Reading, writing, facebook, irreality & twitter…

Back when I was young it seemed like I lived within books, within libraries, within spaces where books were venerated – the nooks in friends homes, awash in comics, or buried in magazines in the corners of couches, while adults discussed television, or news, or weather. I would read voraciously, rather than eat. I would read while I rode my bicycle, rather than watch the road. I would read books to hide other books I wasn’t supposed to read, like Cliver Barker’s Imajica. I read the entire children’s section in the Twin Falls Public Library by the time I was ten, which unlocked the adult library for me. Having an adult library card at the age of ten allowed me to start discovering reading material that opened my world up in ways my adoptive parents were unable to anticipate.

But as I aged, reading faded. This isn’t entirely true, I began tweeting. My reading time, when I used to read books, became replaced with tweeting time, which was a kind of incessant search–a search for something to distract me momentarily from the search that always consumed my passive thoughts. A search for who I was, or at least, how I fit into the world. Reading was searching, and I read fast.

By my late thirties I read less and less for pleasure, unless it was for a purpose, or discovery. A few authors could get me to stop my scrolling on Twitter for a while, but I always went back to Twitter. Live breaking chat from around the world is an incredibly dynamic experience, and the earliest years of Twitter provided a lot of different ways to play with the service. It was a consuming hobby.

My speed of reading never faded, but the desire to read escapism left and my desire to search, understand, and uncover took over. Perhaps I found it harder to listen to the insights and daydreams of others because the noise inside my own mind was so unsettled. Ultimately I found that only a few authors had the density to appeal to me, and the pain, and understanding of pain, that I needed to read at the time. My hope is that in finding a way to finally get my own experiences into print I can return to my childhood love of reading.

I have also grown weary of social media. When I first joined Irreality in 2005, no one had seen anything like it online, and the small community that used the service was insular but inclusive, and the features, while server-intensive, implied a utopian, self-correcting, self-improving social space could be maintained online that gave users the feedback they desired while allowing for customizations that expressed each user’s individuality at the granular level. That online platform failed, and it has always felt like a high-water mark in my experience of online community building. That its failure was concurrent with the rise of Facebook, with all of it’s flaws, only underscores what the internet lost with its passing.

I’m happy to leave social spaces entirely, wander off into the analog world and wash my hands of the digital spaces. I came to the internet from offline computing in the very last months of the 1980s, and I have a very clear memory of realizing, sometime in 1994, that if I sat in front of an online computer for long enough I would figure out who my parents are… that somehow it would happen.

There are many, many aspects of being a person I feel I sacrificed along the way to pursue this seemingly insane quest, but having completed at least the primary arc of the journey, I cannot think of any other way I could have spent my life that would have been as satisfying.

The image on this post is a section from the journal I’m now editing and drafting into a book-length manuscript. After I finished writing this long-hand, my osteoarthritis at the base of my right thumb became so pronounced that I’ve now had the trapezium removed from that hand and my thumb tied to my finger with a tendon harvested from my forearm. I’ve relearned how to use my right hand, and I’ll use it to finish this book. I’m one of the adoptees who went through hell and came out the other side with a few scars, a missing bone or two, and a fierce determination to use my story, my experience to help prevent trauma to other adoptees, if at all possible.