It seems very strange to feel nearly compelled to explain why I decided that social media was just not healthy for me- but, well, like others before me who’ve made the exit, here I am. The biggest reason I’m saying anything is just because I have had a few people reach out, knowing my history- worried. That much, I can say, really isn’t an issue at all.
I’ve “quit” social media a few times now. Usually, for the same reason- it just gets to be this overwhelming, annoying distraction. Typically, before I’d bail from Facebook, only- I’d find myself scrolling down my feed, hiding most of the posts because they either made my eyeballs roll back in my head or I would end up in these crazy debates to nowhere. I always thought, “Why in the hell do I do this?” But, then, a photo of someone’s baby, grandbaby, dogs, a dinner they were proud of, a vacation they had longed to take and finally got to- and the big, goofy grin, happy for my friends would happen. I’d think, you know, I don’t want to lose this. Long conversations with close friends of late, via messenger- those were important, too. Sort of.
You know, there’s a meme that runs around about how best friends can just pick up where they left off- and, though I’m inclined to understand that sentiment: that’s really not what I was seeing. There was such a deep intimacy to many of the conversations I was having- and, for a while, that was very flattering. The idea that people felt they could confide in me, wonderful. Kind of this humbling, grateful thing to know that I expressed myself in a way that made people feel comfortable with me, like that.
Except, barring a small handful of friends who, well, hit me up via text to find out if I was okay- that’s…kind of all it was. It’s not so much that it ceases to be “special” that people confide in me- it was just odd, as if there was a sort of “instant intimacy, just add messenger”. I have never judged people on the things they say to me, and more often than not, lately, I found myself saying, “I’m not sure what to say, do you just need to vent or do you want my advice?” because I’m a chronic fixer who finds unsolicited advice incredibly annoying. Call it my hypocrisy vice- I always felt like there must be something I could do, something I could say to help them make things right. Hazards of the job, you know?
There was a couple of dark years there where I found myself in such a needy place. Living with my best friend in the world, but feeling alone. Constantly struggling with issues- and reaching out, not to put too fine a point on it- just for any and all connection I could find. But still, feeling incredibly alone. I mentioned in the post about my North Node Return– man, there just aren’t enough words for the friendships I formed, and the way I met them was just such a lucky accident in what was really, an unhealthy group on Facebook. Kind of hard to imagine forming healthy friendships in a group dedicated to mocking people- but, I guess when you consider we were mocking shitty racists and otherwise: yeah, maybe. I don’t know. Prior to this, I had a lot of ideas about things that were, point of fact- really just validating pain that was already valid. Attention seeking and just some shallow attempt at mattering: though I already did. Everyone does.
It really wasn’t one thing or another that led to this final and complete deletion of social media from my life. There was an odd coincidence that deeply bothered me. A couple of insanely- oh man, sometimes, all you can do is just make a weird face- kind of a mix between a grimace and confusion. That. Conversations that veered into “Wait, wait, what?” Those weren’t even the kind of confessionals I’d been experiencing- but, rather, this odd echo back to a person I once was and had no interest in being again. Every day, I’d just sort of mindlessly scroll through, cycling through this odd repetition of constant stimuli and my notification would ding: and, there’d be that instant intimacy thing. Usually, from people I’d not heard from in ages. I’d get messages from people trying to get a hold of other people, more or less begging me to implore whoever to get in touch- and I’d think, “Dude, can you not take a hint?” in time, I just sort of stopped responding to those. People I never heard from, ever- would get in touch with significant problems. The inherent problem with being expressive, the problem with being transparent- is what are you allowed to be transparent about, within the bounds of respecting others’ privacy? I had long, long since managed to swing that one: easy peasy, explicit consent to share details was always there: and if it wasn’t, I didn’t. Kind of hard to write about your reactions to things without that, but, fortunately: I am a creative sort, so, it worked. Problem was and is: nobody gets that. You’re open about things, they expect you’ll be open about it all- whether it’s not trusting you won’t or pushing for shit that’s none of their business. I always thought it weird, as open as I am, when I want something known it was. But that isn’t enough for a lot of people in the age of Instant Intimacy. And worse, the obviousness of someone imagining you’re the gatekeeper to some truths they can’t find- yet, you’re oblivious to their prodding? Bitch, please.
Then, people question your ethics, they question who you are- even though who you are is displayed proudly and without shame. Projection, much? I keep a lot of secrets under my candor: almost every single one belongs to someone else. It’s never seemed like an advantage: it’s a responsibility. And it is a heavy one. The truth is not leverage, it’s just the truth. There is no truth that once unleashed won’t disrupt. No secrets that won’t hurt someone, whether tucked away or unleashed. Bouncing around certain scenes my whole life: I’m not just a seer, but an archive. The weight of that only becoming too much to bear when I know in my heart it’s something that if unheard, will harm. The thing is, in the spectacle, I think we often lose sight of the fact that the hearing hurts, too. People who hurt others blindside those they never hurt and without compassion for that, also, there are always more questions.
