Coming out with all … powered by social media

Someone I knew came out. Nothing new but she is an ordinary person and I always associated ‘coming out’ with celebrities so her public declaration surprised me. In fact, I never understood coming out.

“Was I still inside, I asked my buddy who snapped that I was insensitive to gays. Honestly, I was provoking him into discussing the issue, to help me figure out why make the announcement.  Was it necessary?

“To have to come out suggested that you are different,” I say, ‘in any case is coming out only for gays?”

“It means you were keeping a part of your life private and is now making it public,” he replies.

“Why,” I ask.

“Are you a child that you have all these whys,” he answers and returns to his reading leaving me to ponder.

I’ve always thought that gay people and everyone else should follow his or her sexual orientation in choosing a partner and introduce that person to the important people in their life. So I never understood ‘coming out’ apart from the cases of celebrities, into whose lives outsiders feel they have a right to poke.  After all the speculation, a celebrity is likely to say ‘this is the story, takes it and leave me alone’.

I argue with myself that all relationships are kept private during the delicate early period and when you reach the couple stage, you allow it to become open. Some people you seek out to make an introduction, like your best friends or parents; others find out naturally. You don’t deny it, you admit it with pride.

Is that coming out, I ask myself. I instantly think I am wrong because ‘coming out’ suggest a public announcement.

Then I thought once more about this ordinary young mother posting her female lover on Facebook and proclaiming “me and my boo” to the world wide web of people.

Perhaps her reason is the same as that of the celebrities: “let the people talk and get over with it.” The avalanche of criticisms, congratulations, that peak of gossip/discussion will soon decline to a few whispers and then silence. Why walk slowly up the hill of gossip and hidden partnership when you can race to peak and head for normalcy?

I recalled a manager who announced to a staff meeting that his marriage was over. Two months later, it came up during a discussion on invitations for a staff function and it was discovered that workers who were absent from that staff meeting did not know of the separation.  The news had lost its gossip value so quickly that in an office known for rumour mongering, the otherwise juicy bit of information was squeezed dry by the announcement and did not spread outside the meeting.

So the manager came out. Is there a life lesson here for all of us, I asked myself?  Apart from our sexual orientation, we keep some ‘personal matters’ private while the public speculate, should we ‘come out’?

Pregnancy was one of these private matters, years ago. In the Caribbean, you would tell your inner circle that you are pregnant; the others found out naturally as your body grew. Now everyone is coming out with their pregnancy’ check the scans of the four week old blip. I know of the start, finish and mid-streams of many love relationships; I know where everyone is going or went; what they cook and if they got drunk or had a spliff.

Thanks to Facebook and other social media tools we are coming out with everything. We seem to have a desire to bury privacy and expose our every step to the world. Is that why my ordinary friend came out? Was it that necessary? Was the natural road too hard to follow? Is it a fad; a mimicking of celebrities? I am still trying to understand.


All hail electronic friendships … down with traditional friendship

English: happy friendship day

Are you in the right group? Are you compatible with the others within your circle?

You may think the answer is ‘yes’ but suddenly you have an awakening that straightens you out. You ask yourself: financially, emotionally and intellectually, am I properly matched.

Examining yourself within that framework can be revealing. In fact, I’ve learnt that such an examination should be guided by what others think since this shapes their attitude towards you. You may consider yourself an equal but they may see you as the group’s football not purposely but because you sit on a low rung of the financial, emotional or intellectual ladder.

That is why I believe that traditional friendships that thrive on physical contact are overrated and are losing importance. An ‘electronic friendship’ is focused on the common areas between persons and the matters that are likely to cause division are downgraded in these modern ‘distant’ relationship.

Social media widens your circle of contacts, expanding areas of interests, places and races from which you can draw friends. Differences in time zones instead of reducing opportunities for relationships are now broadening them. Whether your sleep pattern classifies you as an early bird or an owl, you can tap into the computer and find someone anytime for a chat.

On a recent television programme a group of mental health experts promoted the view that social media and other digital technology tools were causing people to be more distant with each other and was therefore breeding loneliness and leading to an increase in cases of depression.

I strongly disagree.

During my recent awakening I’ve realise that my electronic friends are not interesting in things external to our common areas; and having a variety means all areas of my life are fulfilled. They encourage me and seldom put me down. Traditional friends on the other hand disappeared with negative changes in my fortunes; loss of my job, declining finances and so on.

