I suspect I’m not alone in this paranoid delusion. I know that I can’t be the only person whose feeds have slowly morphed from a land of vacation pictures, inspirational quotes, and sales pitches to political news, political commentary, and a bouquet of political opinions. It’s gotten to the point where I brace myself when I open Twitter — there are days when I can feel my blood pressure rise as I scroll through my feed.
You’ve likely seen David Sipress’ “Well-informed” New Yorker cartoon. It seems to be everywhere and with good reason. It perfectly encapsulates what I’m experiencing. “My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane.”
I was sharing my dilemma with a friend the other day. She is wise and insightful, and her ability to quickly solve problems that vex me is annoying. She pointed out that I needed to take my own advice. When I looked at her in confusion, she pointed me toward a blog post I wrote early in 2016 about social media (and distractions) stealing my joy. She suggested that I read it again.
So I did.
And it helped.
This isn’t the first time in my life that I’ve looked back on something that I wrote to re-learn a lesson. I’ve always been a writer. I have boxes and boxes of journals from my teens and 20s that I pray never see the light of day. As most journals are, they are painful and raw and full of life lessons that I need to be reminded of occasionally, even as a semi-sane, moderately-successful, happily-married woman. In my early 30s, I had a blog to help me process living in a place that wasn’t for me. As most personal blogs are, it is painful and raw and full of life lessons that I need to reminded of occasionally.
Years later, when I look back at what I’ve written, I see what I’ve learned (and occasionally forgotten), what I’ve survived, what I’ve blown out of proportion, where I’ve failed, and where I’ve succeeded.
Of course, you won’t be surprised to learn, I have never written as a gift to my future self. That is just a happy bi-product. I wrote to process what I was experiencing. I wrote to comfort myself at that moment. I wrote to wade through the distractions of everyday life.
Over the past few years, social media has, for me, taken the place of my journals.
My mildly annoying and exceedingly wise friend also pointed out that this should probably change.
Short, sanitized posts fit for public consumption serve to preserve memories, but they don’t do the work that writing in journals or my blog did. Distilling an experience to a few sentences with a pretty picture doesn’t allow me to process life lessons the way my journals did. I can’t be as vulnerable or raw publicly as I can be in a journal or blog that only I read.
Now to re-create that habit of writing for myself everyday.
Though I can’t stop social media and the current state of the world from trying to kill me, I can ward off the attempts by processing what I see in a journal. Now I understand I’m not only helping myself, but I’m also leaving a gift for future me!