When the folks at Facebook reached out a few months ago to ask me to create one of the first handful of rooms on their new smartphone-based social platform, called Rooms, I immediately wondered if this might be a better way to implement the vision we started working toward with #transchat on Twitter. Today I’m excited to announce the debut of a Room called Trans at the Intersections, which you can join by using the image in this post within the Rooms app.
Facebook says, “Rooms lets you create places for the things that you’re into,” and I think it’s pretty cool that one of the first Rooms will be an explicitly anti-racist, radical space where trans people can get past the 101 and talk amongst ourselves about our lives at the intersection of trans and other identities. I hope this will be a space for talking about racism in Trans communities, discussing trans feminisms, sharing ideas about sexuality outside the binary, and other topics we think about from day to day. You don’t have to identify with the word “trans” to join, since that umbrella term itself can be problematic, but members should somehow identify as outside the compulsory white mainstream gender system whether trans, non-conforming, non-binary, or something else entirely.
The potential of this platform is something like what many of us fondly remember from 90s message boards–you can choose any pseudonym to identify yourself in the Room, and thus don’t have to come out outside this Room. Unlike Twitter, this is a curated space, meaning that any derailing, racist, and/or transmisogyny will not be tolerated, and members engaging in this bad behavior can be banned. I’ll be actively seeking curators in the coming weeks. For now, come join the discussion! You can download the app at rooms.me/download, and then just use the image in this post to join the Room.
**Note: while we will try our best to curate fairly and avoid privacy violations, I want to recognize that it isn’t possible to create a truly “safe space.” You don’t have to disclose identifying info or join Facebook to use Rooms, but anything you share could be shared publicly and linked to your pseudonym. It’s also not possible to know to certain that those who join aren’t transphobic jerks who are trolling the Room silently for content to share, so I would recommend using a unique pseudonym of this is a concern. Please let me know about any other safety/privacy concerns that I can address!**
I’m a fairly recent convert to Twitter. I’ve actually had the service since close to its inception, but I never really managed to be a sustained user until this summer. My use of the web for activism and social justice has largely centered around blogs, and around my Google Reader. Every day, I skim through more than a thousand blog posts, news articles, and reports, flagging things I’d like to read later. If I’m lucky, I do actually get to them and then re-flag to share, but the system needs work. That, I’m discovering, is the beauty of Twitter.
When I scroll through my Reader dashboard, I have to skim over a few paragraphs of each post and try to figure out, from these first few paragraphs, whether the post is worth reading later. Often I flag it and then learn later that it had nothing to do with what I thought the topic was. Sometimes I miss things that I actually would’ve wanted to read. That’s why, over time, I’m starting to delete blogs from my reader and instead follow the blogger/journalist/organization on Twitter. Twitter isn’t just a curation tool for media. Even if you Tweet every single one of your posts, it forces you to summarize in some concise way. You might tweet your headline (I do this, with some modifications, myself) or you might tweet a sentence about the post with a link. Either way, it’s much quicker for me to scroll through these on my phone, starring interesting topics, than it is to look at the first paragraph of a post, which may or may not have to do with what I want to read about. Even if the feed reader blurb is a similar length to a Tweet, it’s often less of a thesis statement. That’s what Twitter really is, I think. It’s the 140-character thesis.
It’ll be interesting to see, over time, with so many people who write and curate content now on Twitter, what happens to feed readers. I intend to keep mine around for recipes and lolcats, if nothing else. But I can see substantially slimming it down, giving myself more of a chance to write about social justice, rather than constantly reading.
The reaction to the earthquake on the East Coast of the US today went by pretty quickly on Twitter. First, we all ran from doorways to our computers to scream “holy shit, earthquake!” Then everyone tweeted to make sure everyone else was all right as the magnitude of the disaster became evident from our streams. Then the jokes began and the West Coasters started making fun of the East Coasters. On my stream, @enterblisstonia pointed out that everyone experiences disasters differently, and laughing about it? Not that funny.
