Edit: Everything below this line, I wrote about a week ago. I didn't make this post live because I was still really conflicted about what I was feeling, but today was the straw that broke the camel's back. This morning, on a totally inane article about the representation of the Confederate flag in media (like, how it's painted on the General Lee on "Dukes of Hazzard") I saw some of the most distressing and appalling things from people who live in my own city. All of them, except one lady named Wanda, were upset. Upset that my senators are talking about taking down the statue of the traitor Jefferson Davis that stands in the capitol building. Upset because they feel the flag is a part of their history, and to deny it would be un-American. Upset because they saw a picture of a black guy holding the flag in a picture so that means it's not racist at all. Arguing that the Civil War was not about slavery, despite all the states' declarations of secession stating otherwise. And then there was the guy that said, in essence, that black Americans should not complain too much about slavery, because if it wasn't for slavery, their ancestors never would have made it to America, which is "the greatest country in the world." And I just started crying. I can't cope with the violence and depravity and ignorance and dumb-assery anymore. My heart is broken and there is no way that it can get any better while I'm still exposed to this garbage. The internet and I are going on a little break. Hopefully when I come back, whether it's in a couple of days or a couple of weeks, humanity will have gotten itself together and stopped being quite so disappointing.
I'm having a struggle with social media.
If we are facebook friends, you know that I spend a *lot* of time online. It's not that I just spend eight hours a day in front of a laptop- though if I'm having a really bad day, I might come close. It has more to do with the fact that I'm constantly connected, through my phone, my tablet, and of course, my computer. And the fact that I have a lot of free time- remember, I only work 20 hours a week and I have no children. And I'm by myself a lot. I'm very alone. Two days a week, I don't see my husband until 9:30 at night. Two days a week, I don't see him until almost 6:30. The other three days are hit and miss. Even if we are together, we may not be talking, because Brandon isn't a chatty person. I'm not picking on him- if you know him, you know he doesn't talk much. He talks to me more than he talks to anyone else. But we don't have frequent, long conversations. Our talking, most of the time, comes in short bursts. Now, I don't think I'm an extrovert, but being alone by myself, having no one to talk to, for most of the hours during the week is hard. Sometimes it contributes to my depression. Some days I feel lonelier than others. It's a little embarrassing to say to the world "I'm lonely," but it's true. I live a pretty isolated life, and sometimes it's hard.
So being online is important to me. Most of the week, it is my connection to the outside world. I can chat with friends, and make new ones. The time-wasting aspect is fun. It's a creative outlet, because I can write posts on my blogs, or find new projects and recipes, or just make up funny stuff to share with friends. It's how I keep up with my extended family, whom I don't see all that often. And I can keep up with the news, too. If something is happening, I know right away. And I can fact check and poke around for corroborating stories, so I know that I'm getting the truth.
But sometimes, the internet is so hard on me. I feel overexposed- not that people are seeing too much of me, but I'm getting too much of them. It's like when you start to feel sick after being out in the sun too long. For a while, you don't notice it, but the more time you spend out there, just surrounded by this intangible force, it starts to make you sick. I am a very sensitive person who is very empathetic and has more than her fair share of emotions. There are days when my heart breaks many times, whether it's a tiny chip or a big, dangerous looking spiderweb of a break, like a busted-up windshield. Every once in a while, it feels like the break is too much and my heart shatters into tiny little pieces. It takes a while to put it back together.
My heart is so broken today. I am very overexposed. I am shattered. The everyday chatter is just too much. I'm witness to marriages falling apart- people abandoned by spouses in a sudden, abrupt end to what they thought was a fairy tale. I see people waiting to bring their children home, or aching to carry a child of their own. I see people having crises of faith. People grieving. People caring for ailing loved ones. People struggling with their own depression. People losing their jobs or struggling to make ends meet.
Beyond the personal tragedies, there are the ones that don't affect us directly. The news is unbearable some days. I'm not going to ignore it, because that's so disrespectful to the people who are suffering. I can't turn a blind eye to that. But I feel so burdened by how messed up the world is. Another shooting. Another murder. Another scandal. More victims. More bullies. More tragedies. Abuses of power. Neglect and abandonment. People being taken advantage of. And then the arguments that follow. This person can't say "I wish people wouldn't shoot each other" because that person will say "we have the right to carry guns and don't you dare talk about taking them away." This person can't say "some police officers aren't doing their jobs well, just like any other person in any other field, but it's a little scarier because people could get hurt" without someone saying "how dare you criticize people who are protecting us, I hope that if you are ever the victim of a crime, they don't come to help you." This person can't say "I cried for an hour after waking up today because a psycho racist went and murdered nine innocent people while they were having a Bible study" without that person saying "you're a race baiter." For crying out loud, the news media can't even share an unbiased story, just simply reporting a handful of facts, without people accusing them of "fanning the flames." Hello. They are reporting. The flames don't need to be fanned. The whole world is on fire.
And then, there's the stupid. My heart is broken and my stomach is sick and my brain is hurting because of all this stuff, and then......the stupid. I know people who are always willing to shout "religious persecution!" and post about praying for every group of Christians around the world who are suffering, and have not said one blessed word about the tragedy in Charleston- not even a picture of a candle, saying "we're praying for you." But they can share cheese dip recipes and funny animal pictures and other nonsense. I know people who are actually really kind and loving in person, but if you didn't know them and just looked at their facebook page, you'd think they hated half the world, calling them ugly names just because of differences of opinion. I've seen memes comparing the president of the United States to Hitler and Stalin because...I don't know, he belongs to a different political party? I've seen people sharing photoshopped pictures of black protestors carrying signs, and the signs have been digitally altered to embarrass them or slander them. Or the ten year old photos of Muslim men in the Middle East, protesting American interference in their affairs, and the caption says that this is taking place in Michigan, this weekend, and "Shariah law is a credible threat to our society." I see every form of underhanded, false, made-up, hyperbolic, nationalist, xenophobic scare tactic. I'm never going to say I don't make fun of people, because if you write "umbeyonce" instead of "ambiance" in a facebook post, I'm definitely going to laugh at that. That's silly. But I know people who have said the nastiest things about Caitlyn Jenner. I know people who STILL make AIDS jokes. I know people who joke about sending people to hell. And then share Bible verses. Or a picture of Jesus, demanding that you share his Divine Visage, or you are "denying him." Explain that to me, please.
So maybe social media and I need to take a break. I'm scared to do it, to be honest. I'm scared to remove that particular distraction from my life. I'm scared to be out of contact with people I do care about. I'm scared that the isolation and loneliness will become even more pervasive. And I like to say that I don't care what other people think about me (as long as what they think is true), and in some instances, that's an honest sentiment. But I don't like it when people say "I'm quitting facebook" just to get the attention. We're not in middle school. And I also don't want to turn around two days later and get right back to it, and have someone confront me about it. "Thought you were quitting?" So to clarify- I'm thinking of taking a break. Maybe when I come back, the news will be happier. Maybe people I care about will be doing a little better, carrying a little bit lighter burden. Maybe just taking a break for the weekend will make my heart and head feel better. I don't know. Both have been doing so badly this week that it's worth a shot.