A couple of months back, deeply troubled by late night facebook sessions grappling with the woes of the war in Gaza, I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone. I realised that trawling through posts, dipping in and out of polarised opinions about a reality far from home, and far from most of our real experience, was taking its toll. I was scared and upset, and far from social media helping me be connected, it was tearing me apart.
At the height of my madness I had dipped into a post from a man I deeply respect, and started an online row with a man I didn’t know. It ended badly (sorry Connor). I believe he was a good man, but the words that we exchanged weren’t.
So I stayed away, and pulled off Twitter and LinkedIn as part of an experiment to see what I would miss. While it was hardly scientific, I did get some results, and they surprised me a little.
Now I’m back I know what I missed.
I like hearing stories of my friends lives, I like seeing inspiring quotes from insightful masters (and mistresses!). I love seeing pictures of other people gorgeous children, I can feel the pride and joy seeping through the web and infecting my spirit.
I enjoy seeing my friends boasting of their latest holidays, and hats, and homes, and social triumphs. I enjoy being connected to the small woes that befall us all, and the supportive comments that weave us together and enable connection without commitment. I enjoy some inanity, and some idiosyncrasy, and lots of idiocy. I enjoy supporting causes and conspiracies, and eves-dropping on craziness.
I’m not too keen on stories of woe, especially when posted from afar and reposted to the point of a thousand likes. I’m not keen on bigotry in any form, and I get upset when friends become angry with each other and fracture fuses through the frantic re-posts. I don’t like arguments about who is right in a war where all sides are wrong, and I am not too keen on videos of cats either.
What I have realised though is that I have a choice what I see, and what I don’t. I get a choice to read, or rewind, or review. So when I felt a deep nasty feeling inside when I watched a man being abused on a train yesterday, I knew I didn’t need to be there, and so off I went.
I am not asking anyone to change what they post, I am just realising that if I am selective I can get the best of what I love, without any of what I don’t.
Thanks for being my friends and my family, it is a privilege to share some of my life with you.