haunted by social media

this forest
March 24, 2018
March 24, 2018

I often have an overwhelming sense of being crowded out mentally. I think this is one of the reasons many creatives struggle to find our way onto the creative conveyor belt. The entrance is blocked. There is a sticky cognitive congestion, an exasperating pile of ‘mental stuff’ to sort through; if you can even differentiate it. It is like a Great Pacific garbage patch of the mind – a massive accumulation of refuse, lost at sea, tossed about in invisible currents, far away and forgotten, but never really gone. At least not in the sense that you are free and clear of it. It has indeed accumulated…somewhere. Carving out for itself a sort of “junk drawer” in the subconscious. Something the body feels and communicates even before we have full cognitive awareness of it. Expressed in aches and pains in places unexpected, difficulty breathing, stiffness of the neck, shoulders, fingers, wrists elbows – there and back again. All these little jolts and paroxysms that act as acute markers of unnecessary holding.

This sense of overburden caused me to contemplate the root cause. Where did I develop this habit of over-accumulating? Why am I re-visiting spent ideas, memories, and relationships? How am I letting in more than I can handle? And, how do I let it go? In analyzing this, my thoughts turned to a time pre-social media – somewhere back in my early adulthood. I remember feeling less bogged down, more at ease. I didn’t know what everyone around me was doing and thinking, and it didn’t bother me.

An over-dose of social media can eliminate natural channels of release, untangling, and filtering. It presents us with easy-access to re-connection or reminders of (for instance) friendships in which the useful and beautiful energies of reciprocation and understanding ran their course and paths diverged. It streams, reminds, notifies, and makes colloquial sound-bytes of uncorroborated information and ideas that have emotional impacts on us, whether true or false, useful or not useful. I’m starting to feel like this kind of over-stimulation is detrimental – distracting us from our individual vision and values. Counterfeit substance is taking up too much space. Our relationship with personal integrity and individual, original thought is being destabilized.

Technologically-mediated pseudo-serendipity is reconnecting us to that which we left behind long ago. Cutting us new keys to doors we consciously closed and locked behind us or doors that aren’t emotionally safe to reopen. In a moment of weakness we can search for this person or that person. Quick scan. Shallow dive. Compare. Resent. Envy. Befriend. Unfriend. Admire. Hate. Judge. Panic. Flare. Deflate. And find ourselves in the throws of the Ugly Cry for half a day, feeling jaded and toxic, nursing the tender spots left behind by all the yanked-off psychic Band-Aids. If we want to.

These perpetual reemergences are disconcerting on a level that many, I believe, have trouble articulating. We are always haunted…by the living. Not the dead. We are even haunted by ourselves, unable to outgrow our histories (or leave them alone) with reminders flashing every which way we turn our eyes.

I feel haunted tonight in this way, in particular. Haunted, distracted, and longing for the natural rhythms of life and cognition to re-emerge somehow. And the paradox is present in the fact I am using this medium to communicate this message.

“Do you want to close all tabs on your browser?” Yes, indeed.