Doing an about-face on social media

For the last few months I’ve been really down on social media. I found that too often spending time on the various services wound up depressing me rather than being a positive experience, so I vowed to give it up. I checked-out of Discords (where I’d been most active), stopped logging in to Facebook, vowed to never read comments on articles and avoided Reddit. Twitter was the only network I stayed active on and I tried to do my best to pull away from that.

At first I felt great. I had a lot more free time and felt a lot less stressed. I became an anti social-media zealot, telling anyone who would listen that it was toxic.

Except there was one catch. Without social media, there really was no one who would, or could, listen. As time went by I started to feel cut off and kind of lonely.

See, I’m more or less a recluse, by circumstance rather than design. I work from home, 100%. I don’t make friends easily and since moving to North Carolina really haven’t made any. I have Angela of course and she is terrific but other than her I can go days without talking to another human being (depending on how many work meetings are happening at the time). Since I work and she doesn’t, her job is to do the shopping and run errands so I never really have reason to go anywhere. I walk the dog, of course, but in the winter it’s generally dark and we don’t run into other dogs and their people as much as we do in spring/summer/fall.

Anyway, point is without any social media I was feeling really isolated. So I’m re-thinking my plan.

In 2018, I tried, with modest success, not to engage in topics that frustrate/annoy/sadden me. And by “engage” I mean that literally. I wrote plenty of irate responses but never hit “send” on them. I wasn’t 100% successful with this but I feel like I did OK about it.

In 2019 my goal is to try to find a way to just let these topics slide past me without them bothering me. Because I was bothered in 2018, I just didn’t get into arguments about things. I still felt down about them, which is where my ‘toxic social media’ feelings were coming from. I’m just not quite sure how to accomplish this “let things slide” idea.

In the past week or two I’ve tried to be more chatty on Twitter and tried to engage people on topics that I take delight in. Suddenly Twitter is becoming a source of pleasure again. Maybe it’s just a matter of having more good stuff than annoying stuff in my timeline?

I mean, I don’t want to seem like I’m sticking my head in the sand here, but the things that used to get me riled up were often really trivial. I’m cautious about giving an example because I don’t want to start a debate since that kind of defeats the purpose, but here is one that I don’t think I saw any of my friends said.

There was a thought circulating before the holiday that said something like “If you’re depressed and alone this year, don’t worry, things WILL get better.” So that seems like a positive message to a lot of people I guess. To me it just seems dismissive. You (random person who sent this) can’t know what the situation of the person reading your message is. Maybe they’re losing a battle with cancer. Maybe they’re older and have been watching friends and relatives die off. At some point in life, things will probably NOT get better. Mostly I think my problem with this ties into ageism (an issue I’m getting more and more passionate about). Young people think everyone has all the time in the world and it isn’t so.

Anyway, not to go into a long rant about that. My point was, I didn’t engage in any of these discussions because I KNOW that the people saying this were trying to be kind and positive, so what benefit could come from me going after them? But it did get to me. In 2019 I need to learn to just let stuff like this wash over me and not get me riled.

If I can do that, I think I can use social media as a way to feel more connected to other people. I still need to find “my tribe” but that’s a topic for another post.

3 thoughts on “Doing an about-face on social media

  1. I have so many tangential topics related to this… but believe it or not I have been going through some of this over the past year myself. While not entirely the same it is similar. I used to be deeply engaged with the little community of folks I have known over the years and that I record the AggroChat podcast with. When that show started everyone was either in EST or CST so within a single hour of each other in operating time.

    However starting in 2016 and culminating in 2017 a bunch of life events happened. Three of our six members of the cast migrated to Seattle… placing them almost completely out of my normal operating hours. The other two both had life events that placed them more or less out of commission for doing stuff together. So my happy little social circle evaporated and I have spent more and more time isolated and in my own headspace.

    This is got complicated by the fact that I took on a lot more responsibility at work, and while I am always around people… none of them are folks that I feel like I can really “be myself” around. This point was really driven home at Christmas when I went to the “management” Christmas that was a lot more sports and alcohol focused than I am used to… and very much not my crowd. The job also has reduced my ability to check into social media which has lead to a general sense of feeling disconnected from everyone.

    I make attempts to pretend that everything is normal and just interact like normal, but I always feel like that one person who is talking out of sync with the rest of the group. I’ve been in this isolated mode for so long that I am starting to find it really hard to get back in the swing of doing things with other human beings. Like right now I have been piddling around in FFXIV but I have this huge mental hurdle that is keeping me from tanking dungeons like I used to… because I feel like I am out of practice and maybe can’t do it anymore.

    I have no real idea WHY I am typing all of this on your blog instead of my own, but basically I applaud your efforts on trying to find a way to keep engaging in a manner that is comfortable to you. But also to sort say that I am struggling with some of this myself. I appreciate you existing in my timelines, and while I’m super hit and miss with reading blogs due to the work thing, I already appreciate your take on things even if we don’t agree on it.

  2. I am happy to hear this. When you jumped most ships, I was sad because I felt you were abandoning your friends. I know how you feel, though: I’ve also thought of A Great Purge, but ultimately realized that there’d be a lot of people that I truly value that I wouldn’t be hearing from again, and I don’t want that any more than I’d want to be separated from my family or my nearby friends.

    I doubt there are any words of wisdom that can flip a switch for you, but if you find one, let me know because I could use it as well. I know I just try and ask myself “is this worth getting upset over?” when faced with something potentially upsetting, and it helps me to consider where it’s coming from. Is it someone I don’t know? Someone who’s always shitposting and doesn’t seem to care to really make connections? Or is it someone I’ve known for years, someone I value, and who I like talking with 99% of the rest of the year? That kind of helps to put things into perspective a bit because I know some people are jerks by nature, some work hard at it, and some people just pick the wrong words for the wrong sentiment at the wrong time with the wrong people. Because social media is so public and totally without regard for context, I get where you’re coming from; what seems innocuous to some is grating for others.

  3. Hey, I am around if you ever want a chat (am in same situation re: working from home, but realise I often post stuff on Twitter that other people aren’t very into, because of work).

    I’m flighty, but always around to chatting about anything!

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