I’ve come to suspect that social media is ruining my mental health. Specifically, Facebook and Twitter are the culprits.
I noticed it first with Twitter: whenever I was on there, I became agitated and anxious, and remained so for a long time after I logged off. But it’s happened with Facebook, too.
I scroll through my newsfeed. At any given time, I might encounter someone who is: shooting the breeze, ranting about politics, venting about the price of gasoline, linking to an article of substance (or not), showing photos of their kids, exasperated with potty-training, grieving a loss. In real life, each of these people would require a different emotional response; on Facebook, these people require a different emotional response. The difference is that I’m unlikely to encounter such diverse situations in a short period of time in real life; on Facebook, it all happens in five minutes flat.
For someone whose mind already overstimulated to the point of pain—no, that’s not an exaggeration—this kind of emotional stimulation drains me or agitates me or both. It depends on where on this mental pendulum swing I’m on. Part of this may be my introverted nature (I get energy from time alone, lose energy from time with others) and part of it is the bipolar disorder.
There’s also something about the nature of the sites that bothers my brain; the constant movement of the newsfeed feels like someone tickling the bottom of my foot, tickling until my foot twitches involuntarily and I kick back.
It’s to point where I can’t concentrate on reading a book, much less writing one, and I suspect this is why my second novel isn’t coming along like it should. I can’t think normally anymore and my mood swings have definitely worsened in the past few years. Unquiet is a good adjective for it.
The only reason I have Facebook and Twitter accounts is to build a platform for my writing. As a writer, I’m constantly being told (by agents, publishers, some writers) that I must have an online platform if I ever want to be published. But what’s the point of building a platform if it ruins my mental health and my ability to think? Not to mention the toll that bad mental health has on my relationships with family and friends and God.
So. I’m going off Facebook and Twitter for an extended period of time. Thanks to Networked Blogs, my blog post links will still go through my friends/fans/followers’ newsfeeds. But I’m not going to log on to these sites, so I won’t respond to comments there. I’ll only respond to comments on my blog or emails.
This isn’t meant to be an unfriendly gesture, just a practical one. I need to see if my brain will calm down without the constant brain-tickling, and logging on “just to check . . .” will undermine the effect I’m going for.
I’ve also started keeping a journal detailing my daily moods and how they respond to this experiment of mine. I’ll keep you up to date. Hopefully I won’t lose readers, friends or followers because of this.
Thank you for understanding and bearing with me on this point.