02 June 2017

Cutting back on Social Media

Several weeks ago Muffin was home sick from school with a bad cold. As she snuggled on top of me on the couch, warm and sniffly and sleepy, I was pretty much immobilized so, like many parents in my situation these days, I picked up my phone to scroll through Facebook to pass the time. By the second day of that routine, I was done. I realized how bad Facebook was making me feel. I was a member of several groups where it is apparently no longer enough to simply be a nice, polite, person, you have to wear the badge of exactly what kind of feminist, gluten-free, stay/work-at-home mother you are. It's not enough that I support women breastfeeding in public. If I let slip that I didn't enjoy the few times I did it with Muffin, I've become a horrible mother who doesn't support women. In a discussion about childcare options, someone made a comment that having family watch your child "never works out." I called her out on it, saying it's a very good option for many families, even if it doesn't work out for some, and suddenly I'm perceived as a privileged bitch with free childcare. (I don't have free childcare. I have a good public school and the generosity of family members when they happen to be here visiting us or we happen to be other places visiting them. But I've learned that Facebook groups are not the place for details and nuance.) Even friends I agree with on many issues were so vehement about their opinions that it became tiresome. It was no longer enjoyable to be bombarded from all sides.

So I stopped. For several days I stayed off Twitter entirely and I took only very quick peeks once or twice a day to check in on specific friends and family members on Facebook. I asked Mike to stop telling me whatever the latest Facebook news was. I left a bunch of Facebook groups. I turned off my notifications for Facebook and all my news apps. I chatted with friends. I read the news ad-free and comment-free on my Kindle. I listened to podcasts. I was still connected. I just took out all the tiresome social commentary.

And I was fine. I had more free time to read things that I find more enjoyable to read. I didn't miss any major news. After a few days I expanded my time and my group of friends I wanted to check on and stay in touch with. On Twitter, I created a list of about twenty people who I want to interact with regularly. I don't plan on turning my alerts back on. I control when I check on Facebook and Twitter. I won't forget they exist just because my phone isn't chirping at me every few minutes.

I'm choosing to control how I use social media in order to avoid some of the negativity. I'm not ignorant of what's going on in the world.

And I fully realize the irony of sharing this post on Facebook and Twitter. 

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