Well, I guess I didn’t really go anywhere, but I dropped social media cold in October and haven’t looked back since.
At least until now.
In the interim, I’ve worked to beef up my website, finished a self-published book, and traveled all around the American Southwest.
I left because I couldn’t take it anymore. To be honest, it was beginning to feel like one of the toxic spaces I was learning to identify and avoid in my life. Constant extremism of all forms, anger, bending of narratives this way and that, unsubstantiated claims right next to legitimate news and updates.
In deleting all social apps from my phone, my mind was almost instantly relaxed, my mood improved drastically, and so many little things that used to aggravate or sadden me now missing.
It’s not that I’m misinformed, it’s that I’m intentionally informed. I’ve chosen to lean into only a few, well established media sources, and welcome as diverse perspectives at every juncture possible. This last topic, ingesting diverse perspectives is my current frontier. If anyone has any good outlets that would help challenge my American, suburban experience I would be very grateful.
In the places that I have found the stories—mothers of color joining together in California to peacefully resist gentrification through “live-ins,” droughts and locust invasions in Sudan, the voices of Iraqi protesters demanding the freedom for their country promised them nearly two decades ago during its most recent invasion—I’ve worked hard to remain connected and seek agency in some way.
Instead of falling down the pit of helplessness or overwhelm, or inundating myself with a myriad of true and untrue stories right next to each other, I’ve tried to seek news from places that I currently have a connection to, or stop to intentionally connect with the lives of the people I don’t naturally know about.
For example, when I ran across the the stories of drought, famine, and locust in the Sudan, I stopped to hold the people I heard from in my mind and heart. Allowed myself to feel the natural compassion and love for them that any rational person would feel, and thought through any ways that I could possibly help them. At the time I couldn’t think of anything I could do immediately to help, so I left the thought there to re-emerge if anything were to come up, but chose to feel for them and express empathy and love. I was then able to leave that there, and move into gratitude for my current situation in life.
This allowed me to leave the story of devastation there, be reminded of how fragile yet incredible my current experience is, and keep them in my heart in case I could do something at a future time.
In the past, I would have run across something like this right next to three or four clickbait stories and fallen into deep feelings of anger and a sense of overwhelm that I would have carried into my work, my relationships, and my parenting.
I also learned in my hiatus that social channels can be an incredible space to share, create, and renew. And so here I am, returning with intentionality, ready to share far more than I consume, ready to celebrate the art, voices, and creativity of others, and ready to filter and limit the anger-mongering that is so much of online marketing.
And so I continue to wander, with a full heart, with excitement, and with anticipation.
I hope that I can contribute in some way to your healing, in our communal re-gathering, in telling creative and alternative stories, and amplifying the voices on the margins that we need now more than ever.
Because we’re wandering, but we’re also on a journey. And I’m convinced that journey is into wholeness. But we can’t be whole if we remain regional and sectarian.
So here’s to being a healthy contributor, user, and consumer (in that order) of social media.
I’m grateful to wander with you.