At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, I went ahead and began a little experiment for the New Year- I took Facebook and Twitter off of my phone. It's been four days and I think I'm adjusting well. The number of times I've idly flipped through my phone looking for Facebook or Twitter and then realizing, 'oh wait, I took those off of there' has diminished. That's not to say that I'm getting out of the social media game altogether- I still use Facebook. I still Snapchat and Instagram on occasion. I'm rocking the shit out of Pinterest. I tweet. But I decided that to start the New Year, I needed to put some distance between myself and the social media echo chamber.
The past two months have been getting increasingly unbearable- especially on Twitter, but somewhat on Facebook as well. I don't know if it's the results of the election that did it- though I suspect that played a significant part, but everything took a negative, snarky tone that felt increasingly toxic the closer I got to the holidays. I got tired of people whining about what Donald Trump did, said or Tweeted today. I got tired of right-wing agitators bloviating about SJWs. I got tired of being told that 'doing nothing is not an option' in a vaguely hectoring, condescending kind of way. No less an authority than Tom Wolfe said that "the dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States, yet lands only in Europe."
I found myself exhausted by everything. A day couldn't go by without someone getting all butthurt and offended over some damn thing or another. People shrieking about fascism. Sermonizing on the great and glorious future that awaits us and/or our moral duty to resist our new fascist overlords. You can't expose yourself to that kind of toxicity every day without it eventually impacting the way you feel and your own mental health.
So, I needed space. People do 'Dry Januarys' people are now doing 'Sugarless Januarys.' I am going to try for a 'Limited Social Media Use January' which doesn't sound nearly as good as the first two.
You never realize just how much of a time suck social media can be until you limit yourself somewhat. My days have opened up. I find it easier to do things around the house- though trying to juggle three kids remains somewhat of a work in progress- though I'd like to think that I'm getting better every day at that.
Is it making me more productive? I'd like to think it is, but I can get derailed easily as well- as tonight is proving. I'm sort of spinning my wheels getting inside my head a little bit too much and then suddenly I'm not doing anything at all. But, there's still time left in the evening to salvage something. A short story I've been working on for awhile seems to have sprung to life and is heading for the finish line and despite a couple of days of setbacks at work, I'm rallying.
We'll see what the month ahead brings, but for now, I feel more present in my own life than I have in awhile. Immediate access to the echo chamber isn't something we need, it's something we want and it gets into your brain all too easily. Without knowing it, your phone can become an extension of your arm. Without knowing it, you can find yourself inside the pool constantly, being buffeted by the sound and the fury- all of it signifying next to nothing.
Yes, The Great Social Media Experiment is underway. January always feels like the longest month, so we'll have to see how long I last, but right now, four days in, taking a step back from the echo chamber feels like the right thing to do. It feels like the healthy thing to do. And if there's one thing I want to try and make happen this year, it's being healthier.
Will I continue the experiment beyond January? We'll have to see- I feel like right now I probably will, however, Just because of the amount of time that doing this has opened up for me. The older I get, the more precious time seems to become- so why waste any more of it than you have too?