September 22, 2023

Holding On Too Long

By Vega Subramaniam



Welp, I officially deleted my Twitter (SORRY, my bad: “X”) account. Something I had been holding onto for too long.

Given that I more or less never used it, you might wonder why it took me so long. Well, please indulge me while I tell you a story about how I got onto Twitter in the first place.

Once upon a time, in early 2007, things were rather challenging in the Nagarajan-Subramaniam household. I was managing at my job, which I loved. Mala was working on her Creative Collaborations project, which she loved, but which she was finding harder and harder to cope with and manage. In truth, she was finding it harder and harder to cope with everything, including being alive. The way she described it, she had the “anti-Midas-touch.” In her mind, everything she touched died. She couldn’t bear it. So she took steps to stop being alive.

Luckily for me (and the world, as far as I’m concerned), Mala did not succeed.

While Mala survived, we couldn’t leave her alone in the days and weeks that followed, in case she tried again. And yet, I still had to go to work. So we turned to this cool newfangled thing called “Twitter,” don’t know if you’ve heard of it. It was an application where you could add “Followers” and send short messages called “Tweets” to whole groups of people, imagine that.

The beauty of Twitter at that time was that it worked for our little community. Mala couldn’t manage the energy for a call or a visit. But she could manage to get on “Twitter” and send “Tweets” to give us small updates on how she was doing or to respond to one of us checking in.

It was a game-changer for our little community. It brought us closer and gave us hope and kept us in communication.

Fast-forward some years, and I found myself on Twitter less and less, almost never, and finally never. But I kept my account. Every few months, I would notice the app on my phone, doom-scroll for 10 minutes, realize what I was doing, get super irritated with myself, consider deleting the app, and then put away my phone, app remaining ensconced.

I could not find the will to delete my account. Would that not be a betrayal of that sacred time in our lives and relationships? Would I not be turning my back on, dishonoring that moment? Erasing that history felt unconscionable.

I mean, even as I write that, I think, “poppycock!” (Yes, I really do use words like that in my head. Sometimes out loud, too.) No app in the world owns my history or relationships or meaningful moments (god forbid). OBviously. I know this. But yet again, I encountered this seemingly impassable abyss between Logical Acuity and Sentimental Sensibility. [Tangent, but here’s an article I found helpful about…well, putatively about procrastination, but also, in my head anyway, about melding Logical Acuity and Sentimental Sensibility. See also this very cool word that’s new to me, akrasia.]

Twitter could have probably lurked on my phone forever, all while Logical Acuity and Sentimental Sensibility kept low-key duking it out in my brain. But then this thing happened. To wit: that megalomaniacal antisemitic tech dude-bro over there decided to change “Twitter” to “X.”

Boom. He ripped the bandage off. I just looked at that headline in the newspaper, and I was like, “Vega, what are you doing? The app is nothing. It’s just a thing that some random dude-bro can change the name of just because he feels like it.”

It sort of lifted me up out of my (admittedly self-imposed) fog. It was so, so clarifying. Of course this app does not own my memories, and of course that moment remains meaningful and fully mine even after I delete my account. And ever so gradually, Logical Acuity and Sentimental Sensibility were able to take a breather and really see each other. And to become integrated, as is, after all, their natural state.

I will admit that deleting my account was deliciously satisfying. Liberating, even. This happened a week or two ago, and I haven’t looked back.

Meanwhile, and also, in retrospect: what’s my larger lesson here? Longtime readers will know that I have an obsession with finding the (a? one where there might be many?) framework that captures a larger pattern underlying the given moment I’ve just experienced. Ob. SESH. Un.

In this story, I wonder if it has something to do with stepping back to understand the fear, or grief, that’s gripping me, or gripping onto a memory that I’m only half-conscious of even existing, much less able to respond to or sass back at or soothe. And if I could, outside of an external stimulus (viz. “X”), step back and notice and honor the fear, or grief, or gripped memory—the Sentimental Sensibility—and also, simultaneously, notice and honor the rational, yet seemingly inaccessible, response—the Logical Acuity—then what might be possible? Organic integration? Would organic integration be possible?


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