My Distraction Sickness

Andrew Sullivan’s essay for New York Magazine seems especially timely, given that a few of my friends are taking hiatuses from social media at present.

I was, in other words, a very early adopter of what we might now call living-in-the-web. And as the years went by, I realized I was no longer alone. Facebook soon gave everyone the equivalent of their own blog and their own audience. More and more people got a smartphone — connecting them instantly to a deluge of febrile content, forcing them to cull and absorb and assimilate the online torrent as relentlessly as I had once. Twitter emerged as a form of instant blogging of microthoughts. Users were as addicted to the feedback as I had long been — and even more prolific. Then the apps descended, like the rain, to inundate what was left of our free time. It was ubiquitous now, this virtual living, this never-stopping, this always-updating. I remember when I decided to raise the ante on my blog in 2007 and update every half-hour or so, and my editor looked at me as if I were insane. But the insanity was now banality; the once-unimaginable pace of the professional blogger was now the default for everyone.

This has been my reality for so long, I’m honestly not sure if I can imagine living any other way. I justify it by saying it helps me keep in touch with friends far and wide, but how in touch am I, really, when the majority of my updates come through the firehose of my Twitter timeline and are condensed to 140 characters?

A former romantic partner used to have a very active, very rich social circle that he kept in constant touch with through his laptop (and his phone, to a smaller extent). When I’d visit him in the Bay Area, his laptop was a third party in our bed. And I never felt like I could ask him to only focus on me, because those other people in his life were important too. What I eventually realized is that by taking advantage of the very limited time I had to spend with him and giving it to other people, he was showing me in no uncertain terms that I didn’t really matter at all.1 It’s now why I insist that current romantic partners put their phones away and silence any notifications while we’re together. As Sullivan writes:

Truly being with another person means being experientially with them, picking up countless tiny signals from the eyes and voice and body language and context, and reacting, often unconsciously, to every nuance. These are our deepest social skills, which have been honed through the aeons. They are what make us distinctively human.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to fully unplug. I want to get to a place where I can at least read quietly again, without sharing what I’m feeling at every moment with the ever-present dopamine injection that is my list of Twitter followers and Facebook friends. I want to hold hands, feel skin against skin, notice the way someone’s forehead furrows, and the way their eyes sparkle with laughter. But how can I do that in an unmediated way without being independently wealthy? But the distractions of my online life aren’t doing me any favours personally or professionally, and I think I could benefit greatly from sitting with the discomfort of quiet long enough for it to start to fit like a well-loved pair of slippers.

  1. I’m no saint here, either. The time I should’ve been spending with my spouse, I was spending it on the long-distance relationship and throwing my energies there. We live, we learn. 

Sunday Links



  • Recommendations for Polyamory in Fiction – a fantastic place to start for anyone doing reader’s advisory in alternative sexuality/alternative relationship styles, or if you’re interested in learning more. Includes triads and Poly V relationships only1 .

  • Stacy London, Aging, and Style: Her Story – I’ve been a fan of Stacy London’s since I first saw her on “What Not to Wear”, though sometimes it felt like the rules passed on to contestants rigidly enforced a New York sense of style. London now admits that the style rules she put forth as a 32 year old aren’t sustainable once you reach a certain age, and I found that candour refreshing. I still want to perform (through a queer femme lens) but it’s a challenge when you’re managing chronic illnesses, thinning hair, and other signs of aging.

  • Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah’s Brief but Spectacular take on fearless black art and being true to yourself.

  • I often sing the “Woe is me, I’m eternally dateless” song2, so it was refreshing to read Allison P. Davis’ What I Learned Tindering My Way Across Europe. Maybe I should renew my passport and buy a Eurail pass.

Tweet of the Week

  1. Check this glossary of poly terms for more information – 

  2. A song that takes on a melancholy, minor key when you’re a black woman – 

Things I’ve Learned as a Manager

What Has Being A Manager Taught Me About Work?

  • Manage expectations, manage projects, but don’t manage time
    • Maker’s Schedule: fewer meetings, shorter meetings, more time for focused, uninterrupted work
    • Manager’s Schedule: for bosses. Highly structured, always know where you’re going next 1
  • Give people more responsibility, flexibility, and power
  • Stay out of the weeds. Less detail is better in most cases.
  • Create an environment where people can thrive
  • Always believe in your staff, especially when they don’t believe in themselves
  • My fundamental responsibility is to equip people with the tools they need to succeed.

What Has Being A Manager Taught Me About Myself?

