It’s been…. 2016. Those of you for whom it’s been a bad year will understand. I assume there must be some people – like Nigel “lightning rod of doom” Farage who’ve had a ball in 2016.
But really, has it been that bad? Compared to other years, I mean.
Because if you’ve even remotely been paying attention, you already knew before this year that sea life is dying out, that the obscenely rich are still getting richer, the polar ice is melting, the far right is on the rise in much of the world and that our own waste is choking us.
So my feeling that this year has been really rather dire comes, then, not from a reasoned weighing up of the state of the planet, but instead from the various channels that bring information to me on a daily basis. And they’ve been hammering away at death and disaster all year, from Bowie through Brexit to Trump. Admittedly I did actually seek out information about Brexit, because it directly affects me, but I never much liked David Bowie’s music, and I’m hoping very much that Trump will just turn out to be a damp squib – and of course if he isn’t I’m very unlikely to know much about it other than a sudden bright light.
And this trickle of depression from elsewhere has been bothering me, particularly as I’ve also had my own real concerns to deal with. But you know what it’s like. You don’t have time to think about this stuff. You just go on through your everyday life, tweeting and liking and hearting stuff, posting pictures of your food and telling people you’ve never met – and probably wouldn’t like if you did – more intimate things than you’d ever tell your best friend.
But over the last few days a few things have suddenly come together and forced me to take a closer look at my use of social media.
- I watched the latest series of Black Mirror. And just the first episode was enough to make me extremely uncomfortable about my unquestioning tapping of the “Like” button.
- I translated a report about social media use in journalism, which went into some detail about security issues, the tl;dr version of which is that your social media use pins you out and lays you open to examination like a medical specimen.
- A Facebook group for freelancers that I’ve been a proud member of pretty well since the start – and whose raison d’être is standing out from the run-of-the-mill groups where you just get whinging and complaints about unreasonable clients (answer: you’re a freelancer; you’re the boss; fix it) – has imploded into a series of petty squabbles and name calling. This has upset and disappointed me enormously, mainly because for several years now I’ve known that the answer to our problems as a species is mature thinking rather than juvenile reaction. And here are members of even this group behaving like a bunch of toddlers.
- But my reasons for reassessing my online presence are not all negative. Because another group – not on Facebook – that I’ve also been a member of for several years is running a couple of challenges this month. One is a “choose your own goals” thing that they do on a regular basis, and which I often intend to take part in but rarely do (largely because I waste too much time on Facebook). And the other involves doing yoga every day. Now this ties in perfectly with my current yoga practice, which is getting to be quite regular because I’ve got a foot injury and can’t do much else in terms of exercise at the moment. So I’m combining the two challenges and doing yoga and some other things – and also keeping off Facebook for those four weeks.
So that’s my thinking. I’m off Facebook, at least for this month, and – I sincerely hope – quite possibly for good. Instead I’m going to spend my time living in the real world, being present in my own life, writing words that are meaningful to me and trying hard to maintain Tree Pose for more than 3 milliseconds.