Own Your Words: No, It’s Not Just Twitter

April 23, 2014

December 2012

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. 

I’m sitting in my childhood bedroom two days before Christmas, tied to my phone as I watch the man I’m way too infatuated with tweet incessantly about the club he’s at and the woman he’s with. 

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

Everything in my mind is starting to blur together and the pit in my stomach expands until it consumes my insides. I’m pretty sure my face is going to fall out of my ass in about five seconds.

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

I can’t stop. And, I wonder if I’m going crazy or if I’m really watching this flirtation transpire or if it’s a hybrid of the two. They’re exchanging the kind of commentary emblematic of dating someone early on, the witty banter laced with teasing. First, they discover they’re going to the same club that night. Then, they joke about dancing together. And, then they’ve danced together and I realize I have driven myself insane enough for one night.

Direct message. Me to him.

“Hey, I can’t do this anymore.”

I don’t know what “this” even is, I just know I can’t do it.

Before he can respond, I block him. Later, he’ll describe how he kept wondering what the fuck was wrong with his phone when he was met with an error message in his attempt to respond. But, all I’ll remember is sitting in my childhood bedroom staring at my medals from 8th grade that are still tacked to the walls while he was sweaty and smirking in a club with someone who wasn’t me.

“It’s just Twitter” is the kind of statement that digs under my skin and makes me want to scream. Granted, I know without a doubt that a decade from now, I’ll laugh at all of the melodrama Twitter managed to deliver to my life. I’ll joke about how much I agonized over things that were said in 140 characters or less. But, in 2014, when I am still a pathetic 24-year-old trying to carve her way in the world, Twitter is one of the many microcosms in which I reside. It is one of the main ways I communicate with my friends and strangers alike. It’s not just Twitter.

“It’s just Twitter” is a pretty convenient excuse if you want to say a bunch of shit and never have to take responsibility for it. And, while no one’s Twitter account needs to be taken as the Lord’s word, it doesn’t fly for me if people don’t want to own up to their shit. My generation spends 25 hours a week online. You’re going to tell me 25 hours of your week aren’t serious? Those 25 hours don’t count? They don’t mean anything?

The last time I seriously dated someone, I instituted a no-social-media connection/communication policy for myself. It worked wonders. At that point, I knew myself well enough to know that I could sit at a laptop (or phone) and drive myself up a wall based on someone’s online presence, especially someone I liked. I didn’t want to waste my energy on that. I just wanted to get to know him in-person, you know, the way they did in dinosaur days.

“It’s just Twitter” is a cop out, a flimsy excuse not to ever cover your tracks or own what you say. I’ve seen Twitter jumpstart relationships. I’ve seen Twitter destroy relationships. I’ve seen Twitter make friends out of complete strangers. I’ve seen Twitter make people cry. I’ve seen Twitter do a lot because behind most of those avatars, there are people and as people, we are far from immune to what others say, online or otherwise. It’s not just Twitter when Christina Fox provides an outlet for thousands of rape victims to tell their stories. It’s not just Twitter when Ebony has to issue a public apology for something one of their editors tweeted. I’ve written before that It’s easy to write Twitter off as some meaningless Internet stage that has democratized the importance of everyone’s voice; it’s harder to take responsibility for the things we say or do and the subsequent consequences of those actions.

Yes, there are many things in life to take far more seriously than social media. But, that doesn’t make anyone exempt from responsibility for what they say and project into the online world. Stop digging “It’s just Twitter” out of your back pocket when you don’t want to own your shit. Just own it. You said it. Now deal with it.

Xoxo,

Tyece

Bloggers Have To Lift Each Other Up.

April 22, 2014

I know the title of this post is very kumbayah, come-one-come-all and let’s join hands, but bear with me. I’ll promise to make a point.

Last Thursday afternoon, a blogger friend of mine hit my inbox to tell me something was happening on Twitter. She sent me a few screen shots and I couldn’t really make sense of the situation so I scrolled through my timeline until the pieces started to add up. An article entitled, “Brown Girls Blogging Creator Ty Jones On Her Copycat: ‘It Was Very Poorly Done‘” had been published on The Stylish Standout. The “copycat” Ty Jones referenced is Marie of GoodLooknOut. Both women curated lists on their respective blogs highlighting black fashion and style bloggers.

