Antisocial Media

I’m sure I cannot be alone in being unable to decide what I want my relationship with social media to be. One minute I determine I want as little to do with it as possible, then the next I’m commenting on Twitter posts and posting my own. It seems I simply cannot make up my own mind. I list all the positives – getting my work ‘out there’, networking, discovering interesting posts, finding new music and books, then list all the negatives – spending far too much time on there, getting distracted by stuff that doesn’t really interest me or, worse still, makes me cross and encourages me to engage negatively, and determine that yes, I’m going to limit my engagement with said social media to certain times, or types of interactions, but all too quickly I’m wasting hours on there.

So I then determine to have a break from it. Much easier, as it happens, and I enjoy having days when I don’t even open the computer. But sooner or later, for one reason or another, I’m back on there again.

In many ways, I would like to completely withdraw from it, but worry I would lose contact with many people I want to stay in touch with. Because this is the way things work now, I wouldn’t get to learn of so much new writing or music. I’d miss articles I very much want to read. In the past, I’ve written about my books and made sales that way, and should I ever get my act together enough to finish one of my current projects, would like to do so again.

But to many problems, of course, there is no perfect solution. I know I need more willpower, but even so I can never quite make up my mind exactly what I want out of social media. On different days I probably want different things, since on different days different sides of my personality come to the fore. One day I’m reading through my feed looking for posts on standing stones and myths, on another I’m looking at poetry magazines or music. Like all of us, perhaps, to a degree.

I’m not expecting anyone to come up with an answer to this, but if you also find it difficult to strike a balance between endless online trawling and complete cold turkey, just know that you are not alone!

Who am I?

Don’t define me by my gender. Don’t define me by my age…my sexual orientation…my religion…my work…hang on, hang on, where is this taking me?

When we identify ourselves with a particular group, we are then identified with their views and outlooks. Which means that even if we hold some opinions that differ from the mainstream of that group, others will still assume that our views are the same as that mainstream.

This may mean that outsiders think we hold views that they are bound to disagree with, because of their perception of that group, whilst members within the group will often expect us to hold the same views as they do. Thus, we risk being shunned by those outside the group for views that we might not hold, or being regarded as heretical by members of that group who suspect that we do not hold these views as firmly as they would like.

Oh my goodness.

047

We might like to think that we are freethinkers, but as soon as we allow a label to be attached to us, we begin to voluntarily put boundaries on our own thoughts.

Don’t label me!

Don’t label me!

Don’t…

label…

me!

In Steppenwolf, by Hermann Hesse, the narrator comes to realise that his character is not simply that of an educated, cultured man, which is how he has always thought of himself, but is made up also of hundreds or even thousands of other personas; the wild and bloodthirsty wolf of the steppes, that gives the book its title, the philanderer, the ascetic, the drunkard, the heretic, the hero and the coward, each one, to a greater or lesser degree, is a component of his nature, and he has to learn to accept all of these different parts of what he is if he is to become a complete person.

The trick to life is learning to accept that we are complex creatures, so much more than just a label, and to be kind to all of our many selves.

The only label, therefore, that I should allow to be attached to me, simply says ‘Me’.