- Jenny Runkel
I have spent a few days distancing myself from social media. It’s been revelatory, to say the least. Here are the things I’m learning about myself in the process:
1. The sooner I introduce it into my day, the stronger my cravings for it are until I go to bed.
2. Each time I do scroll, I am subtly and pervasively evaluating myself and others on an almost imperceptible level.
3. I can feel my stress and anxiety level rising because of that and yet I keep scrolling, hoping to scratch some sort of itch that I can’t really pinpoint.
4. I like seeing what all of my friends are up to, but talking to them is infinitely better.
5. Most of the things I think about posting are snarky comments and/or things that will make me look good.
6. The discrepancy between the funny memes about toilet paper and the pictures of dead bodies piling up in New York and New Orleans makes me feel bad inside.
7. The longer I stay on it, the harder it is to come off of it. The phone becomes almost magnetic.
8. I lose any sense of intentionality and become a passive observer of other people doing things. Then I feel shitty because I’m a passive observer of other people doing things and I would much rather be involved in life and helping people, but I’m stuck at home.
9. I feel manipulated by the ads that appear to be taking advantage of this situation and yet I want to put up some content that I think could be helpful to people and yet fear coming across as manipulative and yet…
10. The only things that make me feel better are the posts telling me that it’s normal to be emotional and confused and/or dog videos.
It’s here to stay and I’ll need to utilize it to stay connected, informed, and plugged in to the digital world that is really the only contact most of us have right now. But I am learning to be more aware of its power over me as I learn to use it rather than allow it to use me.
We watched the first episode of The Chosen last night and in it, a shopkeeper said something about alcohol that I think applies to social media as well: “It was made to distract you from your problems, not solve them.” Therein lies the rub. If I’m interested in just being distracted for a while, I know where to go. But I need to go there, knowing full well that I typically come out of it feeling worse. If I’m interested in actually feeling better when I experience loneliness, apathy, depression, or confusion, I have other options.
Those options take a bit more energy on the front end (getting off the couch, putting on tennis shoes, picking up the phone to make a call, etc…) but they actually improve both my mood and my actions the rest of the day.
I get the irony of me posting this on social media. I’ll probably get looped back in checking for likes, comments, and shares. I’m not above it. And that’s the point. It is a powerful medium that I tend to underestimate. I also tend to underestimate my own power as well as the value of my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
When I feel the weight of inertia pulling me down, when I hear the whispers of “I don’t want to do…”, I need to reframe those not as forces to succumb to, but as helpful reminders to get up and get moving, even if that’s just for a stretch break or a walk in the park. And I need to do it quickly before my body has a chance to say no. I’m always glad that I did.
We’re all scared sometimes. We’re all confused sometimes. We’re all numb sometimes. All of those feelings are totally normal. You are both totally normal and totally valuable. Don’t allow what someone else posts in order to feel better make you feel worse. That’s giving away your power and that’s no good for anyone. Stay safe friends, both from the virus and the viral fear and insecurity that it breeds.