The Disadvantage of Not Having a Twitter (Or Facebook or Instagram)

“Please link your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts if you’d like to apply.”

“To apply: Include your Twitter account.”

These have been the constant requirements while searching for a job in writing and media. I got back from Argentina about five days ago. Needless to say, I’m struggling, in more ways than one. But wait! Let me tweet about it!!! ###

I managed to arrive back into the United States earlier this week, with my baggage, alfajores, and Cuban cigars in tow. My two and a half months in Argentina had regrettably come to an end, and it was time–as my father so kindly reminded me– to start thinking about employment. After graduating eight months ago, I’ve constantly and ruthlessly been plagued by the question of what I will be doing with my life. More importantly, what will I be doing to make money. And to be perfectly honest, I’m still not sure. I know what I’d like to be doing– but I’m not sure it’ll put a roof over my head.

Regardless of the uncertainties and doubts that seem to have settled into my everyday life about my career as a writer, I have indeed returned from South America with an even stronger resolve to continue writing, and that one day, I will indeed be paid for my words. It doesn’t do me, or my readers any good to read about my complaints about how hard finding a job as a writer, or even snagging a gig as a writer anywhere is. Complaining won’t do me any good. It won’t do you any good. And let’s be perfectly honest: if you’re passionate enough about something, there’s nothing that will stop you from doing it. And I completely believe that. So this post isn’t to whine with my words about employment. Fuck that. Rather, it’s a response to the growing presence of social media in careers.

Countless job listings I’ve responded to require that I send them my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts–most likely to see how well I utilize these social media apps, that will also be used at work. I have a huge problem with that. Not because of privacy. Nothing is private these days, especially if you put it on your Facebook. Not because I don’t know how. I’ve been knowing how. Not because I don’t have them. Because I have had them for several years. So why?

Why do I have a problem with this? As a Global Studies major, I should know better than anyone how the world has become incredibly interconnected, by and large to the Internet and technology. And as a millennial, who uses social media more often than not, I should know why. But the answer isn’t so simple. Even when I was thinking about this post while hiking in Marin yesterday with my mom and brother, I couldn’t totally pinpoint why.

What was it that bothered me so much about the high schooler that asked her bestie to snap a photo of her sitting on the cliff, arms thrown up to the sky, looking out onto the beach yesterday?

Or the other American girl who asked her friend to take a photo of her jumping mid-air, with Torres del Paine in the background?

Or my classmate two years ago at UCSB who literally tweeted everything our TA said during section?

Why did this shit bother me so much?

Because nature, knowledge, and our experiences are no longer what matter. It’s the public, Internet display of our experiences that give us validation and attention.  All of the former have come secondary to the publication itself of what we’re doing with our lives. It’s not about capturing that beautiful mountain range to cherish long after you’ve stopped traveling– it’s about getting the most likes on your Instagram, or showing all our friends on Facebook the cool things you have been doing, not all the cool places you’re visiting. It’s less about sharing beautiful moments or adventures, and more about proving to everyone that you’re actually doing something cool with your life. We’ve become more and more self centered–and social media both augments and tricks us into believing we need to do that. The need to insert ourselves–literally–into photos of cool places we visit, goes to show how obsessed we’ve become with ourselves. And what’s worse, is that we have the perfect platforms to continue doing just that.

I didn’t have a Twitter. Up until maybe three hours ago. Since I learned what Twitter was five years ago, I had refused to make one, or have anything to do with it. I found it so stupid. Why the need to tell the Internet that you’re driving home from work with your carmel macchiato in hand and that #TGIF? Or that you’re standing in line at CVS waiting to #turnup for the weekend? I could never, and still will never, ever get behind the concept of Twitter. It only makes the obsession with ourselves–and others–greater than it ever has before.