Ty’s list: “100 Brown Girls Blogging

Marie’s list: “100 Black Fashion And Style Bloggers Paving The Way”

The catalyst for the article was a well-written essay Ty penned entitled “Duplicate” highlighting the botched sense of ethics that seems to run amok in the blogging world. The catalyst for her essay was Marie’s list that she felt was all-too-similar to hers.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve known of both Marie and GoodLooknOut before I read this article. I did not know of Ty and Words And Wardrobes. That is not shade; those are just facts. I find both blogs to be very well done. Yes, I did defend Marie on Twitter. Yes, I did have an exchange with the writer from The Stylish Standout who produced the piece to hear his version. And, no, I do not feel like hyperlinking anything else so that is as much context as I’m going to give you for this.

In Ty’s defense, I do agree that some (not all) bloggers have a misconstrued sense of ethics. The modern microcosm of social media and blogging has made some people think it’s optional, not required, to reference their sources. Every day I see people throw gems on Twitter without any name behind the quote. Come on, boo. You know you didn’t just conjure up that wisdom in that pretty little head of yours. Whether it’s Marilyn Monroe or some blogger we’ve never heard of, let us know who said it. I don’t think you need to have taken a course in journalism ethics to know that you need to give credit where credit is due. That’s just common sense. I recently had conversations with two editors about properly attributing my work after seeing things that made me raise my brow. So, yes, I do believe if you see someone try to take credit for your shit, you need to say something.

Ty and Marie are certainly not the only women who ever curated lists of black fashion and style bloggers. They can’t be. I’m not even in the fashion blogging world and I know that. If Marie did use Ty’s list as a source, yes, she should have attributed that.

The reason I zoomed to Marie’s defense on Thursday is because it always dejects me a bit to see bloggers not support one another. And, no, calling someone a copycat is not exactly a form of warm support. Blogging is HARD. Blogging is tough. Blogging is not for people who want to see immediate results. It requires you to crawl. It requires you to commit. It requires you to marry yourself to consistency. So, you need allies. You need people who live in the very blogging world that sometimes agonizes you. More and more, I lean on my blogger kinfolk because, let’s face it: my friends don’t care if I’m torn between writing about two different topics one night or if I’m unsure about a particular post title. But, my blogger kinfolk get it.

This thing is not supposed to be a competition. Your chapter 1 is someone else’s chapter 15. That chapter 15 is someone else’s chapter 30. Ultimately, no one can do what you do quite the way you know how to do it. That doesn’t mean we all don’t look at other blogs or bloggers and wonder, “What the fuck am I doing?” If you don’t ask yourself that question every now and again, I doubt you’re a breathing body.

But, the competition can’t consume you. I know that no one will ever write the way Tyece can write or tell her stories the way she knows how to tell them. And, yes, I said my name in third person because I feel like being a cocky motherfucker right now. I have spent years finding, honing and polishing my writing voice. It is the one voice I have that speaks loudly. It does not quiver and it does not stutter. It is a voice of which I am proud and I have unwavering confidence that no one else has it. Yes, there is a cornucopia of twenty somethings writing about dating and friendship, but no one will do it the way I do it. And, when you believe in the uniqueness of your shit, you feel free to applaud others. You are open to retweeting for days. You have the liberty to give props and show love. Because, you respect what others do. You know that nothing about what they are doing will ever dim your shine or stymie your hustle. You see the beauty in other people’s work. You don’t need to compete; you just need to create.

Xoxo,

Tyece

There Are Reasons Why I’ve Never Written About Cheating.

April 21, 2014

When a young woman tweeted me last week and said she had been looking through my blog about any post related to cheating, I wasn’t exactly sure what to think. One one hand, I was flattered that she would look to my blog for some sort of reassurance in the midst of a chaotic situation. On the other hand, my mind jotted back to the disclaimer on the left hand side of my home page that reads “This is not advice for how to live your life because, really, I don’t know shit about your life so I certainly can’t tell you how to live it.” The only thing I knew for certain was that she would not find a post about cheating because I have very deliberately strayed from ever writing about the topic on my blog.

