Many years ago I discovered something. Each morning I would leave for work in a fairly decent mood. I would be freshly caffeinated and ready to take on a new day. By the time I finished my thirty-minute commute I was angry. In the beginning… I struggled to understand how or why my mood could swing in the span of leaving my front door and arriving at my job. What event was affecting my state of emotional well being?
Then it clicked.
My morning commutes usually had my nose deep into a novel until I discovered the free newspaper. I’m not talking about Now or Eye Magazine, I mean the mini edition of the news. It was a new phenomenon that had men and women shoving them at you as you graced the threshold of the subway station. Eventually, I was enticed and began reading them on the way to work. An unusual step for me and one I now understand I shouldn’t have taken.
Most of my life I have avoided the six or eleven in the evening news, it has mostly been a radio droning on in the background with my ears occasionally picking up the odd important bit of news. When the paper arrived I would pull out the entertainment, fashion or Arts sections of the newspaper. Something that drove my father nuts. Why waste your time on the fluff, the real meat was in the news section he’d say. You see, my father is a bit of a newsaholic. He will read the paper cover to cover and does so every single day.
Why was I avoiding the news part of the paper?
I have always had a dark imagination and can go down some very horrible rabbit holes and because of this hearing about the horrors of the world affected me greater than others. I’m sensitive to it. I always have been. Growing up during the 80s there was always a threat of nuclear war and that weighed heavy on me. I would go out of my way to avoid reading or talking about it. It upset me.
Fast forward to today and the news of the of the horrors of the world still does and to the point where it will throw me into depression. I realized this one weekday as I stared down at the free newspaper that was open in my lap. That was what was making me angry. That moment the bells went off and I chucked the newspaper into the recycling and haven’t picked one up since.
Oh… but wait… welcome to our new future. Welcome to Social Media.
When I first joined Facebook, I loved it. I was able to connect with communities, find new friends and check in on old ones. It was an actual fun place to be. Now… not so much. That fun went away when they added the newsfeed. In the beginning, it wasn’t so bad. It was generally full of horrible Meme’s and false worlds created by the user. Then… that all changed. My feed was full of fake news that people thought was real, photos of animals being tortured and many other awful, angry posts. People took on new personalities thinking that this platform was a free for all to shit out any and every thought they were having. Yes… I too was guilty of this until that moment when I realized I was doing it. I would try avoiding the feed, but it was always right there when you logged on. On a few occasions, I would deactivate my account only to realize I needed it to help promote events. I hated the fact that I relied on this social media platform to connect with audience members and communities. I hated being on a platform that wasn’t social at all.
Then I started feeling depression creeping in again. This time I knew what the culprit was but didn’t know how to throw it in the recycling bin. I wished there was a way to promote myself, my event and run my Vintage Groups without logging on. Someday I will find a way, for now, I have a temporary solution.
Wow… that was a long way around to talk about my social media diet….
I am now limiting myself to only five minutes a day on Facebook. It can be five minutes in one shot or over a few logons. But once those five minutes are up, that is it for the day. Oh… I also don’t look at the feed. As a matter of fact, all I do is check my notifications, my events, my groups and see if there are any other events I might be interested in and then I log off. Let me tell you, not only has it lifted that heaviness I was feeling, I realized how much of my day was wasted on there. I now have chunks of time to fill in. I’ve started drawing again. I have dedicated time to sew my own clothing. I actually feel like being social again! I’m almost to the point where I don’t even need to log on at all. There is an app for messenger, there is an app to check my pages. I believe there may be one for events, now if they would just bring back the groups app!
This all said I do still use Instagram. The difference here is I customize what I see. I follow vintage, artists, and people I like. I am inspired by much of what I see. It is a happy place for me.
Do you also avoid Facebook? Are you willing to try the five-minute diet?