The news and Facebook (social media) diet continues, and I don’t imagine returning though I haven’t deactivated my Facebook account. Even to me that seems a little anti-social since my FB friends are mostly really friends. It is NOT about them. It’s something else. Over this past month I’ve realized some things that surprised me.
My “habituation” (I call it addiction, but whatev’) started in 2020 though the slide began during the Presidential election of 2016 when I got the idea that I needed to watch the debates. I actually didn’t need to watch the debates. They introduced me to the evil, swirling vortex, or train-wreck, that is difficult to turn away from, impossible to stop, impossible to change. This wasn’t a real “problem” for me until 2020 when the ambient train-wreck reached a new level of horror in the reality of Covid 19. It was impossible for me NOT to watch TFG, Dr. Scarf and Dr. Fauci give their almost daily presentations on the “progress” being made against the virus. Then the news outlets made their comments and commented on each other and on and on and on ad nauseum. It seemed like yammering from an insane asylum.
It was amplified in my state by news focusing on anti-maskers crashing restaurants, the local outcry against closing businesses, and the campaigning for the 2020 elections when it became very important for people to let everyone know their politics. Then the election, all of that drama, then the still unbelievable events of January 6, 2021.
And then….the ONLY information about Covid vaccines that was relevant to me was posted on Facebook. Facebook is the daily news of rural communities.
It wasn’t like I could DO anything except find the vaccine bus and roll up my sleeve.
I realized the other night what had happened. I was watching a film. A character was dying of cancer. It suddenly hit me that more than 1,000,000+ Americans have died of Covid, never mind the world. I KNEW that on an intellectual level, but had not KNOWN it on the level on which it should be known, the level of horror and sorrow. I wept. Poor Bear was looking at me like, “Why? Everything seems pretty good to me, Martha.” I remembered the acrimony and politics surrounding the spread of a virus which was/is basically out for its own survival. All of it was irrational, and in that irrationality the equivalent of half the population of Denver died.
Allegedly scrolling releases dopamine into our brains. Maybe that’s true, but I don’t think it’s the scrolling; I think it’s the distraction and that we share it with a bunch of people who are in the same “cyber place,” creating a kind of community.
Why didn’t that hit me before?
I thought about what it has all been. “What food did your grandmother fix that you wish you could have again?” “What was your favorite outfit in high school?” “What were you doing 50 years ago?” “You’ve been tagged.” Scroll, scroll, scroll, click the news, “Classified documents have been found in TFG’s posterior aperture” “MTG opens her idiot malicious mouth yet again and garners reactions because she’s what she is.” “Your Congressional representative persists in whoring, and you can’t stop her or make her care about what matters to you.” Etc etc etc etc.
Distraction, distraction from hopelessness with the illusion of being informed, of belonging.
Driving home from the Refuge yesterday I found myself behind a guy on a bicycle. The bike was laden with full panniers, orange, matching the guy’s sweater. The road is 65 mph, two lanes, narrow, with ditches on both sides, and is the province of hay trucks and the like. I slowed way down behind him, looking for the chance to get around him safely. My opportunity came and I pulled around him. When I regained my lane, I looked back. He was a bearded codger in a cowboy hat — yeah a helmet is probably smarter, but… I waved at him in my rear view mirror and he waved back. I got misty. Why?
I thought of the early days of the pandemic when everyone was sheltering and isolation was the thing. I remembered leaving the Refuge and passing one of the farm houses. A guy sitting on a picnic table caught my eye. He waved and smiled like “Hi, human!” as if we were each on a deserted island. I waved and smiled back with the same spirit. I then thought today (as the speed limit went from 45 to 30) and the guy a retreating orange dot in my rear view mirror, “It’s easier to be angry than it is to be sad, easier to be angry at outside things we can’t change than to face what’s happening inside us that we can’t understand or change, either. Anger is a good emotion for cloaking sadness and fear.”
Before I saw the bike rider, I passed a farm house. The woman was walking the long driveway to her mailbox, followed by a very happy Border Collie. She was staring at her phone. In real life, she was surrounded by a lovely afternoon with a wild sky and shifting shadows. Her dog imagined going somewhere. But…
We humans seek it. I’m distracting myself by writing this now, but I’m also expressing myself and, god-willing, I’m doing a half-way decent job.