She and I exchanged a few messages and I told her I would write a post about cheating just for her. But, the more I thought about it this weekend, the more I knew that it wasn’t fair to her or myself to produce a post that just wasn’t in my gut. Now didn’t seem like the right time to retract my “I don’t outright write about cheating” clause. Instead, I asked for her email address should she still want me to offer my thoughts in a more private setting, I could do that.

Strange things can begin to happen when you’re a personal blogger. By spilling your stories and thoughts day after day, you connect with people. People begin to see their reflection in your words. And, you want that. There is something beautiful about that. But, there is also this bizarre part because you never wanted to be seen as an authority on much of anything except for yourself. A personal blog relies on trial and error as you live and write, write and live. Your ideas change. Your beliefs change. Your outlook changes. You may write something and re-read it a month later wondering what the fuck you were thinking. But, all you can do is try to encapsulate your feelings and thoughts of the moment and trust that there will be some sort of longevity to them.

I don’t want to be an authority on dating or relationships. Scratch that. I am NOT an authority on dating and relationships. A few months ago, someone told me she thought of my blog as a “dating and relationships” blog and it provoked this cosmic mental shift for me. Because, if she thought that, surely there were others who thought the same. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want dating and relationships to remain the most heavily populated category on my blog. Instead, I wanted people to see that I write (primarily) for women in their twenties and I’m trying to capture everything that accompanies this decade, with dating being only a fraction of that. So, I knew I had to be more intentional about this space so it didn’t just become a smorgasbord of musings about relationships.

I haven’t ever devoted a post to cheating because it is not something with which I have had an up-close-and-personal experience. Of course I have my own thoughts about cheating. Of course I could sit here and hurl a barrage of opinions your way about how cheaters are scum of the Earth. I like to think I’ve written about cheating in a circuitous way because I’ve written about deserving better or not making bullshit excuses for people under the guise of “love”.

But, when you are a personal blogger, you owe it to people to translate your own experiences into words; you can’t just borrow the experiences of others. I write about friendships because I’ve watched my own evolve during the past three years. I write so vehemently about feminism because I’ve had my most basic rights violated as a woman. I write about social media because I am on it far more than I should ever admit. I write about writing and poetry because they are two rocks keeping me tethered to solid ground right now. I write about situationships and chasing men who won’t love you back because…well, yeah. Basic rules: write what you know. I try to follow the basic rules.

Xoxo,

Tyece

The Male Think Tank Talks Sex And Relationship Experts

April 17, 2014

Last week in my usual blog browsing, I read something on Elite Daily entitled “The 100 Things Every 20-Something Needs to Realize” which is only the 145,782nd list on the Internet for twenty-somethings. Number 34 on the list made me raise my brow.

34. If you can get her into bed before date 3, then you’ll get bored with her by week 2.

This subjective little bit took me aback. And, thus the latest post for the Male Think Tank was born.

I reached out to the guys with a few questions about the role sex plays in dating/relationships as well as what their thoughts were about relationship/sex “experts”. Here’s what they had to say.

What do you see as the implications (if any) of having sex early on when dating someone?

Guy 1: Unless you really force yourself to, you stop caring as much about the situation. Instead of putting thoughts into your dates like you once did, you may get a little bit lax because you know at the end of the day you’ll probably get laid if you play your cards right. For example, instead of trying to woo this girl by going to a new place in the city, just staying and watching a movie at her spot becomes a date night, and if that keeps happening you naturally just become disinterested. (DISCLAIMER: this is for a girl that you’re actually interested in, not one you’ve been trying to just fuck and keep it moving).

Guy 2: The general implication is that you two are moving too quickly or he/she gave it up too early (usually the “she”, the old double standard).  But that implication is ridiculous.  Sex is just a form of attraction; it might be the most intense form, but it’s still just a way of saying “I like you a lot”.  Nothing wrong with two people expressing that. If you think about it, it’s kind of cool that two people can be so attracted to each other that they’re willing to be naked in front of each other so early.