But I digress. This is the direction our society continues to go in–and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. And to be fair, I love watching Vines on FB, or seeing how Kanye West continues to dig himself into deeper holes everyday on Twitter. I also won’t deny that news sources have adapted to having a stronger online presence, and that I do find it convenient to see news pop up on my Facebook feed. I suppose by the end of this article I’ve come to accept the way things are–and that I can either run with it, or be left behind. I may not like it, agree with it, or approve Twitter or certain qualities about FB, but that doesn’t allow or excuse me from keeping up with the times.

Because really, who’s going to hire me if I don’t have more than a hundred likes on my Instagram photo of the Perito Moreno glacier? #FirstWorldProblems #YOLO

 

 

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Kilometer 2014, Ruta 40, San Carlos de Bariloche

I like to think I didn’t find Peuma Hue, but that Peuma Hue found me.

My week there, was arguably one of the best weeks of my life. I say that with caution, because I firmly believe the best is always yet to come. It’s cliche, but damn, is it true.

Let me rewind a bit. Back to the end of January. I was reaching my month and a half mark of living in Buenos Aires, and I was starting to feel the wheel of monotony slowly spinning. Granted, I loved (and still do) tanning in my grandmother’s garden, burning through each book I brought from the states, and drinking mate everyday. What a life, right? In many aspects, I came to BA for simplicity, peace of mind, and nothing to worry about but the sun on my face and my feet dangling in the pool. To read and write leisurely. To make up for lost time with my grandmother and grandfather. To explore the city my mom and dad grew up in. I did all of these things, without hesitation and complete satisfaction. But after a several weeks of repeating the cycle, I started to feel restless. I thought about flying home early to start working, even asked the airline how much it would cost me to come home. Well, an eight hundred dollar quote and a firm “no” was what I got instead. I was utterly frustrated, I felt stuck. Trapped. But then I realized it wasn’t that I wanted to return home, but that I wanted to explore more.

That’s when I booked a flight to Bariloche, and single-handedly changed the direction, meaning, and experience of my adventure in Argentina.

It’s a blessing and curse to have your entire family dispersed throughout the world– on the one hand you don’t have the privilege of seeing them everyday, but on the other, you do have the privilege of traveling to some incredible places. That is how I found my way to Bariloche. My mother’s cousin happened to be living and working at an estancia (ranch) in Bariloche, and welcomed me with open arms (Ronnie, if you’re reading this, this is for you). Ronnie picked me up in his twenty year old, cooking oil-fueled Volkswagen at the airport, and zoomed me through the Ruta 40 to Peuma Hue. I had only met Ronnie a handful of times as a young cucaracha of a little girl, so this was more or the less the first time really meeting Ronnie. Again, staying with relatives you’ve never met in incredible places is an unexpected blessing to have, and damn, was I lucky to have Ronnie.

After twenty kilometers of driving on Ruta 40 with nothing but the VW’s head lights guiding the way, we turned onto a dirt road that climbed it’s way through the Nahuel Huapi National Park to the Estancia Peuma Hue. It was utterly, serenely quiet; a complete change from the symphony of dog barks and garbage trucks that made up living in San Isidro. Silence. It struck me, and I realized that maybe I hadn’t actually gotten a complete peace of mind I thought I did back in BA. I was in the country now.

I dropped my bag in Ronnie’s man cave and headed to the staff house, where I met some of the kindest, funniest, like-minded and unique group of individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. I was worried, actually, that I would spend most of my time alone– I had spent so much alone time in BA that I almost expected it. But that’s part of Peuma Hue: lifting the veil of life for me. I learned that these individuals were wwoffers at the estancia, many of them staying and working there to experience, work and live in Patagonia. Almost all of them experienced backpackers and serious outdoors aficionados. I felt as if I was meeting myself through some of these people, and it was my connection with them that pushed me to the edge of finding myself. Corny, I know. But hear me out.

