Chapter 20: Finding Community in the Matrix
I started working a couple weeks ago, and already a big weight has been lifted off my spirit. I'm not saying my mental health is instant-ramen noodle ready to be served steamy and delectable. It's just, a small portion of my problems have a beacon of hope. There is one thing, well maybe a couple of things that I vividly remember about feeling left behind, unemployed, and like my dreams were trash. It's easy to get lost in the community we greet each day on social media. The social empire that is my island is pink chaos. Social media suckered me into a bit of obsessiveness, and also great sorrow. So I take breaks.
Breaking away from the internet planet:
It is vital to take social media breaks. It's easy to be lost in the way of the world on our phones, and computers forgetting whats around us. I sound like an old lady but give me a rocking chair minute here. As my brand grows, and my network expands I am constantly diligent with my social media presence. I want to make sure that I am there for people who need me, and that I'm active in the communities I wish to participate in. To manage that, my social life, my passion, my hobbies, home life, and my relationship is often an imbalanced set of scales. I've sadly been brought to the reality that my time spent on social media can really impact those in my life negatively. There is such a thing as too much time spent looking at memes and checking social media. I mean if your conversation is 85% memes or something from Facebook, are you really living? Tell me right now you can't think of a meme to relate to this. Tell me you have no memes saved in your photos right now. Better did you tag or send one to someone recently.
Memes aside, the political climate is heated, as is our global climate don't forget about that. Point is, as trashy as Facebook is, taking a break can do you some good. News, Trump agenda, bigotry, and the injustice minorities face globally is overwhelming. Especially emotionally, this violence and injustice seem like it'll never end, despite the advocacy and work being done to fight it. Stepping away from that even for a day or two gives you time to rest, and recharge to fight another day. All the emotional labor and energy spent fighting is costly. In the frequency to advocate for what we believe in we lose ourselves fighting for a world that forgets to fight for our mental well being. Recharging is a part of self-care that isn't sheet masks, and pedicures. There are other reasons why you might want to consider taking a step back from social media. Ones that might remind you to protect your peace and state of mind.
I am Neo:
For one it can be hard being surrounded by success while feeling like your life is going nowhere. Social media is fun in the idea you can learn about peoples lives, but often its forgotten that what people post is a choice. Presenting an idea, theme, and a singular view into our worlds is a craft. There are many people who crystallize and refine their social media into a highly refined jewel of success. It gets easier and easier to compare ones progress to that of their peers. So easy to lose oneself looking at the accomplishments of others and critiquing the place you find yourself now. I was lost in that haze for a year. Post after post about traveling, grad school, & new jobs. All things that I figured I would get a start on after I graduated. Life didn't happen that way for me, and it certainly didn't bless me in the ways I watched my friends continue their post-grad life. It was misery to step into Facebook and just watch the world succeed where I failed. A kaleidoscope of mixed emotions each status that I scrolled by. Along with trying to exist in success space, there is also pressure to present success. Show the world that you're doing fine even if your life is hell in a broken cheese grate. The odd phenomenon came out of this concept. Secondary accounts and fake versions of social media accounts like "Finsta" on Instagram came to be popular. Spaces that people felt they could be their real self. Spaces to vent and voice to the void, because often venting on our social media goes wrong.
For one, people don't truly know whats going on in your life. Some will try and genuinely be there for you. I won't deny that. Many however make you a spectacle on their feeds or choose to take this moment to clap for social validation to say they liked a post or care in comments. Roxanne Gay once referred to this as "false intimacy" in a panel I attended. Its when social media presents the illusion of a friendship intimacy that doesn't actually exist. I examined that idea and realized it's not that all social media interactions are false, it's just that some engagement is only a front. A front for favoritism, or perhaps obsession. Your actual friends are the ones who message you rather frequently or actively engage with your content. The ones who take commenting "I care" and message you to see whats up, and if you need anything. So why step away from all that? Well, social media breaks are good for easing away from false intimacy. It allows you the space to message only those you care about or even build bonds with people who want to be in your life genuinely. A step away from the spotlight allows the space to continue socializing and growing in a healthy way.
Focus on being THE ONE:
It's not easy stepping away from social media, for those who find community and friends in it. Still, the emptiness in social media is toxic to the energy we need to do what needs doing. Start small, disengage from social media in little increments like hours at a time. Then build it up by a couple days away from the matrix. It's a process. You'll find that social media breaks while hard at first get easier, and then start to feel like a vacation. Time moves in a way that isn't rushed and you have the space to exist as your natural self.
If it all sounds like hooey, consider this. All day, every day many of us are glued trying to keep up and present our lives in social media. It's a damn hassle to be perfect, yet genuine to your true self. I've found that it's important to step away from my social media empire today and try to make sure I'm present to the people around me. It hard to manage everything, but if the cost of managing my social world costs me, people, i care about or even my own sanity it's not worth it. Protecting my energy at all costs is a part of self-care that I choose to prioritize. Sometimes that priority is in taking social media breaks to focus on whats important and growing.