Guy 3: From personal experience, having sex “early” in the dating phase can establish a general premise for the relationship that one of the parties may not ultimately want. Essentially, if you give it up early, that person may think that’s the nature of your relationship together. That doesn’t necessarily mean that if you wait, the relationship will be any more prosperous, though. It’s about preference and what you want. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed many situationships birthed out of early physical interaction.

Guy 4: The only implication that I see is that the two people could be on two different pages when it comes to sex, (i.e. One person wanting a relationship and the other just wanting sex). And besides possibly spreading STDs or getting pregnant, not too many problems with having sex early on in the dating process.

Do you think women take relationship/sex experts too seriously?

Guy 4: HELL YEAH. And maybe this comes from personal experience but if you have an issue with your dude, you need to talk to your dude. Not a magazine or some blog shorty (no offense, Ty), that barely knows you. Don’t build a relationship off someone else’s advice that doesn’t really fit the situation that you are in.

Guy 1: Hell yeah. Relationship/sex experts make money off of telling yall the most BASIC shit and yall eat it up like it was a lost passage in the Bible. For example, “A man in love is usually eager to secure your time. If he’s not making plans, he’s not in love.” YOU DON’T FRIGGIN SAY? But, you’ll see some shit like that favorited 230 times and retweeted by 1000 women like “YYYAAAASSS” -__-. And Cosmo has new sex tips everyday on every magazine. I highly doubt they’re that effective but meh, I don’t read Cosmo; I could be wrong.

Guy 2: I don’t think it’s just women, but men as well.  I think everyone wants to be as “perfect” as possible in a relationship, especially in the beginning of one.  There’s always a lot of emphasis on how one should act, what one should do, is one being too clingy, fears of “what are they really going to think of my flaws”, etc.  It’s probably better to be yourself as early as possible in the relationship to see how your partner reacts; it’s not like you can hide your true self forever, so might as well expose yourself early.

Guy 3: Yes. Circumstances and proximity dictate most of the early stages of a relationship, not that article about being young and wild and free. (Sorry, lmao)

Have you ever discounted a woman as someone with relationship potential because you all had sex early on?

Guy 3:  Yes. If we have sex early on, it’s because that was my original (and likely only) intent and you’ve obliged. I haven’t personally developed a meaningful relationship with anybody I had sex with inside two months of dating. I’m not saying it could never happen, but that’s my personal experience.

Guy 4:  NOT AT ALL. Women have needs to just like the fellas.

Guy 1: Actually, no now that I think about it. The reasons why I’ve thought that a woman didn’t have relationship potential is because: her history (did she smash the homies?), her personality, and how much I’m attracted to her (physically and non-physically). Not every girl who sleeps with a dude early on is “loose”, so you just have to check her history and how she carries herself. (DISCLAIMER: I’ll be honest, having sex early on makes it a little harder to take her completely serious in the relationship aspect, but it’s definitely not the biggest dealbreaker. Her fate isn’t sealed yet just because my game was that good to get her in bed early lol).

What are your thoughts on something like Steve Harvey’s “90 Day Rule“? 

Guy 2: Listen, sometimes you just want some fucking cookies.  Go get those cookies.  A cookie never hurt anyone.  Look at the Cookie Monster, he seems to be doing alright on Sesame Street.

Guy 4:  Put it like this, if it really takes you 90 days to figure whether a guy is genuine nice guy and nice enough to have sex with, you have more serious problems.

Guy 3: I think courting and establishing a genuine connection aside from the raw physical attraction is important. With that said, I believe there’s absolutely no merit to waiting for sex for an arbitrary number of days. For all you know, he could be running several women at once and you just happen to be the most difficult. Do what feels right. If you get the raw end of the deal (no pun intended) then at least you know what’s up and you’re not being strung along for 90 days to just give it up and be left hanging.

Guy 1: The 90 Day Rule is wack to me. I understand the intention of it, and the concept makes sense, but it’s still wack. To me it’s like someone putting a countdown on their vagina. Just because you wait three months to sleep with a dude doesn’t mean the dynamic will or won’t change. Is the dynamic less likely to change, yea most likely, but it still isn’t an end-all be-all solution to dating. Don’t let the 90-day rule fool you into thinking that just because a guy hasn’t slept with you in 90 days means he cares more about you than the guy who slept with you in 30. You should definitely rely on his character and his effort to tell you that, not just the length of time he’s been around without hitting.

