My daughter has been out of school and we have been sheltering-in-place for 7 weeks. We have at least a month more to “quédate en casa” here in Baja California Sur.
In March, I returned to social media to connect with loved ones and keep up with quickly evolving news during the pandemic. Now, I find myself in the familiar recognition that social media is not designed with our best interests at heart, nor is it good for me.
Each time I return to social media, I re-engage hopefully in meaningful reunions with a greater circle of friends and family:
“So great to see photos of the kids!” it starts so innocently.
Less than two months in, I have relaxed from my intended guideline of “no mindless scrolling” after breaking it just this once became habit.
My head physically hurts after 15 minutes on Facebook because the scrolling is not mindless. In fact, what starts with a quick response to a friend becomes exposure to a newsfeed peppered with intensely polarized posts and provocative arguments.
Between pictures of puppies and kids art projects, journalism and fake news, friends hurl intellect and anger at one another from the bunkers of their homes. Left and right, religion and science, bombs land in comment boxes to detonate in our minds.
COVID-19 in the US began as a fight that seemed strikingly unified. As Charles Eisenstein noted in his viral essay early on, unlike many of the other massive issues of our time, COVID-19 seemed like a common enemy that we could control. But, our moment of unity has again disintegrated into politics, media, and difficult-to-decipher half-truths.
Being on social media no longer brings me a sense of joy or unity but brain fog.
Turns out, COVID-19 itself isn’t the understandable, defeat-able enemy we initially thought, as articulated clearly in this article in The Atlantic.
“The coronavirus not only co-opts our cells, but exploits our cognitive biases. Humans construct stories to wrangle meaning from uncertainty and purpose from chaos. We crave simple narratives, but the pandemic offers none.”
We have again landed in a seemingly unsolvable problem – at least in the immediate term. We are all afraid, albeit about different things, so some fight for their survival…online.
Perhaps someday, I’ll have the audacity to delete my Facebook account for good. But I’d miss everyone. I think…