Digging Out

Unintentionally, I stopped writing. Like the earth under layers of snow, I felt weighted down by the auspices of winter and the world at large. The news of the day is unrelenting, painful, infuriating. To make the choice to ignore it, means choosing to exercise privilege – a momentary state that many of us are in – aware, but untouched as of yet. Indulging ourselves with entertainment and distraction, because we know not exactly what to do. We send money or protest out into the world and then turn inward, safe once again, comforted by the knowledge that we did something.

canstockphoto14933208I’ve been feeling a lot of discomfort about that and my forays into social media are coming to an end. There are always those who go on about its usefulness and of staying “in the know” and the value of connection. I suspect that they have great mental filters, that their skin is thick – that they don’t internalize things. They are able to take away more from it than what is taken. It’s funny how physically tough I can be, but will lay awake at night because some rando on the internet insulted me.

When I was a child, I was frequently told I was too sensitive. It took a long time out in the world to build an armor of sarcasm, a facial expression to scare off men, women, children, and pets. I focused on being physically adept and stronger, because that was another kind of toughness. I developed a dark sense of humor, learned to laugh harshly when I was frightened or despairing. But the tender part is necessary to who I am. It is not going away. And it feels battered.

canstockphoto28476729FOMO (fear of missing out) is an easy disease to catch. I love learning – reading about all kinds of things and people. The information age is a heady, addictive time – to have access to anything I’d like to learn. The learning is a shell game though. What one gains in quantity, one loses in quality. The faster and easier information is acquired, the less permanence it has. My brain is cycling shorter and shorter. In essence, I feel less capable of the nuanced thinking that produces meaningful discourse and art. I’m spending far too much time arguing in my head with bytes of pithiness.

I’ve deactivated Twitter, cancelled Amazon Prime, locked down Facebook (I have to maintain it for a volunteer organization I work for), and am returning to the simple life of a writer/blogger/reader. I miss my brain before Twitter and Facebook. I miss being able to sit with stillness. Some people are able to do it all, but I am not one of them. An introvert in the world is an introvert online. There is only so much time and energy. And I want to reclaim mine.

The Ballad of the Unhappy Tweeter

It sits like lead in the belly – the impotence of social media.

Write a thoughtful response. Delete with frustration.

Write an angry response. Delete with embarrassment.

Witness the stupid, the self-important, the self-righteous.

Performative -isms.

Bragging about their gods and guns and wokeness.

Flippant. Send brightly-colored hearts and smiley faces and special punctuation.

Passive-aggressive positivity.

Faux patriotism.

Pledge your fealty to the troops who suck sand for suited men.

Chuckling on the golf course about loopholes.

Copy, paste, copy, paste.

Meme, meme, meme.

Faux intellectualism.

Self-identifying conspiracy theorists, Christian, libertarian, bro, coward, crypto-fan, cultist, racist, misogynist

who want to be inside the bodies they deride or subjugate them to the state.

Fondling their threats of violence in the shape of guns.

1A is for thee, but not for those others.

2A as self-esteem.canstockphoto10130744

Copy, paste, copy, paste.

Meme, meme, meme.

To leave the platform is heresy.

You will be unfollowed.

You will be untethered, unpublished, unimportant.

As you were before the crowd entered your brain.

Deactivate

The room empties.

You plant your feet on terra firma.

Rendered invisible, but able to see once again.

cropped-canstockphoto9028280.jpg

43 Comments on “Digging Out

  1. I am lucky I think because I seem to know when I’m at the breaking point and I can stay away from all of it for days, in some cases weeks. And then I seem to also know when I can tip-toe my way back, if I choose to do so. I’m also lucky because Toronto has so much on offer — a lot of it free or very reasonably priced — that’s interesting, informative and inspiring. I’ve been gorging on documentaries, lectures and author’s talks.

    Like

    • I wish I were like that. It’s easy for me to get hooked on things and perhaps that is why I need to choose wisely. I’ve been reading a lot lately and it has only emphasized the difference between steady streams of bite-size information and an activity that requires more focus and a quieter mind. I like the slower pace and I think it is simply better for me.

