Time changes, like the one we just experienced this weekend, are always difficult for me, and I am predictably feeling all sorts of discombobulated today. The light outside my window is lovely but it’s not when or where I expect it to be, and my brain is very confused about whether I’m feeling hungry or nauseated (perhaps it’s both!). I am also feeling quite discombobulated in regard to Election Day tomorrow; I gave my students the day off classes so that they could vote (and I helped some of them figure out WHERE they can vote and how to get there!), which means I can work at home for the first three days of this week, which is very nice, but oh, the uncertainty about the outcome is so hard to sit with. We are living on such a dangerous precipice.
My knitting right now is all familiar things – the third Vita de Vie, more DRK Everyday Socks (these purple ones are John Arbon Exmoor Sock in “Bell Heather”), and a pair of Joy Mitts for a friend. I think this is not an accident – I think having something familiar on the needles is steadying when there’s so much uncertainty and change in the air.
Change in general is hard for me. And there’s just been a whole lot of it ever since the pandemic started. Most recently, in the wake of the takeover of Twitter by a certain extremely wealthy troll, a lot of us academics on Twitter have been migrating over to Mastodon, which is similar to, but also very different from, “the birdsite”. There’s definitely a learning curve, and I am still very much a newbie there, learning all sorts of new community norms and such, but I’m kind of liking it so far, even if it makes me feel somewhat discombobulated. I didn’t have any idea what I was doing when I chose an “instance”, so I’m on one of the very big general ones: you can find me at @firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m thinking a lot about all of the changes I’ve been through in terms of my online life, and how some of them were more gradual shifts and others much more abrupt. When I first got regularly connected to the internet in college, I was a big user of Livejournal, and I hung on there even after it was acquired by the Russian company, though it gradually took on the air of an abandoned mall as friends stopped posting there. Most of them had started posting more on Facebook, which I had joined as an undergrad (back when you needed an invite and a .edu address) so that I could participate on the group for the undergraduate linguistics club in my department, but hadn’t really used much. So over time, I started posting more of my longer-form thoughts on Facebook than on LJ, and when the new anti-LGBT+ policies were put in place, I permanently closed my LJ (but I did port it over to dreamwidth first, just so that I didn’t lose the decade+ of journaling I’d done there). My Livejournal died a slow death, gradually replaced by Facebook, where I’m still notorious for writing posts so long that they trigger the “…See More” link.
During that period, I also started a knitting blog…THIS knitting blog, which I believe dates back to 2006? I was part of a few “blog circles” back in the day, and I loved keeping up to date on what others were doing on their blogs using Google Reader (RIP). Around the same time, in order to have a place to store photos for my blog, I joined Flickr, and connected with a bunch of knitters there, both over knitting photos (which we’d often use to link out to our blog posts) and various “selfie”-challenges, which helped me get way more comfortable in front of a camera. Then Ravelry emerged, and sort of gobbled up all of the online knitting world: people stopped posting on their knitting blogs, preferring to keep all of their information on Ravelry, and a lot of the general chatter from blog comments moved to the message boards on Ravelry. And then Twitter and Instagram came along, and that was the absolute death knell for my knitting community on Flickr. These were fairly slow, gradual deaths, too.
Then, during the pandemic, Ravelry redesigned their website, and in the process, made it inaccessible to some of us who have neurological or vision differences, and then gaslit the crap out of us when we tried to get them to resolve the issues. This was an abrupt change – overnight, I basically lost access to the entire knitting community as it existed on Ravelry. I hardly ever log in anymore; these days, I can log in on my phone without too much risk of a migraine developing, but I only do that to pay the fees on my patterns when people buy them (which is very rarely; I’ve basically given up on trying to be a designer in that sense). I’m still learning how to be a knitter without Ravelry. It’s mostly going ok, and at this point, I generally see more upside than downside, at least in terms of avoiding that constant sense of FOMO around new yarns, patterns, etc. I can be a much more relaxed and mindful knitter without Ravelry in my life.
Some of the connections I’d lost on Ravelry were found again on Instagram, and I also made connections with musicians there, through the #100daysofpractice hashtag. But that led to a weird split with my private account, which has the name “stringsaremything” and as such would really make sense as a music-focused account, but which, as a private account, doesn’t work well for connecting with folks via hashtag. My public account, “whitknitsdotnet”, was originally created just to be a place where I could post each time I made a new blog post here, and where I could participate in things like giveaways from yarn companies, but then ended up becoming the place where I posted all of my violin practice videos. It’s incoherent and I don’t like it, but I just haven’t figured out what to do there. And Instagram keeps changing, too…now all of my practice videos are Reels, which I still don’t understand how to edit, and so much happens now in Stories, which I’ve now at least figured out how to read and comment on, though I still have never created an IG Story.
But back to Twitter. Back in the early days, I’d created a locked account that I used mostly for chatting with the friends I’d made on LJ, knitting blogs, and Flickr, and for a long time, that basically worked; I also made a public account, “writerethink”, which I intended to be a professional one, but didn’t really post on very much. But then the pandemic hit, and I was finding that I wanted to be able to connect with other academics who were in the position of trying to figure out how to teach online during a global crisis, and a locked account isn’t great for making new connections. So I started shifting my attention more and more to the public account, and making some really great new connections, especially with a group of academics I’ll call “Linguistics Twitter.” The folks I interacted with most on my locked Twitter account also just…weren’t posting as much, so over time, I stopped checking that feed as often as my public account feed, until eventually, I was barely checking the private account feed at all. This was a gradual change, so gradual I barely noticed it…but the current shift to Mastodon has been a very abrupt one.
I suppose one thing I can takeaway from this long trip down online memory lane is that I have historically been able to roll with the punches, and that the people to whom I have the strongest connections are people who I’ve managed to stay connected with across many different platforms as things have shifted over the years. I may not like change (that’s an understatement!), it may utterly discombobulate me, but I can actually get through it. Another thing I’m realizing is just how nice it has been to have this knitting blog as a steady presence through it all. Not as many people comment any more, but the folks who do are lovely (and I should really be better about commenting on their blogs; the demise of Google Reader really made this hard for me!). Thank goodness WordPress has remained a stable home…but I probably should put some thought into how I would maintain this space if that ever changes.
Well, that sure was a lot of words, but writing is how I process things, and this space seems like as good a space as any to write!