My New Year
It’s been nearly two months since I updated this blog. After the events of the fall I honestly felt too burned out to write that much(I will elaborate more on that burnout in future posts). I also had to focus on preparing my daughter to spend five weeks abroad in Dar es Salaam. My child was able to reconnect with her paternal family and gain a better understanding of her East African culture as well. Between her vacation and me being able to enjoy a freedom that I have not had since becoming a mother in 2004, I ended 2014 on a positive note.
I started 2015 by embarking on a challenge that most who know me personally thought to be impossible: abstaining from posting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Their doubts were not unfounded. My name is Danielle, and I am a social media addict! However my social media addiction is not stronger than my stubborn streak. When challenged by an acquaintance to participate in a ninety day social media detox I accepted(my writing of course is exempt from the detox). I thought that it would be difficult but so far it has been quite easy. I deactivated my Facebook account and removed both the Facebook and Twitter apps from my iPhone so that I’m not even tempted to log in. I DO miss posting on Instagram. What can I say I love taking pictures!
What I do NOT miss about social media, however, is the constant blood-pressure raising stories and (often uninformed commentary) that abound, especially on Facebook. I have jokingly referred to my hiatus as a reprieve from the Kingdom of Perpetual Outrage. In reflecting on what appears in my timeline and what is said about it I have often felt that I have allowed myself to be manipula
ted into a state of constant fear, anxiety, helplessness and rage. It is not that I think serious issues of injustice and inequality do not persist in the USA. I’m fully aware that they do. But I wonder: why is our anger directed at specific issues? And do I really benefit from being in such an anxious, hyper-alert state, particularly where race relations are concerned? To be honest I think that I-and the online social justice warriors I know-need to be more careful regarding where we choose to spend our energy. We also need to think of the emotional toll that our outrage and the way that we express it takes on our bodies and minds.
Hypertension runs in my family and has severely decreased the quality of life for many of my elders already. My awareness of the potential adverse impact of such stress on my health was a powerful motivating factor in decreasing the time that I spend online. I am four weeks into it but I have already begun to reap the benefits. Instead of wasting thirty minutes scrolling through my Facebook and Twitter feeds when I wake up, I now jump out of bed and get busy! The time I would have devoted to that now goes to making myself a proper breakfast and drinking three glasses of water. In doing so I have managed to break my coffee addiction and drastically reduce my sugar intake. The hour or more that I once used to catch up on my notifications is now spent at my local YMCA going straight beast mode. I am learning to allocate my time in ways that are more beneficial to me, and I truly enjoy it.