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How a Near Miss Showed me the Lack of Connectivity and Humanity on Social Media

A few weeks ago (last year) on a random Friday, I randomly decided I wanted cake and I headed to the best bakery in town to satisfy that craving, because when do you ever need a reason for cake? On my way back, I was in a near miss. There is no reason to relitigate what happened plus all you need to know is my cake and I walked away uninjured. That evening, I got on Instagram and I posted my cake, made a joke about never needing a reason for cake, talked about the near miss, and mentioned that I was very grateful to God to be alive. I didn’t think much about it.


The next morning, two of my friends messaged me to ask if I was okay and thanked God for and with me. That was when it dawned on me that more than 100 people viewed that Story, saw what I posted, and no one said anything. NOTHING. People just continued scrolling. Maybe if my friends hadn’t said anything, maybe I would have thought that was normal. But their saying something, asking about my welfare, and showing concern opened my eyes to the indifference and lack of connectivity on social media.





I realized the how crazy social media can get. People just go about not caring, just scrolling past, and living such insular lives. God forbid, but if I died, people would have come out of the woodwork with trite messages. There would have been lots of “Oh MY GOD!”, “I am so sad, so devastated”, “I can’t believe this”, “She was so nice,” and the worst of the niceties after death: “Please remember to tell people how you feel about them. This is a reminder to always check on people” and other such BS.  To be clear, it’s not that these words are inappropriate or wrong, it’s that they are usually empty, hollow words. 


And I’m guilty of this too. I’m guilty of spending time consuming the nonsense people post on social media but not taking the time to be human enough. I’m guilty of participating in social media’s unraveling of our humanity. Yet being on the other side of it and actually experiencing it opened my eyes in a way I didn’t expect. It showed me the indifference, the lack of humanity, and the lack of connectivity on those social media streets. No kind words. Nothing. No “checking in” on the person. Nothing. It was jarring. But it also fostered some…thing in me and caused me to decide to do better.


I haven’t been on social media in a while (you cannot possibly understand the peace of mind that comes with this but moving on). But one thing I started to model, just before quitting it, and will continue to when I get back is caring more.  Apart from caring more, I also started to be more intentional and more mindful of how I use social media. I no longer just scrolled past without concern. I began to show concern, proffering solutions where someone asked for help; paying compliments when someone looked good; and sometimes, just laughing at jokes. It’s not exactly hard for me because I don’t follow that many people nor do many people follow me. Mine is definitely on the smaller side of IG communities. 


Whatever you do on YOUR social media is your business, of course. But stop waiting for people to die to give them their flowers. Stop waiting till something tragic happens before you say nice things about them. I remember when Virgil Abloh passed away (may he Rest in Peace). Our arbiters of [pop] culture must forgive me (please), but I had NO idea who he was before he passed. It wasn’t until  after he died (quite unfortunately) that people wrote such impressive stuff about all he accomplished and the insurmountable barriers he broke in the world of fashion. I’m like dang, if y’all felt this way why did no one ever say anything all this while? Why am I just hearing of this phenomenal person? It’s why when Insecure ended weeks back and people were rightfully talking about all Issa accomplished with that show, I was all for it. There is no need for someone to die before you realize how great they were or before you express how impressed you are with them.


Being intentional and mindful about my social media use and consumption for me is beyond stanning my favorite celebrity (I don't really have any tbh). For me, at its premise, the idea is to be human both in the real world and online. It means I will be kind to people (or at least try to be cos people be wilding) even when I disagree with them. Some people go through their entire day with no encounter of kindness; maybe work is toxic, home is toxic, maybe even they are toxic themselves. If they are going to post on social media and I will see it, then I’m going to be that voice of kindness they experience. I am going to try to care.  However, please understand that this is not always possible every day or even for everyone because the sheer volume of what you have to respond to may be overwhelming. That’s fine. But that does not necessarily negate everything written above. It just requires a bit more thoughtfulness and creativity. 


