Hey there everyone!
Before I get into this post’s topic, I want to thank you for your overwhelmingly kind and supportive responses to my last post! It really means so much to me; there aren’t words for how much! I also want to recognize you for your willingness to read about self-care and wellness. As people often say, the first step is opening yourself to “newness”: new thoughts, new concepts, new nuances, and so on. I’ve so enjoyed the conversations I’ve had with many of you, in person and over the internet, and I look forward to the ones we’ll keep having!
Alright, so let’s get into today’s topic: technology. As mentioned at the end of my last post, our lives’ integration with technology is on the up and up as we spend nearly 100 days online per year. Now, chances are you have some thoughts about this and/or technology in general, but I’m not here to try to persuade you that technology is good or that it’s bad. In truth, like everything in life, technology is healthiest in moderation. The advances of the tech industry have accomplished some pretty incredible things: we’re starting to see 3D printed prosthetics, the ability to create and maintain friendships with people from all over the world, and access to educational resources our ancestors were only able to dream about. However, when given too much of a good thing, we can also see some of the poor side effects: cherry-picked life personas, heavily edited photos, and an ever-increasing uncertainty over what is “real.”
My message today is simple: you are powerful. I want to return to this concept a lot, actually, because I love the strength of it. Too often we sell ourselves short—starting now, we’re done with that! You are powerful. We are powerful. So that begs the question: how does our power relate to technology?
Here’s a thing I think we forget: you can unfriend and unfollow anyone and everyone for any reason whatsoever and you are never required to explain yourself. Read that again. And maybe a third time. Also a fourth, since it took me about that many times to realize it too. You create your technological space! Generally speaking, you are completely in control of what you see day-to-day.
It’s important for me to keep a close eye on my technological space because of my mental health, and it’s important for you for the same reason. There’s still a lot of research to be done regarding social media and mental health, but it’s worth noting that social media promotes a desire for acceptance and affirmation and this can have a negative effect on our perception of things, thus becoming a destructive cycle of comparison. Social media often gives us the best of everyone’s lives: we see their vacations, their expensive meals, their books read, and so on. This can make it hard to feel satisfied with our own lives, since we’ve got a front row seat to our messy moments, and in turn we start posting only the “cropped” versions of our lives too. Social media can also be an echo-chamber, where reality becomes distorted and negativity erupts. Before you know it, you’ve been sucked into a downward spiral where nothing seems enough to pull you out. Again, the research here is still developing and we should be careful to avoid coming to conclusions, but as I talk about my experiences with others, it seems many of us feel this burden.
There came a point where I had to return my power to myself and start unfollowing people that seemed to feed or encourage emotions that don’t sit well with me: frustration, despair, jealousy, resentment, etc. These emotions are very “exciting” to experience, as they tend to consume. Angry emotions give an all-encompassing energy where you don’t calm down for sometimes hours or days, and extreme sadness can push us to isolate ourselves or ruminate incessantly. If our relationship with technology is stoking these fires, and if our time on technology is getting higher and higher, we’re spending more time with negative feelings than positive ones.
Here’s my “Unfollow Flowchart,” which I revisit every time I come across something that stirs high-intensity emotions in me:
-Does this content enrich my life in a way that brings joy, peace, or warmth?
-If not, is this typical of the account that brought it to my feed?
-If no, then maybe they’re having a bad day, and I can reach out or leave them be.
-If yes, though, now I have to evaluate the pattern: how frequently is this person bringing negativity into my space?
And from there the decision is easy: unfollow or unfriend people/accounts who regularly bring harmful content into that space. We need to carefully maintain our technological space to avoid reactionary emotions, and if certain people or accounts consistently cause those emotions, they have to go.
Much as I love Calvin, do not let your feed act like he does 🙂
There is nothing personal, you can (and will!) still love them as you always have, but we need to be careful about what we allow our brains (and hearts) to be consumed by. Look at it this way: if you had a friend who stopped by your house every morning to place rotten oranges in your bowl of healthy, ripe ones, would you let them keep doing that? As you slowly watched your oranges turn dark, shriveled, and sour—would you still open your door?
I’m not just talking about the“typical” negativity that can be easier to recognize like instagative bait, private matters made public, etc. I’m also talking about your like-minded friends and your favorite celebrities. Set the boundaries where you need to and the people who loved you before will love you after, too.
So, AFS Family, here’s a challenge for you: this week, don’t just aimlessly scroll through your feed. Read each post, check each source, and see if you can find some sources of negativity you didn’t notice before. Take a moment to appreciate the sources of positivity too! I personally have found my technological space to become ten times more educational, peaceful, and joyful since I took more control.
And now for a request, if I may: is there a topic you’ve been curious about, a concept you’re interested in exploring, or a facet of wellness you want to hear more about? **Let me know!** As I’ve mentioned, my hope is that these blog posts become dialogue, and I can’t do that without you! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time!