Monday, March 28, 2011

Spread Too Thin

I'm a person of varied interests. Overall, I think that's a good thing. However, I just can't keep up with everything I'd like to.

Mailing lists used to make things a bit easier. Yes, getting 100s of messages a day was overwhelming but they all came to my email client and I could read and reply to them in one place. Eventually I got to a point where I didn't feel 'at home' in any of them and didn't feel like I was doing a bit of good to anyone else so I just unsubscribed from everything.

A few years passed and I realized how lonely I was and how in need of support I was so I went back to mailing lists. Most of them were gone or overtaken by spammers. The new thing was forums. Now I'm not 100% against forums but overall they don't work for me. I'm a member of several like AbleGamers, The Dysautonomia Connection, and City of Heroes. While most forums have a 'view unread posts' button that is helpful in keeping up. However that button only works if you go to the forum's website. Yeah, I'm lazy and forgetful. Some forums allow you to send certain threads to your RSS reader or subscribe to them using email. This is great for keeping up with something you're already aware of but doesn't work for learning about new threads.

The next thing was LiveJournal. In some ways this, and the similar InsaneJournal and Dreamwidth, is my favorite. I could keep up with both individuals and communities using a centralized Friends Page. Conversation wasn't real time but it was neatly threaded. My varied interests got me in over my head again. Plus LJ tends to be one of the habitats for dramaz llamaz. The way LJ is serving ads to free account holders has killed it for me for now and I've been away long enough that paying for account doesn't make sense. I haven't put the time and energy in to Dreamwith yet to really have an incentive to spend time there.

Speaking of RSS readers such as Google Reader or NetNewsWire they're amazing for keeping up with favorite websites such as blogs. The blogging community is wonderful and so it is easy to add blog after blog to a reader. 100s of feeds in a single topic can appear in your reader before you even know it. Yes, most individuals don't post more than once a day but my feed reader still reaches the point where I need to 'mark all as read' quickly.

There are also numerous social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Now FB has groups that include forums but finding new activity is tricky so I don't use that feature as much as I'd like to. People talk a great deal on social networks and it is great but even with the help of something like Socialite or TweetDeck it can be hard to keep up with all of the conversations especially if you don't own a mobile device.

None of these things truly occur in real time. (Twitter comes the closest.) There really is something attractive about real-time communication. Be it using a virtual world like a Mult-User Dungeon (MUD) like the one I met Mr. Wacky on, a MMORPG like City of Heroes, or Second Life or simple real time chat like IRC, Skype, or instant messaging via something like AIM or GTalk. Even when I can't be loud enough to be heard over the phone or the phone is too much with my social anxiety I can still interact with people. I find that real-time interactions are more distracting from pain or whatever else is bothering me. I really have to ration real-time interactions because they take more energy. I frequently feel rushed during them and have a lot of trouble following more than one conversations at a time. Plus, for some reason I'm extra worried about screwing up socially.

Not to mention the new thing: Tumblr. (My calling it 'the new thing' probably shows how out of touch I really am.) It is so very easy to follow Tumblrs. They exist on a variety of topics from cupcakes, tiny things, Chronic Illness Cat, to fat guy fashion just to name a few. One great thing about Tumblr is how low energy it is. Just go through your Dashboard and click the little hearts on things you like

I personally don't have the time nor spoons to do more than just Twitter. There I still have more than 200 people I follow because I'm interested in EDS and CFS as well as size acceptance, fiber arts, etc etc etc. I'm interested in too many things to really do any one thing justice. No matter how hard I've tried to have fewer interests I've failed. (Although my body has been trying to take fiber off the table.)

I've been told it is better to do one thing well than many things in a casual way. Overall, I believe that. I've found that varied interests help me. I can't just talk about being sick - it gets too overwhelming. I can't just talk about size positivity and fashion - it can make me sad or encourage me to spend money and it doesn't provide support about being sick. I enjoy video games but they take physical and emotional energy and again don't serve as a source of support about chronic illness or body image.

Do I have an answer? No. Do I think a solution exists? Not really. Is that okay? I'll figure it out. So am I just complaining? Yes and that's another post I need to write. ;)
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