In so many ways, what happened after the aforementioned Instagram Story I posted put a lot in perspective for me. The irony of social media should not be lost on us: although its design suggests familiarity, it actually does not encourage intimacy at all, and it is even less emotionally fulfilling than connecting in person. This woman quit social media for a year and discovered that while we think all the overload of information and pictures mean we are up to date on our friends’ lives, it’s merely a perception, and connections are actually worse off. This psychology today’s post also offers tangible “proofs” that no one really cares about our social media posts. 


It's easy to understand how and why people became so indifferent and jaded on social media. Overload of information on social media causes a lot of harm: it increases misinformation and distrust, for instance. But even more than that, it makes us jaded. But if we are going to use this thing at all, isn't it our responsibility to find ways to use it well, to use it responsibly? There are real consequences to being on social media. This 2017 study found that adolescents who spent more time on social media and just smartphones more generally were more likely to report depressive symptoms and suicidal tendencies than their counterparts who spent more time on non-screen activities.  Yet, while being shunned online or having a negative social media experience increases the risk of depression, even a positive online exchange only marginally reduced depression risk in this other study. The way I see it is,  marginal effect  or not, positive online exchanges still reduced the risk of depression. For every 10 percent rise in positive interaction, that study found that there was a 4 percent decrease in depression risk. That is tangible. 


I spoke with another friend of mine about this, and she said it is possible that while people saw what I posted, they just didn’t read the epistle I posted. Maybe people don’t actually stop to read stuff like that. That’s absolutely plausible. Sometimes people type up such long stuff (or post way too many things) and you are too lazy to actually go through it.  In the spirit of transparency and honesty, even I don’t go past the first four or at most five circles on my IG homepage before exiting because I get very bored with that app rather easily. So trust me, I get it. We are inherently self-conceited and selfish. So again, I get it. You just don’t read that far. It’s not that you are callous, you are just distracted. Hey look, people have the attention span of a rat these days anyway.  Notwithstanding, I will be more intentional about social media, if I ever use it again (cos y’all I’m over it) and I think you should be too. 


Love,


I


Friday Reflections

 1.) Our first Friday Reflections of the year. *Throws Confetti* Welcome, welcome. How has this year been for you? Lowkey, I did not set a single goal this year Lol. My main thing is my relationship with God, praying etc. Otherwise, all vibes, baby!




2.) Okay, on to today's business!


3.) Language shapes our emotion


4.) The one-minute secret to forming a new habit. 


5.) The surprising habits of original thinkers. 


6.) I found this old post on faith, and how to make a decision when your faith falters. And wow. 


7.) Why you will marry the wrong person. "You can't think too much. You can think badly but there is no such thing as thinking too much about emotions."


8.) The importance of being color-full: a journey in black and white.


9.) Focusing your full attention on a single task is incredibly important. Adam Grant said researchers have found that the best predictor of well-being is not optimism but flow, which is the feeling of being in the "zone" state of total absorption in an activity.  There will be a post focusing on this idea, on concentration, on focus, on deep work. I've been really excited about these topics for this year and looking forward to dissecting this further. 


10.) Alright folks, have a great year ahead, but [in the words of Tabitha Brown] if you can't , don't you dare go messing up somebody else's. 

A Feminist Manifesto

Happy New Year! I don't have anything wholesome to say about the end of last year or the beginning of this one because I decided sometime in December to not be retrospective about the year at all. So let's dive into this post.


I don't know when it happened but I recently started buying books again. I am still not buying fiction but I'm buying gradually. I bought Chimamanda Adichie's Dear Ijeawele or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. It's somewhat of an old book and I'm surprised that I'm just now reading it but better late than never. It's a short book and you can finish it in minutes. Honestly, it's more of an essay to me.  This post is not about that book per se, but more about the central idea of the book: how to be feminist or more specifically, a feminist manifesto.




