Sometimes I think back to years past when no one had cell phones, and especially not internet access in the palms of their hands, and I wonder what the hell we did with ourselves. Then again, I also think these pieces of pint-sized technology are the worst thing to happen to us as people. Ironic, considering I’m typing this on my iPhone right now.
But hear me out. Yes, it’s amazing and incredibly helpful sometimes to have the world and all its wonders at our fingertips. But what that also means is that often times we’re so wrapped up in it that we miss what’s going on right in front of our faces. And we often forget that what other people are doing or saying mostly has no bearing on our own lives.
But we continue to make ourselves apart of it, even knowing this. Why? I don’t have an answer to this myself. All I know is how I can now see it affects me. And that is this: it’s unhealthy.
And I’m not talking about potential cancers and tumors from putting my phone up against the side of my head or in my bra (hey, sometimes I don’t have pockets, ok?). I’m not talking about how it may affect our eyesight or how it can cause insomnia. I’m not even talking about how being on our phones more means we’re moving less, which in turn means we’re gaining more weight. Even though, yes, those are all issues people worry about.
What makes these expensive pieces of plastic and metal most unhealthy, for me at least, is how much they affect my mental health. How addictive they’ve become. How obsessive they make me. How much anxiety they produce. And anyone who knows me knows I don’t need anymore of this shit in my life.
And yes, I know it’s my fault. I didn’t actually need to buy a smartphone. And I don’t actually need to visit the myriad apps, websites, and social media outlets that I do on a daily basis. No one actually forced me to do these things. So I’m not looking to place blame on anyone else but myself.
And considering I know that I have anxiety and depression, and often worry unnecessarily about things others probably don’t even think about; and, considering I feel everything so much more strongly–especially sadness, worry, and inequality–you’d think I would know better than to allow myself to get hooked on the internet. But even though I do know better, I don’t stop it. I’m fairly sure no heroin junkie plans on getting hooked. It just happens. After a series of increasingly destructive behaviors, it just happens.
And so I think it happens to us all. But I can only speak of myself with absolute certainty. I can say with this resoluteness that I need to let it all go. The social media has to stop for me. For now? For forever? I don’t really know. I only know that I can’t keep on like this.
And that is so fucking nerve wrecking for me. I wish you could feel my pulse as I write this.
What if I miss something?
What if someone tries to send me an important message, and I don’t see it in time?
Won’t someone possibly get upset if I don’t like or comment on something they’ve posted?
Will anyone even know I’m absent?
Those are just some of my worries. Some irrational. Some not. And really just some of the worries and thoughts I have about “unplugging” myself.
But, see, the thing is that since this election, I’ve been trying to keep up on everything politics related. It’s my duty as an American, and one that cares even more so. But the more I read and watch, the worse I feel. And the worse I feel, the more I carry this over into what is my actual life. And I’m just sick of letting these things clog up my thoughts and suck up my time. I just can’t do it anymore.
And I know that right now is not the best time to give up, that it’s a time to purposefully be aware. But I can’t.
I’m just not that brave, not that committed. I am that scared. And I am that worried. And I am feeling that hopeless and helpless. I’m just not feeling like a social justice crusader. I’m feeling that a lot of days it takes every bit of my concentration and effort merely to keep my small little piece of the world still functioning. And right now it feels like I can’t give any more.
So I hate to be a whiner. And I hate to defer to someone else, but I think I need to let the fighters keep fighting, and let myself slink into the background. Because, truthfully, we can’t all be all things all of the time. And right now I know that looking at these things day in and day out is giving me such intense anxiety and making me teeter dangerously close to the edge of a depressive relapse that I have no choice but to back off. I can’t breathe anymore, and I have to save myself. Selfish or not, it’s what I need to do.
I need to surround myself with kitties and books and my kids’ smiles. And I’m not going to allow myself to feel guilty because of it.
I admire you, fighters. I admire you so much. And I respect you beyond words. And many days I wish I was you. But I’m not. And that’s just got to be ok.
So on the eve of a historical inauguration, I think I’m bidding social media adieu for now. For how long I do not know. I imagine not forever. But long enough to rewire my brain and refocus my needs and priorities. And long enough to reevaluate how best to spend my time.
And hopefully that means reading more books instead of heartsickening news articles. And writing more of my long overdue book instead of comments to and about people who will never see things my way. And hopefully being more present when my kids are doing something or saying something instead of having the back of my mind wondering what’s going on in my newsfeed.
And hopefully it means making my way back to social media in a healthier mindset and with a more balanced approach to being a part of this part of our world.
I will have tonight be my last hurrah for now, and start anew in the morning.