Social Media Break

Social Media Break

[lead dropcap="yes"]Last Friday, I resolved to take a short break from social media. I didn't like what was happening to me there and I needed to step back and assess. As I come back, I'm going to be different.[/lead]

I've been involved in Internet commentary of one kind or another for nigh on two decades now. I once said I started this blog in 2001 because I needed a different outlet than yelling at the TV news, and in that sense, it's been a healthy outlet at times. But at other times, I've let my disgust or fear or insecurities show themselves in angry outbursts and unkind, uncharitable attacks. Unfortunately, social media did not improve that impulse.

Over the past year, as we've been bombarded by outrageous news story after story, I've found myself veering toward despair. There's the Sophie's choice between Trump and Hillary. There's the Outrage of the Week, whether it's Gorilla Mom or Stanford Rapist or the Orlando Shooting/Gun Control/Homophobia/Islamaphobia debate. My comments on Facebook have started to tend toward angry and mean and dismissive and abusive. My inability to convey my point in a logical manner was extremely frustrating. People just didn't seem to get what I was saying.

A Brief Break and a Change

I knew it needed to stop. So I took a long weekend break. And I don't know when or if I will return to writing on Facebook about contemporary events. In fact, I've begun to pare down my Facebook news feed to exclude those who post the sorts of things most likely to elicit my poor responses. That excludes friends who also write about the good things in their lives, sadly.

I'm not quitting social media. Just pulling back a bit.

Some might say I'm hypocritical, but I'm not going to stop writing about controversial subjects entirely. To cut down on the problematic interactions, I write here as much as I'm able, and not on social media.

I will reserve social media for more pleasant interactions. Pictures of the kids. Posts about places we go. Links to interesting stories about books and movies. That sort of thing.

Because in the other direction lies an ulcer and a bitter, old man. I don't want to be him.

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  • Last Thursday I started feeling the same way. I took a slightly more drastic step and deactivated my personal facebook account (I created a separate shell account for my blog page). I hated how I felt and that I found myself thinking in status updates. Day 4 and no shakes. Still blogging (doing it more now), snap-chatting to the select few who are there and instagramming for the grandparents. I am thinking of this as a “summer vacation.” My kids are home all summer, this gives me more time to be present to them when they are more physically present as well. It is refreshing, to say the least.

  • The advice to pull back from social media came to me … Way back in 2007-08. Many of my friends had followed Fr. Roderick onto Plurk for a while, and as we approached election time it just got ugly. Really ugly. I was anxious all the time, and I was sad and angry and frustrated. It was affecting my physical and emotional health. One of my good friends pulled me aside in a private message and said, basically, “You’ve got to step away. You are not making things any better. This is becoming an occasion for sin.” If we are feeling anger or despair who is delighting in that? God or Satan? In many ways social media has brought me closer to my faith and people who are loving and caring. However, it can be a distraction, too. A dangerous one. If I feel like I am bring drawn away from God, away from being compassionate toward others then I know to just leave that conversation for a while.

    It’s like being lost in the woods. Sometimes you need to stop walking and assess where you are or else you will be in danger of wandering further and further from safety. We have to stay healthy, physically, emotionally and spiritually.