When Chimamanda received a letter from her friend, a new mom, asking how to raise her baby girl to be a feminist, Chimamanda responded with what has formed the basis of this book, providing fifteen brilliant and invaluable suggestions for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. It is direct—the Chimamanda way—funny, thoughtful, nuanced, compassionate, and it tugs at the heart of sexual politics in today's world. Here are excerpts from the book before we continue: 

--

gender roles are so deeply conditioned in us that we will often follow them even when they chafe against our true desires, our needs, our happiness. they are very difficult to unlearn and so it is important to try to make sure that Chizalum rejects them from the beginning. instead of letting her internalize the idea of  gender roles, teach her self reliance.


beware of the danger of what I call Feminism Lite. it is the idea of conditional female equality. please reject this entirely. being a feminist is like being pregnant. you either are or you are not. you either believe in the full equality of men and women or you do not. Feminism Lite uses analogies like 'he is the head and you are the neck'...more troubling is the idea, in Feminism Lite, that men are naturally superior but should be expected to 'treat women well'. no. no. no. there must be more than male benevolence as the basis for a woman's well-being. 


teach Chizalum to read. teach her to love books. the best way is by casual example. if she sees you reading, she will understand that reading is valuable. if she were not to got to school, and merely just read books, she would arguably become more knowledgeable than a conventionally educated child. books will help her understand and question the world, help her express herself, and help her in whatever she wants to becomea chef, a scientist, a singer. I do not mean schoolbooks. i mean books that have nothing to do with school, autobiographies and novels and histories. if all else fails, pay her to read.


--

I cannot tell you how transformative this short book is for me. As a feminist (a radical one), most of it is preaching to the choir, but all of it still reminds me of the unlearning that I need to do as a woman inhabiting this world. If I ever have a daughter, I will teach her these things, but I will tell her how hard it is to embody them in a patriarchal world. I will teach my nieces too. I will teach my daughter and nieces to question language; to never ever see marriage as an achievement; to reject a gospel and theology that denigrates women and place us as second class citizens; to read voraciously; to reject likability; to be deliberate about having a sense of identity because the world doesn't do teach women this nearly enough.


I often think about how much we lose as a society because of patriarchy, misogyny, and deep-seated sexism. For instance, by adhering to gender roles that have no premise or logic to them, we lose out on the skills and profundity that women can bring to the work place when we craft certain roles and positions to only be filled by men. Women can be adept at leading but rarely get the chance to actually do so. When we say that domesticity and raising the children belongs to women alone, we sever bonds destined to last before they can even begin. No one comes to this world knowing how to care for a home or raise a child. People who do it well learn and unlearn. It's that simple. The ability to raise a child and care for it does not come pre-installed in a vagina. There is no scientific reason why one gender should be better at it than another. 





It's funny because patriarchy harms both men and women. The 13th suggestion in this book centers around romance. And more likely than not, in a person's life, romance will happen. It is important that the girls  have the language for this. More importantly, they must realize that love is not only about giving but also about taking. If she must give herself emotionally, then she must receive too. She has more power than society lets her realize. The decision about when to marry, for instance, must not solely rest on the man. Because we have endowed men with the power of proposing, we have endowed them with the sole power in that relational dynamic. The real power belongs to the person who asks. So we find women, who want marriage but are too afraid to voice their desire, remaining in long-term relationships with men, and resorting to performing their worthiness, sulking, and complaining until he proposes. Why do you have to wait for somebody else to initiate what will be major life change for you? Closely linked to romance and love is money. Listen, it is NOT the man's role to provide. "Whoever can provide should provide," Adichie rightly says in the book. This trope that only the man should provide has fueled depression, unnecessary angst, and quite frankly, dubious behavior among boys all over the world. Worst of all, it has made relationships transactional.  He is your boyfriend, not your daddy. 


