I was born a Skeptic. I literally came out of the womb that way; my mother can confirm this. I never believed in Santa Claus, spent a lot of time irritating adults with uncomfortably penetrating questions, and have a total lack of ability to just take things at face value. It’s physiological, I swear; my brain just naturally gravitates in that direction, without any assistance from Conscious Me. i.e., I’m not TRYING to be a pain in your ass, I just AM a pain in your ass.
Yet also I am, inherently, an Optimist. Many who know me may question that statement, but it’s true. For whatever reason, I have a hokey underlying faith that Good usually prevails, and that humans and Humanity will ultimately work out our vast array of problems. (Granted, “ultimately” may be centuries in the future, but that’s OK – it’s a process.) I try to send out as much positivity as I can, usually in the form of Gratitude-to-the-Universe type vibes, with the hopes that keeping cosmic Good Juju afloat will do someone some good, somewhere. So while I may constantly question the Universe, I guess it’s just because I want it to be the best it can be.
(Egads, sounds like the twisted logic of an abusive spouse -“Melania, I only criticize you because I know you can be better!” – Er, well, that’s totally not me. Or at least I don’t think so …. )
ANYWAY it is with that same dichotomously skewed eye of optimistic skepticism, or skeptical optimism perhaps (depending on the day), that I have approached social media since I first signed on (resigned?) to that particular party some years ago. After all, I say Yes! to freedom of expression and Yes! to alternative, emerging forms of communication and Yes! to Why The Fuck Not? and figured I should at least try it before I knocked it. The Skeptic said fuck-that-noise, but the Optimist said there’s-gotta-be-something-worthwhile-there, and the Optimist emerged victorious.
For most of the ride, I’ve managed to keep social media at an arm’s distance. While the Theatre Major/attention whore in me would love to constantly post post post, a vague sense of decorum, as well the general understanding that the world does not, in fact, revolve around me, has fortunately reined in that impulse. My interest at first was, like most folks’ I’d imagine, primarily recreational – staying updated on various friends & family’s doings, taking one of those stupid fucking quizzes (why?), and maybe getting in a little News Lite. I remember that the passing of Lux Interior (RIP 1946-2009) was the first crushing celebrity death I learned about on Facebook (sad face).
It’s only the past two or three years of touring the wonderful world of Facebooklandia (I am a relative Luddite; FB is the only social media waters into which I care to dip a toe) that my Skeptic has really kicked in. Not surprisingly, in the most recent of said years, that skepticism was in full-blown overdrive. Yet almost never in the midst of that ever-increasing media hysteria did I point out to friends that the “news” source they’re citing isn’t all that vetted, or that fixating on the various hollow shenanigans of Our Evil Overlord-Elect To-Be was just a distraction from likely much greater horrors, OR – full disclosure – did I myself manage to remain completely free of the pull to join the downspiraling frey, chonies temporarily bunched into thick wads over something OEOE To-Be said or did. I too am guilty of allowing myself to be flushed down that particular toilet. Even the Skeptic gets pulled in. Blame the Optimist, I say.
So as I face a new year with much trepidation, I still don’t know which of those two attributes will serve me best in the New World Order. Excessive optimism is perhaps partly to blame for the “disaster” (to echo some of OEOE’s favorite hyperbole) of November 8th, but to move forward into this new horizon without at least a shred of that optimism will be unbearable. Skepticism is useful, but applying it indiscriminately doesn’t win one all the friends and collaborators needed to make the future a more rockin’ place.
Deep sigh. The answer is out there somewhere. Or, quite possibly, it’s not. I may be only skeptically optimistic, but that’ll have to do for now.