LOOK AT ME

I’ve never been much good at drugs. I have a fantasy version of my youth, in which I was psychologically experimental and went on a lot of cosmic chemical adventures. That me is real cool. The real me is afraid of deeper tripping. Hardcore trips seem lonely, and filled with experiences that I’d never really be able to explain to anyone.

I get into addictions that involve another person. It’s so much hotter of a high. When you are getting the right kind of eye contact from somebody, or trying to get the eye contact, and you’ve worked out a situation where the person is for some reason a little bit off-limits so their attention feels like a controlled substance, it can feel like your muscles are melting out through your skin. It’s really good, in a very reckless and I-don’t-care-who-sees-me sort of way. I spent a lot of my earlier life wrapped up in this particular drug. I’d say I was high on attention in one form or another for the entire span of my 20’s. After getting pretty strung out and doing some things, of which I am not very proud (messing around with best friend’s boyfriend, getting involved with a jerk with a facial tattoo) I went clean. Yeah, the feeling is not as wild or as fabulous, but my friends seem to like me better and respect me more, and it makes a space for a consistent sort of love that I was never even been able to consider back when I was an addict.

It will forever be one day at a time, but I didn’t actually think I would ever relapse. I started using twitter six months ago, though, and since then it’s been a steady downward spiral. My sense is that everyone who uses twitter is experiencing this same sort of burning need for the hot gaze of recognition as I did for all those years. Back in the day I was the only one of my friends who suffered from such an exaggerated need for attention, but now it seems like my addiction holds no special distinction. I guess in the end it doesn’t really matter how everyone else is experiencing their relationship with twitter, whether or not they get equally hung up on being followed or not followed and favorited or not favorited. What matters is that I can see how much this format recreates a scenario where I care significantly about whether or not people are looking at me and whether they like what they see. It really reminds me of being a rabid young spaz, spending all my energy maneuvering to get someone to look at me. It reminds me of being hungry.

I suppose I might be feeling more susceptible to a need for recognition due to our current situation, and I’m probably not going down the tubes after all. We’ve been cut off from our social world for about a year because we’ve been so busy making this album, and in the months before the last Blow album came out I remember getting into some pretty weird situations because I felt so strange and lonesome. I had an ichat relationship going with a 15 year old boy that I most likely would not have engaged with in any other context. I probably say a lot of things in the little twitter window that I would otherwise be saying to friends if I were hanging out with them. But in a real-life hangout I could be pretty sure I had my friend’s focus for the duration. On the twitter you don’t know from one minute to the next if anyone is going to be interested, and so you have to remain on your toes, poising yourself correctly, doling out your words with care in order to hold on to peoples interest. Fishing for the interest is the gesture that I remember. It’s good fun for recreation, but if one isn’t careful I think it can lead to some ugly burnout attributes. There she is with no teeth and a hollow look in her eyes, desperately refreshing her phone jonesing for one more follower and when she gets it then she’s going to want another.

June 21, 2012

  1. Bernd

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It is so easy to follow them , feel you, and relate to them. I suppose you are rather a blog kind of person than a tweet one.

    All of a sudden I felt again deeply, why I love you and your art, why I went to three of your shows in a row when you toured Europe with Jens Lekman (say hi to your parents). I will always follow you and look at you, maybe not always on twitter, but in a more real way, as – I am sure – do many others. The problem is, you have to trust it, like ‘believing’, and do not get digital proof and affirmation each day. When you tour again, I will try, in vain, to compensate for that.

    You are probably right. Most of us are succers for attention, and those opportunities offered by social media and mobile digital equipment are dangerous. We are not really prepared, and, like with alcohol, we will probably have to experience some hangovers before we have a chance to find out how to deal with them. If we ever get enough time for it. Wine or beer are sort of stable compared to the rapid changes in social media. You have more time to come to terms with them, and there are experienced generations before yours that can give guidance. We are all beginners with the digital tsunami and are more or less on our own. Like in ‘Finding Nemo’ the only thing that may work is ‘keep swimming’, and you will eventually make it. And believe in the invisible love there is in the world for you.

    Can’t wait to give you some first hand appreciation on your next tour.

    XO Bernd

  2. Christian

    Excellent insight, Khaela. I love reading your journal entries. You seem so intelligent and have such interesting things to say!

    I saw you at the Black Cat in DC a couple of years ago at what was a great show. Good luck with the rest of your album and I hope to see you here again soon.

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