Social (Media) Distancing
It’s been a while since my last blog post. I am currently on day 81 of social distancing and this week, by far, has been the heaviest and hardest one. All week I have felt slow, lethargic, unmotivated and emotionally drained.
There has been so much to absorb. So much pain and negativity flooding my screens. It’s hard to stay positive, practice acceptance and gratitude, when all you see are senseless acts of violence and hatred, and even more so when you are faced with the cold hard truth that it has been the way of the world for such a long time. The murder of George Floyd has been the trigger for a conscious awakening for so many. It’s hard to believe that it has taken the loss of yet another Black life to create this deep, uncomfortable stir in all of our cores and pushed us (non-Black people) to start to take a long, hard look at ourselves and our incredibly flawed systems.
Before this week, I had been feeling the need to step back from social media. With so much extra time on hand now due to social distancing, it is so easy to get caught up in your feed and let hours go by before even realizing how long you have been scrolling. I have caught myself, on a number of occasions, mindlessly on Instagram or Facebook without really engaging or truly connecting to anything I see.
This week was a significant switch and a parallel energy to that of the weeks before. I have found myself scrolling through my socials for hours, researching and watching so many news clips on YouTube. I have been absorbed in finding resources to educate myself further on Black history and culture, and have been following so many incredible Black voices on various platforms. While I have such an appreciation for these resources right now and am grateful to have access to this technology that allows me to have an abundance of information at my fingertips…it’s a lot. If I am feeling this way, I cannot even begin to fathom what those in Black communities are experiencing. I have felt anxious. I have felt uncomfortable. I have felt a shift in my energy and, at times, have just needed to take a break. That is not to say I have wanted to turn away, be silent or ignore reality, but to take a step back, breathe, and allow all of the information to be absorbed and integrated into my being.
It has been truly amazing to witness the power of social media, and how quickly it can unite and inform people from all over the world. I don’t think I have ever seen so many people come together for a cause and it’s reassuring to know that we live in an age where this is possible. I have also felt a lot of division and distraction from matters at hand, with the use of pressure and shaming to ‘post your feelings’ and ‘make your voice be heard’ throughout these platforms. I realize that the importance of using your voice, your privilege and showing where you stand is imperative at this time and moving forward, however, what I think people might forget is that there are other avenues and ways of doing this. Social media platforms, as powerful as they can be, are not the only platforms where we can make our voices heard or where we can take action. We are all going through a lot of emotions right now, especially our Black brothers and sisters, and how we process them will look different for each individual depending on their own personal experiences. Some will post, some will protest, some will create, some will donate – and some will be going inwards, cutting themselves off, going deep into their own research, in order to look at how they can be and do better.
I have been trying to be extra mindful about what and how I post – trying to stay true and authentic to my own voice, to have thoughtful intentions (knowing I have to put them into action), and to genuinely come from a place of love. I will always choose to share love and positivity, and will always try to post things that I truly stand behind and that resonate for me personally. It will not be perfect. There is no perfect way to do this. I heard someone say today…being an ally is messy.
If, like me, you are finding yourself overwhelmed with social media at times, I have a few offerings for you to get some distance…
- Take breaks – especially at this time, when you are (hopefully) really diving into the work and educating yourself, it’s important to give yourself some breaks from social media. Set a timer on your phone, or put a limit on your screen time so you don’t get lost in a social media hole for hours upon hours without taking pause. Please acknowledge and understand it is a privilege to be able to take a break…when you are ready, get back to doing the work.
- Go outside – get some fresh air. If you have some outdoor space to enjoy, sit in the sun, connect to nature, stand barefoot in the grass. Reconnect with Mother Earth and notice how your energy and mood shifts.
- Move your body – speaking of energy shifts, this is a sure way to make that happen. Incorporate some movement into one of your breaks. Go for a walk, run or bike ride. Have a dance party. Stretch. This will move any stagnant energy around that may have built up while scrolling on your phone and will release anything that might be pent up inside. I must also acknowledge that as a non-Black person, it is a privilege to be able to go for a walk or run outside without fearing for my life.
- Read, listen to a podcast or an audiobook – take a step away from your screens and absorb information in another way. You can use this time to educate yourself and further your understanding of the epidemic that Black people are, and have been, dealing with. I personally like to put on a podcast or audiobook while working on a puzzle.
- Make real-life connections – while it’s easy to ‘stay in touch’ over social media, try making some genuine, personal connections with your friends and family. Reach out with a phone call or a video chat. If it’s an option, visit a friend and have a face-to-face talk…from 6 feet away. Have discussions (maybe uncomfortable ones) around the dinner table. There is A LOT to talk about right now! Open your ears. Listen.
Use your social media platforms mindfully and remember that perception is not reality. What you put out on your socials speaks volumes, especially right now, but what you do in your life will be even louder. Do the work – the hard work. While you work, be kind to yourself and know that the only way you can truly share love with those around you, is by starting with yourself.
Note: This blog was written on Thursday, June 4 and published Monday, June 8 as I wanted to put a hold on my own content in order to #amplifymelanatedvoices.