Hard Truths

Underneath the surface of your skin 
lies truths about yourself
that you refuse to acknowledge exist.
Character flaws, irrational fears,
bad habits, annoyances, troubles letting go,
many more I can think of
that make up who you are.
We all want to be the reliable
narrators of our own stories
but we're the worst narrators, 
especially it comes to ourselves.
We're biased and only want to
focus on the things that make us look good.
Instagram profiles and Facebook feeds
only highlight the best parts of our lives
because no one wants to share
what's really happening on
the other side of the screen.
Fake smiles are never genuine,
photographing to get likes
takes away from your actual life.
This trend has become an epidemic
in our society, everyone loves the
highlight reel and loathes stories
longer than six words or 280 characters.
Taking everything we see as we scroll
on social media with a large
grain of salt is a good first step.
Building awareness of your own story
by acknowledging the truths underneath
the surface of your skin is the first step
to changing your own biased of who you are.
You will never be a reliable narrator,
but you can be more accepting of who you
actually are instead of who you want to be.

Fighting the Urge of Phone Addiction

Awareness of a technology addiction is one thing. Trying to change habits that are so ingrained in your psyche is a whole other beast. I’ve known for years now how dependent I am on technology. I’ve joked about it with family and friends. Joking about it makes it not real. Joking about it makes it a silly habit.

It wasn’t until Apple had a software update called screentime that shows how much time you spend on your phone that I was faced with the reality of what my casual phone habit had become. Once I could see the hours I raked up by numbers and data instead of estimates in my head, things didn’t change, at least not right away. I’d continue my old habits despite the evidence I spend too much had looming in my head several times. A few times, I even took off screentime so I didn’t have to know how many hours I was spending on my phone.

These last few months have been difficult and I found myself slipping into the habit of checking my phone at least every few minutes, if not every thirty seconds. I knew I had a lot going on so I thought it was okay to be distracted. That’s how I’ve always coped with unexpected shifts and major changes in my life. It comes as natural to me as breathing.

It’s not until I have distracted myself long enough that I can begin to really process and accept what is happening that I become aware of how much of a time suck a small screen can be. The worst part is being aware of a bad habit and trying to control it instead of allowing it to control me. It’s a battle within myself, my conscious mind trying to step into my subconscious. It takes time and hard work to change bad habits. Trial and error without judgment or criticism of myself are hard. Elimination of it all together only lasts for so long. Blocking of apps cost money. Setting controls and time constraints don’t work when I know the password.

Finally, I had enough of this and I asked my mom put in a passcode into my phone so I wasn’t able to extend past the limits I had set for myself. From 10 pm to 9 am, a lot of the apps on my phone are blocked off. This allows me to begin and end my day by doing other things or using my phone in a more productive way. For apps I use the most (i.e. Instagram), I have a two hour limit within that eleven-hour time span to be on it and when time’s up, I no longer have access to it unless I ask my mom to put in the code, which is surprisingly rare.

Now, a lot of you might be reading this and think, “two hours is a long time to be on an app.” I know it is. I could be doing more productive things with my time. However, I used to spend so much more time on that app, the number is too high for me to want to share it. Two hours is a reasonable and big drop from how much time I was spending on it before. It forces me to balance things in a way I wasn’t able to before. With only having a limited amount of time on an app, I have to prioritize my time if I want to check it throughout the day. Because once time’s up, I have to wait until tomorrow to check it again.

It’s been a real learning lesson for me. It’s better than eliminating it altogether and I’ve had to hold myself accountable for this habit I had unknowingly created. Obviously, I’m not the only one who has a social media/phone habit. Apple wouldn’t have created this screentime feature if only a few people had a problem. There wouldn’t be apps like Forest that forces you to step away from your phone any time from 10 minutes to two hours in exchange to build a tree and create a forest to have you focus and be present in your life. In the Apple app store, it’s said that over 2 million people in 126 countries have used this app in order to control their screentime.

The urge to always be on my phone is real. It’s both comforting and terrifying to know that I’m not the only one who spends too much time on my phone. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to spend less time on social media. I’m trying to break bad habits and find balance in my life. After months and years of struggling with my social media activity, I’m beginning to find balance and change how I use social media.

We’re living in a time where social media and the news cycle is both addictive and overwhelming. How much is too much? When living in a digital age, how do you find balance between using your time online vs. offline? How do you stay focused on what matters? Are you aware of how much time you’re spending on your phone? If you were able to see it in numbers, would you be willing to change?

There’s a real urge to look at your phone whenever you can. You only feel it when you’re trying to fight yourself from looking at it. All of this technology is still very new and it will be interesting to see what the future brings. Smartphones are already becoming less exciting with the updates not being extravagant enough for people wanting to upgrade their phones.

I’ve been reading articles about smartphone addiction and I came across this article worth reading. The fact that there’s shame around how much we use our phones is crazy to me. And yet, I don’t want to admit how many hours a day I was on my phone before I really began to find a balance because it’s embarrassing. I once told some people about how much I was on when it was on the low spectrum for me and they were appalled by how much time I was spending.

But then, once some of them started using screentime and began seeing their minutes add up, they began to change their tune. One of them even told me, “I didn’t realize how quickly all that time added up until I actually saw the numbers.” What can we do to fight this habit? It’s different for every person. For me, I try not to have my phone on or around me when I’m around other people. Setting time limits, build a tree with the Forest app, and leaving my phone in another room when I’m trying to not have it around me.

The first step is being aware of how you use your phone and why you gravitate towards it. The next step is to make a change. It’s not easy fighting the urge of a bad habit but if we want our future to be controlled by people and not robots, we need to begin the process now before it’s too late.