So off, I go nurturing my electronic friends.

No audience: I am wondering

Alter Ego #1 (1961). Cover art by Roy Thomas.

Alter Ego #1 (1961). Cover art by Roy Thomas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wish I were heading somewhere; on a straight path with an unimpeded vision of what lies ahead. Instead, I am here at one of life’s many cross roads unsure about which way to take. Not even this blog which I started for leisure seems focused. I want to abandon it; I want to keep it.

I started bouncing with excitement. I thought that perhaps it would lead me somewhere, tell me something about myself that would unlock a gate leading to a confident future. I said my pen would roam un-tethered by the dictates of advertisers, politicians and other rein holders.  I would write for myself, never seeking to appeal to anyone else’s fancy.

Alas, my alter ego, Avram has stepped into the picture quizzing me. “For whom do you write,” she asked one lazy morning. The rising sun peeked out from under a cloud streaming strips of golden sunlight onto the patio where I sat listening to the sea and visualising a day alone at the beach peacefully watching the ebb and flow of the tide.

I ignored her.  She knew the answer, so why waste time with conversation.

For whom do you write?”Avram persisted.

“A writer must have an audience. Who are you writing for?”

‘Myself,” I answered.

“So what’s point?”

“My mind is bursting with thoughts day and night; I want to let them out.”

“If you know them and you are writing for you, why not lie in bed, look up at the ceiling and let them roam through your body… have some intellectual masturbation.”

I got her point, as much as the blog is about me, I want others to sample my offerings.  I need an audience to read and enjoy my writing; to learn from me and to challenge me to think deeper and seek more knowledge. I admit I need an audience.

My blog, however, will reflect my experiences. It will be a Caribbean potpourri, flavoured with political, economic and social issues; light-hearted with daily life stories but serious with economic and political issues. How can I attract followers when theory suggests that a blog should have a particular focus? I am at the cross road. Should I have two blogs? I wish I knew the way forward.

“But are you going to spend time, writing and researching; are you going to use electricity and internet minutes pursuing this hobby? A half-employed person like you; who is footing your bills?” My alter ego sensed victory and leaned in with all the weight of her torso.

“Take a writing job; stop saying that a writer’s block develops when you see a general newspaper that is a cope out.  You’re really mixed up for despite all your talk you are editing that Anglican newspaper. Don’t tell me again that it isn’t on your career radar, that you’re fulfilling a temporary need, some public service.  It means you can write for a living again.

“When you post to a blog you seek to appeal to someone else’s interests if not no one will read it. Therefore, you are following their dictates. So why not monetise something … get a job.”

“Money isn’t everything. I have live many years now on sub-wages so …”

“Money makes the mare fly, though,” my grandmother chimed in; she entered my thoughts as usual, uninvited but always with authority. So now I am in a quandary:  one blog, two blogs, or a journalism job?

Here in the no-man’s zone of life’s junction, it feels as if I am at the Wynter Crawford Roundabout which marks the centre of my parish and provides travellers with six roads to their destinations.  Everyone else moves purposefully along; taking their various paths with confidence, getting ahead. I stand here watching and wishing I knew where to go; that I were part of this contributing mass of humanity. But which I of these six roads is the right one for me?

Should it be Familiar Street, the road which I’ve trod for years; the one from which I was pushed by profit-seeking, selfish, tainted drivers racing to progress by all means necessary? Or, should I travel along Fight Back Boulevard stained with pain and frustration that is the road which brought me here a stronger, more determined, better educated woman.

Should it be Easy Avenue? That road looks obvious from this direction. In fact, it runs directly, some say logically, from the one that brought me here. Maybe the right choice is Expert Opinion Lane? Advisers and counsellors analysed my position and tendered their conclusion, this is it, they said. So I am asking myself, how can this lane point to the wrong way when it is so highly recommended?

Perhaps, I should use Billionaire Drive; its environs flow with financial prosperity but it requires cutthroat skills plus wheeling and dealing to navigate. But there lies Heart Terrace, the road I see in my dreams. It is paved with adventure and glistens with personal fulfilment but is lightly sprinkled with monetary reward. To travel this road, I must break free from my inhibitions, my fears, my what-ifs.

I wish I were clairvoyant, then I would know which road to take.