It can be very easy to think that gender inequality is no longer a thing, that in this progressive world that we are now in, everything is fine and that the #metoo movement has solved and cured all ills. You could not not be any wronger.  An estimated 650 million girls and women alive today married before they turned 18. And a report by the World Bank showed that 41,000 girls under the age of 18 marry every day. As the pandemic ravaged the world, violence against girls and women increased by a staggering amount. When caregivers are missing from the household, girls risk dropping out of school because they are the ones that typically have to replace the work done by the missing caregiver. Girls face barriers to education due to underlying drivers like poverty, cultural norms and practices, and violence and fragility. While numbers and statistics may seem macro to you and alienate others, think about this: a teenage girl in Northern Nigeria is probably being married off to an older Emir or some other old fart at the moment. Another woman in another corner of the world is getting kicked and slapped by her husband because she cooked dinner late. Another woman, probably one who just lost her husband, in eastern Nigeria is being denied property rights because his lazy brothers have decided they have the rights to his property. This is existential. At its core, our society needs to change. You and I need to unlearn. 


"In teaching her about oppression, be careful not to turn the oppressed into saints. Saintliness is not the prerequisite for dignity."


I never quite get how I, a feminist, still am conditioned to just absorb certain things. How, every now and then, I have to catch myself and stop myself from perpetuating problematic sexist tropes. We are so conditioned to accept some of these gender roles that even when they directly violate your principles, values, desires, and needs, we still go along with them. We still go along with what society says we are and how society says we must present ourselves, and do what society deems acceptable. It tells me that unlearning and learning are not one time things, they are continual. And I love having a book like this to refer to. I like how it's such a fast, short read. I like how practical it is. It doesn't just conform to a language orthodoxy or throw words like "misogyny" "patriarchy" and other such jargon around. At one point, Adichie says to avoid terms like that because of how abstract they are. Instead, learn that "if you criticize X in women but do not criticize X in men, then you do not have a problem with X, you have a problem with women." X can be words like anger, ambition, loudness, ruthlessness. 


I implore everyone who exists in this world with women or who is a woman to read this book at least once.


Love,


I

Friday Reflections

1.) Merry Christmas Eve! And Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS tomorrow. 


2.) Let's do one Friday Reflections for Christmas. A special Christmas edition haha.





3.) The hidden cost of black hair.


4.)Seth and his family celebrate his newborn daughter. This is the wholesome content you didn't know you needed. 


5.) Why didn't God answer your prayer?


6.) It is time to let go of celebrity relationship goals. "Not only do Relationship Goals fetishize an image that’s curated and not real, they also glorify a type of Black love that prioritizes staying together (aka building a brand) over anything else." 


7.) TIME heroes of the year are the vaccine scientists that quite literally changed the world. You already know how I feel about one of them. Oh and another one.


8.) Life is what you make it. Make it what you enjoy. Wear/use all that "special stuff" today and feel extra special. After all, tomorrow is not guaranteed. 


9.) Anti-inflammatory foods you should consider incorporating into your diet. 


10.) "Emotions make us humans. Denying them makes us beasts" - Spirit Science YouTube Channel.  So, what exactly are emotions?


11.) I think it's completely despicable that we live in a world where people get sick and have to worry about how to pay for healthcare, despite the vast and grotesque amount of wealth in said world. America, I'm looking at you. Because of this, there are soooo many people on GoFundMe seeking financial help as they battle all kinds of diseases, worst of all cancer; so much that even the CEO of GoFundMe expressed serious concerns. Anyway, to that end, every now and then, when I come across someone fundraising on GoFundMe, I will share here on Friday Reflections and if you can donate, please please do.

Here is today's: please help Taiwo pay for chemotherapy

Book of the Month: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

It's the happiesttttt time of the year! It's the most wonderful time of the year. Welcome to December, people! One thing about me, I will help you manufacture joy and cheer for the Christmas season. First, check out this playlist to help you get into the Christmas spirit. I have decided to not be retrospective at all about this year because...well, completing this sentence would be me being retrospective, no? I reserve the right to change my mind about this by the way. 


Another book of the month! Shall we just make this a book blog altogether? NO. Lol. The book of this month is lighthearted, witty, breezy, and fun. It's called "People We Meet on Vacation" and it's by Emily Henry. Most books I bring to y'all on this blog are often heavy and with depths that may even discourage you from reading sometimes (I may just be assuming this). NOT this month's book. It is especially fitting for the holidays, as you get cozy and settle into a mood that screams "ready to chill". In sum, this is basically a romcom in a book form. I struggled with how much I should say about the book because I knew nothing about it going in and I think it improved my reading experience not having a clue about the book, the characters, or even the story.  In any case, it tells the story of Poppy and Alex. 



