Tuesday, June 30, 2015
I feel like there have been a disproportionate amount of "real talk" blog posts on here the past year and a half, but, well, it's been a big, scary year and a half.
So here's another one.
I'm emotionally exhausted. Bone deep, dark side of the moon, trudging through my day exhausted. There's a lot going on you don't know about, and there's this Atlas-like weight I'm trying my best to foist off on any and everything else that I can, without much success.
The internet isn't helping.
Social media is both a blessing and a curse for many reasons. I love all the people I've met online who are now very real, and very dear, friends. Social media is where I get most of my news these days, where I connect with writers whose work I love, where I find new books to read. I learn a lot about myself and others there. But the same things that make it so great have also been leaving me with a sour taste in my mouth lately.
Every day, when I go online, I'm bombarded with hundreds of voices. We all yell into our own versions of the void, all clamoring to be relevant, to be heard. Except the more and more I look, the more and more I notice that the people who are being heard are doing so at some cost to others. Usually a criticism, sometimes snark, other times outright insults. They're choosing the negative because it gets them likes and favorites and retweets and reblogs and shares, which means they don't just show up in my feed once but often many, many times over the course of a few days.
Everywhere I look is more of what everyone is doing wrong, saying wrong, being wrong. And it's exhausting. I'm afraid to voice my opinion anymore, because I don't think I can handle any inevitable snarky confrontations without shutting down.
I cling like a baby animal to the positive influences in my feed. The folks who don't trudge into every pitchfork-grabbing opportunity guns (torches?) blazing, the ones who tweet about their day, or talk about their families, or post pictures of their cats. I like pictures of cats.
What I don't like, what I'm so unbelievably tired of, is the empty negativity. There is a lot of pain in this world, but that doesn't mean we have to use every chance we get to belittle others. There are a lot of things that need to change, but we can change them more effectively by teaching and leading than punishing. There are real people at the other ends of the words you say online. We all have a responsibility to one another, to be human, to respect one another, to remember that no one's opinion is absolute or more important than anyone else's. There are a lot of battles worth fighting, but pick them smartly. I wish I could tell you how. I'm still trying to figure it out myself.
What I do want to see, above all else (even pictures of cats), is people shining the light on those who deserve it, instead of chasing after those who may or may not have done something worthy of a witch hunt. Instead of laying into Author X for doing A, B, and C wrong, compliment and share that Author Y did them right. Instead of jumping on a bandwagon to harass someone, go write an email or a review to a writer whose book you liked. Instead of giving a mass murderer the infamy they crave, remember those their violence took from the world.
Of course, this only works if everyone agrees to it, and makes the effort to follow through. And it's unreasonable to expect everyone to focus on the positive all the time, and I know that. I'm not even asking for that. I just want to tip the balance the other way, because this pervasive, dominant negativity is rotting us all from the inside out.
I don't really have a conclusion except to say this blog post has been a really long explanation of why, for the sake of my currently-fragile emotional health, I'm taking the month of July off of Twitter at least, and perhaps everywhere else online too, and maybe for longer than that.
I'll still be around here and there to check in, maybe still occasionally post pictures of MY cats to pay it forward, but I won't be reading my feed much. If you talk to me directly, I'll still reply. When I come back, I hope to see more positivity, and lead by example myself, something I wish I had the emotional fortitude to do now. But, at least for July, I need a break.
Hopefully see you in August. Thanks, as always, for reading.