I woke up the next day (and every day of that week) giddy with the promise of adventuring the incredible trails, estancia, and lakes I was surrounded by. Felt like I really took a page out of Emerson or Whitman’s books. I was completely engulfed by nature. How can I explain the feeling of inhaling crisp fresh air so deeply that my lungs were drowned in pure O2, so deep it flooded my entire body with modicums of bubbling energy and refreshment? The feeling of drinking fresh, unadulterated water from bursting waterfalls? The feeling of losing yourself in the masterpiece that makes up the sky of infinite stars, comets, and dusty milky way, much less sleeping under it? Or the feeling of jumping in a freezing fresh water, aqua blue lake with friends you made not a week ago, your laughter an uncontrollable and wild stream of happiness? These are the moments I will forever try to describe and eternalize in my mind. Because for me, that’s what I was looking for, even when I didn’t know I was looking for it.

I spent the next week trekking up incredible trails to breath taking views, making asado with friends, and falling in love with not just Peuma Hue, but with myself, and my life. It’s a humbling experience, really, to find yourself completely content with where you are and who you are. I found that in Peuma Hue. Or, rather, it found me. I peeled away the layers that made up my personal baggage; my anxiety, my PTSD, my parent’s divorce–everything. Somewhere in between everything that had happened in my life the last two years, I had lost myself. I forgot who I was. And it was in Peuma Hue that I rediscovered myself, amidst the trees, floating on Lago Gutierrez, and gazing up at the stars. I woke up.

So, like I said, I spent the week unraveling myself, savoring the sweetness that is self-acceptance, sucking on it like a lemon drop. I was hiking with a close friend one day, and he said to me,” We can take the yellow trail or the pink trail. It’s your decision.”

I responded passively and said,” I can do whatever.”

“No, you can’t just do whatever. You have to decide. I want you to decide,” was the response I got. And that got me thinking: I didn’t know what I wanted to do, because for so long I had fallen into the trap of not deciding, living in indecisiveness and passivity. I was rusty in the department of being decisive and vocal. I was used to taking a back seat in decisions, going with the flow, appealing to others before myself. And it took another person to call me out on it to realize that. I’m so grateful for that (you know who you are).

There is an inherent, cosmic, almost primitive healing quality nature possesses. I think people take it for granted. I know I did. I’ve always loved and appreciated nature, but at Peuma Hue, I realized I was a part of it, too. A feeling of belonging. Initially, it felt peculiar, as if meeting an old friend after many years, followed by recognition and gratitude. I felt it when I trekked up Refugio Frey, as I threw myself into Lago Gutierrez, and while being nuzzled by curious horses as I read “For Whom the Bell Tolls” in a hammock.  An incomparable feeling, second to none, except to hugging my dog.

It was hard to leave Peuma Hue. I didn’t want my adventure to end. But that’s the beauty of it: the very fact that it ended is what makes it so beautiful and special in the first place. And once I got on that plane, and watched the white caps of the Andes Mountains fade in the distance, I realized my adventure wasn’t ending, it was just beginning, again and again with each day. That’s what I would call a revelation; completely and irrevocably irreplaceable.

Argentine Political Talk

Before I left for Argentina, I had a very close friend and mentor request that I do some polling on what Argentines think of the United States of America’s current presidential campaign race. She wanted to know how Argentines viewed American politics, considering the spectacle that is Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Hilary Rodham Clinton. Every time I venture down south is a blitz of visiting relatives and family friends– so I figured I could do some asking. The responses I got were surprising, and I ended up learning a hell of a lot more about Argentine politics than foreign perspectives on American political figures.

I proposed this question to each individual: What do you think of American politics right now, and what of the presidential nominees for 2016?

And nearly each one either disregarded American politics as unimportant or irrelevant, or made a remark regarding the stupidity of Donald Trump. That was it. A few referred to him as “boludo” or “tonto”–idiotic or stupid.  Some people asked me who was running for president, who was Donald Trump, or whether Obama was coming to Argentina any time soon. I was surprised, honestly, to hear such a lack of interest. But I quickly corrected the eurocentric, self-centered response I had– because it makes complete sense that Argentines could care less about American politics. And there are two very, very important reasons why.

  1. The United States of America isn’t their country. A no-brainer.
  2. Argentina just went through (and still is) a historic political change.