I watched major, major spectacles involving sexual abuse. Punative, but…not especially rehabilitating. I’m not talking about rehabilitating abusers: what I’m saying here is, there have always been spectacles like this, especially within certain groups- truth is, for every hero that rises there’s a story people love. There’s also one when they fall- and they love that, too. Always have. Looking back at the histories of these things, you can see it- we just have more ability to make greater spectacle now: but what’s changed? Where are the meaningful conversations about consent, boundaries? Lost in an echo chamber. It’s shallow and really, only temporarily gratifying. I had my own motives questioned when I very privately spoke of some concerns- nothing as major as all this, but, concerns nonetheless involving coercive techniques employed. It really got me thinking about it all in more serious contexts.
I have only been off of social media for two days. I’m sort of baffled at how disoriented I was- and this speaks more to me than it does anything negative about those platforms. I’m not bashing them, per se- but, careful introspection really showed me that, you know, I loved creating things people related to. I loved that people felt that they could come to me- obviously, or I wouldn’t do what I do and I wouldn’t be taking it further as I am. (And oh my god, this statistics class is where the rubber meets the road. This is easily the hardest course I’ve ever taken.) But, when you get right down to it: something just didn’t feel right to me about all of it. Yesterday, I spent the bulk of my day, just trying to figure out what to do. I have books all over my house. I have coursework. I have writing gigs. I have a 5 year old son and a passel of animals and I was completely thrown. To me, that really belies this issue- and the issue is mine. It’s not social media’s.
Any time I do this, usually it takes about a week for people to notice. This is the 3rd time I have done it- except, this time, I deleted everything. Initially, I thought, well, you know, I really love Instagram- but, the reason I do, is I love taking photos of little things in my life. I had to think, you know, about my motivations there. I have friends who are professional photographers- and there’s a reason for them to document their lives or the things around them: but, here I sit and in my closet is this giant box of old photos from my eldest’s childhood on up- and the first photo album I keep meaning to sit down and put together. There’s a framing kit…somewhere…around here. But, I think I had thousands of photos on Instagram, Facebook, and I’m just sort of…wondering how that makes any sense. My primary partner pointed out that the last time I quit Facebook, I lost an entire season’s worth of event photos. One key event was amazing- I was 8 months’ pregnant. Had been sleeping on the ground in a tent at an outdoor reenactment. Running around, taking candid shots, talking to people and because I hadn’t printed the photos- but only put them on display: poof! Gone. You could say that rather impulsive exits from social media are to blame for that- except, neither of us did. The stunner was, recognizing the habits that led to that happening in the first place.
I really just took my own advice. I considered what actually matters- and I stripped away the things that simply didn’t: on the grounds that I knew, and I mean, I knew in my heart- those relationships that matter, they’d continue. And they have. So, I can’t really say that I am sorry. I do not, however, blame social media for this- it’s really just an outlet for these things- but ultimately, at some point, you do have to look at yourself and your motivations for doing things and go from there. Which, was what I did.
Reactions to this are always very weird and very telling. People are just aghast, as if you can’t keep up with anyone without social media- which is kind of messed up when you think about it. The last time I just cut out messenger- so that I could manage my business page: I literally had people who had my number, in one case, a roommate who could come down the stairs at any time- asking how on earth they could get a hold of me. Though you have this immensely intimate platform, where details upon details are shared: who in the hell is really connected when those reactions are pretty commonplace? If you look around at blog posts of people who’ve also made the exit- this is a really very steady refrain: as if, without these platforms, there is a disconnect. Which, sounds very much like a disconnect to me.
I am still every ounce the transparent person I always have been- I’m just no longer broadcasting it, because, being able to broadcast it doesn’t in any way diminish who I am. It doesn’t change anything, beyond holy crap, the amount of time I have to do things and the calm that comes with it– is really kind of sadly surprising.
A few people have emailed or texted to ask if I would be writing horoscopes- which is incredibly flattering. I would like to set that up via email, but I am trying to consider a different format: a different method that goes beyond inspirational or whatever text on an image. Though I am absolutely always telling people to go deeper than the Sun Sign horoscopes- I can’t deny it felt good to know that my words are uplifting, that they make people feel not so alone. That part, I have always loved, regardless of whatever it is I’ve been on about- and that was a huge draw to being very out there and very open. Still, I can’t help wondering if there isn’t some way of making it more than an echo chamber. I feel like I was trying to straddle a fence in a field I just didn’t belong in, in the first place- but, at the same time: having had plenty of people reach out to me who felt the same, it seems something worthy of exploring.
Lord knows now that you don’t get to see every single anecdote about my life and I’m not scrolling through feeling my face shift in mood repeatedly- I do have the time to work on that. 😉