Week Long Social Hiatus

Last week I took a break from social media.

I don’t know why I never have before. It was nice, and I wasn’t as tempted to check as much as I thought I would be. I didn’t miss anything noteworthy, either. A week isn’t a long time, but it was long enough for me to break my dependence on my phone.

This technology is crazy. I really enjoyed the purge. Yet when I opened one of my social apps up again, which I wasn’t even in a rush to do, all the anxieties and the urges to refresh and get new content that felt so distant during my time away came flooding back immediately.

I’ve put some barriers on my usage before.

Throughout high school, I had a strict policy that if it didn’t happen on my page, it didn’t happen. But I eventually gave into scrolling my timeline and news feed and whatever because I felt like I was being too self-centered.

I turned off all push notifications over a year ago. It was a huge help, but over time the addictive nature of my personality found some other way to obsess and constantly refresh the page when I opened my apps.

Aimless scrolling and obsessive refreshing. I hate it. It’s like checking the fridge every twenty minutes knowing damn-well there’s nothing in there you want. And the past week was the wake up call I needed to actively fight against this crap. I felt so much better not worrying about anything going on that wasn’t directly in front of me. I want to continue being more present in my own life. Y’all don’t need to know half the stuff I usually post about my life online. And I definitely don’t need to know who’s watching, liking, or commenting all the time when I do post content.

So I’ve decided to change three things.

1.) I’m leaving my phone across my room when I sleep so social media isn’t the first thing I engage with when I wake up.

2.) I’m not going to look at who’s viewed my stories on IG and Snapchat, or scroll through who liked my posts. I’ll only concern myself with comments and real engagement.

3.) I’m limiting myself to checking my notifications and scrolling a little bit three times a day for no longer than 30 minutes.

I’m not saying all of this to be profound or anything. I’m not doing anything new or noteworthy. But I think we could all use a sociality check. Sociality, get it? Cause it’s not IRL? Does that work for everyone, or should I stop? I don’t know, but we’re rocking with it for now. By that I mean we should all take a look at our relationship with this technology every so often. If your habits on social media aren’t making you happy, reevaluate how you use it. And there’s no cut and dry answer. A healthier relationship with my socials was taking better control of my time and not letting it run me. It’s difficult, because old habits die hard and I’ve been droning out looking at screens for I guess a decade now.

The psychological effects of this stuff are serious business. The developers of these advancements don’t use them or let their children use them. That’s scary. We’re just guinea pigs, and there’s nothing in the history of humanity that can help us anticipate what’s to come. And what has come so far has been children committing suicide and mental illness skyrocketing with new media-based diseases being coined every year. I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know what’s being done or what could be done for the mass public to practice better habits around social technology. So until then, the responsibility rests with individuals. And this individual is trying, at the very least. This is a topic that really interests me. I went to and am going back to school for Emergent Media Studies and Production. If you’ve made changes in how you navigate the web and the socials, let me know and let’s exchange notes and stories.

Why I’ve Been MIA

2018 was my weakest writing year to date.

I maybe published three posts, and they weren’t strong pieces either.

It was honestly one of my weakest years in all respects. I’m no stranger to depressive episodes, but I’ve never fallen as deep into a rut than when I lost a good friend of mine in December 2017.

While trying to process that and mourn, I was working one job from 6am to 2pm and another job from 6pm to 11pm five, six, seven days a week for months. I spent the holidays working and away from family. I was in a toxic relationship in which my boyfriend was living off me. I did a favor for a friend and watched his deceased mother’s two cats and they wrecked my house and made my life hell for weeks longer than scheduled, and a bunch of other random things happened that further drained my already tanked energy and motivation.

And as far as my friend Mateo’s death, I couldn’t get to the memorial service, considering it was across the country in California, and I only had one reliable source of information regarding what even happened, and I still don’t know the truth. I never will, and I can’t find peace settling with any of the stories. It all hurts. It all sounds absurd. I had just seen him a few months prior…

I felt so much in so many directions that I eventually settled into an emotional catatonic state. I didn’t feel like myself, or anyone. Feeling like anything would guarantee a complete meltdown, and I had responsibilities. That’s apparently not how this stuff works, and my implosion was inevitable.

I’m doing a whole lot better, but I feel like I’m still putting myself back together over a year later. Maybe I owe myself more credit, but that’s the thing. I don’t feel like I’m doing something unless I’m doing, gaining, earning. But last year seemed to be full of loss. I lost friends, I lost jobs, I lost enjoyment in a lot of activities, I lost material things like my computer, my car, my savings, my growing liquor collection, I lost the respect I have for some of my relatives. Loss rarely feels like progress or an achievement. I couldn’t feel myself strengthening, only falling apart. Especially when I tried to DO, I tried to GAIN, but my attempts only led to more loss.

I sense that 2019 carries a different theme. I sense that different theme as not a turning of the tables, but a continuation of the work that’s been going on in my life. I’ve suffered loss, I’ve cleared my life of things unhealthy or not meant for me. I sense 2019 taking the perspectives I’ve developed through loss to help me decipher and pursue worthy gains.

And I think of Mateo.

My first “best” friend.

Because after moving so many times I refused to get too close to anyone, and I was open about not claiming anyone as my best friend. This offended Mateo, and he immediately changed my name in his phone to “Best Friend” and changed his name in my phone to the same. He emphasized it every time he greeted me thereafter.

My #1 supporter in any and everything I wanted to do.

Back in high school when I decided to try selling my knitted and crocheted accessories, Mateo bought several hat/scarf sets from me and never failed to post pictures of the pieces online. He marketed my hats better than I did.

I made those!

When my mom needed a blood transfusion, and I didn’t have anyone to take me into Beverly Hills to the hospital, Mateo picked me up. He spent time with me in my mom’s room keeping her company and making her laugh for a while.

When I needed my high school transcripts to get into Temple University, Mateo went to the school district office for me in California and paid for them to fax the documents. I still remember him calling me as he was leaving, ” I worry about our education system, Stormy. I’m glad we already graduated. It was $3 to fax the transcripts. I gave them a ten. Stormy. They gave me $8 change. Eight dollars!” He’s contributed more to my education than my parents have.

Any time we would catch up with each other since school, he was never without words of encouragement in whatever I was working on at the time. He just had such a sureness about him, whether he had a plan or not. My neurotic self relied on his confidence in things working out a lot.

Today, February 28th, is Mateo’s birthday. I don’t know a better motivation to push myself out of this inactivity than to honor my best friend by doing the things I enjoy that he always encouraged me to keep up. So I’m writing. And I’ll keep writing. And I’ll keep working on being as great a friend to the people I love that Mateo was to me. And thanks for sticking around through my hiatuses.