I thought that the whole thing might — for me — come down to the quality of our distractions. Ideally the distractions we seek GIVE us something. Just a personal example, finding that folder, sharing and typing those stories about dogs and Mission Trails was, for me, a positive distraction. Today I got a comment from someone who wrote, “That’s my back yard!” Wow. To learn that another young woman is hiking there and loves it?
Going to the Refuge with Bear and Teddy, and writing articles are also, for me, positive distractions. Getting rid of stuff is another positive distraction. My yard and garden are positive distractions. My blog here is a distraction and, I think, a constructive one. I think my grammar and typing are improving slowly, anyway. 😀 My survival doesn’t depend on any of these things.
The reward to me so far of the changes is I’m less depressed. That’s important. So what’s depression? It’s a lot of things, but one of the things is it can be the result of shoving emotions into inappropriate pockets in the soul. Some people have defined it as “anger turned inward,” and I think that’s an explanation some of the time. I am angry over quite a few things but anger is information and needs to be questioned. It’s so unpleasant that any reasonable person would want to get away from it (IMO). I’m sad, scared and angry. It’s so much better to recognize this, I think.
So many things in our daily life are mysterious. The old Hispanic guy to whom I have often given rides around town? Once he told my neighbor he’d walked to Del Norte. My neighbor didn’t believe he’d really walked to Del Norte (14 miles), but somehow I didn’t doubt it.Last week I was in Alamosa. He was there and he was walking home. That’s 18 miles. I wanted to stop for him, but something he said to me one morning stopped me. I had asked him that day, “Where are you off to?”
He said, “I don’t know. I’m just going walking.”
When I saw him so far from home last week, I began looking for a way to pull over but there was none. Then I thought, “Maybe he’s just walking.” He looked peaceful, purposeful and happy. Now, though, naturally, I’m on the lookout for him. It’s entirely possible he just wanted to go to McDonalds and went.
Seeing him there made me think of a poem I saw in the late 80’s in Tijuana, written on a red board with white letters in Spanish and English. I cannot remember all of it, just the last 2 of four lines,
“Y ni lo me detengo,
but still walking can be real.”
(…and I don’t even stop it, but still walking can be real)
It doesn’t make a lot of sense like that, but the idea stayed with me, that all kinds of shit happens, but “still walking can be real.” As I drove past this person I wanted to pick up, but didn’t, that was in my mind. Anyway now I’m on the lookout for him.
BUT — my grandmother made the best apple/raisin pie. My favorite outfit in high school was a long, wool vest, a navy blouse, navy and white plaid culottes that hit mid-thigh, navy tights and oxblood shoes that defy description. In the featured photo I’m wearing that outfit. Fifty years ago I was probably in an American lit class at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I was unhappily married and scared shitless. In other words, situation normal; all fucked up. 🤣
40 thoughts on “Distractions”
That appealed to me. I still read Facebook, but it is more like a magazine, nothing really spectacular. I have made many new friends there and that is one of the reasons why I am still there, but ….. you get some silly remarks there, stupid questions and I do not answer them. I might make a comment, but only if it really interests me because of the person that wrote. I was also ready to quit Facebook, but should I. I still have a morbid curiosity to look what the others say, but it really does not interest me. I post photos but I stopped for a few weeks. What happened. People, who I do not really know, were inquiring if I was OK as I had been absent. Very nice, but it is a sort of vicious circle. I have stopped posting photos again. Am curious to see how long it goes before people think I have the dreaded xyz. 🙂
FB is just strange — I share my blog every morning on FB so people don’t worry. In my case FB isn’t the problem. It was my use of it. I still look at my FB memories from time to time.
It is a habit for me that I cannot break
I’m trying to make it healthier for me
Well said. I join you there
I post my post on fb and check in with it, but not too often
That’s my goal
I realise a lot of my posts are a bit underwhelming….i get the adduction thing, I think I am.
I didn’t know when I started this how it really was for me
Yes, I wanted to be far more focused on art, but I have a butterfly mind I think x
Wow. That’s a really deep collection of thoughts.
I don’t buy the addition theory of social media. It just scratches an itch better than anything before. Walking away from it requires finding something equally interesting to keep one engaged. We do not like boredom and often do fun activities over boring or even necessary things.
There are, obviously. individuals who become very obsessed with social media. In the old days, they’d have been obsessed with something else. I knew more than one person who spent all their free time gossiping on the phone or watching soap operas all day. Or spending their life living in a rock and roll fantasy. I don’t see a big distinction between that and modern social media.
