The Social Media Fast

social media girl

 

This is my first blog post in a long time and that’s part of the problem.

What is the problem, you ask?

A social media mystic that I follow and admire Maryam Hasnaa (@ThatGirlHas) sometimes abstains from social media when Mercury is in retrograde, so I asked for her advice:

@thatgirlhas I sure hope so. I’m fasting from meat and social media during the #MercuryRetrograde in #Virgo. Any advice?

—  @FreedomReeves August 29, 2016

My advice is always the same. Listen to your intuition. Follow your heart. https://t.co/eLSoi32ubx

—  @thatgirlhas August 29, 2016

Most people hear about Mercury retrogrades when it comes to communication errors, travel delays or technology issues. These are a part of it, so leave the house earlier, follow up on that email and back up your computer. Mercury retrogrades are also a time to review, reset and revise. It’s not the best time to start new things, which is interesting, since no less than three new professional endeavors start for me during this period. However all of these things have been in the works for months, so this isn’t so bad.

I’ve known for a while that I want to change certain things about my life, including the way I communicate and express myself.  I’ve taken breaks from social media before without announcing it. I haven’t been on my personal Facebook account since the summer of 2014. I once deleted all of my Instagram posts and didn’t posted for four or five months. I wanted to evaluated what I posted and why, and also, I found out that a guy I barely knew had dozens of pictures from my Instagram saved on his phone. I was creeped out by this but he wasn’t, and showed them to me proudly.

Twitter, however, is the one outlet I haven’t been able to shake. I’ve always loved the conversation-based nature of Twitter. It is like real life.  On Twitter you connect with people based on conversation, their perspective, and/or how they chose to express themselves. Twitter isn’t perfect by a long shot though. It’s the only major social media platform that doesn’t have “hate speech” as an option in its reporting system. Because of its lackluster monitoring and reporting systems and how easy it is to remain anonymous on Twitter, it has become a playground for hate spewing. As a black woman, much of this hate has been directed towards my identities. I follow people pretty careful so I don’t see a lot of it, but Twitter also has a car-crash effect on people. When some people see awfulness, they decide the best course of action is to make everyone who follows them see this awfulness as well. I kind of get it but not really.

I also realized that a lot of the writing I should be doing, I was using Twitter for instead. If you are Twitter user @_zolarmoon, also known as author and exotic dancer Aziah King, this can have epic results. This has not been the case for me. Twitter has become my barbershop. My dive bar. I say stuff and I’ll get a like here, a retweet maybe, but it’s not a space where I feel intellectually challenged anymore. I can tell that I am hungry for intellectual discourse because I’ve been engaging more on Twitter in situations where I would normally keep scrolling. If Twitter is like a cocktail party or a barbershop on a good day, it’s like a rally of extremes on its worst days, to the point when even using all of the components of respectful discourse that I know- using “I” statements, commenting on the statement/issue, not the person, etc- I’ve gotten some pretty nasty and dismissive responses, especially from those who see themselves as Twitter popular.

It’s not something that has escape me either. I also feel like certain conversations don’t reflect where I am in my thinking or processing, but I just ignore them. So what am I really using Twitter for, then? I use Twitter for the following reasons:

  1. Low-risk social interaction. The downside is that low risk also equals low reward.
  2. A replacement for writing. This is a huge issue. I see the number of gems that people give away on Twitter and I know that I’m guilty of using Twitter to post thoughts I’m too lazy to develop in longform.
  3. News and events. Twitter is great for this, and often breaks stories before any media outlet does. Twitter is truly a form of media in this sense. I wonder if staying up-to-date on all of the news is helpful though. Does knowing about each and every act of  injustice and inhumanity galvanize or paralyze? For me I suspect it’s more of the latter.

Not only am I “fasting” from social media during the Mercury retrograde (August 30-September 22), I’m going to direct more energy into this blog and to the writing component of Highwater, the email magazine (almost a year old) and podcast (since April) I’ve been working on. I’m looking forward to having this blog as a personal journal, and not worrying about branding, click rates, subscribers and shares. I’m returning to the spirit of what personal blogging is about: Thinking out loud to find community and dialogue.