Talking in Circles

I don’t know why we continually

repeat ourselves as if the people we’re talking to

haven’t already heard a thousand times before.

We’re a broken record on repeat trying

to convince ourselves what we’re saying

must be true because we’re saying them

the exact same way, refusing to put

the words in any other order.

We continue spinning

even when one of us gets dizzy.

What we see and what we know

are two different concepts.

We don’t claim to know anything

but this back and forth is continuing

like one of us will share something

to make this reality stop rotating.

I have nothing to add anymore,

my stutter has gone silent to the listeners

and I’m not even sure why I’m still here

when I know what has led me to the place

where I can forget the time and space

of what is meant to be getting something done.

I’m done running away from what I cannot change,

from what needs to be arranged. I feel like

I’m beginning to go insane. So I’m jumping ship

to free myself from this horrid habit that has

morphed and shifted one too many times.

Leave me be, I’ll find my way without a boat,

just leave me here to float. The rocking of the waves

is a much needed change from the blurred

reality I’ve known too well.  I need to trust

in my own vision instead of relying

on another story that has already

been written. I need to create my own

stories instead filling my mind

with speculation of realities that

will only exist in my imagination.


#MeToo, One Year Later

One year ago, I was in a hotel room in New York City, about to leave and take the N train from 42nd street to 23rd street to see the Flatiron building, when I got a notification on my phone from CNN. There was a breaking story on Harvey Weinstein in the New Yorker. The story was by Ronan Farrow and it broke down many tricks and avenues he would take to manipulate and take advantage of women. I showed my mom the headline and she shrugged, continuing to get ready for the day. I sat down on the bed and scrolled through the story, getting chills on my arm from every account I read.

One year ago, I didn’t know the magnitude this story would have on our society. No one did. After so many years in power of Hollywood, no one knew the significant impact the fall of Harvey Weinstein would have our society. No one had seen a man fall from grace this hard and this fast. No one realized that he was the first of many who would follow in his footsteps. I was too preoccupied with seeing the Flatiron building before the remnants of Hurricane Nate rolling through New York to focus on our society breaking into two. A few hours after receiving the notification, I became overly preoccupied with trying to get home through the shitty weather.

It wasn’t until the next day when I was sitting in the hallway, waiting to go into my last class of the day that I understood how this Weinstein story hit a spark in the universe, creating an explosion of women sharing their stories. I was seeing people using the #MeToo on Twitter and Facebook. The more stories I read, the more I felt less alone while at the same time becoming angry by the fact of how common this is and how it took a hashtag for so many women to share their stories public. I was hesitant about sharing my story and after lots of trepidation, I wrote two poems about how the actions of careless boys have impacted my life.

One year has passed since #MeToo spoke to the zeitgeist in a way no one could have ever predicted. We have opened a door we can never close again. One year later, we’re listening to women’s stories and believing what they share, yet we don’t believe them enough to change the old patterns of human history.

Tweets from Sunday

August 12th, 2018

6:15 am

I love when I’m in a place and my phone isn’t on the forefront of my mind.

6:50 am

This is so important for someone like me who seemingly can’t detach from the lure of always needing to be updated on who posted what and when on Instagram.

7:01 am

It’s an addiction I’ve been trying to control for a while. Habits that I’ve blissfully unaware of harder to acknowledge than one would assume.

Denial and ignorance take over my mind for a long time until my awareness over my routine becomes too strong to the time that falls out the window due to too much time scrolling through stranger’s photos on the app that’s different to detach from.

It’s only when I’m on my own and away from good cell coverage that I can step back and see what life is like when it doesn’t revolve around feeling the need to know who, what, when, and speculate on why.

Although, I had this feeling when walking through New York. Being out and about in the city, I barely thought about what could be happening on the addicting app. It was another view into a life where technology wasn’t sucking up the time in my day.

My goal is to get to a place where I don’t feel the need to check Instagram too many times a day when I’m in good cell coverage or have WiFi.

For now, deleting the app will have to do.

7:03 am

(Some of this is rambling, some of this is incoherent. I’m tired and excited to spend the day not on my phone.)

Internet Trolls & Hateful Critiques

Last week, I watched a live stream on Instagram. A teenage girl named Lilia Buckingham was crying because of the hate she received after tweeting how she’s worried about writing a screenplay because she doesn’t know how she would fund the movie. People came after her for tweeting this because from how it looks through the filter of Instagram, it appears to some that she could just ask her parents for the money to make the film. This is not the case. Yes, it’s first world problems. But that doesn’t make the hate Lilia received any less real to her. Hateful words leave lasting remarks. Constructive criticism and hateful comments are two different things. You can express your criticism in a way that’s not personally attacking someone for sharing their thoughts on something they’re working on. When you put something out into the universe, more than likely someone is going to have an opinion on it. It’s life. I don’t know why Internet trolls attack people for the most mundane things. But they do and words can trigger emotions that can be damaging for a person. Online bullying has become normalized thanks to social media. People write hateful things they would never speak aloud because they’re behind a computer. I don’t know how social media companies should combat the hateful rhetoric shared on their platforms every single day. What I do know is that hating on what people say instead of doing it in a thoughtful, productive way says a lot about humanity and where we are as a society. If the person in the White House can attack people via his tweets and get away with it, what hope does that leave for the rest of us?

Toothache

Lower left side of my mouth,

right if I’m staring into a mirror.

 

It’s all in my head,

it only aches when I’m out of ideas.

 

When I’m writing, reading, watching tv, or eating,

there’s no pain.

 

None.

As if I’m in a bad dream.

 

But I’m awake because I can feel

my teeth clenching.

 

Weirdest sensation.

As if it’s telling me to be productive

 

instead of wasting the day

procrastinating.