the social media posts of colleagues who are "writing it on the plane," and my head explodes. I mean, that is really so nice for you if you can do that, but ME? Impossible. It's true that as a university professor (and actor), I can "think on my feet," but there are limits. Knowing my limits is good. So no shame. No shame if you can't dash off a brilliant performance script. Also, not everyone wants to hear about my process of composing. I too share on social media the nature and status of my projects, but, again, 

 2.) I learned that I have some particularly awkward relationships. When in proximity with the person(s) with whom I experience strained co-existence, silence is my best friend. See, I'm a person who can't stand to think that I've wronged, annoyed, or upset you. I also want to be liked. This sometimes translates into MY DUMB VOICE filling a void between us that really, really, really just wants to be a void. I can do silence. It's not easy because of all that longing and, well, once a hairdresser (see "trained extrovert") ... But yeah, silence. More silence. Because, like weirdly gushing to a celebrity you happen to meet, this strange bleating is never well met. If it's weird, just zip it. 

 3.) I learned that if I am seemingly neglected in some group situation, I am still amazing. I enjoy a cocktail or a meal, even alone; I can step out of the flow (and demands) of embodied sociality for a bit. Chill. And if, in that moment of feeling/being so alone, someone or a small group invites me to their thing, I have learned to give it serious consideration. I may, in some momentary bout of sadness-distancing bravado think, "Sure! Yes! ... Let's do this!" and it may go well, but if I am very deeply troubled by the current state of affairs, I may end up whining rather than being my lovely and amazing self. So, be amazing, alone or with others; if I'm too troubled, solitude is the answer. Hopefully, I can go and be amazing (hint: I can*).

These are just a few of the things I've learned. I think that if I am able to internalize this learning, I will do better socially and professionally. Yes, I'm unhappy to have to re-learn this stuff at all, but when your life throws you around for a while and you're generally untethered due to chance operations that leave you not quite yourself, you will have to re-learn, as well. I'll be here. I want to close with some hip, podcasty-slash-oldtimey radio voice of wisdom, to tell you that you will be okay. I hope I will. I hope you will. And remember:  

1.) Limits are good. 
2.) If it's gonna be weird, just zip it. 
3.) You are amazing. 

* originally drafted with an exclamation point but bonnie.
image source