Can’t stop thinking about Facebook

Something to consider re: time spent on social media:

I get the urge to see and know everything that’s going on concerning the things you care about. That’s largely why I’ve spent so much time on social media — particularly Facebook — the last several years.

But I think it’s important to remember that, as humans, we only recently started subjecting ourselves to SO MUCH information, stimuli, etc., on a minute to minute basis about things that aren’t happening in our physical vicinity. It’s a lot for our brains to handle.

So, what’s the point? The point is we don’t yet know the real effects of all this exposure on us. Some (my pre-election self included) think that the more you know the more likely you are to care and act. There’s some truth to that, obvs, but I wonder if the positive impact of knowledge and exposure only grows to a certain point before paralysis and despair set in.

In other words, is it more important to see and share every meme, post, think piece, etc., about Trump’s plan for X, Y, Z than it is to read one digest a day of things that have happened or could happen and then spend the time you would have spent staring at your phone doing something about it — or, if not immediately doing something (because maybe there aren’t that many things to do right now), then spending that time living your life in a way that nurtures and strengthens your spirit and the spirits of those around you?

Think of it this way: the most powerful and effective social movements that have ever existed existed before social media, the Internet, the 24 hour news cycle, etc. There was basic news and word of mouth, and people knew they had to build and nurture community to spread information and get people to act. (Some refer to the difference in online relationships and real world ones as weak ties versus strong ties — with strong ties gerbeealky being seen as more important in making change, especially over a long fight.)

It’s not only possible to be informed and take a position and act without constant “access” to each other and information (which often isn’t new information these days so much as repackaging of what we already know), it might be … dare I say it … preferable?

I work in digital advocacy, engagement, and fundraising, right? I’m not saying we should smash our devices and start using carrier pigeons again. The Internet of Things is part of life. But I do think many of us have uncritically accepted the (age-old American) idea that more is better. More quick reads. More memes. More posts. More shares. (And, yes, my pen name is The Pot Who Calls The Kettle Black — for those of you who follow me on Facebook…)

I don’t care if posting here and there is neutral. I only care if it’s damaging or discourages other, more useful action or ways of being. And, again, I can’t say that it is — but I have a hunch that it is.

And by useful I don’t just mean something as simple as “call your legislator instead of posting on Twitter.” Useful can mean whether doing it strengthens YOUR resolve and others. Or gives you enough time away from it all to get some perspective and the mental rest necessary to focus and act. I know one of the reasons I post is to get a feeling of connectedness with like-minded people, but couldn’t I just talk to a few friends instead of blanketing 1,100 people with messages only 30–40 maybe want to see and interact with?

If I’m going to sit on my bed after dinner — as I used to do a lot — and read Facebook and articles and then post about them over an hour or two, but not really *do* anything beyond sharing (and ratcheting up my blood pressure), would it have been better for me to make a stew and take it to work to share with others? Or call my mom? Or research ways to volunteer?

Basically, if all this huffing and puffing that we’re doing (and I in no way mean to imply that the *reasons* for the anger and rage aren’t real) is getting us and others to think differently long term and DO more outside of social media, GREAT. If not — if there are kinds of huffing or amounts of puffing that creep into neutral/negative impact territory — then why are we doing them?

Okay, I’m rambling. I just don’t think same old, same old is going to work moving forward. We’re saying that about the Democratic Party. We’re saying that about the Electoral College. We’re saying that about the media.

Shouldn’t we also at least consider how that shift in strategy and approach and attitude applies to us?


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