In addition, I’m going to devote this time to being more social in the real world. I get out with friends a couple times a week, but I an terrible at check-in calls and texts. I thought this would improve a little when I no longer had Facebook as a shortcut to staying in touch, but all that happened is that I’ve forgotten to contact certain people. I’m embarrassed to say, I’ve also flat-out forgotten certain people. Part of this I suspect is what depression has done to my brain, in that it is easier for me to remember someone if I have a negative emotion associated with them. My hope is that my break from social will help me accomplish this as well.

I’m also going to use the time to get my spiritual house together. I suspect that I use social media to drowned out certain voices and intuitions I haven’t felt like facing. I don’t believe I can do this for long and I’m harming myself in the long run.

In summary:

  • Between August 30 and September 22 I will abstain from casual use of social media. I will still have social media updates for this blog and Highwater that will go out during this period. However, I will not be checking my social media or responding to social media messages during this time.
  • Instead of using social media, I will update this blog regularly.
  • I will actively reach our to people I’ve lost touch with via phone (preferred), email or text.
  • Time I normally spend on social media will be spent on self-care and developing my spiritual practice, which I will also share on this blog.

If you are interested in doing a fast with me, leave me a message in the comment section or holla at me if you know me like that.

9 thoughts on “The Social Media Fast

  1. BlueRelikk

    I just stumbled across this today, and while I missed the last MercuryRx during which to implement this strategy, I will most certainly be putting this into practice for the upcoming retrograde period. I do the exact same things you did with your SM, so now that I see the reflection, it’s in my immediate awareness to address it. Thank you for posting.

    Reply

    1. Chakka

      Thanks so much for reading. I’m definitely going on another social media fast when the next Rx retrograde starts in a couple of weeks.

      Reply

  2. Janel

    I wish I would have read this last month! I would have joined you!

    Reply

  3. Upendo Kushindana

    Great article and very needed in the dark times we face. There is a ton of negativity on social media. People who are sensitive need this detox. Thank you for sharing your story.
    -Upendo

    Reply

    1. Chakka

      Thanks for reading fam. It’s going great so far , although I did check Tumblr yesterday. Couldn’t help myself.

      Reply

  4. Evelyn N. Alfred

    Good luck with your fast!

    I took a break (sort of) during the month of August from Snapchat,Twitter, and my blog so that I could focus on an online writing workshop (Winter Tangerine). I say sort of because I help run social media for my job, so I couldn’t be totally off. The fact that no one noticed makes me wonder if it’s worth returning because at least while I was gone I wrote 9 new poems. If I could continue to write 9 poems each month I was off of my social media, I would have enough to revise and create a chapbook. For me, that is more important than likes and retweets.

    Reply

    1. Chakka

      Yes!!! I totally relate. I want to focus on my writing too. I also have the most followers on Twitter than I’ve ever had, but my engagement is pretty low. Social media is a useful tool, but I can’t replace the making process. Go forth and focus on your chapbook! I support you!

      Reply

  5. Lisa K

    Thanks for posting this, Chakka. I’m glad I came across this post this morning. I’ll join you in a social media fast, as I’ve been stretched too thin and need something to give, somewhere. Lately I’m trying to be everything to everyone, and it’s led to me making rash decisions and acting without thinking, hurting people in the process. Unfortunately, my depression cycles mean that this time of year I find myself struggling the most, so I need to make extra efforts to be aware of what’s happening and hopefully tread water with my head above the surface until the cycle changes. Self care, at this point for me, means taking a step back from the unnecessary so that I can focus my energy where it’s truly needed. Maybe letting others step in where I’ve stepped back. And giving myself (and everyone else) the space we all need. Taking a break from social media is one of the easiest ways I can do this. Thanks again for the thoughtful post, it’s given me a much-needed new perspective this morning.

    Reply

    1. Chakka

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing Lisa 🙂 Great to see you in these innanet streets.
      Depression is a big reason why I’m not on Facebook any more. I didn’t feel like my thoughts were my own. I had illogical guilt for not maintain relationships that no longer served me. This is a good time to take a look at what you’re doing and to be honest about whether it’s working or not. I’m glad you’ve committed to your self-care.
      Much love! -C

      Reply

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