  • I’m a better manager when my team feels empowered, listened to, and respected.
  • Managing people’s emotional frailties and personal problems will always be difficult for me, as I value privacy, and don’t want to meddle.
  • There is such a thing as being too aloof.
  • You will either learn to get over your own insecurities/imposter syndrome, or you will fail.
  • The line between too much process and too little is paper-thin: too much process and projects become mired in overhead. Too little, and people will lose their way.
  • Being a manager highlights the worst parts of my cynical, distrustful nature.
  • Being a manager highlights the best parts of my empathetic, ride-or-die nature.
  • I am happiest when I am leading — not managing — others.

Sunday Links


Elizabeth Suzann Artist Dress


In One Size Regular and One Size Plus (though the plus only runs up to size 16). It’s rare that I wish I could sew/I wish I were thinner. This is one of those times. $255 USD.

Fluevog Cleo Mary Janes


The lower heel version of my beloved purple and orange Zazas that I had to give up after knee surgery. My birthday’s coming up, and I’m thinking I should treat myself. $345 CAD.

Poppy Barley Chelsea Boot in Militaire


If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Poppy Barley is a Canadian (!) shoe manufacturer — do we call them cobblers or designers? — who makes handmade, fashionable, and comfortable flats, ankle boots, tall boots, and brogues in women’s sizes 5-12. They also make men’s shoes if that’s your thing. There’s a Poppy Barley pop-up boutique scheduled in Vancouver on September 8, and I’ll be going. $375 CAD.

Stalogy 365 Days Notebook – B5 Size


I’m obsessed with good stationery, and while my success with Bullet Journaling has been mixed, keeping a paper journal for longer entries has worked out pretty well. What I like about these notebooks is that you can date the pages by circling or highlighting the month/day at the top of the page, or you can leave them blank in the event that your entries cover more than one page. It doesn’t hurt that the paper is very similar to Tomoe River paper, which is notoriously thin, light, yet fountain pen friendly. $42 CAD at Wonderpens, but can be found cheaper on various Amazon sites and at JetPens.


I’m deeply skeptical of these pop-Christian ministries, perhaps more skeptical of traditional Christianity, even.

N.K. Jemisin and the politics of prose.

Reactionary movements can’t sustain themselves unless they find something new to catch and burn on. And when they keep using the same tactics over and over again, I don’t know that that’s sustainable.

Slim-hipped androgynes can take my stretch denim when they pry it off my ample backside and super-thick thighs.

Tweet of the Week

RIP Gene Wilder.

What’s The Buzz, Tell Me What’s-a-Happening

This space has been very quiet for a while now. I make no apologies for that as I often go through periods where I don’t write anything for months. A few weeks ago, I decided to try deleting all entries that were published before 2011, but instead I managed to delete all of my entries from 2016 instead. Since I don’t have backups, why not try to create some new content instead?

We’ll see how long this lasts.


Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down is a beautiful mess. Lovesick (the sitcom formerly known as Scrotal Recall) is far better than it’s juvenile title indicates. I’m only up to my ankles in N.K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate, the second novel in her The Broken Earth trilogy, but it feels as if I’m slowly being consumed by the world Jemisin has built. Is polyamory a sexual orientation? I remain unconvinced. Hey – you’re an adult: stop making people do your work for you and LOOK IT UP. The biggest obstacle to diversity in libraries is we don’t really want it.

Thinking About

If being a “good girl” has gotten me nowhere, why can’t I bring myself to be a “bad girl”? Just how difficult is it to unlearn cultural conditioning and societal expectations?

Tweet of the Week

Capture Bonding & Professional Respectability

Many of us have made a life of hoping to get chosen for jobs, chosen for awards, chosen for acceptance from people, structures and corporations bred on white supremacy. We’re hoping to get chosen by people who can not see us. Knowing that they hate and terrorize us doesn’t stop us from wanting to get chosen. That’s the crazy thing. Everything about this country told Grandma, a black woman born in Central Mississippi in 1920s, to love, honor and forgive white folks. And this country still tells me, a black boy born in Mississippi in the 1970s, to titillate and tend to the emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of white people in my work.

Kiese Laymon makes me want to hang up my keyboard and forget about writing on the regular. His piece for The Guardian, “Black churches taught us to forgive white people. We learned to shame ourselves” is no exception.

As I’m inclined to do, I try to relate articles like this with my experience as a black professional in a predominately white profession. My reluctance to put myself forward for jobs, speaking opportunities, or even acceptance from people is my way of staging resistance. Why participate in rituals and structures that aren’t designed with me in mind, and are only invested in supporting my success if I perform in such a way that makes me visible to them? This resistance often comes with a high price; visibility and professional accolades sometimes come at the expense of my own sense of worth.

We bond with our captors1, develop sympathy for them, and become convinced that their way is the only way. The indignities and traumas continue to mount, but we smile, we dance, we submit papers and answer calls for proposals, because the alternative is professional obscurity.

It is insanity.

  1. This phenomenon is also known as stockholm syndrome.