I have a strict policy to never read the comments section on any post that might be even mildly controversial because people show their full complete ignorant asses.
Everything has a hashtag because everyone has an opinion, and billions of people all over the world want their voice heard about whatever it is that has their attention at the time. The only problem is that billions of people all over the world want their voice heard about whatever it is that has their attention at the time. Overwhelmingly there seems to be so much more junk shared than there is quality content.
Folks like to write think pieces, and often those think pieces prove that people really aren’t actually thinking. They’re just making things up and using multiple syllables to sound intelligent. Then there are the video bloggers (vloggers) that have their commentary (sometimes in a persona wearing wigs), but they rarely have anything new to say that everybody else with a video and a wig hasn’t already said.
Black Twitter is a thing, and even though I don’t follow a lot of people that will participate in the debates about $200 dates or the roles of men and women in relationships, sometimes that crap gets retweeted on my timeline, and I’m forced to read other timelines to figure out what people are talking about. Sometimes Black Twitter is comedic GOLD! There are so many hashtags that have given me fantastic chuckles and memes (#BeyonceAlwaysOnBeat, #ThanksgivingClapBacks, #PaulasBestDishes, and don’t get me started on the Zola story).
I’m no “hotep”, but I like to think that I’m pretty woke and well informed about the things going on in the U.S. and other parts of the world. I follow news anchors, large and small new outlets and other notable people to stay abreast of the general conversations being had. Many times those people retweet or share things that are… unpleasant to see. People share horrific images of black people being killed in the streets by cops, horrific fights, videos of teens hurting themselves trying to complete whatever viral challenge is all the rage now, etc. This election has brought out even more vitriol and hateful rhetoric than I remember ever seeing in my life, and it’s truly disgusting.
At this point you could deduce that I hate social media and should just get off of it. Well… that’s just what I did. Beyoncé came out with Formation, and I had to go. I watched a video review, and I became dismayed at the things that were said because they were ridiculous. Then I became even more dismayed that I was dismayed because I don’t know Beyoncé, nor do I know the vlogger whose opinion I disagreed with so vehemently. I was genuinely troubled, and I think it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.
So, I decided to log off for a minimum of two weeks. I did not delete any of my social media apps, but I logged out of them so that when I clicked on them I’d have to sign in again to reach the content. This included Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. This proved to be a great test of my will power and made me realize how much time I waste reading timelines that were making me upset.
Seeing all of the discussions of police brutality, racism, injustice, overall crime and tragedy had become a psychological burden. Each day there was a new tragedy to read about. The images of men and women in this country and all over the world whose lives were taken flippantly and prematurely became too heavy to bear. Reading all of the ignorant and racist messages in the comments section of news articles about another black life lost or the GOP presidential election became too much. I had to get off and breathe.
So I unplugged. I disconnected. For two weeks.
During my hiatus I discovered a few things:
- I waste too much time scrolling through posts on my phone. During my commute to/from work instead of reading social media I read my library books.
- I get much of my news from Twitter. During my hiatus I started reading news articles on Guardian, CNN, and the BCC News apps to stay informed with what was going on.
- I was less stressed and less irritated because I was no longer reading the silly things people were writing. I wasn’t being bombarded with the Black Lives Matter posts, the All Lives Matter posts, Blue Lives Matter posts, Donald Trump etc.
- I am very anal about having no outstanding notifications on my phone; therefore anytime I saw a new notification I would immediately open the app to turn off the notification, which would result in scrolling through my timeline for a few minutes.
Ultimately I discovered I missed NOTHING during my hiatus. The trolls were still online where I left them. The comments section was still filled with hate and bigotry. Black Twitter was still Black Twitter. Donald Trump is still alive.
What is different is that I was more productive at work, less distracted in interacting with friends and generally much happier overall. I bought a puzzle to occupy my time at home and started to focus more on my novel. I plan to take regular social media hiatuses now, and I suggest everyone take them too. Self-care is important. Sometimes you just need to unplug.
Kudos to you if you get the reference in the title ;).