I’ve been through a lot of disasters and weather events—blizzards, hurricanes, a 500-year flood, -49 degree F windchill, tornadoes, two earthquakes, heat waves, record highs, and record lows. I’ve also seen how people react in seemingly ridiculous ways to tiny weather events, from a few inches of snow to a tropical storm to a few days of 90 degree heat. But what always strikes me in these situations is how, as those who’ve been through a particular event make fun of those who haven’t, they seem to be missing the context.
Some weather-related actions, like the inexplicable bread-and-milk buying thing us Southerners do, aren’t very rational. But most of the time, when people “overreact” to a weather event, it’s not about lack of knowledge or understanding. It’s about lack of resources.
When a disaster occurs in a place like Haiti, it’s not just the disaster that’s a problem, it’s the extreme poverty. On a smaller scale, that’s true of disasters in the US. The levees in New Orleans were an obvious example. Others abound—a Northerner living in the South may be perfectly prepared to go out in a blizzard, but you’re not going to get very far without snowplows. A lot of us who’ve experienced an earthquake before were naturally concerned today because we have questions about how well DC or New York buildings are constructed to withstand the earth moving. The same was true when a hurricane hit Maryland when I was in college—I’ve lived through plenty of hurricanes, but my concern was the dormitory walls only built to withstand 100 mph winds.
Fortunately, it looks like the damage today was minimal, so we can laugh at the “disaster” photos of upended lawn chairs and fallen books. But West Coasters who mocked East Coast reactions to the earthquake, next time you get a foot of snow, you might want to remember today and stay away from Twitter.
One of my resolutions this year is to improve the integration of my blogging experience with social media (see under: where all the cool kids are at). In the spirit of that, I want to remind everyone who isn’t aware that you can “like” the Radically Queer Facebook Page to get regular links I found interesting that might be of interest to readers, or follow the Radically Queer Twitter Feed to get my quick thoughts on various subjects relevant to this blog. Happy 2011, everyone, and may your activist flag fly proudly this year!
FYI, I know some of you were already following me under my old Twitter name, but if not, I’m @queerscholar now and the Twitter is going to be more for the same sort of stuff I blog about here, as opposed to personal updates. (If you know me personally, there’s always Facebook.)
So, for the past few weeks I’ve been in a bit of a funk. All semester I’ve been super-productive, with perfect attendance for the first time in my life, doing all the reading, getting work done for both my jobs, etc. Then May came, and that just kind of stopped. As a consequence, I’ve found some new and fun ways to waste time on the internet:
1) Blogging. Besides this, there’s my foodblog, and it’s just getting to the time of year where I can actually get cheap fresh produce to cook with. Always a plus.
2) A sudden interest in pop culture. It’s a lifelong goal of mine to be on Jeopardy!, but I always knew I’d get the pop culture questions wrong. I subscribe to four magazines, and Vanity Fair is the only one that just never gets read. I thought Curve was pretty much the only lesbian magazine out there, and I’ve been pretty unimpressed with it. But then I discovered that there is good lesbian pop culture out there. Chief on my list being AfterEllen, and especially the video blogs. This vlog with Bridget and Nancylee came out this morning. Who doesn’t want friends like this? I don’t have a ton of lesbian friends in real life, so it’s still something of a novelty to listen to people chat about dykey things.
3) Facebook flair. I can’t figure out how to link the application, but look for “Pieces of Flair” on Facebook, or alternatively, friend me (I’m the Judith who’s a grad student at the University of Iowa) and I’ll send you some. Just leave me a message to let me know you’re there via the blog. Flair is pretty much amazing. Witty buttons, on a bulletin board… high school hath returned!
4) Twitter. So basically, a website that recognises that the entire point of Facebook is to creepily stalk people and embraces that aspect by having its sole purpose be to say what you’re doing at any given moment of the day. Hmm. I’m peachy_penumbra if you’d like to follow me.
5) Google Reader. I never got super into iGoogle, the Google homepage, but this I can totally dig. You can put all your blogs and any website with an RSS feed into neat little folders, and updates show up like an inbox. Of course you can search anything, and as you scroll past something it marks it as read. Instead of having to click a del.icio.us link for every single blog, even if they haven’t updated in two months, now I can read from one place, in the morning, with my cuppa tea. Genius.