On Writing

What if…

I’ve decided to step away from Facebook. I’ve also deleted my Twitter accounts. I have kept my Instagram accounts (personal and Gertrude’s Writing Room), but I don’t know for how long. I’ve been toiling about getting off social media for years, but with the recent experiences I’ve been having, I’ve made myself think more deeply about the whys of social media in my life. I made a pro and con list. The cons far outweigh the pros at this time.

The thing is that social media is part of my life…in my friend circles and definitely for ‘work/business’ related things. For example, it seems like Facebook is a giant digital cork board for events. I can still look and see, which is a good capability of Facebook if one is not fully deleting her account. Even though I’m not using my pages, I can still see what’s going on if I choose. But I’m choosing not to as much as I can. I don’t have the power to not look at/see things that break my heart…

It’s a really…mucky place I’m in about social media. But my negative experience on the platform is only a small part of why I’m taking a break. Do you know how much energy it takes me to scroll through my feed? I see so much. There is so much information. Do you know how many arguments I have in my head about hitting a ‘like’ or…not. I put myself through this whole system of should I, shouldn’t I, what does it mean if I do, what does it mean if I don’t, what will the person think if I do, what will the person think if I don’t…sometimes it feels like an open door into someone’s life…but do I want to go in? Do I want to see inside? Or would I really rather physically go into the real space of a friend?

Because the voices in my head have been so difficult to manage, especially the monsters, scrolling through my Facebook feed results in great anxiety. My brain creates stories that may or may not be true. My heart hurts for all the missing out I feel. I sometimes hold my breath for so long, I get light-headed as I read and react, even without ever clicking a share or a like…and commenting…writing comments is a major feat for me.

Sometimes…a lot of times…I feel good old fashioned shy. Especially when posting things about myself. And, I don’t want to post because I’m in fear of the responses – positive or negative. If I post something, is there not an unspoken expectation for a response? A response to a response? This feels like pressure, and this is why I know it’s time to take a break.

It is unbelievable how one little emoji can crush my spirit or make me cry or bring me joy. At this point in time, I can’t manage my reactions in a way that is healthy, so…off I go.

The fact that social media has so much power…the extremes are evident from one ‘viral’ video making someone ‘famous’ to a comment that results in a career ending or a full-out ‘cancel’. I keep having visions of the colosseum in Rome…it’s big enough to fit billions of humans (and their pets, I suppose)…and we choose to sit in the stands and throw tomatoes or cheers or stones…or we choose to brave the centre…show our skills or our fears or our opinions that can be daggers or fluffy clouds…we can absolutely be there for the simple joy of sharing and spreading love…but, at least in my experience, it is not the love that fills the seats or dusty centre. And for this reason…because I can’t see or feel the love, at least in any way that I know how to respond to, I know it’s time to leave the colosseum. Catch a bus to Tuscany…find a sunflower field and breathe it in.

I have visions of myself recording videos. Time-lapses of me writing. Quick snippets promoting a poetry workshop or class. Me reading my poetry. Really using the platform to expand my ‘self’ with (literally) the world. I can envision myself doing this…but I have this wad of ‘nope’ in my chest that stops me. And the question of ‘why’ keeps bonking me on the head. What is the reason I want to share anything I do or write? I can’t come up with an answer that feels…steady, for one, or for two, that doesn’t spiral into a very dark place that has me not good enough to be ‘out there’ in any way.

Because it all feels complicated, I know it’s not a good space for me. I am responsible for these feelings; they are what’s so at this time. I’m asking myself about intention and outcome. I’m facing internal and external realities about intention and outcome. And, I think, until I figure out how to stand in my own empowered values about such things, it’s best to step away.

I know that if I fully stop social media, that I’ll lose a large portion of business at Gertrude’s. This is what’s keeping me on the gram, for now. I cannot deny that our instincts for information gathering go directly to the internet now. This is the reality. And so, how do I pull away and expect anyone to know what’s going on if I don’t tell them on the agreed-upon modes of communication at this time? I can’t.

I’m still making posters and using email for information sharing, but I know that this works only in conjunction with social media and the internet.

I do feel like I’m missing things. Important things…but perhaps this is what I need to feel in order to know if I want to go back…or if I want to find other ways to communicate and connect with people in my life. Or some lovely hybrid of both.

I see myself at age 12, reading books, writing in my journal, listening to music on my walkman, writing letters to my penpal…if I wanted to see my friends, I simply walked to their houses or called them on the phone. Getting a busy signal on the phone didn’t make me rage. If they weren’t home, I didn’t feel frustrated, personally affronted; I simply skipped off the porch and went for a bike ride or went back to reading. The way that my body reacts to an unanswered text or a comment on a post, or to the pressure to answer a text or an email…I have let it become an Event…a Big Thing…and I need to change this. I am changing this.

That means my communication will look and feel different. It has to. I’m taking my time. I’m working on shifting these, what seem like natural reactions (rage, frustration, heaviness, worry, fear), into calm, heart-felt responses. I actually don’t think it’s natural to respond to anything with rage or frustration…I mean, I don’t want to have these be ways I react to the way we communicate with each other. I know I don’t have control over what others do, but I want to have control over myself, my emotions, my ways of communicating.

What if I gave time to writing letters again? What if I gave time to reading with the full-body,take-in-each-word-and-get-swept-away way I did when I was 12? What if…what if…what if…

I’m re-discovering myself in the what ifs…

4 thoughts on “What if…

  1. Beautiful Vanessa. So carefully thought out and expressed. So many people are leaving social media in part or in full. I love the comparison of social media to the Coliseum. Yes, it’s all too easy to get caught up in it and react and it’s a distorted lens. How to use it responsibly and usefully for yourself and others is a hard call and stepping back is a really good move. sending love.

    Liked by 1 person

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