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belenen

June 2017

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Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.

belenen: (oneness)
LJI topic 7, "where I'm from": I am from the Internet, from a little city called Livejournal.
icon: "oneness (the characters Keenan and Joan from "Playing By Heart," sitting very close together, both looking off to the side and laughing)"

My country is the internet; my state is the mid-90s to the mid-00s, and my city is Livejournal, though I have lived in other cities for short periods of time, and I visit other cities often.


My experience with the internet began with AOL on Windows 95. I used the internet to download midi files of music I liked, endlessly search for info on my favorite musical artists, and find people to chat eagerly with about music or about God (my two obsessions at the time). I made some pretty intense friendships, one with a white guy in Canada, and one with a black guy somewhere in the Midwest. I didn't seek out guys, I don't think, but there just weren't any girls my age that I could find (and at that point I didn't know that nonbinary people existed). My friendships with those two highly ethical and thoughtful people allowed me to create healthy expectations of male behavior, rather than accepting selfishness and disrespect as 'normal' which would have been the case if I did not have access to the internet.

During the early days of my interaction with the internet, my use was limited to chatting, searching for information, and exploring the Anotherworld MUD. Then at age 20 I took an intro computer course which was utter shit but one of the assignments changed my life: we had to make a simple webpage with the most basic coding. I found this really fun and started teaching myself HTML, building two websites from bare code. I probably spent more than 200 hours on them over the course of the next three years. No one I knew ever cared much about this project, but I loved it so much I didn't need external interest to keep it going. I did get interesting and meaningful responses in the guestbook of my site, particularly about my anti-racist stance. This is where I developed my ethic of content creation and self-education: I shared what I made, and when I wanted to do something I trained myself on how to do it. This was no small feat, because how-to resources were still scanty at the time.


At the same time, Allison (who is now my oldest friendship) introduced me to LiveJournal. I joined first as a way to stay in touch with Allison and it quickly took on an important role in my life. I met new people through add-me communities and through shared-interest communities. This is where I developed my norm for getting to know people: if I thought they were interesting I added them to my friends list and consumed their online content. If the interest was mutual and they added me back, I would respond to their posts and have turn-based conversations. I rarely had any direct interaction at first -- I only commented if they required it before adding them, and most of the time if they required that I just didn't add them.

That is how I would prefer to be able to get to know anyone; indirectly and not in real time but with intensely intimate levels of sharing. It's a strong enough norm for me that I can rarely have a lasting or nourishing connection with someone who doesn't share intimacies indirectly. It's usually too hard for me to sync up in real time, but I need that level of intense sharing to feel nourished and to maintain investment. But I've realized that in most places, getting to know someone indirectly first is considered 'weird' at best and people often refer to it as 'stalking' which I find utterly baffling. I accept that it's taboo and I don't talk about it to out-of-towners, but where I'm from, that's just how you do it! (obviously I don't look at anything that's not set to 'public' because that's creepy)

Also at this intense time of change, I started going to group therapy. Through the group therapy I started learning to be vulnerable with others, and within a few months I dedicated my journal to openness and honesty. It was a difficult project for a long time, because only a few months into my LJ life I started having flashbacks to childhood sexual abuse (sparked by having consensual penetrative sex for the first time). I began going to therapy weekly, and it got worse before it got better.

So for about two years I could not leave my house without someone by my side, and I had no local friends so I rarely went out. The internet saved me: I built real friendships to a depth I never had before. For the first time in my life, people sharing freely with me happened on a daily basis instead of once or twice a year. This was the first time in my life I truly felt like I belonged and like I understood how to interact in a way that would be appreciated. I rapidly dismantled my inner barriers to openness, and what I didn't dismantle was destroyed for me. It became important to me to share my own story in a public way, because I knew I was not the only one dealing with recovery from abuse. That built my immunity to trolling because when people mock you for being an abuse victim, there's not much lower they can go.


In late 2004 I also came across a community celebrating hourglass shapes and when the owner deleted it due to fighting over what counted, I decided to make a better version. I created a body-positive community with the idea of it being for medium people, like I was at the time (size 10) since there were fat positive communities but they had a minimum size requirement. But as people much smaller and larger than me joined, my idea rapidly changed, because the idea of excluding people for being 'too much' or 'not enough' was not okay to me. Within a few months, it was for anyone who self-identified as curvy, regardless of size or gender. This community was like a commune, a gathering of people who I mostly didn't know but who all were working together on the same beautiful project. It was home and work and family all at once; I took it from one person to more than 1,300, and it remained a thriving community for about four years.

