Last month I took a Facebook break. I felt overwhelmed – with online and offline life. I just wanted to escape for a while. I felt suffocated, watched, pounced upon at times, argumentative, lost for and full of words simultaneously, and tired. So tired.
(I want to write about activism burnout in depth soon, but I’m still tired.)
I couldn’t pretend that everything is ok when it wasn’t.
As an online writer, I put myself out there, addressing (what I and others consider to be important) issues and giving a lot of myself.
These recent months have been really tough and I needed time out, away from the noise, criticism and seemingly never ending issues. It’s sometimes thankless and met with a lot of misunderstanding about me. I know I don’t have to ‘take on’ every cause, but when issues around discrimination and exploitation of appearance affect people in my community, they affect me.
It seems relentless – ableist language, lack of solidarity from a support group, misuse of our photos for exploitation, the demonisation of those who dare to speak up, photos of naked children in Facebook groups because people are desperate for medical answers, the misunderstanding of activism from friends, awful behaviour from other bloggers, the high expectations to be on/polite/educating/putting up with at all times, scams to tug at heartstrings and to open wallets…
It’s not all bad though. I love what I do. I just can’t do it all.
It’s funny how words and pictures we scroll our thumbs over can weigh us down. They only exist virtually, but crawl into our hearts and minds, chipping away at our emotions. Tragedy, issues, events and opinions can be burdensome.
During the week off Facebook, I reconnected with life. I read books. Wrote. Watched TV. Caught up on chores. I also was blissfully unaware of all online outrage. When I logged back on, I saw one of the most shared stories was an inspiration porn one, about a disabled man in McDonalds. I was so glad I missed that!
I’m proud of my online writing. I try to work hard at it, research well and talk to lots of people so I can learn and grow. During that week off, lots of friends emailed or texted asked where am I?, concerned and hoping they’d see my musings again soon. It was really nice to know that I (and my writing) was missed – I surely missed my Facebook friends. But the thing that made me smile the most was when a friend texted me asking me to send her a daily photo of what I’m wearing, because she missed my outfits the most.
That week I’d unplugged was so refreshing. My world didn’t end. I still kept up with the news, via news websites and Twitter, selecting what I read on my own terms. I didn’t get sucked into circular comment wars. When I reconnected, I wrote many words for long form pieces that I’m proud of, and have been even more considered about how I engage on Facebook. I’m not clicking on every link to outrage. If I see an issue that I could weigh in on, I consider the impact it will have on me and the impact I could have on it, and walk away if needed. And those decisions mean I feel lighter.