Some might have said that I was obsessed with reading as an escape from a world I didn’t understand. The real world was a scary and hurtful place.
Here is an interesting video about social media and “dopamine addiction.”
I’ll look for it!!!
That was interesting. I don’t buy the dopamine angle anyway. In my case, it was/is/has been just an exercise in pointlessness that presented the illusion of having a point (it doesn’t). A problem I will have to confront is that by deleting my FB profile, my pages (books, artwork) will die with it, but I don’t get much traffic there anyway. 🙂
I agree, Martha, that the quality of our distractions definitely does make a difference!
Such a thoughtful and thought-provoking piece! Thank you!
I’d say my pleasure but that would be weird. You know what I mean. 🙂
Haha, I do and you are very welcome! It has been a weird few years and I well remember that elation of connection during the first lockdown when you saw another human being. During that time we were only allowed to go – with a timed and dated slip – 1km for the house! The nearest neighbour was 2km away!
Some of these random moments and encounters were deeply meaningful. I’m happy the sense of this is resurfacing.
Yes!!! I live in the sticks, so, don’t know how feelings run in the towns and cities though.
I live in a small town. Covid — and politics — divided the town just as it did bigger cities. THAT is — to me — very sad. But otherwise, I think of some of my encounters with people during that time and see how precious they were.
Whew! A lot here. Distraction, I think, IS often survival. Not in the sense of eating and sleeping, but in the sense of who we are and what it means to us. Distraction from feelings of inadequacy. Distraction from the realization that, not only do we not have the answers, we may not even have the right questions.
Watching that particular TV debate was, I think, essential to understanding tfg. When he walks up behind Hillary Clinton and looms over her while she’s speaking, it instantly tells us this is someone who has no respect for others, no respect for personal space, someone who relies on intimidation to get his way.
Fear, anger, depression…as you said, depression has been described as anger turned inward. I have seen anger described as fear turned outward. What does that leave? A lot of fear motivating us.
That image of tfg walking behind Hillary Clinton will always be in my mind–probably in a lot of peoples’ minds. That was scary enough but then to realize this guy had been elected took things to an entirely different level.
And then Covid…at that point there was too much focus, and any distractions went from bad to worse.
The distractions weren’t distracting. They were like pressing on a hangnail.
I think fear has been a huge motivation for the last several years. Exactly.
And that debate between TFG and Hillary was critically important to understanding both of those people and our world. I agree with your point that it provided distraction from feelings of inadequacy. Absolutely.
I’m not on any social media, except for here on WP, and like it that way.
As for news–that enthralls me. Keeping up with idiot who can now still govern (I use that word very loosely) our state and run for Pres is bad for my health, but he’s a train wreck I cannot avoid. And his ‘announcement’ on Twitter last night was majorly fubar–I’m in for that!
I do get enraged reading the news, but then I also enjoy keeping up with it. I might need to think about taking my cats out for a walk just to clear my head…😹
Meow! Meow! Meow!😻 “How about now?”
haha! The cats send love.
Biden needs to dump Kamala and take on a popular male moderate democrat if he wants to win. Unfortunately, he won’t. OR the dems need to come up with a winning candidate who could beat Biden in the primaries. I like Biden OK, but the fucks have done everything they can to make him untenable and Kamala is no help. BUT you know what? They didn’t ask me 🤣
Thanks for sweeping me into the vortex Martha and joining in 🙂
More cows please! Oh, I watched a cow drop a calf yesterday. You just never know… 🙂
I wouldn’t bother deactivating Facebook. When I did, they hounded me so much, I let them reactivate and just didn’t use. Since I gave them a wrong day and year birthdate originally, I still hear from friends outside of FB who wish me Happy Birthday on the wrong day and are a year off on the number.
That’s a deep dive, and good to read
Thank you. I keep discovering things.
I have been major league distracting myself with my current project. Still, the existential anxiety is creeping back in. Thank you for the insight that this is all completely normal.
Your project strikes me as a positive distraction, not an empty one, unless you mean your illness which is just a sucky distraction.
It is a positive one. The other, the post-cold/flu/ear thingy is probaby what is contributing to my current blues. I’m prone to post-viral blues.
I sure understand the post-viral blues. 💙