Pushing through the Bad News and Enduring Social Media

I was going to write about RC Swing tonight, but there’s something else that’s been on my mind all day, so I’ll postpone that just like I postponed yesterday’s topic.  Today, I want to talk about how I deal with social networking and the media.

Starting just after the election, I got off of social media completely for several months.  I wasn’t sure I was even going to go back to Facebook.  I hated to give it up completely, though, because there are some people I’ve reconnected with on Facebook that I don’t interact with in any other way.  Giving up Facebook was giving up on those people, and I care about them.

I gave up social media because I couldn’t stand the constant conflict.  I kept getting upset by what I saw there, and I didn’t really know how to deal with it.  So I walked away and took a break.

I kept reading the news, however.  And I continued to get upset.

Now I’m back on Facebook, reading the news, and I’m even spending time on Twitter.  I’ve fully immersed myself in all the topical, temporary flotsam that I can handle.  I’m gorging myself on current events and political opinions.

How does it make me feel?

It doesn’t make me happy.  For the most part, I’ve built up something of a tolerance, but I’m not exactly enjoying what I’m reading.  The news stories aren’t always reliable, and it’s a little bit exhausting going off to multiple sources and double-checking reality.  Social media is punctuated with frivolity and snark intertwined.  Everything is formatted either as a lure or a weapon, to draw someone in or illicit some emotional reaction.  There’s constant noise, constant banality, constant terror.  It drains my attention and my energy.

At the same time, there are moments of light that make it worth it.  There’s humor and humanity.  There are people being truly supportive of one another, sharing in their victories, and helping others through their hard times.  There are momentary flashes of the best of what humanity has to offer, like islands of comfort beset on all sides by a sea of anger and vitriol.

Also, I can’t look away.  It’s like being a passenger in a car.  Some people are comfortable as passengers.  I’m not.  I have to see where I’m going and what’s going on, even if I’m powerless to make a difference.  If we’re going to crash, I want to know about it before it happens.

The last couple of days have been really difficult.  First there was the mass shooting in Las Vegas.  Then Tom Petty died.

There’s been bad news in constant supply for weeks and weeks, mostly coming through political channels.  When the news is bad enough, like it has been the last couple of days, I find it hard to stay focused and do what needs doing.  It impacts my work, my music, and my writing.

But I keep going.  The last couple of days have been harder than other days, but I keep going.  I summon my willpower.  I buckle down.  Sometimes I blast some music.  I do what must be done.  I write the program.  I play the music.  I write the words.  I keep going.

Several times, I’ve seen the sentiment that it’s not talent that makes a writer successful, but stubbornness.  The will to keep going, to push through rejection and just be persistent enough to write the next story and submit again.  I believe it, and I also believe that writers aren’t the only ones to succeed through such strength.

I want to offer advice on how to find the strength to keep going when the going is tough, but I don’t have any.  It’s different for different people, and it’s different for different situations.  Sometimes, you have to just close yourself off from everything and focus on the individual tasks, like putting one foot in front of the other.  Sometimes, you have to take a step back and look at the big picture, like looking up to the horizon, or checking a map.  Either way, to reach your destination, you have to keep moving.

To bring this back to the original topic, I see a lot of people that refuse to read the news or stay informed, and I understand why.  Ignorance truly can be bliss, and I have a couple of coworkers that are happier believing that things are as they’ve always been, and nothing ever really changes.  If nothing every really changes, what’s the point of reading the news or staying up-to-date with social media?

I believe things do change, though.  The climate is changing.  The political landscape has changed.  Technology advances.  The world is smaller and more accessible than it has ever been in history.

So, I’ll continue to watch and hope for the best.  The time for me closing my eyes and burying my head in the sand is past.

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