I’m not going to pretend that I have a Zen, Buddha-like demeanor, but most people who know me in real life would say I’m pretty chill. I don’t get riled up easily. I have decently thick skin, which I like to think most writers do, being in a profession where we’re constantly receiving public criticism of our work. I try not to take anything personally unless I know, for a fact, it’s personal.
But the internet, oh, the internet. Nothing can boil my blood faster than something I’ve read on the internet, and there are no shortage of stories that frustrate and anger me. All day long, if I allow it, I can read about things that upset me. Politics, of course, is a big one. Last year, my Facebook feed was the perfect storm of political discussion, because not only was the American election coming up (I live in the U.S.), but the Canadian election was happening, too (I’m Canadian), as well as the election in the Philippines (I’m Filipino).
That was a rough couple of months. I nearly quit Facebook.
In fact, I fantasize about quitting Facebook all the time. Twitter, too. (Not Instagram, because looking at strangers’ cute cat photos is too important to me). I know what you’re thinking – it’s ironic to be writing an article about quitting social media when you’ve likely found this article through social media. But maybe that’s appropriate. I have a love/hate relationship with the internet. On the one hand, it’s how I stay connected to my friends. I use it to conduct research for my novels, typing words into search engines that the FBI would deem questionable should they ever seize my computer. Facebook and Twitter alone are one-stop catch-alls for current events and news.
But on the other hand, THE INTERNET MAKES ME MAD. And it seems to make everyone else mad, too. Some of my Facebook friends are mad every day, several times a day. And while I would never diminish anyone’s right to feel outrage over the many terrible things happening in the world, what I’m mostly been feeling lately is exhaustion. It’s tiring being angry all the time. Internet outrage is sapping my energy to do productive things, like cooking, eating, spending time with my family, and writing a new book…important, necessary things also known as living my life.
I was in a local coffee shop the other day – the Seattle area is filled with indie shops that make truly excellent coffee – and there was a sign hanging from the ceiling:
In this coffee shop, hardly anybody was on their phone. Even crazier, hardly anyone had their phone out. The coffee shop even has house rules about when you can be on your laptop or tablet (zoom in on the laminated white sheet posted below the chalk board sign). It really was like 1995 all over again, and man, was it awesome. Everybody looked happy.
Want to know why?
(It wasn’t just because of the mood-boosting espresso.)
They weren’t on the internet seeing things that made them mad! They weren’t posting emoji faces to show how they were feeling; they were making actual faces. They were laughing with each other instead of typing “LOL” in the comments of their Facebook pages.
I saw a meme not long ago (thanks, Instagram!) that said, “When you’re tired, learn to rest, not quit.” I think most memes are pretty terrible due to bad grammar and misspelled words, but this one stuck. I think I need to give social media a rest for a while. I’m not quitting, but a break might do me good.
Unplugging in three . . . two . . . one . . .
* checks back thirty seconds later *
You still here?
Yeah. Me, too.
JENNIFER HILLIER writes about dark, twisted people who do dark, twisted things. She’s the author of the thrillers Creep (2011), Freak (2012), The Butcher (2014), and Wonderland (2015). She loves her husband, her son, her cat Kobe, Stephen King, and the Seahawks. Not equally, but close. Born and raised in Toronto, she currently lives in the Seattle area with her family. Find her on the web at jenniferhillier.ca.
To learn more about Wonderland, click on the cover below: