I’m dating myself here, but as a child in the 80’s, when we first got cable, I remember if you didn’t get a premium channel, it wasn’t completely blocked. Instead, you got a garbled analog signal, full of scrambled images, snow and little sound. Occasionally, however, when the signal must have been stronger or whatnot, the image might be a bit clearer and you could sometimes hear dialogue in between the static. I remember trying to watch Fraggle Rock on HBO as a child one time. It was okay for a couple minutes, but the screechy static noise and the swirling picture eventually grew frustrating, so I changed the channel.
I’ve now reached that same point of frustration with the flow of information and opinion via social media. The information age gives us data, news, information, opinion, and more at the swipe of a finger tip. Our phones, our tablets, our computers, even our gaming systems are all connected, feeding information and overwhelming our senses.
If there’s a controversy in the news, you’ll find 500 think-pieces on the subject in the first 24 hours. Those then spawn more think-pieces, and before you know it, every news outlet, every blog, every Facebook feed is blown up with why it’s the end of Western Civilization as we know it. And then the consumers of all that information begin tweeting about it and writing Facebook screeds.
Guilty. As. Charged.
And I have the T-shirt to prove it.
(Quick aside – if I sold these t-shirts, do you think I’d make money?)
Along with the my outrage or just reading about everyone else’s outrage, I find myself suffering from a few unwanted side-effects. My empathy dial gets turned to 11. I suddenly feel all the things. And I find myself confused. What do I even believe anymore? Is everything a lie? Is there no good in this world anymore? Where is the justice?!
All that noise… it elevates my anxiety. And Anxiety comes to visit with a little friend named Depression.
And despite making progress and thinking a year ago I had conquered my depression, I’ve found myself in the last few months feeling it creep back up, visiting me more often.
I tried to ignore it for a while. I did. I blamed my mental state on everything but depression. In fact, it’s almost difficult to name it here. I’ve written at least four different blog posts on my recent struggles with my heightened anxiety and worsening depression – and then I trashed them. Backspace, backspace, backspace… Delete. Gone. If I don’t say it, it isn’t true.
I’ve told my “life coach” about it and have been seeing her more often. And I may have danced around the subject with a couple of close friends, but I’ve mainly been in denial.
Hell, no, I am not depressed again. I’m not. There is no way. I’m over it. I just had a bad day, or week, or month. I snapped at my kids because I’m exhausted. I’m not sleeping well because I’m 40 (although there could be some truth to that, too). I’m over-caffeinated and just crashing. I’m not avoiding friends, I’m just introverted. I’m not wanting to leave my house because… I’m laying on my bed all afternoon while the kids play because… I have no energy because… I have a super negative internal dialogue because…. I hate the world because… I cry randomly because… I can’t write because… My entire life is overwhelming because…
Because I’m depressed.
There, I said it. I admitted it. I will not delete this essay.
I still have good days. Some days I feel normal, happy even. Everything will be going well, and then…
I read Twitter. I scroll Facebook.
And a heaviness looms in my chest. The pressure of the brokenness of this world oppresses my spirit. I am aghast that someone I know and love thinks WHAT?! I am bothered that people I admire support WHO?! Another mass shooting, another sex scandal, another incident of brutality, another child abused, another friend watching their loved one slowly die from illness, another example of pain and suffering.
I am overwhelmed with it all. I am losing myself in the sea of outrage and my empathy tank is running dry for those who actually need me to give a damn.
Philippians 4:8 says : And now, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.
I’m getting lost in the static. The noise of the mixed signals is drowning out the true, good, and right voices. What I see online and in the news doesn’t usually fit lovely and fine and good and true and right.
It stifles my creativity. It steals my joy. It increases my anxiety. It worsens my depression.
And when that happens, I’m not a nice person to be around. My children, my husband, my family, my friends… I’m not who I need to be for all of them. And the guilt turns to shame which turns to self-loathing, and I get stuck in a downward spiral of ickiness (which is a real psychiatric term, I think).
The greatest commandments are this: to love the Lord with our heart, soul, and mind, and then to love others as we love our ourselves. When I’m like this, I don’t love myself, and I certainly don’t love many other people.
The noise… the static of social media… it’s poisoning my spirit right now and I need a break. I’m not strong enough to handle the weight of my Twitter & Facebook feeds. I need to unplug from some of the noise.
I need to concentrate on my mental health. I need to be more present in my home. I’ve been consumed with social media and the train wreck of our political process and the incessant bickering of the Christian community.
If you are a friend or follower or fan or whatever… and you want to keep up with me, I’m here on my blog (Follow on WordPress or Bloglovin). I’m going to continue to write, and I’m fairly confident that I’ll be more productive without the distraction and noise from the land of outrage. My blog page on Facebook will remain active (thank you secret Facebook account) and I will respond to comments on that page only. My blog will still post to Twitter, but I’m not going to interact there. And I’ll keep Instagram. It makes me happy – happy pictures of friends and family and 12 different Harry Potter accounts. As for Google+, just kidding. Who really uses that?
It was either giving up social media or coffee… and I’m sorry, but coffee wins every time.