And because of these two reasons, and more so the latter, Argentines are too preoccupied to pay attention to American politics. Thinking about it now, I too, find the current political (and economic) changes in Argentina to be worth paying attention to. With that said, my Argentine friends and family ended up elaborating far more on what was going on in their own country, politically, economically, and socially. My questions about the USA served as a mere segue into a greater discussion of Argentine politics. The following is a rendition of what they had to say.

Disclaimer: These comments are biased. They are the opinions of Argentines. Not all of them. This isn’t a generalization. In no way am I claiming or implying their points of view are fact, whether or not they are right are wrong. I would argue, though, that everything they had to tell me isn’t bullshit and is a product of living under a corrupt, manipulative Peronist government (in my opinion). And if you’re going to throw a fit over anything I write, remember you’re reading a blog, not a newspaper.

In November of 2015, Argentina experienced a historic moment in its political history. After living under Peronist rule for since 1916, and the last eight under Cristina Kirchner, the republic of Argentina elected Mauricio Macri as its new president. He took office in December of 2015. On paper, it sounds like a uninteresting headline and a slight change in South American government. But if you dig deeper, and ask Argentine people, you will get a much bigger, intense, and eye-opening depiction of how and why this change in government is so monumental.

Again, after speaking with Argentine friends and family, I was given a biased rendition of Argentine history, its politics, its last president, and its latest one. These individuals were by and large anti-Kirchneristas– meaning they did not support, approve of, much less like the outgoing president, Cristina Kirchner. For years I always saw posts complaining or villifying Kirchner on Facebook from those living in Argentina. I never really understood the complexity of what Kirchner was doing to and in Argentina, but I knew it wasn’t good. So after eight years living under Kirchnerista rule, the people of Argentina voted for someone who was neither Peronista nor Kirchnerista–a big deal.

Why did these people despise Kirchner so much? Their answer was short and sweet. So much that I don’t need to come up with an eloquently phrased statement about Argentine politics. Because it in some ways, the answer is simple. Cristina Kirchner ran Argentina’s economy into the ground. Inflation skyrocketed. Imports and exports were closed. Nepotism (see “noqui’s” below). Bankrupting the national bank. Creating debt. Lying. Murdering dissidents. These were all short answers given to me, appalling and crude as they may be.

It was explained to me that the last eight years have been economically and politically damning for Argentina. Kirchner’s economic and foreign policy weakened Argentina’s economy and relationship with other countries, under false promises and a web of lies that composed the propaganda she used to manipulate the Argentine people. While many claim (Kirchner herself included) she championed human rights, legalizing gay marriage for example, those whom I spoke to claim she was only bandwagoning on said issues already pushed forward by former presidents like (Raúl Alfonsín). Mind you, we’re talking about the former president, who refused to give up the official Twitter account of the Casa Rosada, as well as biting her thumb at Macri by refusing to attend and participate in

the traditional presidential inauguration ceremony.

I also was told that her government was made up of “noqui’s.” Noqui’s were essentially officials hired under the guise of nepotism, doing absolutely nothing for the government except having their name on payroll, and collecting their “hard earned” wages each month.

The death of prominent journalist Alberto Nisman in January of 2015 was also mentioned in these conversations, many claiming that Kirchner was behind it, no matter how indirectly she was involved– because Nisman accused her of halting and burying the investigation of the 1994 terrorist attack on a Jewish organization.

Nepotism and murder are serious allegations. And while everything I have written is based on hearsay, it doesn’t mean that it’s complete bull either. These are thoughts and concerns of real people, Argentines that have lived under Kirchnerista rule for over ten years, speaking with me candidly. These are conversations Argentines have amongst themselves everyday. You’d have to be a fool to not give it a second thought. But you would also be a fool if you believed everything someone says. Which is why you should follow president Macri’s actions towards taking down corrupt government officials.

Regardless of what you think or if you’re completely appalled by this blog post– it is still written. Argentines are talking about politics. Always. And contrary to what us gringos might think, Argentine discussion, dialogue, and narratives about their own politics far outweigh that of our own, boorish American ones. Just some food for thought.