My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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declaring ostrich

I’m declaring ostrich.

There are 12 unopened NYTimes in my living room. I’ve just /dev/nulled all mailing lists that mention politics at all. I apple-w blogs that mention red, blue or purple faster than a fundamentalist finding porn. I changed my morning radio station to not-NPR.

I’ve always been told that escapism is bad. I respect that view. But i went running full speed into a tornado and standing in the eye of the storm on November 2, i realized that i needed to duck before i got picked up and whisked away into nether-nether land. Politics are in the air; i haven’t stopped breathing, but i’m trying not to light fires either. My political allies are too angry, too confused, too frustrated to think clearly or move forward in an effective manner. I can’t join them in that state because i just end up angry with them and that’s not fruitful. Sometimes, deconstruction is not the best tool in the shed. I know that this nightmare has temporal and spatial implications beyond my imagination and it is harrowing to hear the anger and fear in the voices of those beyond our borders. I just cannot hold on to all of these messages and emotions without crumbling.

I’m a true liberal. I believe that i need to be personally strong in order to fight on a larger scale. I can’t fight with anger – i must fight with respect. I need to find grounding and in order to do that, i believe that stepping back is healthy and responsible. I live in an overly mediated world and sometimes, i just have to go back to my roots. Instead of reading the paper, i’m doing yoga.

Please respect me on this one. And if you’re on one of those bazillion lists whose topic is purportedly not politics, please understand that i am taking a break.

PS: This is not a long-term solution, just a temporary one for me to get grounded.

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9 comments to declaring ostrich

  • tony

    Where did u find that cool sign?
    I agree,sometimes we all need a week,month away from realities beyond our control.

  • A new liberal meme in the making: declaring ostrich

    I’m withdrawing my attention from US politics as it is all too depressing and there is nothing much I can do now for another four years…

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  • Dona

    You should check out Dan Bern’s song “Ostrich Town”

    http://danbern.com/mycountrylyrics.html#ostrichtown

    (I took up residence there after the election)

  • stephbot

    Such a relief to read this. I’m normally completely at odds with the notion of escapism, and now it seems like… what I need to do. I worked for two solid years to defeat W: I was one of six people at the very first meeting for Howard Dean in IL. I worked on Obama’s campaign, worked at fundraisers + had my own, became a voter registrar, had voter registration parties, and canvassed with my dad in my home state of MI the entire week before the election. And I work fulltime as a researcher and I’m in a Ph.D. program fulltime too, but nothing was more important to me than defeating that man.

    And now… I’ve just thrown myself into my dissertation, into my semi-obscure research bubble world. I’ve cancelled the Newsweek and Economist subscriptions. I’ve hurled myself into NanoWriMo, cooking, painting my apartment, making furniture, getting out to see local bands regularly, and watching nothing but Regency House and Nova. I haven’t looked at any news websites in weeks – not one. And I don’t even care.

    Anyway – I’m glad I’m finally made it back to reading blogs, at least, because I found this post of Danah’s. Which gave me comfort. Thanks Danah. ~:-)

  • Dear Danah,

    I am a Dane living in Manila, Philippines, teaching yoga and meditation while volunteering for social causes.

    Having made web pages for a decade, I share your interest in how the internet creates new complexities in us as specie.

    I have come to realize that yoga should not be an escape or even an alternative. On the contrary I now teach people to get engaged in social issues while they nurture their spiritual center. Balance is a key, to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others better. Spirituality with a dual purpose: liberation of the self and service to humanity. In the heart of yoga I found meditation to be a perennial source of inspiration and energy. As your mind expand so does you capacity to handle more, perhaps even politics, thought there are surely wiser things one can do with news than drawing party lines 🙂

    As for anger, please consider the possibility of distinguishing between static and sentient anger. Static anger is must often full of hatred and ultimately self destructive. Sentient anger can liberate yourself and others in a fight for justice, canalizing a propensity into something useful; sublimation if you wish.

    Old dictum: For Queen and country!
    US dictum: For President and State…duh
    Proposed new dictum: For consciousness and humanity!

    Digitally yours

    unmantrananda

  • This week I realized I hadn’t heard those warm, kind voices that sound like 40-something/50-something gray-haired men in tweet sport jackets in about two weeks.

    Jon Stewart even makes me uneasy.

    It’s just all so sad.

    Thank god the Bill Cosby/Quincy Jones album from back in the day was remastered and released on iTunes. Thank god for North Shore and My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss. Thank god for pot and carmel corn.

    The view is nice with my head down here in the sand like this. It hurts less.

  • tony – The cool sign was from a Google Images search.

    Stephboth – {{hug}}

    unmantrananda – good advice!

  • I did get mad. I wrote an Open Letter To My Students. It’s out there in Cyberspace. What’s wrong with my country. I do not know when in our history we purposely voted for an idiot savant. I have to put my head in the sand before someone cuts it off. I pray and meditate, but I live in fear. What’s going to happen when the rest of the world awakens and finds we’re Earth America on a mission to colonize earth to save forourselves the Almighty Billion $$$ of the Right. This is one helluva dream and I want to awaken. Sentient Anger…