Social Media Diet

I’m going on a social media diet. Or a media diet.

I realized I was in a cycle of misery, where actually, my life is pretty great, especially compared to where it’s been, and I find ways to feel miserable and ignore the things that give me all those good feelings. It’s been like this since last year, and after my terrified sobbing fit the night of the Presidential election, I’ve been engaging in a self-sabotaging torture by keeping my awake-self as aware as possible of the minute-by-minute pain and agony, current and to come. I tell myself that my privilege means I need to be aware, but it’s not like I’m not aware, or even like I’ll necessarily forget (though that’s a risk), it’s that by not giving myself time to step away and see the world I’m in, in the here and now, and try to find peace within that, I’m making myself fairly useless, and engaging in other self-defeating behaviors.

I realized this past week or so that I was in this cycle of keeping myself aware through Twitter and news apps, and then carb loading – not because they were delicious and worthy carbs, but because they were there. I realized I was getting in a habitual cycle, I’d scroll my feed, start to feel terrible about everything (the world, myself), and then reach for the nearest thing that could make me feel, if briefly, less horrified. I heard a friend talk about the “Tr*mp Twenty” – and I’ve probably gained that much. It wouldn’t bother me so much if it wasn’t for the fact I’ve also let Instagram’s beauty (even “body positive” beauty) tell me what it is to be pretty and attractive.

My friend Marika recently wrote about her own situation with social media, and it really resonated with me. I don’t want to retreat into my privilege. I left Facebook a year ago (mostly because I hate the platform, and think they’re evil), but I’ve stayed on Twitter, dutifully reading the feeds of a variety of people ranging from Black Lives Matter activists, Democratic Socialists, Never Tr*mp Republicans, journalists on national and local beats, and artists and authors I admire. It’s all screaming, all the time – or it feels like that right now. Like the flames are rushing into our last sanctuary and it’s all we have left in the hopes that those in power will save us.

It’s making me unwell. It’s also making me miss doing the things that I really value, like focus on my family’s well-being, beyond just the basics. There are books I want to read, words I need to write, drawings I need to draw. I’ve ended up with serious imposter syndrome that has kept me grounded for far too long, and I’ve been a social media addict since probably before the word was even invented.

It’s time for me to unplug. I’m still working out what that exactly means, but for now, it means I’ve uninstalled apps on my phone, and installed a utility to block specific traffic at specific times to keep me more focused.

Why am I giving companies like Twitter and Facebook/Instagram my data, my intellectual property, for their profit, and my misery? WHY? Why am I consenting to this?

I just know I need to do something different, and spending two hours less on social media seems to be a good start.