I’ve weeded out all the noisy political militants off my social media feeds – at first slowly, in trickles, and then quickly, really quickly like flood. They say avoiding engagement is an act of political immaturity. That it’s best, healthy, and wise to engage and even seek other people’s opinions. But what about self-preservation? Zen?
I have always been apolitical. I’ve only registered last year and have never voted. In many ways, engaging at a time where everybody seems to have a say about something – no matter how inane, is the worst time to start being political. So why do it? What was I thinking? When did my political consciousness start? What came first? Facebook or the misery?
Social media has made sharing opinions as easy as opening a window and shouting outside, hoping enough people pass by to hear how wise or funny you are. It’s even less embarrassing and more acceptable to rant in Facebook or Twitter than to actually shout outside. I am guilty of this. I’ve shouted out into that void too. In some ways, this writing is a form of that shouting. So why do I do it?
I’d like to think that I share things because they’re reasonable and right, but everyone thinks they’re right. The high school classmate I’ve unfollowed, without guilt or remorse, for openly supporting BBM thought she was right. Do I want to show people how much more right I am? Am I enriching people’s lives when I repost memes? Is this how I want to make the world better? Do I even want to? Can I even?
This is giving me a headache.
Logging into Facebook the past few weeks has given me headaches and has kept me up at nights, tossing, turning and rethinking about the meaning of my life. It seems like the most boring way to go – dying while holding my phone, indignant at people who are screaming at each other on a web site. The only thing I’ve gotten from this is a heightened respect for people I already respect and a sense of disbelief and sometimes disgust for people I only mildly cared about. If this is my way of making the world better, I am failing miserably.
So I unfollow people, and then turn towards more achievable goals like spending a part of the weekend picking up trash outside my house, or reading a book and then writing about it. We can always open the window to look at the beautiful summer sunset, and we don’t even have to say anything. Now, my mind is clearer and I feel lighter, as if ridding myself of the social media vitriol allowed me to focus on pieces of the world that I like.
When I log into Facebook and feel my chest tighten with outrage and disbelief, I try to remember that there are many other ways to make the world bearable. There are many other ways to make the world right again.