A little less.
One of the reasons I started my daily blog was to create a more structured container for my online writing. After years of posting to various social media platforms, I realized that I had nothing cumulative to show for my efforts. Everything I wrote was disposable. So I experimented with spending a little less time sharing my work on apps. Now, over 200 posts later, it feels like I have a lot more to show for it both in terms of impact and the connections I’ve made with others.
Somewhere in that process, I began to notice that the conversations I was having online felt unsubstantial as well. As much as I loved to run my mouth at folx trying to defend the patriarchy—and use those interactions to refine the semantics of social justice for myself—these arguments rarely went anywhere productive. No one’s mind was changed at the end of the day. Regardless of who was right and who was wrong, we were all just shouting into the void.
Then Mercury Retrograde rolled around and I was reminded to be more diligent with communicating clearly. Just a few days after that, a friend recommended I listen to a recent episode of Dan Savage’s Lovecast podcast. In it, Dan talks about a statiscal fall in support for queer folx by younger generations. He proposes that this could be, in part, because of the vicious call-out culture that’s emerged online.
Aside from the trolls who engage without any intention of having their worldview expanded, there are a lot folx who would genuinely like to do better. And while many of us are in agreement that we need to focus on impact over intention, there also needs to be room for learning and growth if things are going to change. Which is, of course, easier said than done. My fingers have been twitching since I put myself on an online argument fast last week.
Gaby Dunn touched on a similar theme in a recent episode of Bad With Money. She pointed out that, if we want the wealthy or even moderately well-off to be transparent about their finances, we can’t go for their throats the second they share their money reality. This isn’t giving the 1% a free pass but is instead asking the question, “Ideals aside and keeping in mind our humanness, how do we actually create the change we need to see in the world?”
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot thanks to folx calling other folx out online. And sometimes it is appropriate to clap back. That being said, I wonder how much more of an impact we’d be able to have if we spent a little less time engaging in one-on-one online arguments. And a little more time putting our stories and thoughts together in a cohesive, substantial way online and off. It might not be as thrilling in the moment but it actually let us feel what needs to be felt.
What shifts when you show up a little less online?