No, no, no, I’m not saying you should delete social media entirely. I’m not saying you should toss your phones, iPads, and computers into a fire pit and douse it with lighter fluid for a cookout. But I am encouraging you take a break from the toxic hole that is the social media check loop. You know the one. You tap Facebook, scroll, tap Twitter, scroll, tap Instagram, scroll, wash your hands but not your phone, and repeat. My advice is simply stop the constant checking for a few days and notice how your outlook and mood improve. Also, clean your phone’s screen once in a while. Believe it or not, the digital world littered with hashtags and negativity will not pine your loss. Nor will you pine it. I know because I only just re-entered after a two week hiatus from the simmering cesspool of Big Tech.
On July 10th, my mother and I embarked on a four-day trek across the country, hauling four horses in two rigs from Washington State to Texas. Yes, I’ve relocated. Yes, to Texas. I know. I am almost as surprised as you are. You won’t have to search long or hard to find a plethora of insults lobbed at the state which thinks so highly of itself that it makes waffle irons in its shape. I’m not exaggerating when I say every doorway in my house is adorned with lone stars. It’s a passion I do not understand nor support. Anyway, me ragging on how Texas has stars in every nook and cranny of everything is not the point of this post. But prepare yourselves for more eye-rolling about it.
Taking four horses over 2,000 miles is an ordeal that only those who’ve taken horses 2,000 miles understand. Think back to the last time you went on a four-day camping trip now multiply it by 4,000 pounds of eating and pooping mega-machines. In the week leading up to the journey, all I did was prep for the journey, having no time to see what Instagram thought about food recipes or sunsets. Nor did I tap on Twitter to learn what new outrage was worth pecking about. I unfollow everyone on Facebook anyway and open that app so infrequently I’m sent security codes every time I try to login. But I assume in my extended absence, Facebook continued its spying, micromangey ways while thinking itself the arbiter of all things fair.
Not only did I not miss the news, the socials, or the cast of ensemble characters who makeup the social media pandemonium, I was objectively happier without it. As you would be.
Other than Jeff Bezos heading out of this world, the July news cycle was like that little monkey in Outbreak, spreading misery everywhere it went. Biden’s out there between diaper changes knocking on doors with needles. Jen Psaki is handing out scarlet letters. Fauci is doubling down on everything terrible he is. The American Women’s Olympic Soccer team thought people cared about Women’s Olympic Soccer. And surely my fellow social media participants were commenting with plenty of sane, rational takes along the way.
Yeah, I was unaware of all it as it happened live. I didn’t see the Texas Democrats proving what hypocrites they are. I didn’t read about or watch Nancy Pelosi calling for commissions over the January 6th Capitol Skirmish. I didn’t see the memes, the gifs, the hot takes, the trolling comments, the hashtags, the “I usually don’t post about this but prepare to be annoyed when I finally do” ranting intros.
But it was all there when I got back. The digital shenanigans went on without me. It happened despite my not caring or knowing it happened. Social media did its social media thang as I lived in a world that existed before it and will exist after it. Sunsets continued to be beautiful even though I didn’t raise phone to sky to snap a picture and hashtag it. Southern Wyoming was still a mostly desolate space without checking in with a location marker. My hands were still full even though Twitter had no idea.
Social media and news didn’t miss me anymore than I missed it.
Yes, I’m back now, back to swiping through memes on Instagram stories and posting my own sunsets. Back to rolling my eyes at Twitter. Back to having Facebook send me login codes so I can once again reluctantly enter its pit. But I’m not happier for it.
Social media can connect people in ways we couldn’t connect before. Pretty sure I’ve already noted this once or twice on this very website. A job I got through tweeting at someone 6 years ago. Social media is a tool just like anything else. But just as we don’t need to constantly carry around and slam things with a hammer, so we don’t need to constantly use social media.
If you’re feeling depressed, pessimistic, or otherwise down in the dumps, turn off social media. Remember, it’ll be there for you when you get back. Food still tastes great if you don’t photo it first. People will still talk to you even if you didn’t like their post. Let the news cycle through without your clicks and eyes. You’re not being uniformed, the information is still there for you when you get back. And what were you doing with the information other than getting annoyed, depressed, or pessimistic anyway?
The real world isn’t the digital one. Get offline. Go outside.
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Author: Courtney Kirchoff
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