Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Turn off, tune out and take care

I don't know about you but I need a friggin' break. Not in my 49 and a half years of life can I remember being so overwhelmed by the News. I get it, social media plays a huge part, as well as television, magazines, billboards and even movies. There's no real way to avoid it and yet stay connected.

I've never been a fan of sci-fi, comic books, DC or Marvel movies or TV but maybe its time to sink into some ridiculous, juvenile fantasy world to escape from reality for a minute or two. I don't mean hide away, I don't mean become some weird recluse locked in a cabin with no wi-fi. I just mean it's time for a breather. I mean, it's REALLY time. I'm at that point where just scrolling through Facebook or Instagram or Twitter causes my stomach to churn and my rage surges. I block, I unfollow, thinking "What happened to him/her?" "They used to be funny!" "They used to post the best food pics!" "They used to have the best memes!" But then, I see a funny picture and I go, "OMG, with all the shit that's going on in the world, how can you post a pic of your dog on the beach AGAIN?" or "Jesus, kids just got shot at school and you post an 80's meme about cassette tapes?!" So, I literally can't win. That's when I know its time to look away. But ....look at what? More cat videos? Well...maybe. But, seriously, LOOK WHERE?

I've worked from home for almost 7 years. Basically, since I quit my job as a medical disability claims manager and moved to England. I loved the first five years. I was writing, I was working on my podcast, I was doing really cool interviews, learning about sound editing, I was able to keep my house clean, laundry caught up, make dinners for my wife, work in my yard, waste GOBS of time on social media, and it was all good. I mean, yeah, a few of your posts made me do that "tilted head like a dog hearing a fart" face, but overall, it was quite fun.

Then the Presidential campaign began and it all started to go to shit. The vast reach that the internet has made it impossible to avoid the news. So, the shit show quickly grew to 24/7 and it hasn't stopped. I have never been more thankful to nab a real job, a REAL out of the house JOB, in a dusty, old High Street pub, amongst drunk, happy, silly people. Sure they can get rowdy over UK politics but I don't care enough to listen and nine times out of ten, they're mostly talking sports, or laughing or making jokes. Generally, it's a good time. (Okay, until last week, when I slipped in baby vomit and face planted on concrete, breaking my nose- but it's still a FUNNY story! So, there's that!)

Facebook has given us a perfect platform to be our gross, ugly selves with reckless abandon. It seems to have become all about what we hate, dislike, what's pissed us off and why. Here we are, almost two years after that dreadful campaign and its even worse because now we can be our gross, ugly selves not only about politics but ALL the world news PLUS guns, shootings, mental health, homelessness, Vets, terror, Hollywood, awards, parental rights, abortion, international affairs, adulterous affairs, the Middle East, Russia, Twitter, death, sexual abuse, inequality, destruction, GMO's, gluten, name & shame, and our (mostly) vile, attention-seeking, shock-value attempting, misguided, self-important, uninformed opinions on every single thing out there happening in real time.

So...the thing is, (and I'm doing my best Carrie Bradshaw here) "....I couldn't help but wonder, do people really think anyone else wants to know their opinion on every little goddamn thing?"

Whatever happened to, "If I want your opinion, I'll ask for it,"...? Truth be told, I really will ask for it if I want it. But now, I'm just rapid-fire subjected to opinions all the time. That's all social media has become. Your "friend's" opinions, a journalist's opinion, fake new opinions masked in headlines, talk shows spewing opinion. No one talks in facts anymore because the truth has become so distorted and so ridiculously hard to find or trust that it's easier to just put an opinion out there and look for people who agree with it. The arguing has become tedious even to read, let alone engage in. I'm not going to change anyone's mind this late in the game and no one is going to change mine. So, in order NOT to dislike every person I know, follow, friended, or have met because I'm shocked or saddened by their views- I need to remind myself that, more and more often, it's a literal relief to just pop in a DVD of "Deadpool" or "The Heat", "Sisters" or "We're The Millers" and put the phone down for a good long while and let my disposition slowly simmer and change back to normal.

Don't be afraid that you'll miss something because with the internet as it is, that's never going to happen. Don't be afraid that something is going to happen you need to know about, because it's a given. It will happen, and you'll hear, see or read all about it. Choose when you're ready. Until then, though, look at something that makes you smile for a change, because whether a dog died on a plane, whether kids are walking out of class, whether a building blew up, a car crashed, a politician resigned, a law was passed, or someone got sued - whatever crappy thing happen while you were gone, you'll hear about it, and everyone's opinion to follow, whether you asked or not. Remember to take care of yourself and know the signs that it's all becoming a bit much. Step away. It doesn't mean you've given up, it doesn't you don't care about a cause anymore. It just means you need a little time to decompress from "news stress".

** Note to self:  Better make it a weekend-long binge-fest. AGAIN.