I have spent the last couple of weeks not being on Facebook. At first it was hard getting out of the habit of checking my updates every half-hour, but after a couple of days it stopped figuring in my consciousness: my mind was clearer and more importantly my emotions were calmer. No more anger, no more upset, no more reading posts and not knowing whether to laugh or scream, no more having to ignore insults when I express the mildest disagreement, no more gloomy world-view, no more angry echo-chamber. I shan’t yet delete my account but I will keep it in a coma until I decide what to do with it.
Along with this disengagement from Facebook I have stopped watching or listening to any news. I do think it’s important to keep up with what’s happening, but whether hourly bulletins and a constant drip-drip of articles on social media actually help you to do this is debatable. Instead I look at online news sites and a couple of times a week we get a newspaper: it may be a generational thing but I find I don’t concentrate at all well reading from a screen. All of this means I can engage with the news when I’m ready rather than having it come at me willy-nilly; it means I can follow up whichever stories I want and leave the rest. It also frees me from the obligation to check out stories on Facebook to see whether they’re fake or not – or, most irritatingly, whether they are outdated.
I am calmer and happier now; the world seems less threatening, and those things I thought I’d miss out on – like contact with friends and keeping up with events – well, they haven’t materialised. I keep in touch via messenger, text and email and, the most old-fashioned way of all, by face-to-face communication. You can’t beat it…
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