That community was where I learned to love myself, and I got to watch lots of others do it too. It also brought me and Hannah together, which was a whole new experience because for the first time I met someone who was better at questioning and being open than I was. Hannah and I would regularly spend 9+ hours talking and sharing: we'd write on LJ and read each others' writing, we'd explore deviantart and share favorite works with each other, and just talk endlessly on gchat.



Deviantart was, for a time, almost as important as LJ to me. It's where I shared my artistic nudes and developed immunity about people expressing disgust toward my body. I also experienced so many people thanking me for sharing and telling me that it helped them to see their own beauty. DeviantArt is the town where I developed myself as a public artist, and I had some celebrity for a short time, but now my style has evolved so much that no one recognizes it as mine when I put up a new piece. It's a place I visit once in a blue moon to look at my old work on the walls, but all the artists I loved there moved away so even the nostalgia is dusty. I can't bring myself to stay long enough to get invested in the art circles there anymore.

Twitter was paramount for about a year in 2011; I kept up daily and interacted often. I was put off by the lack of reciprocity: I was following and interacting with people who never read my tweets and it felt cliquish. I learned a lot from the feminists there, esp the trans and WOC feminists, but it was more like a newspaper than like a social space. In a lot of ways it reminds me of my college experience: no matter how much effort I put in, no one wanted to connect at more than a surface level. Twitter is a city I drive through almost every day but never stop anymore; the roads where people live are confusing and parking is fucking torture, so I just go on through.



I got a facebook initially due to curiosity, kept it because of its value at organizing gathers, and slowly began spending more time there as my local activist network developed. Over the past two years it has become a more real space for me, as people have begun interacting with me more, but it still feels somewhat alien. Facebook feels like the building where I work: I go there often, but always in costume while leaving my more scandalous self at home. Without ever consciously deciding to, I had developed a habit of restricted my sharing on fb because fb culture is so pro-judgement. Once I realized this, I began working to bring more of myself into my facebook life because I don't actually want to make it more difficult to get to know me. Facebook will never be home, but I am making it into a workplace where I can be more of myself.


There were several shakeups here on LJ over the years and I lost friends to vox, wordpress, blogger, dreamwidth, and even facebook, but still I remain here. My LJ friends list is like a neighborhood where every single house is owned by a friend of mine. The idea of moving is absurd and always will be unless most of my friends move away. Even when it was mostly empty for a few years, I stayed in the hopes people would return, and eventually filled up those houses with new friends. Now, I have a small handful of friends who returned but most of my neighborhood is people I have met within the past three years (and I have been on LJ for more than 13 years).

I get so excited when I meet someone who is also from the internet, and even more so when I meet someone from livejournal. I imagine it is how other people feel when they live far from a hometown that they love, and then they meet someone from there. I might not get along with everyone from LJ, but if they have lived here a while, I immediately know we share similar values in a lot of ways. Especially if they love it here as much as I do.


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belenen: (revolutionary)
me on LJ vs me on FB: beginning work to correct perceptions of me by being more open on FB
icon: "revolutionary (a gif flipping through four of my nude self-portraits in dancy poses lit by natural light, showing my soft rounded body)"

I had a conversation with Cass the other day about the way people perceive me through facebook. She told me that I come across as very judgemental and hasty to dismiss people as unworthy; that she in the past and others who she has talked to have this perception. At first I found this really baffling, because I am used to people who know me through the internet thinking of me as really accepting and emotionally warm, and anyone who has known me for a while knows that I always want to work shit out rather than throw people away. But it has been a long time since I took a 'fresh read' of people's opinions of me and even so, the last time I did I think people only responded if they had something nice to say (which wasn't my goal, but was nice to read). So maybe people's perceptions of me have changed in general and I just don't know it.

Anyway, there is a huge difference in my LJ presence versus my FB presence. Livejournal gets the best of me. Things I am sure I want to read again, I put on my LJ. Random comments go on twitter which cross-posts to facebook; those posts are automatically less nuanced just because they're 140 characters or less most of the time. I don't share my more warm-fuzzy or introspective stuff on FB because nobody responds so I expect that that means nobody is reading them. My tweet-sized comments usually get about a dozen likes/reactions, whereas my cross-posted LJ entries are lucky to get 3 likes/reactions.

But this means that people are never reading about how I am working out difficult friendships or how I am dealing with personal struggles, so they really don't get a good feel for who I am. And I don't want people to get the wrong impression of me, so I have decided to try and be more open on facebook, even if I get no feedback. Then at least it is not my fault if people have the wrong impression. I'm going to try to cross-post even the 'unimportant' 'too personal' stuff for a while and see if that helps.

