1.25.2017

A slow self-destruction courtesy of social media



I know I used to write on this blog pretty frequently. Often, the topics were congenial or trivial. Mom stuff, you know. As I pursued my business, I had less and less time for personal writing. Some days I wish I were better at balancing motherhood and business ownership while continuing in my pursuits of hobbies that bring me joy, but for now, I have to settle on work being the hobby that brings me joy. I know that in a few years, as the kids get older, I'll have more time for the pursuit of things that set my soul on fire.

Sometimes, though, things get so heavy or concerning that the only way I know to cope is to write. Lately, that's all I've done, I know. I apologize to those (two) of you still actually reading my blog who don't do heavy blog posts or hot topics. This is what I've got to offer right now.


Donald Trump won. I won't go so far as to say that he won fair and square because that seems slightly insane when he lost the popular vote by millions. But he won in accordance with our current voting system. I haven't been silent about my dislike of the man, of his policies or of the message we sent to the world by electing him. But I have been using the wrong platform to do it.

I took my normal December break from social media and found myself anxious and unsure come January 1st. It had been a glorious month without the drama, noise and vitriol that I'd become so accustomed to. Tim decided he was done all together. After thinking on it for a few days, I decided I'd go back to Instagram but stay far away from Facebook. 

Then the inauguration happened. The weight of that day hung so heavy in the air that I felt an absolute compulsion to check in on Facebook. As Tim said, "Like so many others, I lived in an echo chamber of like-minded folks and was, quite literally, waiting with bated breath for the next racist or obtuse comment from a public figure or Facebook friend. The anger and indignation is addicting."

Addicted to anger and indignation? Yes! I think we all are in this day and age of social media, aren't we? In the midst of so much political division on the heels of what is going to obviously go down as a (negatively) historic presidency, we don't even know what to do with all these emotions. (I know some of you think that's dramatic, but this is historic stuff and nothing like any other election I've witnessed in my lifetime - our president has no filter!) I don't personally know more than two or three people who actually liked Donald Trump. I know a few more who voted for him because they felt like they had no other choice, but even so, people are unhappy and disillusioned with the state of politics in this country. Without clear, actionable steps, we find ourselves yelling and fighting on social media, desperately trying to find more and more facts to support our own positions, even going so far as to ignore the blatant, ahem, alternative facts because they align with our viewpoints. 

Ever since logging back on a few days ago, I've been spiraling right back down into a pit of despair, anger, hopelessness and disgust. Such disgust that I've actually been on the verge of throwing up all day. I texted my husband this morning to tell him that I was so anxious I was about to actually vomit and I realized that things have gotten completely out of control. While I don't want to bury my head in the sand, I also have come to recognize that my own personality is not well-suited for the incessant drama and noise of Facebook. 

That's not to say this election hasn't awakened a sleeping activist giant inside of me and so many others. It absolutely has! I've signed up for every activist group in this area that I agree with. I'm attending advocacy training, signing up for peaceful rallies and getting connected with volunteer groups around my city like The Homeless Period Project. I think that if we can look beyond the current fear, anger and hopelessness, we'll see an incredible movement gaining steam. We'll see that though electing Donald Trump was a terrifying move, it finally woke us all up again. We've been content to whine on social media for far too long now without taking actual action. In this regard, we could really learn a thing or two from generations past. I watched Selma over the weekend and was completely re-inspired to stand up for the causes I believe in and to take part in peaceful protests. That's how we change the world. That's how we bring attention to things that desperately need attention. While it's a nice sentiment to say that all we need to do is talk politely to each other to get things done, history has proven that not to be the case. Making changes takes work and often, it takes the kind of work that makes other people angry or uncomfortable, like coming together for a historic march (but, contrary to popular belief, it doesn't happen by angry ranting on Facebook).
  
I wondered how I could meander along the path of activism without being engaged in social media. Is that possible? We've been doing it for all of time, so surely we don't need social media to fight for a cause. I often wonder if we don't do more damage than aid to our cause when we take to social media, anyway. I can't have productive conversations with any stranger with a different opinion that I encounter online. Without face-to-face contact, finding middle ground seems to have become nearly impossible. All I did when I got upset online was push people farther away from me personally, from my cause and cause myself a ton of distress.  There are people better suited to online activism and sharing their strong opinions on social media than I am. There are people who choose their words more gracefully, who don't succumb to the despair I do and who can connect people across the aisles. I just don't happen to be one of them and truthfully, I don't think there are many people like that in this world.

The last year has been rough for a lot of us, no doubt. I felt the need to be on social media all the time because I was grieving and scared and I felt that if I could just find more people like me, I'd feel better. I was trying to process my own history of sexual abuse, rape and the ramifications that came from that. Instead, I should have been out there taking action to change the world AND heal myself. Scrolling around on Facebook to read the opinions of others who are being careless with their words was the opposite of healing. 

I'm not going to use Facebook to speak up anymore. I'm logging off. I'm deactivating my account and spending my energies on getting out there and doing things instead. It's not for everyone, but it's what I need at this point in my life. Instead of whining in Facebook statuses or getting sucked down the hole of drama, I'm going to process my thoughts and opinions right here, like I used to. Peace and love, y'all. We'll not only survive, we will rise and thrive.

2 comments :

  1. Now I really don't regret logging off Facebook. I think you'll feel better soon. Having logged off social media for three days, I feel great.

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  2. I ended up deactivating my Facebook too, Chelsea. So proud of you. I know we don't always agree on everything, but you are an amazing, faithful, and strong voice. Keep it up. This was beautifully written, friend!!!

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