I want to start by acknowledging how incredible social media can be and what accessibility it has provided so many of us. Most of my friends are people that I have met and converse with online. Not only is this due to the most recent pandemic but also to disability, my queer identity, and my existence as a fat person. We as queer people do not always have the privilege of being around “our people” in our hometowns and current political landscape, so we fill those roles of chosen family with those we have met online and then, hopefully in the eventual future, we will all be able to come together and live on a beautiful self-sustained commune of love and rainbows, and barnyard animals and, …anyway, I’m getting off track here.
I wanted to talk about why I have pulled away from social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok and now engage more on Discord, selected Patreons, and Blogs.
The world as of late, feels a lot louder and a lot more thoughtless. We watch as one side is pitted against another, as the government is rutted against its own people, as we are thrown into argument after argument fighting for respect from people who refuse to listen. It’s too much. This is not to say that this has not been happening since colonialism had a vice grip on the people of the world, but watching it all day long? It’s too much! We do not need to engage with the vitriol online just to forsake the beauty in our actual lives. Does this not make you “lose hope in humanity?” Have I not heard person after person say that? How is that not a red flag for us?
These platforms are not here to keep you informed as much as it is to attack our systems. The entire point of this media is to instigate and gain views. Now, this is not just for the content creator, views ultimately benefit the company. What do you think the company pushes to gain more views? Instigation, inflammation, the back and forth fighting, NOT educational content, NOT whistleblowers, NOT change makers. Content creators can make some money on these apps by creating a following and an enormous view count. The only way some of these people have found any talent in this is to be inflammatory and we see as many of those trying to create change have been pushed to the background and buried under alpha male content and call out culture. The content we end up consuming is ultimately the inflammatory takes that get us to comment and react.
Let’s think for a moment how inflammation fares in the body. Inflammation is a bad sign, and usually results in pain. Does it not? Now when we feel this it causes us to react and try to fix it, right? Well, let me tell you, you are not capable of fixing this system by being a part of the reason it is causing the inflammation. Why do we still choose to engage and communicate this way? We have been led to believe that we are standing up for ourselves, that we can change them. In reality, we are feeding into their money profiting machine. It’s as if we are pressing the bruise again and again, never allowing it to heal. If I’m allergic to peanuts I’m not going to keep eating them, that’s ridiculous. Why then have we become so addicted to the videos of hateful people telling us we shouldn’t exist. Why do we want to see these people attacking women, and queer people, and people of color. How have they made us addicted to the thing we are allergic to? It’s just inflammatory food that I can no longer consume.
I have been shamed away from this in the past. I was told that I was selfish and privileged to not have to know what is going on in the world. I agree, we do need to stay informed. Like I have said, social media can do amazing things and that is one of them. We DO hear about things now that would have been buried by the perpetrators that are now being brought to light. We WANT to be able to pull apart the secrets and lies that have been plaguing us for decades. On the other hand, I know now that shaming me for being off the apps and not “being informed” was always a tactic to keep me on the defense. We can be on these platforms in some ways but hours and hours watching people in active fights about nothing, or tearing apart our own identities is not a healthy way to engage. We are not supposed to know EVERYTHING that is happening in the world. We are not built to hold information like this. My body is made to hold the gravity of this planet not the baggage of every person on it.
Please understand that I do not condone ignoring all the negative information in the world. That’s impossible and unethical as we MUST support those that are calling for action. I AM saying that staying on your phone all day to escape the life that lays in front of you is not going to make you happier or more affective an activist.
Maybe I’m just old now but, I crave simpler things. I just want to seek more comfort in this life. Don’t we deserve that? Isn’t that what we are “fighting” for? Then why aren’t we taking it?
Why are we engaging with the stuff that stifles our joy every waking moment? They want us so consumed by the internet that we miss why we exist in the first place. They want to break us down with hopelessness, so we do not stand and fight when the time does come. Why fight together when they have made us enemies to each other? See what they are doing? They use the very thing we are trying to communicate with to show us that we shouldn’t ever team together to break THEM down.
If and when there is something I have control over, or something I can do to take an active role in an issue, then I will take it. In the meantime, I must allow this body to rest, I must allow this mind to quiet. If they want us to expect a fight, I will not allow myself to be broken early by a consumed mind and an overactive adrenal system. I know it is not selfish to turn down the volume for myself. I must consider what I can do in the moment for the revolution I am living through. There is nothing I can do from behind my screen. So many of these people screaming from behind their own screens are not reaching out in earnest to hear and learn. Why waste my precious happiness? Why learn to believe that I do not have happiness?
With all this said, I think we could all use a little less of the great wide web right now, especially before bed.
This week I was inspired by Craig from Wheezy Waiter on Youtube and I am implementing a night routine that includes shutting off all my screens by 9:30pm. (I will be in bed by 11pm) For some people that is going to be no big deal but for others, I assume most of us, this is something we no longer recognize. Don’t lie to me, I know your night routine includes watching short form videos until your eyes fall shut and you wake up 3 hours later with the lights still on, some of you never even got out of your jeans. Well, this week I am off by 9:30pm and I am using that time to find rest. I will use that time to get back to my reading, journal about my day, and play with my pets so they sleep through the night too. (Looking at all you who have cats that scream though the night) Hopefully it helps me fall asleep faster, dream more, and be more present in my overall life.