Oh, 2020, What Have You Done?
2020 was, if nothing else…interesting, and it will be memorable. It turned our country – heck, the world – on its head with the Coronavirus outbreak and the race to one of the most momentous presidential elections in U.S. history. The other thing 2020 will be remembered for is a culmination of division. The division of our society, to the right and to the left. Vitriol and animosity were alive and well in 2020. This scary phenomenon reached a fever pitch the closer we got to November. And it didn’t let up after the election, as accusations of cheating and fraud flew. Since our newly elected president didn’t take office until a little over a week ago, that left plenty of time to amp up and shoot more political arrows to and fro across Facebook and Twitter
Is It A Boycott, Or An Act Of Self-Help?
I tried my level best to keep up with friends and family, primarily on Facebook. I have friends on both sides of the political aisle, and for the most part, can dialogue and even engage in a spirited back-and-forth with those opposite of me and come out at the end laughing, okay with each other. I’m no angel, and I’ve had my moments where I’ve lashed out at someone I felt was being unreasonable. But generally we each make some minor concessions, ultimately agree to disagree, and both make concerted efforts to reach common ground. That’s ultimately what’s missing on social media. It’s a lost art, having a conversation between two people of opposite belief systems, but remaining good friends. Even though we may disagree on major points, we make an effort at relationship, and even learn a little bit from each other.
With the recent cancellations of accounts on both Facebook and Twitter, an outrage has gone out across the land, and even liberal leaders from other countries have spoken out against Big Tech’s apparent censorship. It’s been dubbed as “totalitarian” and “straight out of 1984.” Whether you agree with those charges or not, it is unprecedented for such a large, public forum to have certain people – voices – outright cancelled. I know, they’re private companies and they can allow who they want. But at what point does it become discrimination? If I own a business and choose to not serve certain people simply because I disagree with their socio-political views, I will most likely have a complaint and a charge of discrimination filed against me. Bear in mind, people on both sides of the aisle are being suspended and cancelled off of Twitter and Facebook.
It’s Not A New Idea
With all of that being said, there are other reasons besides “boycotting Facebook” to get off of social media. I did it about six years ago for personal reasons. For one, it was sucking me in nearly every spare minute I had. I stayed off – and really didn’t miss it – until 2018, when I ran into my best friend from high school at my mom’s funeral. We hadn’t seen each other or talked in years, mostly due to distance apart. So, I got back on Facebook with the intention of ONLY friending and communicating with close, personal friends and family. It worked pretty well, for about a year. Then the invariable sucking-in started happening again.
Most people agree that social media, whether you’re a fan or not, is a huge time waster. It causes you to multi-task, which experts have determined is not an optimal state to work in. Abby Schubert says in a recent post, “…the American Psychological Association estimates that trying to juggle multiple tasks at once—such as clicking back and forth between Facebook and an important project—may reduce your productive time by as much as 40 percent.”
Don’t Let It Get You Down
Beyond that, social media can affect your self esteem and create anxiety. When we get caught up in so many other people’s daily doings, we can end up measuring our own life and lifestyle against that of others – keeping up with the Joneses, internet-style. Closely related to that is the nagging desire to always want to know what’s going on, what other people are saying. The blogger Cubert sums it up well in one of his recent posts: “…it’s much too easy to fall into the trap of lifestyle comparison…(and) There’s the phenomenon of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) that is causing social anxiety among many Facebook addicts.”
Get Up Offa That Thing
Try it, you’ll like it. Consider it a challenge – see if you can go one week Facebook-free. Then shut off Twitter, and go another week. Then Instagram, or whatever else you have. The peace of mind you’ll have will be priceless. Not to mention, if you have any kind of side things going on – hobbies, weekend work, charitable or volunteer activities – you’ll be so much freer to do those things. Go out and live life. Pardon the notion, but having your nose stuck in a phone or laptop screen scrolling Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is not living life. Go out and spend that time doing something worthwhile. Take your sweetheart on a date, play with your kids – in my case, talk to them, since 20-somethings aren’t really in a “play with dad” mode anymore. Unclog that slow drain in the bathroom. Do something constructive. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did. I’m going on a week Facebook-free, and I don’t miss it at all. I’ve got more time to write…and unclog those stubborn bathroom drains.