There is also the fact that livejournal allows me to give responses to people's experiences rather than just dealing with the more surface stuff. On facebook most people do not bare their soul, so there isn't a lot of valuable reflection I can give; an "I read this and I care" means a lot more in response to a soul-baring than it does in response to a post that isn't very personal. So I can't show my caring so easily there, even with the same amount of effort. That, I do not think there is a remedy to. There are simply too many people and too many posts for me to be able to find the emotionally-deep posts that would be best for thoughtful responses.

ETA: Just realized that the fact that my comments on LJ have mood-appropriate icons (often of my face which makes me more relatable) and the fact that I am much more affectionate in my speech on LJ must also contribute to the difference in perception. The latter I can be conscious of and shift somewhat on facebook. I don't necessarily feel less affectionate toward people I know through FB, but I tend to be more reserved with affection there, not sure why. Perhaps because it does feel much more public. People can happen across my facebook pretty easily, whereas when people come to my LJ, it is a much more deliberate act of connection.


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belenen: (curious)
poll: do you read the comments before, after, or neither?
icon: "curious (my face, looking straight forward with one eyebrow up and a sideways smile, head tilted down a little)"

I realized just now that I usually do not read other people's comments before leaving my own, because I do not want to sway my response -- yet I often do read the comments before adding mine in places that aren't LJ. So I want to see if this is unusual, or if there is a discernible pattern to be found.

[Poll #2048714]


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belenen: (exuviate)
relationships: Topaz, Kylei, Heather, Hannah, Allison, Sande, Roger, Cass, Rocky, Arizona, Tinder
icon: "exuviate (photo of a dragonfly with shimmery green wings after its last metamorphosis, standing next to its previous exoskeleton)"

So I have a goal of examining all of my connections every 2-3 months, to help me stay aware and keep from getting into any ruts. I'm a bit late but I think that's because March was muddy for me with literally everyone, and I couldn't have explained much of anything.

My relationship with Topaz is still quite muddy. Today our break ends and we're going to see each other for the first time in three weeks. I'm quite nervous actually. I feel like I've realized ways I can change to make our connection more healthy for both of us. One of the main things is that I go a bit too far in trying not to pressure them; if I think they may want something and be afraid to ask for it, I offer it as if I have no preference one way or the other. Often this is upsetting for them because it makes them feel like I don't care about something that I do care about, which is confusing and sometimes hurtful. I talked about it vaguely with Heather last week, and then today I did it out of habit and it hurt Topaz' feelings, and we talked about this habit and I told Topaz I would work on being more frank with them and practice trusting them to assert their needs and desires. Last week I also told Topaz, "I want to be able to trust that if I say 'I have a need' you will react by reflecting on what you can possibly do to meet that need, and then telling me what steps you will try and what you think the likely outcome will be." They said they can do that. I think these two things will help me to not get stuck in a pattern of subverting my needs.

I had a clash with Kylei that lasted way longer than usual (more than 2 weeks), because I kept trying to arrange time to talk about it and it kept not happening, which was the very thing I was upset about. We finally did talk about it -- I told them that usually when plans don't work out it is disappointing but not hurtful because it's true for everyone, but lately I have seen them prioritize other things but not me. And that it feels impossible to believe that I am important to them when with other things that are important to them, they find a way and make it happen but with me they don't. They agreed that they hadn't been prioritizing time with me and that they were sorry about it but didn't know why it was happening. We talked about making plans but this month is too full, so we have a maybe plan for the first week of May. I feel better, not angry or frustrated any more, but I still feel in limbo and I feel sad and a bit hopeless about the idea of ever being reliably close again. If there isn't a cause that can be found, there isn't a cure that can be found.

Heather and I have spent time together recently that was very nourishing for me (and hopefully for them). A few months ago at their birthday party I had the urge to kiss them, and asked -- they said yes and we kissed very briefly. Then about a week after that I asked to kiss them again and it was brief again and I felt some hesitation (at least this is how I remember it but my memory is not great) so I asked them if there was hesitation and why, and they said it was emotionally complicated and we should talk about it later. When we did get time to talk about it, they explained that they feel we are not compatible for a romantic relationship, because of what they see me wanting from a romantic connection. I talked with them a bit about it because I felt like they were going on outdated information, but the sum of it was that anything romantic is not desired for now, at least. I feel a little weird that there is this "off limits" bit just because I'm not used to it existing, but it doesn't reduce anything.