Finish the sentence: “If you can get her into bed before date 3 ____________ .”

Guy 4: YOU MIGHT HAVE A WINNER!!!

Guy 1: Conduct a thorough background check to see if it was an anomaly. If it happens multiple times/you can’t find evidence, then I wouldn’t suggest that path to relationship road homie.

Guy 3:  You’re just looking to conquer, or she was having similar thoughts at that particular time. Again, this is circumstantial. You could have known the person a good deal of time before intercourse and already have established a good connection (i.e. dating a friend).

Guy 2: If you can get her into bed before date 3, then that foreplay during Date 4 is going to be AMAZINGGGGGGG.

What do you think? Did they get it right? Wrong? Let us know in the comments section. They will read them.

Xoxo,

Tyece (And the Male Think Tank)

I Don’t Write So People Feel Warm And Fuzzy Inside.

April 16, 2014

There are times where I wonder what the fuck I am doing. Times where I crawl into the dim place inside of my head and wonder why night after night, I have this insatiable need to add to my life’s online archive. There are times when I spend hours pouring through other writers’ bios or press pages and this poisonous stew of admiration and uncertainty gets stirred inside of me. I wonder if I’m any semblance of good when it comes to this writing thing or if it’s all just in my head.

Then there are times when I quiet my mind enough to tune out the screams of doubt and the whispers of anxiety. There are times when I remember that writing is a labor of love. It is an act of rebellion. Writing is letting the blood of your life stain the page. There are times when I remember that I give so much to this writing thing because it has given so much to me. Times where I undoubtedly know I would be in someone’s straitjacket if it weren’t for the healing writing has provided. There are times I remember that this is not supposed to be easy and it is not supposed to be instant. Instead, it is a constant and gradual evolution as you peel layer after layer off yourself so you are vulnerable and naked enough to say the things that others can or will not.

My writing is one of the few things for which I hardly ever apologize. Earlier today, I read the latest post on “Yetti Says” where she wrote about her blog and very wisely said, “You chose to consume this.” Later on in the day, I read Brianna Wiest’s latest for Thought Catalog where she wrote, “You should write what you need to read. Because all you can do is create something that heals you or makes you face that which you ultimately can’t bear otherwise.” Writers don’t write so that people feel all warm and fuzzy inside. We do not write in the name of political correctness or spared feelings. We do not write so that everyone walks away feeling like cotton candy and cupcakes and rainbows and laughing children. That is not why we write. Because, all of those things would be fine and good, but they are ephemeral at best.

We write because it is an act of war as everything we feel battles everything we need to say. We write because there are demons and ghosts inside that will haunt us if we do not get them out. We write because we care about words. We care about sentences. We care about paragraphs. We meticulously comb through every bit in hopes that we are saying something and not just adding more shitty fodder to the Internet. We write because we do not know anything else, we never have and we’ve never wanted to.

There are most definitely times when I’ve written something and the response to it has been some form of “YASSSSS.” But, writing shouldn’t just elicit agreement and that’s never my goal. It is my hope that behind that form of “YASSSS”, there is some sort of connection to the work, conviction about one’s life or collision with reality. Writing should shake something inside of people. It should make them look long, hard and uncomfortably at the pieces of their lives. It should make people think. It should make people mad. Writing should come in and disrupt the whole system. And, it should do those things because that is exactly what it does for the writer. I don’t feel like I’m ready to go jump on clouds after I write. I feel exhausted. I feel like, “More wine, please.” I feel like I have taken my thoughts and beat them up. I have taken my feelings and picked them apart. I feel like I have had to be honest with myself, more honest than I would like, and that is never easy.

But, that is what writers do. Writers write. Because, there is something inside of us that knows we do not have any other option. We have to tell the stories. We have to heal the scars. We have to write. We don’t know how to do anything else.

Xoxo,

Tyece