I’m not sure where is a good place to start with this, so I’ll thought dump with a list.
- Blog all thoughts on my own site, rather than be lazy and post to Facebook (where the reaction is fairly instant but mostly meaningless).
- If it’s a short thought, don’t even tweet it. I don’t need to get that reaction hit from a fleeting thought. Instead, tell Pete. His reaction means a lot more and he is a human right here, right now.
- Instagram is still useful, but can be utilised better. I’ve already slowed down on my posting there, and it is easy enough to have those photos post to Facebook at the same time if I want them to. Take photos for me, not for others or for validation through the ‘likes’ of – mostly – strangers. I used to use Flickr a lot. It was my Instagram before Instagram was ever a thing. Do I need Flickr? Probably not. It’s still out there, but largely irrelevant to my life now. Unsure about its worth to me.
- I have never been in as much mental health distress as I have been over the last eight years. This is down to several factors: mom died (see my blog category: Letters to Mom for more on that), my marriage broke down, and my dependence on social media to fill the voids left by both losses increased exponentially. I began needing the feedback of others where the interaction with my husband was lacking and missing through losing mom. This unhealthy series of events has made me the most unhappy, unstable, self-harming, and suicidal of my life.
- My career as an artist is building in a direction that offers financial stability but it’s like in a video game where you can have the benefits of a certain mod but it will subtract from something else, like your health or shield. I’m teaching art but at the detriment of my creating it. I can pay my bills every month but my passion is suffering for it. My mental health has not allowed me to find balance due to anxiety, fear, guilt, and depression.
This is all stuff that I couldn’t afford the mental energy to structure into a proper blog post, but all things that needed saying. So where does that leave me… where does that leave us?
I’m making changes, starting today.
I’m not going as far as this guy has with deleting his social media accounts (although I totally respect and admire why he has) but I am stripping back my involvement on social media. I will still push blog posts and some Instagram photos up to Facebook and Twitter, but that is largely an automated process that requires no effort from me.
What is changing is my “go-to” habit. I don’t need to “go-to” Facebook for anything other than to respond to a private message (which, by the way, just ask me for my phone number so we can text instead of going through Messenger, thanks*), or to check in on my business page (which sees little traffic and engagement anyway, so it’s mostly just an exercise in presence rather than a beneficial ingredient in my career success).
Notice I mentioned my blog. Here’s the thing: I was once a prolific blogger. Nearly every day for years. Heck, my blogging has seen me invited to tech events, had me give a talk at a TED-style event, and I’ve reviewed many products and services. My little corner of the internet was once a hive of activity and for the last eight years has been little more than on life support. That is changing. For real, this time. Why now? Why not before?
Because mental health and addiction are fuckers to deal with.
I have had poor(er**) mental health due to a reliance (that’s the addiction) to a flimsy connection with others, however fleeting they might be. (Mmm, tasty, tasty dopamine.)
I felt huge loss in the last eight years and filled it with the instant hits of ‘likes’ and – sometimes volatile – conversation on Facebook. This reliance on Facebook – which I once vocally loathed – to became my family where my genuine family [mom, husband] once stood created a merry-go-round from which it was impossible to jump. It became worth the anxiety and depression because I could blurt a Facebook post about it and get the instant virtual hugs and platitudes from ‘friends’ around the world. Feeling low? Facebook will put you in touch with hundreds of acquaintances who will comfort you. That’s the cycle. That’s a problem. Rinse and repeat. Cry and post and cry…
So, I’ve been doing some thinking over the last couple of weeks. I am currently in a depression and anxiety low, but oddly enough, this time I’m seeing some clarity in it all. There are minor differences in the circumstances of this particular depression/anxiety low that I won’t get into, but thankfully there is enough of an ingredient difference to allow me to think this through, write it, and mean it.
You likely won’t even notice the subtle changes to my online behaviour on social media. You’ll still see photos of cats, the sea, and pretty flowers on my timeline. You’ll still see art updates on my business Facebook page. What you won’t see are the off the cuff, slice of life posts that mean nothing to anyone in the big picture of existence. I’ll be texting those things to friends or popping my head into Pete’s office to tell him. Both are far better investments.
And I probably won’t be reading your Facebook posts or comments, but it’s not because I don’t care- it’s because I can’t. I cannot afford the mental drain of keeping up with hundreds of ‘daily life minutia’ posts. None of us needs that kind of mental clutter. Sorry not sorry.
I spent years needing/craving/seeking connection when my two most important connections were lost. Now, I know that I actually lost a third connection in it all- the connection to myself.
Time to get that back, so I’m changing the way I do my online time and activities. You probably won’t even notice. And I’m ok with that because I will.
*If you tag me in stuff on Facebook, don’t expect me to see it. I’m not looking at that kind of stuff anymore; it’s distracting. Just text me or email me if it matters that much.
**Not like I think changing my relationship with social media is gonna fix my brain, because it won’t, but it will likely make my struggles much more bearable. I’m counting on it.