I've been taking a break from social media, and I am feeling the positive effects. But I do miss people. But I feel better...but I miss people...but I feel better. And so on.
This is your brain on fibromyalgia
I struggle with low concentration and intermittent brain fog. I believe it's from fibromyalgia, but whatever the cause, it's a minor disability or a weakness for which I must compensate. I have devised various coping mechanisms, and for the most part, they are integrated into my life, as are all my many coping mechanisms for all the bullshit life throws at me. (Not complaining, merely stating.)
I recently went through a rough patch where my mental state was particularly frustrating. I had a really hard time chairing a small meeting. (When I apologized, people told me they didn't notice anything different. But were they just being kind?) I had to write an email with a lot of names and dates -- numbers are the biggest challenge when I'm mentally impaired -- and despite checking and re-checking, I messed it up, and had to send a correction. My brain felt scrambled.
I sensed that time spent on Facebook was making it worse. I don't know where I place on the continuum from people who shun social media completely, to those who live on it, but over the years, I've gotten my social media use in a good place. Or I thought I did. Like a lot of people, I would jump on Facebook for short periods of time, several times throughout the day and evening. Now I think that may be the problem. Time that should have been free -- not so much down-time as brief spaces in between activities and tasks -- were getting filled with information. It was pushing my brain into overload. I say I think that was happening, because I really don't know.
What do I use and why do I use it?
Facebook. Most of my social media use is Facebook. I use it as an activism tool, and for connecting with an extended network of interesting people. Most of my Facebook contacts are people whose company I enjoy, but who I no longer see (and in many cases, never saw regularly or at all), or else connections to the labour and peace movements.
My union has an active, closed Facebook group that works really well for us. This means that when I take a Facebook break, I have an additional challenge -- how to post only in our union group, then leave.
Facebook also serves as a news aggregator and news filter. And I also get humour and general fun and silly stuff from my feed.
Unlike most people I know, I don't use Facebook to connect with old friends or acquaintances from former schools or jobs. I have zero interest in that. Apparently people find this odd.
Twitter. I used to use Twitter for certain specific news feeds, like Dave Zirin and and Glenn Greenwald. But I found that I rarely, if ever, saw more than the tweets and the headlines, and that was too unsatisfying. I opted for more time without bits of information scrolling in front of my face.
I like using Twitter for customer service, and for sending someone I don't know a link -- for example, sending an author a book review. Our union team used Twitter a lot during our strike, and I still do use it to circulate certain union information.
Instagram. I dislike Instagram and find no use for it at all. I know it's the current "where things are happening now" for young people, but that is obviously not a consideration for me.
Pinterest. I used to use Pinterest to find library programming ideas, until I realized how redundant it was. Pinterest amounts to a series of user-created directories -- and no directory will ever be as efficient and as comprehensive as a Google search.
G+. I used to post links to wmtc posts on Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter. One day I forgot about Google Plus, and that was the end of that.
So at this point, it's down to Facebook.
My problems are my own
People in my Facebook feed regularly announce that they are unfriending Trump supporters or similar pronouncements. That's never been a problem for me. I used to get into arguments with US friends who support the Democrats, but over time I disciplined myself to scroll past that information without comment.
Similarly, I hear about venomous bullying -- what used to be called flame wars -- on Twitter, but I don't see any of it.
So these common complaints about social media are not effecting me.
For me, it's all about my mental state. Since beginning my vacation from social media, I've been reading more, started and completed a jigsaw puzzle, spent more time outdoors, and in general, I'm thinking more clearly.
That is the question
1. Brain less scrambled
2. Better focus
3. Reading more
4. Less screen time, which means more print time and (sometimes) more outdoor time
5. More mental calm and quiet
1. I miss people
2. Less time with friends, so less support
3. I don't know what's going on in people's lives, so I'm also not there to give support
4. Less humour, less fun
5. Need to make more of an effort to stay informed
I'm not liking these choices.