Why Social Media Feels Like Degrassi Jr. High

Sometimes Social Media feels like high school, or worse yet, middle school.  It’s like Degrassi Junior High with memes. Do you ever get that feeling that somehow we are all fighting for a second chance at first place? Or at least to not be the Facebook version of the dweeb from Mrs. Kraft’s 6th period History class — which I actually was by the way — so that maybe, just maybe, you can experience a sliver of the popularity you missed out on as a teenager?


I’ve had that feeling.  And I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I fell into the dangerous trap of relying on comments and emoticons to determine my mood and perceived popularity. It’s that moment I Instagram a perfectly crafted selfie and then dive into a hash-tag orgy with attendees like #fatshion #happy #lovinglife #myfatiscute #honorcurves #effyourbeautystandards #plusmodel #plusblogger #youdontknowaboutthislife #onmywaytothetop #naturalbeauty#checkmeoutnowimafunksoulsista  #godisblessingme #fuckyes #thisliferighthere, and so on.

The anticipation of what may or may not arrive post-post, is what I call “The Twitch.”  It lasts approximately 7 minutes, which is how long I wait before I let myself see who enjoyed my post (ok, it’s more like 4 minutes). 

When it’s good, it’s really good.  I’ve beat my record.  56 likes in under an hour. 17+ comments.  4 shares.  Fuck yeah. 

Other days, not so much. 2 likes, and one is from my mom.  Fuck.

As a writer, my biggest vulnerability is that I rely on you to approve, validate and praise my work.  It’s like being in the teen movie Clueless and I’m a dorky Britney Murphy. I await the virtual high I might get as a result of my writing efforts…Was my comment witty? Was it inspiring?  How many people liked it? Did anyone comment? Any new followers? Who shared it? Has it been 4 minutes yet?  Nope.  It’s been 37 seconds. 

The roller coaster of emotions is violent and thrilling.  It’s a high.  Dare I say, an addiction.  

I found myself worn out a few weeks ago, overwhelmed at work and, trying to keep up with my blogging, modeling, and various other projects.  The stress caused me to have a fibromyalgia flare up that forced me to slow down.  I decided to lay low, realizing I was under too much stress and that something had to change.  I got to talk to my boss about my illness and get the support I needed at the office.  But I also knew I needed a break from social media.  I always think I’m going to miss out on something HUGE if I look away for a second. But that rarely happens.  Actually, it has never happened.  

Don’t let this be you


So, I took about a week off from Facebook, Instagram and blogging.  And while it was tough the first day — it felt like withdrawal — after that I felt quite free.  I was no longer hostage to insanely long hash tags and scary selfies.  My mind quieted down.  I picked up the book on my nightstand in the evenings and read for hours.  I had not realized just how much time I was spending trying to stay relevant in social media.  As much as I wanted to stay away another week, I couldn’t.  I had an editorial spread in volup2 magazine come out, and I wanted to share it, which is one reason social media can be so great.  I’m pretty much back to my old ways, crafting witty emails and posting awesome photos of cute fat girls on my page.  But I’m slightly less neurotic about the whole thing, and that feels good.

Taking a break showed me that life does go on without me.  I learned that I like having time for my hobbies, like crafting and creating collages on Polyvore.  I realized that I don’t need to over-post either (showing restraint can be a good thing).  I also discovered that I’m not alone. There are other people who have experienced the same addictive feelings I have, and we agree it’s a tricky business.  Finding the right balance is what I’m always seeking in life, and this experiment was no different.


At the end of the day, this is isn’t junior high.  This is life, swirling around me with enough stress of its own.  My love affair with social media is really more of a crush now.  I’ll always flirt with it, but I won’t commit.  I’ll need to use it to promote my work and see the beautiful photos of my nieces and nephew growing up across the continent.  But I’ll rely on myself and my spirituality a lot more to lift me up and keep me going.  To the best of my ability, that is.

ciao for niao,
pia

My Love-Hate Relationship With Shapewear

Like lots of women, I have used shapewear over the years to “smooth out” my belly bulge and any cellulite that might peak through a fitted garment.  I have worn corsets, girdles, control top pantyhose and Spanx Booty-Booster Shorts. I always wanted to look sleeker and more toned because everyone knows that lumps and bumps are the anti-Christ (insert sarcasm here). God forbid I should look like the average woman. The idea that I could fool people into thinking that I do 100 squats a day seemed so easy and so, well, powerful.  I was screaming from the rooftops, “Look at my flat tummy and perfectly round glutes. Ain’t I awesome?” without ever having to say a word.  There was something safe about leaving the house and not worrying that a rogue body part might jiggle at the wrong time (i.e.anywhere other people roam). I literally feared and loathed my fat.  And that, my friends, is the sad truth.

Does this look familiar?

Does this look familiar?

In a society that worships thin women, I, for many years, believed that I had no other choice but to squeeze my body into uncomfortable contraptions, which would cut off my circulation and leave deep marks in my skin. Taking off a girdle at the end of a long day is by far one of the most freeing feelings ever (that and taking off your bra).  I was sort of addicted to looking thinner. But underneath all that, I think what I felt was bondage — not just physical bondage, but psychological too.

Naomi Wolf

That is exactly the sentiment I feel when struggling to get my thighs into a pair of Spanx.  I am obeying our culture’s decree that my body is inherently bad, and that a restrictive medieval contraption is the solution to body woes and low self-esteem.

Have you ever seen an ad for a man’s girdle?  I think I’ve seen one in my life, and I know plenty of men with large bellies, flabby arms and wide asses.  But they are somehow exempt from the same scrutiny that women endure.  Imagine if men had to wear “Slim-Cognito” briefs.  We would never hear the end of of their complaints.  But women have been altering their normal proportions for centuries in order to adhere to an unrealistic Barbie-like physique, and often at the expense of their health.

girdles

For the past few weeks I have been wearing clothes in varying degrees of fitted-ness without shapewear, and it’s felt incredibly liberating.  Yes, my ass jiggles when I move and I can feel my ample stomach poking through my faux leather leggings, but at least I’m comfortable. Oddly enough, I’ve actually started feeling better about myself since I deserted the Girdle Society. What’s more is that my fat is cute!  I even started this hashtag on Instagram:

#myfatiscute

Art by Tara O’Brien

With all that being said, I think as women we are entitled to do what feels best for us.  I may not abandon my tummy-tamer just yet, but I’m learning to live without it. If wearing shapewear makes you feel good, then go for it.  But if it irritates the fuck out of you, trying going without and see how you feel physically and emotionally. You might be surprised.

xo