“Stay focused on
your commitment to make
the best of every precious moment
you are awake, aware and
letting your conscience be your guide.”
-- Alexandra Stoddard
Well, happy Saturday my dear <<Name>>. How are YOU? As for me, I've just been here thinking. A lot. I've especially been pondering about how what we consume affects us on all levels.
Eating a lot of gluten – toast, sandwiches, cake, and pastries – while delicious during the moment always leads to achy joints. Yet, when I stick to a fairly clean diet – good protein, lots of veggies, and more water than wine – I feel more positive and at home in my own body.
But what I’ve been thinking of goes well beyond food and has me thinking more about my mental and emotional health than my physical health. And that means playing closer attention to what I am allowing my mind to consume. And where I put my precious attention.
I can’t imagine my life without all the connections I’ve made through blogs and social media. There are folks I’ve known for more than a decade, good friends, that I met thanks to the digital ether. I love seeing the pictures of everyone’s growing families – including the furry ones. I get super excited to see new blog posts from writers I know and love.
And color me even more excited to see the reflection of love and joy in a person’s life due to a photo and a few lines on Instagram.
During the years my marriage was so bad (between 2002 and 2004) the online world saved me mentally and spiritually. Of course, this was before social media was so prevalent and we had to connect over blog posts, email, and message boards. But it was a happy respite to turn on my computer and check out what my “friends” were thinking about and doing.
That sure isn’t the case anymore, is it?
I’ve found myself just scrolling and clicking just to fill (aka waste) the time. Or as a way to avoid doing something on my “To Do” list. And, honestly, I love all my friends – and I want to stay informed about the happenings in the world – but the constant stream of the horror stories in the news and the political stuff is disheartening and exhausting.
And yes, as much as I love my friends and appreciate their opinions, I’ve been hiding the feeds of people that post snarky political stuff. And in some cases, I’ve unfollowed people I’ve followed for decades because my heart just can’t take so much hate.
I don’t say that lightly. And everyone has a right to their opinions and thoughts. Yet, if I want to protect my own mental and emotional health, I have to consume more positive than negative stuff.
And honestly? Do we need to share with the world at large every single thought and opinion?
When President Trump’s COVID diagnosis was reported, did you know there were people who said they hoped he died? I’m sorry, but even if you despise someone, do you want to publicly say you hope he dies?
A few weeks ago, model and cookbook author Chrissy Teigen suffered a miscarriage. She and her husband, John Legend were devastated. And do you know people tweeted that she DESERVED that to happen to her?
Have we become so judgmental and callous that we think it’s perfectly acceptable to share glee over someone else’s health challenges? Are people that filled with hate and rage?
Do you want to be FRIENDS with someone who so casually wishes death on someone else even if it’s someone you also dislike? Do you want to consume the content of someone who takes joy in another person’s tragedy?
Not only does it make me wonder what is WRONG with people that they thrive on hate and the misfortunes of others. But it makes me wonder what it’s like to live next door to that person or discuss the latest Louise Penny book with them at book club. Because every single person that is out there tweeting and commenting and sharing hateful memes has a neighbor, an acquaintance, a friend, a child, or parent that sees them in real life.
I’ve also been asking myself that question: if someone posts something hateful or derogatory do they deserve my attention? Would I want to sit down at a coffee shop with them? If not, I’m making the choice to unfollow them or mute them or whatever I need to do for my own mental health.
The internet, my friend, has become mean and hateful in so many places. Especially on social media.
So, what are we to do?
For me, I am trying to cut back on my social media consumption. Which is so hard, right? Yet, the constant, daily assault of information and the repetition of the same stories over and over all day isn’t good for me mentally or emotionally. And, it’s tanking my productivity.
It’s so easy to skim Facebook while I’m waiting in line at the grocery store….a habit I’ve been finding myself in even more since we’ve gone into lockdown. Because scrolling is a way to numb and soothe (just like that pumpkin doughnut with caramel frosting I had yesterday).
And after soothing in some way I know isn't healthy for me - be it that doughnut and my joints or my Facebook feed and my mental health - I always pay for it later.
So, rather than be glued to my phone, I am going for a walk. And meeting people's eyes over our masked faces. And dare I forget about the greatest spark to our thought processes – curiosity – gets sparked constantly.
Like looking in someone else's grocery cart and imagining what they are having for dinner. Or watching the squirrels chase each other and wonder if they are courting or seeking to steal the other's cache of nuts.
Feeding my curiosity is a healthy choice for me always. Maybe that's a healthy choice for you, too?
It’s so easy to become addicted. It’s so easy to use the constant scrolling as a way to numb. It’s so easy to believe that we are MISSING OUT if we aren’t constantly looking.
I want to a part of the social conversation. I want to connect to my friends and colleagues. I want to be a part of different communities, be they about coaching or writing.
I will tell you that even with cutting back daily, I’ve been thinking about taking a digital sabbatical. Now, I know that isn’t a long-term solution. But it may be the act I need to take in order to help break my own habits.
And, until I decide if a digital break is a necessity for myself, I’m going to keep doing what my heart tells me is right for me. Because I need a long-term solution, my friends.
Rather than remove myself from Twitter or Instagram, I need to continue to curate my feeds and unfollow people who constantly share stuff that feels more like hate than love people. I am going to continue to seek uplifting reads – like Alexandra Stoddard’s Monthly missive. And turn to my journal for processing my thoughts and feelings rather than sharing them on Facebook.
Like any new goal, I am finding my way on how to make it work for me. I am a work in progress, but I am determined to not let the hate out in the digital world turn me into a bitter, hate-filled person.
And remind myself that Social Media is a way to connect, not a way to numb myself.
So, tell me, darling, what about you? Do you use social media to numb? Have you caught yourself checking your phone in line or at a stoplight? Do the people in your social media feeds make your heart race or your blood pressure rise?
Has what you've been consuming affected your mental and emotional health?
Maybe, like me, you're examining your use of social media. And seeking to be a positive voice rather than adding to the negative noise.
As I often remind you, if you need some help finding something good, ask a friend to help you find it. Tell your spouse you need a laugh. Most importantly, take care of your mental health. So, find a therapist, coach, or spiritual director to help you find hope.
Walk away from your digital devices, walk outside, and just observe the beauty of the world around you.
Though I'm not visiting your in-box each week - and I may not be on Facebook as often as I used to be - know that I'm just an email away. I love hearing your stories and helping you find the resources you need to create a life you love.
Please continue to take care of yourself. Please be safe. As always, I am sending you love.
PS - there's no new blog post to share this week, especially since I've "talked" so much here in my love note.