Tuesday, January 25, 2022

socially inept

 Last week, I completed a little week long challenge of staying off social media (thing #6). Not hard, a mini challenge, really. But it may have been the best thing I've done since the start of this 52 things challenge. 

I'm not really one of those people who say that social medial is evil. I think it's definitely gone downhill in the past few years with the exponential growth of disinformation and the overall nastiness that goes on in the comments section. But at the same time, there are some wonderful things that happen on social media.

I have a friend, A, who pretty much wins the internet every day with his Facebook posts. He shares the progress of his garden from planning on graph paper (he's a bit of a nerd), to buying seeds, planting, the struggles with weather or soil or squirrels, harvesting the bounty, and all of his wonderful home made goodies from the garden (spaghetti sauce, zucchini bread, pickled beets etc). He does the same with his bees, his grapes, his cactus garden in the front yard. He gives hilarious updates about the rental property across the street and its various tenants. Also updates about the young kids in the neighborhood come over and ask him a zillion questions about his bees and his garden and which ones then invite him to their birthday parties. His posts are warm and goofy, thoughtful and really funny. I love touching base with A over Facebook.

I have another friend who has an Instagram account for her service dog. The purpose of the account is to educate people about what service animals do and why they are needed. And, perhaps most importantly, why it is unacceptable to buy a vest and try to pass your pet off as a service animal. (the had a previous service dog who was attacked by a fake service dog and had to be retired early because of the trauma) The Instagram account explains what his daily routine is like, how he learns commands and remembers them, how it's important for him to keep in shape and keep training. On Wednesdays, she posts videos of him in action (Watch Me Wednesdays) There are videos of him mailing letters, opening doors, getting laundry out of the drier, and the fan favorite, opening the fridge and getting a bottle of water out, closing the fridge and brining it to her. It's a wonderful account that not only educated, but raises money for NEADS, the organization that trains service dogs and pairs them with handlers. 

I also like social media for hiking and running groups (though I haven't been super active in person in any of these groups in a couple years). 

However, despite my courteous and intentional friends, I noticed that I had been spending way too much time mindlessly scrolling on social media. I'd just fall down the rabbit hole clicking and swiping and before I knew it, an hour had gone by. When I woke up in the middle of the night, I'd grab the phone and scroll, which would wake me up even more. And then, of course, was the comments section. Never a good idea to go there. 

After just one week of keeping away from Facebook and Instagram, I felt more relaxed, more present. I got 30 to 60 minutes back per day- to read, to exercise, to clean up. My phone still pinged, but I didn't pick it up and check it all the time. And when notices that I DID care about popped up (friend's birthdays, for instance), I picked up my phone and left a voice message or sent a snail mail card, instead of just writing on their wall. It felt a little more personal, like I was ACTUALLY acknowledging their birthday, instead of just leaving a comment. 

So this week, I'm returning to a more nuanced use of my social media accounts. I do quick checks, read up on news, wish people well. But I skip the snark and comments. And I'm happy to know that I'll do it again next month.

And this week, I'm giving up the NEWS for 7 days. (thing #7)

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