Image Credit: skcphotos.blogspot.com/2014/01/rainy-day.html
About two weeks ago, I had had enough. Social media takes its toll on everyone, and I was at my limit. I logged out of Twitter and Instagram (I had already deleted my Facebook account) and I stayed away for a week. And it was glorious.
Since, oh, I don’t know, November of 2016, a lot of the country has been in chaos and it has exacerbated a lot of people’s feelings. And since then, my experience online has become…strained.
Social media is a wonderful tool. It connects everyone and has allowed for greater understanding of cultural differences, even inside the same state. We all have a story to share, and the internet has allowed us to share and receive everyone’s story.
On the flip side, the easy access to everyone has opened a Pandora’s Box of negativity. For racists, sexists, homophobes and anyone who hates another for reasons you can generally find on a job application, you don’t have to wait for your opportunity to spew your hate on the streets. You are now one click away from every person you think is lesser than because they don’t look or act like you. And to make matters worse, Twitter, Facebook, and a dark horse, YouTube, are designed to protect these individuals.
So, when you’re not encountering these individuals on the app, you’re seeing other people go back and forth with them. Or you’re seeing coverage of this administration’s terrible actions. To be short, the negative is outweighing the positive. And it shouldn’t be a surprise. Our minds are wired to remember negative experiences more vividly than positive ones. Think back to your childhood. What are some of the big moments that you remember? For me, I remember being picked on in grade school. I remember being socially ambiguous, and thus not making any close friends, in high school. And a time where a kid decided it would be cool to pretend I had brought a bomb to school because I was quiet.
The larger point is that I don’t remember the good moments as well, because the emotions tied to them were less intense. Obviously, there are times everyone remembers that are joyous moments. I also remember the day we brought home our first dog. The first time I reached a runner’s high.
As someone who has also gone through depression, there’s a lot of times where I’m viewing everything through a rainy windshield as the sun is poking through the clouds. I see the light, it inspires me. But inevitably, the focus shifts and the rainy windshield becomes prominent again. And sometimes that inspires me also.
So, why did I come back? I acknowledged at the beginning that this was a glorious week of much less negativity. So, what’s in it for me? It seems like a self-hating action. But there is a purpose in the decision. I want to be an artist. I acknowledge that almost anything can be art, but I want to be an artist in the more traditional sense. Either through writing, drawing, painting, through music or in a physical sense, I want to create. And while not all art is told through pain, some is. And as someone who has lived with pain for most of my adult life, tapping into that is important. It’s not a well that I want to live in, but diving into the negativity can bring out a more powerful point of view or one that I wouldn’t consider in another state of mind.
We are all on our own path. I know artists who exist in pure, unfiltered joy at all times. And their art is a reflection of that. I also know artists that spend a lot of time in a negative headspace. So, while their art is different, it is all great. There are a million different roads to travel and choosing a painless or painful route is a personal choice. But always choose what works for you. Live for you, not someone else.