      That being said, I can easily get sucked into the idea that as a writer, I need these platforms. The irony is that if you spend a lot of time on platforms, it makes it more likely you won’t be a productive writer. So, back to focusing on the work.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s all about what works best for the individual. It’s good you’re aware of what works for you and you’re acting on it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s it for me too! I get hooked on things and think I need social media. I am reading so much more and at first I had to fight to keep reading because my brain thought it had to jump to something else … so sad

        Like

        • That’s definitely a side effect of this constant availability and stream of information. It becomes like a drug – you just have to keep scrolling and scrolling to get more of it. I’m ready to be done with it and go at a different pace.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m an introvert, too, so I understand exactly your decision to cease and desist. I use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For me social media is a link to information about things that interest me and an occasional outlet for creative endeavors I want to share with the world, and as I don’t have any skin in the game it’s not threatening. To the social media world at large I am wsquared or some derivation of that, so that provides a layer of protection. No one knows who I am, so I don’t take anything anyone says (or doesn’t say) personally. Does that make me a coward? Probably. Do I care? Absolutely not. I take what is of value to me, offer what I wish to and leave it at that. I understand and accept who I am and my limitations, so it’s all good. Some of us contribute in different, quieter ways. I leave the stress and vitriol to others. I’m just not up to it. 🙂 Great post!

    Like

    • I seem incapable of blinders, which is nothing new. I should clarify that my ruminations about internet insults are more around what kind of people are in the world, what motivates them, etc. I don’t take it personally as emotional pain, but because it is jarring, it does get my brain going on larger concepts. At this point in my life, anything that interferes with a good night’s sleep deserves a stake through the heart.

      I’m going to be optimistic and hope that this frees up some time and energy for work that is meaningful to me.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Such a timely post, and loved you musings in the opening para and the ballad, in particular. I am still on FB, but only because it is the easiest way to keep in touch with the 90% of my family and 75% of friends who are spread all over the world. Talking to them for free on facetime is a treat for me. I don’t read any news there and don’t post anything but family news and birds for my immediate friends and family. Twitter is connected to my blog only…don’t follow anything but a few writers there and hardly ever spend any time there. So I feel free from the “information” the social media provides. I don’t want to pick up more negative energy and discord from any of those sources.

    Like

    • I wish I had that sort of self-control, but there is something very addictive about a constant stream of information. And I’d convinced myself about all that author platform nonsense. The platform I need to stick with right now is my writing desk and chair. And I will be so grateful when spring comes and I can start gardening. The only tweeting I want to experience now are the actual birds!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Loved this! And love your blog, so I’m glad that it stays! You had me really worried you were locking this up to and I was not ready for it to leave. Thanks for being one of the best things I read on the web.

    Like

    • That’s really kind of you to say, Elizabeth. I think I’ve spent a great deal of the last few months whinging on about social media, because it created a lot of inner conflict. The upside of these forays is that it has made me appreciate the medium of longer form blogging so much more. Glad to bring my focus back to the blog.

      Liked by 2 people

      • You’re not the only one. My friend who is also an aspiring author, just did a discussion post on how to deal with all of the social media “needed” for authors and authors-to-be. So it’s on everyone’s radar.

        Like

        • There is a book out by Lauren Sapala called “Firefly Magic: Heart Powered Marketing for Highly Sensitive Writers”. I tried a couple of her suggestions and they were helpful. I just need to get the writing done before developing “platforms”.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m sure you also have never bought into “like” or “share” as a live or die exercise. I enjoy blogging, but I didn’t have time to constantly cultivate the blog via all the social media. What started as an aspiring stream of income quickly turned into a satisfying hobby. I’ll get my news from The Washington Post (not the digital version).

