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Don’t Look Online

You know that thing where your mental health starts to get all screwy because of the Internet, specifically because of social media? Yeah, that thing sucks.

And, despite the darkly glowing stories on the subject, many of us still use these tools in ways that we did when we were young. I’m realizing that I am one of them, someone who has been on Facebook since 2004, someone who has formed an adult identity in relationship to these things that do not belong to me, in places and spaces that exist on a screen, that I check in more and and more and more to given that the means to access this information is becoming progressively easier and easier. An eighth grader later, I want this baby to go to sleep and take so many things with it.

It’s not that I don’t think these things are valuable: they are. They’re fun! They keep us connected. It is indeed a place for friends and, as many of us can attest, has evolved into a source of information and news from those we are intimately connected to literal media companies, both old and new. I have worked on and off Facebook, in jobs that you’re required to interact and post to accounts: it is not just a place for checking in but a source of income.

But does it have to be? I don’t think so, at least not for me. There comes a point where these websites and tools that, again, are great for some but become a spike between you and something greater. For example: my reading has been greatly inhibited by my simply being logged into [Insert A Social Account]. If that door is open, I will stop multiple times on my journey through a story to simply look and idle and spin the wheel of Facebook chance. It’s not so much addiction as it is distraction.

Even more concerning, I’m realizing it has pinned me into a regressive way of thinking. Coupled with over drinking and being too leisurely, staying up late and wasting money: social media represents a free for all that arrests development and, frankly, I’m over it. I’m ready to give this shit up for Lent so I can take on more. It’s funny, actually, as I’ve had something in my brain open up recently, something in my body knocking on my head to say, “Hey, dumb ass: you’ve been spinning a wheel for a long time but shit isn’t going anywhere.” My personal crisis of online interaction has gotten so extreme that I literally have begun writing it into my work.

As a friend said, these things “can be your making and your undoing.” This is true. It’s possible to feel more fulfilled by these tools while feeling like they are eating you. It’s a pull and a push, a give and a take, but you always end up losing. (Or, at least that’s how I felt.) Sometimes you have to be the bigger person to become a bigger person. In this situation, I’m having a mini-breakup with technology, a stepping away, a means to rethink and retool how I exist online.

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