I was a reluctant adapter to social media, but now am a heavy user. I have written before how I’ve cut back on my social media intake by not checking on Wednesdays and Saturdays (unless there are very special circumstances). I’m considering cutting out Mondays as well because I still feel as if I’m ingesting it too much.
I get my news from Twitter, then I check it at other venues to verify that what I’m seeing on Twitter is legit. The downside to social media is that anyone can post anything, and there are many people who are gullible and prone to falling for everything they read. I’m rigorous about checking my sources, but I’ve fallen for the ‘satire’ pieces once or twice myself. I haven’t posted anything fake in years, but it’s always hovering at the back of my mind. I remember the last time I fell for a fake piece of news. I carefully checked the website, and it looked legit. It was MSNBC or NBC or something like that, but it ended in .de rather than .com, and my eyes had glossed over that part. I distinctly remember that one because I had checked it so carefully I thought. Now, I make sure to cross-check before I post/tweet anything, and I wish other people would do the same.
Side note: I really hate all the ‘satire’ sites that have cropped up lately. They seemed to have died down somewhat, but there was a time when it seemed as if every other piece of news was from a fake website. Yes, there’s The Onion, but everyone* knows it’s satire. In addition, it’s not just satire to make up a crazy story about someone without any social context to it. I remember getting caught right after marriage equality was passed by a story that Michele Bachmann’s husband had left her to live his very gay life. That was on me because I was too eager to believe that story, but at the same time, what was the point? Just to say, “Hur-de-dur, he’s closeted!”? Even if that were true, there’s no bigger picture to that joke, no social context jab that they were making. “He’s closeted” isn’t satire–it’s either a lie or the truth.
I do feel a twinge of sympathy for The Onion because it’s really hard to lampoon this current administration. Anything that sounds too outre, they’ve done. In addition, I would hesitate to spoof something even worse in case they decide it’s a blueprint and not satire. However, all those other sites can go straight to hell–they’re only doing it for the clicks.
Anyway, my mom called the other night, and she said, “So, about that president of yours.” I immediately said, “I don’t want to talk about him. It’s too depressing.” I have to think about him and his dreadful administration way more than I want to, and it’s the last thing I want to talk about in a casual chat with my mother.
I’m an empath, and it’s tough in these times. All my life, I’ve been able to feel the negative feelings of others around me, and it’s taken me decades to erect a decent shield around me so it’s not constantly bombarding me. It’s one of the reasons I suffered such deep depression. Not only did I have to deal with my own shit, I had to feel every bit of anger, sadness, depression, and pain around me. It was one reason I isolated myself so much–I couldn’t deal with the constant negative sensation input that I was feeling.
In a similar vein, any painful scene I see in a movie or a TV show has the same impact on me as if it were actually happening. My brain can’t seem to differentiate between reality and fantasy, which is one reason I don’t like movies and TV in general. There is a scene in Girl, Interrupted in which Daisy kills herself after the Angelina Jolie character totally demolishes her emotionally to get money out of her, and the image of Daisy hanging from the curtain rod made me physically ill every time I thought of it for months after. I had nightmares about it, and even now, I wince when I think of it. It’s not the same with books for the most part, which could be one reason I prefer reading. Funnily enough, books stick with me longer in a positive way, meaning I care more about the stories and such. However, the negative scenes don’t sear themselves on my brain indelibly the way they do in movies (again, with a few exceptions).
It’s the same way with social media. I can read about some pretty terrible things and be moved by it, but not overwhelmed. If I see pictures or, worse yet, watch a video, it wrecks me for hours if not days. Recently, there is audio of the immigrant children wailing as they’re being detained. I haven’t listened to it because I know it’ll haunt me for days. And, yes, I know I should be haunted by what’s happening, but it doesn’t help anything for me to be in a ball in the corner, whimpering as I rock back and forth. More to the point, it becomes almost self-indulgent to saturate oneself in the news. It’s hard to explain, but I see some people do performative wokeness, which is distasteful to me. It’s as if they have to show people how much they’re up on things, but only to the extent of ranting on Facebook and/or Twitter.
Side note deux: I am getting increasing uncomfortable with people who just spew shit on their social media and then get pissed when people respond in kind. Even when they specifically say ahead of time that they’re just ranting, it doesn’t sit well with me. I know it’s their Twitter/Facebook, and I can just mute/block/unfollow/unfriend (which I’ve done), but it seems as if it feeds into the narcissism that people who use social media (yes, including me) tend to display. It’s inherently one-sided to begin with, and when you brook no argument/discussion, then you’re just basically wanking off. Again, I understand using social media to rant, lord knows I’ve done it myself, but when it’s all a person does, well, it makes that person uninteresting to me.
Side note three: Piggybacking off that, I’m turned off by people who don’t take any personal responsibility in their lives. At all. In every situation, they are the victims and everyone treats them terribly. This is rarely the case, and if you can’t see your own flaws, then you have no motivation to change. There are some situations in which there’s nothing you can do, but those are very rare. In addition, if you’re bitching about how poorly everyone in your life treats you, then take a look at yourself. There’s a saying, “If someone you meet is an asshole, they’re an asshole. If everyone you meet is an asshole, you’re an asshole.” I wouldn’t go that far, but if everyone you meet is treating you poorly, then you might want to examine your own attitude/behavior/perceptions.
I know that after reading several posts or tweets by people who have relentlessly negative attitudes, my own attitude takes a turn for the worst. It’s one reason I don’t always check Twitter right when I get up–I don’t want to be plunged into a shitty mood. I follow a lot of people who are into politics, which is not a good thing during this current political climate. There is very little good news happening right now, and it’s depressing to read the same thing over and over and over again.
I know I have to stay up-to-date about what’s happening in the world, especially what this administration is doing. I know it does me no good to stick my head in the sand and pretend that none of this is happening. On the other hand, I know it’s dangerous to my mental health to steep myself in the news 24/7 because it pushes me into a feeling of abject helplessness. I already think there is little I can do to have an impact on things and people around me–the last thing I need is to exacerbate that feeling.
In addition, it’s not helping the situation to make myself sick from watching the videos/listening to the audios/looking at the pictures. I know there is the thought that if people are suffering, then we have the moral obligation to witness their pain. I understand this way of thinking, but I still think it’s enough to know it’s happening without literally viewing every moment of agony.
Unfortunately, I don’t know exactly where that line is drawn for me. I do think I have to cut back more on my social media intake, but I’m not sure how much and how to do it responsibly.
*By everyone, I mean liberals. There are conservatives who still don’t seem to know The Onion is satire. Also, The Onion has been hitting it out of the park on the gun sickness that has inflicted America. Sadly, they are the leading voice in news in this matter.