Book of the Month: What Was She Thinking? [Notes on a Scandal] By Zoë Heller

Another book of the month, yay! Now, if you already are an ardent reader of Book of the Month on this blog you may know this, but I don’t want to assume so I will say anyway that the books of the month I feature do not necessarily have to be new or recent books. As a matter of fact, they rarely are. I can’t tell you there is a rhyme or reason with which I use to select. It could be the tiniest thing about that book that would make it book of month. As long as I read it that month and I like it, it could very well make it into book of the month. I say all that because today’s book of the month is really old.





Now that necessary caveats are out of the way, I’m super excited about the book of this month. What a fantastic book. Wow, and if we are doing fiction of the year for this blog, this is hands down among the top three (His Only Wife and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine are great contenders too). This book, What Was She thinking by Zoë Heller, is about a lonely schoolteacher Barbarra Covett, a sixty-something-year old woman who led a very solitary life (no friends, no family) until Sheba Hart, a beautiful young woman, joins the school as the new art teacher. Barbara decides to become Sheba’s friend and after lunches and invitations to meals at Sheba’s home with her husband and kids, it looks like a friendship is formed. Except on the side, something else is brewing: Sheba begins an illicit and passionate affair with an underage male student. When this affair comes to light, Sheba finds herself thrust into a media sensation, and Barbara decides to write an account of the story. It is through this that so much—more than Barbara herself realizes—comes to light. 

Friday Reflections

 1.) I'm super excited to be blogging, especially about  Friday Reflections. I've been all over the place (quite literally) recently, traveling, doing a bunch of stuff etc. and wow I'm exhausted, so blogging is my reminder that I'm getting back (albeit slowly) to my equilibrium. 




2.)This gentleman quit sugar for an entire year and I already know it could never be me.


3.) Life lessons from 100-year olds. The common thread in that video is love, joy, and taking the good with the bad. Not one complain from any of them. NOT one, even after literally living for an entire century. That's a damn fine way to live.


4.) "I don't have many failures. If I'm making a cake and it fails it becomes a pudding"- Clifford Crozier, aged 101


5.) A 75-year old Harvard study (yes, the research has been conducted for over 75 years) examined a group of men over 7 decades to understand what makes a good life. Hint: it's not money or fame or power or a good education. Instead, it's relationships, social connections....more specifically, the QUALITY of these relationships is what matters.


6.)  My true feelings about this interview with the wife of the Pulse night club gunman cum mass murderer are so long and so complicated that I will just share the interview with you (and spare you my opinion) so you can form your own thoughts. But know that I have THOUGHTS. 


7.) Y'all please, that one child that harasses other kids, and throws scary tantrums and throws women on walls in the 3rd grade, let's not ignore them. GET THEM HELP because they grow up to be monsters. Selah.


8.) I didn't know Kumail Nanjiani's body was such an internet sensation.


9.) I don't know how I feel about this. I LOVE Kumail but this profile showed a lot of worrisome behavior: extreme food restriction(no carbs, can only have desserts on Fridays), working out obsessively, knowing his weight to the tenth decimal, weighing himself every single day. I'm worried that it would be normalized. And boy does he need therapy, lots of insecurity. Whew. Hollywood is something.


10.) Huma Abedin, on the moment her private life went public. I always feel so terribly for excellent women who...just married scum (that derail their life), especially in cases where they just couldn't have prevented it. Like, how was she to know that she was marrying a creepy pervert who was "perpetually horny" and derived specific pleasure from...wait for it...sexting minors. **barfs**


11.) A somewhat accurate rank of the men on Insecure. The Jered one is an absolutely false assessment. Ladies, you have every right to your preferences and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Also, Molly is so messy. WHY?


12.) Is it possible to be proud of an internet stranger cos I'm super freaking proud of this badass woman