The next time we hung out we talked about how we process things, and Heather mentioned that the main thing they give is not a thing I value (validating people's feelings), but I don't consider that the main thing they offer me at all! I think the thing they give to me the most, which I value so intensely, is a new perspective on things. Almost every time (I don't have the memory to be able to say for sure every time) we have a significant conversation they tell me something that makes me go "oh wow I hadn't realized / didn't know that" and that is literally my favorite thing a person can do. Realizing or learning something new, especially about the way people work or the way I work, is the most nourishing thing for me. More than eye contact, more than cuddles, more than people showing curiosity about me. And this in itself is a new realization which I had because of this conversation with Heather. I feel very nourished by our friendship.

more - this is a long one )


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belenen: (ADD-PI)
how to read everyone you want to on facebook without missing out (& portable bookmark) [tutorial]
icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

The point of facebook lists is that they make it so that your feed shows every single post by the people you want to see (at least, it's seemed very reliable to me). If you want to see every single post by every single one of your friends, you can do this by adding all of them to a list. As far as I can tell, lists are not rearranged and edited by facebook when they display in a feed. You can't edit your default feed to be like this, so you have to make a list and then bookmark it. (or you can follow steps 1 and 2 every time to get to your list)

Apologies to those who use screen readers -- facebook is terrible and I have no idea how I would do this without seeing it.


1. go to facebook.com and be sure you are logged in.  Then, scroll down and look on the left side for a header that says "FRIENDS." Hover over the empty space next to that and click on the little "More" that comes up.
screenshot of facebook side menu


2. You will be taken to a page that shows all of your lists (if you already have some).  At the top is a "Create List" button.  Click this.
screenshot of facebook


3. You will get a pop-up that says "Create New List." Give the list a name, then start typing names into the box below.  Don't worry if you can't think of everyone -- I will explain how to add people one by one later.  Once you have the names you want, click "Create" at the bottom (NOT the "x" at the top).
screenshot of facebook new list popup


4. Now the page will refresh with your new list displayed.  BOOKMARK THIS PAGE.  If you want a 'portable' bookmark, copy the url and go to tinyurl.com. Paste in this url and name it something you can remember, like below. Don't worry, your facebook list is locked so that only you can see it, so if someone else tries to use your url they won't get anywhere. Only if you are logged in will you be able to see this list.
screenshot of box on the tinyurl homepage


5. After you have saved your list url somehow, go to it (if you aren't already there). At the top of this page is a "manage list" button, and below that is a little group of icons of the friends you have on this list.  You can add new people from this page either by typing their name into the box under the little group, or by clicking "Manage List" and then clicking "Edit List."
screenshot of facebook


6. If you click "Edit List" you get a popup with all of the icons of the people you have on this list.  To add someone, click the drop-down box labeled "On This List" and click "Friends," then type their name in the box at the top or scroll to find them.  To take someone off, you can click on their icon or you can search for their name and then click on their icon.  Remember to click "Finish" or your work won't be saved.
screenshot of facebook


7. Now, to add someone to this list individually (say, as you add a new person), go to that person's profile.  Click the down arrow next to the button "Friends" and then click "Add to Another List."
screenshot of facebook


8. Scroll to the list you want to add them to, and click on it.  A checkmark should appear and once it does, they are added.  No further steps are needed (there is no "okay" or "finished" this time).
screenshot of facebook




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belenen: (passionate)
rules of engagement for my fb and lj: you are a guest not a resident.
icon: "passionate (the Benjamin Gate's symbol: a stylized gas mask inside a ring, both metal-looking, and all colored bright scarlet)"

My journal and my facebook wall are galleries of my thoughts. As the artist and curator I am NOT obligated to come talk to every viewer nor to listen to every response, and I'm certainly not obligated to allow others to put things up. You do not have a right to post your thoughts on my wall or your comments on my posts, because this is my space. Out of a desire to engage, I give initial permission which can and will be revoked if you don't respect my boundaries. If I say "don't comment about XYZ on this thread" or "stop bothering me about this," or "I am not interested in debating this" respect that and stop. I am willing to give you a warning, so 99.99% of the time I'm not going to get angry unless I said stop in that thread and you didn't do it. I think I have deleted a comment ONCE. I only do that when I specifically tell people to stop and they keep on. I like for people to share their thoughts and I like for future readers to have all the context.

If I don't want to 'debate', I still get to post on the internet. I don't have to pay for my expressions by publishing yours.

Defaults and near-defaults, there are spaces that are not for you. Live with it. Do what respectful people do when told not to invade someone's space with unwanted words: express them elsewhere. People who are used to getting their way and having their words treated with deference tend to think that is how it should always be. And privileged folk also seem to think that they should be able to use other people's space. I have never had a person who was not near the privilege pinnacle complain about me not letting them use my space for their expression.

For me, no matter what a person said, I would obey the rules they set for their page. I see it as a consent issue. My sites are my virtual being, my cyber body, and if you can't obey my rules for it, you're not fucking welcome.


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