    Like

    • I learned early on that stats (Likes, RTs) were not satisfying, but I did buy into the whole writers-must-be-on-whatever-platforms. It has become obvious that this is just more pablum in the category of: everything but actually writing. For me, it’s turned into a zero sum game. The mental energy and time required to maintain multiple platforms is time and energy I don’t put towards something I enjoy. And I much prefer the connections here than any other place online.
      As for news, I have decided hard copies or digital editions with no comment sections are the way to go.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Michelle, your comment, “When I was a child, I was frequently told I was too sensitive” really resonated with me. I was told that often. I don’t recall when it finally occurred to me that, no, I’m not, this is only a comment from someone who is perhaps, not sensitive enough. Since that awareness, I’ve never looked back, what a release and freedom. (And, self-acceptance.) I appreciate your reflections, please keep them up,

    Like

    • You’re right – that’s the kind of thing that insensitive people say when they hurt a person’s feelings. I don’t feel that way as an adult – I feel just sensitive enough. Not so lily-livered that I can’t stand up for myself, but also attuned to the world around me. I think I am learning to honor that more, rather than to continually trying to muscle my way through. It’s why I realized that my attempts to do the social media rounds were making me a bit miserable. Solitude and quiet are more fertile ground for me.

      Like

  7. Being an introvert is both a blessing and a curse. I find social media somewhat suffocating if I take in too much all at once. When that happens, I shut it down for a little while and try to refocus. It can be very nerve-wracking at times.

    Like

    • I think that it’s easy to regard online communication as somehow more passive and easier to manage as an introvert. I’ve found that it can be just as exhausting as any other form of interaction. At this point, especially at the peak of toxicity in public discourse, it’s just not worth it.

      Like

  8. Pingback: He Said, She Said: Bloggers Edition #8. – Manuscript. Head. Drawer.

  9. Must be a trend going on. I have an account on Twitter but never use it. I’m deactivating Facebook and logging off Instagram as well. It’s all just too much. Just as you described. You’re not alone . I kept Facebook for a local homeschooling group but I have a feeling they will totally get it when I ask them to email me instead … it’s just all too much.

    Like

  10. Untethered is the word I chose for the day at the end of Lent when I delete my Facebook. It feels a lot like freedom.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Digging Out — The Green Study – EswarPhysioClinic

  12. Very thoughtful post. I am beginning to feel overwhelmed by all the chatter, comments and seeing how many people out there that are both like you in some thoughts and others so totally opposite. It is exhausting.

    I do Facebook, but I’m going to back off some and delete some of the political stuff. I don’t do the twitter or instagram.

    My favorite things are the blogs on WordPress and a few other places, I follow…probably because of either like mindedness is politics and liberalism and then other blogs about entirely different subjects..poetry, art, environment etc.

    I use to read books and this is where I have the most difficulty. I can’t focus anymore long term. I can watch a good movie or series, but that’s different than reading and I miss it.

    But the main thing I’ve done, mentally, especially with politics, the state of the world and just the craziness out there, is to try to look at the big and long range picture. I’m also becoming a bit fatalistic about it all…like it’s just the flow of history and the follies of mankind that will always exist in one form or another. Countries come and go, tyrants do the same and civilizations themselves, ebb and flow. It helps me to have this attitude otherwise I could be driven to drink.😊

    Like

  13. I particularly liked your poetic work at the end of the post. It hit all the right notes and said everything I haven’t put into words–although, I despised Twitter mainly because I am unable to write my thoughts in coherent abbreviation.

    I did have one question, what does the 1a and 2b reference? I didn’t understand that. And, as you may know, I am feeling particularly stupid lately and in need of simple, on-point explanations.

    Like

    • I’m referring to the 1st and 2nd Amendments of the Constitution, namely freedom of speech and the right to bear arms. They are constantly referenced and argued about on social media – usually incorrectly or propagandized to suit the person’s agenda.
      I left out how much I loathe the abbreviations on Twitter as well. Who knew so many people laughed out loud?

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Social media. Such an odd term. When did our social lives become a media production? YEESH. If I had my druthers, it would be email, snail mail and blogging, which is social media but somehow feels more real. Maybe it’s the blogs I choose to follow. There are good people here. They express themselves well. They write about things that matter. They make me think. They make me laugh. You do both for me Michelle, sometimes in the same sentence. Please don’t stop blogging. It suits you well.

    Like

    • It’s odd that someone like myself would be involved in anything that had the word “social” in it! I’ve been off Twitter for over a week now and wow, can I feel a difference in my temperament and attention span. Turning off a constant stream of bad news and snarkiness was a good plan. I know I’ll be on it at some point in the future, but for now, I just need to focus on longer form writing and save my reading time for actual books. So much healthier!

      Liked by 1 person

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: