In today’s world there is much that demands my negative attention. Climate change. The rising tide of nationalism across the western world. Impending ecosystem collapse. Mass extinction. These are existential threats. They seem to exist as issues that are at the same time both immediate and distant.
Then there are the more personal threats, ones that affect only me. The need to have a healthy diet and to exercise. The desire to move out, coupled with a fear of financial collapse or an endless and crushing workload. Social pressure to find a partner.
If obsessed over, all these things can paint a very bleak picture of life. It can make finding motivation and inspiration difficult, but lately I’ve come to understand that it’s all a matter of perspective.
I have to choose not to let these things get me down.
To be perfectly honest, social media is responsible for the majority of issues I face in the first group, combined with the news sources that I access through that medium. The colossal weight of the myriad voices that demand attention on Facebook alone can be deafening. It sometimes feels that the pressure of the endless multitudes of issues that demand my attention, that want me to educate myself so I can educate and spread awareness in turn, are designed to overwhelm me. It’s as though everything can get to a point where it is all so heavy, so difficult to carry, that I have to let some of it go.
It’s taken a long time for me to realise that it’s okay to do this sometimes. When I see a provocative news article, or read an inflammatory comment, I have started learning to catch myself rather than say anything. Research shows that next to nobody’s opinion is changed through internet debate, and more importantly, I need to remember the value of rest.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that there is a big difference between selfishness and self-care, and one that I’m constantly exploring further every day. It’s okay to take a day away from all the noise of the internet. This is something that I’ve found more difficult to learn than the other group of life stressors I mentioned at the beginning.
I know it’s okay to have a treat sometimes. I know it’s okay to be financially dependent where there is no other good option for me. I know that it’s okay for me to limit myself to a healthy workload. I know I can be happy on my own, as I am the vast majority of the time.
But social media has a curious character. It’s somehow far more difficult to switch off. If anything, that should be easier than not eating junk food, or choosing to exercise when I might not otherwise feel like it. It’s just the press of a button, but there’s a distinct allure that lies beneath the surface.
It’s easy to become addicted to social media without realising it, but it generally doesn’t interfere with my life too much. Many things require careful balance and moderation, and I know many others have it far worse than me in this department. I’m not at risk. I’m not being made miserable by it. But it’s a humbling experience to know how close I am to that precipice. It’s worth analysing myself once in a while, for this very reason. Check up on my habits. Have a reckoning. After all, I owe it to myself.