On the Internet

I began my Sunday ordinarily enough. My husband and I lovingly annoyed our dog until she woke up; I made coffee; I watched Nathan Chen win another National Figure Skating title. And then I sat down at my computer, fresh to-do list at my side, but instead of doing anything on said list I typed the following into my browser’s search bar:

What is Wordle?

“what is wordle,” 2022, honest question on screen, K. Markovich.

I’m generally pretty good at keeping up with “things,” but I swear I blinked and everyone was posting tiny colored tiles and talking mad shit to each other on social media. Imagine my surprise when I found out a game about words had been out for 3 whole days and I’d yet to engage. (Also, quick gripe: Searching “what is wordle” does not actually yield a link to Wordle. I had to sift through about a dozen articles that all explained that Wordle is a hot new word game, but not a direct link to be found. Thanks for nothing, criminally underpaid freelance writers!) So anyway, after I found Wordle, I did it! See?

Now I’m part of society again. And I’ll be honest: it feels good. Until tomorrow, of course, when something else happens on the internet and I’m yet again late to the draw.

I struggle with how much I want to be involved with the Internet. On the one hand, I don’t want to be here. Really, truly, please believe me (me, a person who has blogged semi-steadily since like 2008, I honestly don’t want to be here!). But to be a writer, you have to be on the Internet. You just do. I attended a writing conference in 2012 and at one of the panels, an audience member asked: Do I really have to be on Twitter? Like me, this audience member was (presumably) asking for permission to not engage, to remain head-down in their work and not have to Be a Brand on the Internet. Seemingly without even considering the question, though, all the panelists nodded in unison and offered a resounding “YUP.” For what it’s worth, these panelists were not “young”; in fact, they were an older generation of writers who probably didn’t want to be on Twitter either. But they laid out the truth for us, point-blank, let us know that if they were jumping on board then we should, too. Besides, it’s not that hard to Tweet, right?

But I find that it is! I don’t like it there. It’s strange: I am definitely a verbal person (as opposed to visual) but I much prefer Instagram. I put pressure on myself to be GOOD at the WORDS and then I look at a blinking Twitter cursor and I think, “I know, I’ll subtly refer to an article I assume we all read BUT THEN I will use that to further refer to a bad but obscure movie” and I hit “Tweet” and then I have the nerve to get disappointed that no one liked it. (To be fair, a very famous person could Tweet something similar and it would end up on the front page of The Cut.) I have quit Twitter so many times. In fact, I seem to remember a particularly self-righteous Tweet in 2019 in which I declared that I vowed to spend more time listening instead of constantly inserting myself into conversations. To be fair, I remember feeling gross and overwhelmed at the assumption that I, personally, needed to say more in a fraught political/cultural landscape. (Hello, yes, I know that 2022 is still not perfect, but I’m just saying!) So I announced that I was LEAVING and nobody stopped me and then I legitimately did not look at Twitter again until 2021.

I went back to Twitter because…I missed the world? I think I touched on this the last time I blogged (which was also a long time ago), but the pandemic has made me miss people in specific, gutting ways that I didn’t know possible. I haven’t lived in the same state as many family and friends in almost 10 years now, but the impossibility of traveling/gathering sent me spiraling. I will never see you again bounced around in my head like a screensaver any time I saw people I loved on my phone screen. Those pictures, still moments on Instagram, felt too frozen. Too final and untouchable. So one day I opened Twitter on my computer (because it had been long deleted from my phone) and I saw that my friends were still having conversations, still talking about movies and sports and politics, still existing in the present. Movement was happening somewhere. So I Tweeted. I asked Twitter what I had missed in the year and a half since I’d been there, and almost immediately people responded. I remember feeling very emotional, perfectly shocked at the serotonin coursing through my stubborn brain. It’s embarrassing to admit, but it felt good to be seen. I didn’t know I needed it, but that stupid app that truly does more harm than good had it.

Which brings me to now. I deleted the app from my phone again. It’s been a good year of reconnecting, but now I hate it again! What can I say, life has seasons and all that. (Also, if you linked to this post via Twitter then yes, I can see where you might be confused/tempted to point out my hypocrisy, but I’m back to Twitter ONLY on desktop, baby! Balance and what not.) Maybe I will blog more (shout out to my seven fans), a medium I do truly enjoy, because I find that I need the time and space to fully explain myself. For example, I needed 1000 words to tell you that I learned what Wordle is and that Twitter is my nemesis. But I think that’s fine. I can whiff on Twitter and know that it’s okay, because this blog exists (and so does my beloved ‘gram and hey! this podcast I wrote!) But I resolve to lean into the Internet, which is so asinine to see typed out, but I’ll try. I will be here if I need to be here! My online presence will be what I make it, for better or for worse, on this website that badly needs redesigned but it’s mine-all-mine, name attached to it and all.