By Glennon Melton, Huffington Post
Since I’m a recovering bulimic, I have to keep a close eye on my relationship with food. Lately, I’ve been struggling with food a bit. More accurately, I’ve been ambushing food. Struggle suggests resistance and the problem with food is that it never puts up much of a fight. It just sits there and lets me eat it all, which is quite passive-aggressive of food. It’s not totally food’s fault, though. Food really just gets used by me as a way to numb myself when I get anxious. When I start to overeat, I’m really looking for peace, but since I’m not sure how to get that, I’ll take second best. Second best, for me, is a carb and sugar-induced coma. Comatose on the couch = not feeling much. So, mission accomplished. We overeat because it works. Not in the long run, of course. but the long run is really just for enlightened people.
All the differnt kinds of social media
My overachieving therapist insists that in fact, the long run is for EVERYONE. Since she can’t help food be more assertive (since it doesn’t have insurance), she said I should start keeping “danger food” out of my house. In order to identify my “danger foods,” she asked what my go-to foods are when I’m anxious or lonely or sad. Cereal, I said. Once I start with the cereal, it’s really all over. If there’s a little milk left in the bottom I can’t WASTE it because I’m really responsible so I have to keep refilling and refilling the bowl until I’m almost dead. And so my therapist said, “Great, let’s start by keeping cereal out of the house — especially when you’re feeling vulnerable.” “OK,” I said. “So… always?” And she said, “Yes, we’ll start with always.”
All the differnt kinds of social media
I tell you all of this because I am about explain how social media, like food, can be threatening to my well-being. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because an unexamined social media life isn’t worth living. Inherently, I do not think that social media is any more dangerous than Rice Krispies. I just think that for some, social media + human nature can become problematic, so some of us have to keep a close eye on our relationship with it. If you are the type who can flirt with Facebook and General Mills and a glass of chardonnay without landing yourself in the mental hospital — well, congrats, really. Good for you. Consider this an opportunity to delve into the mind of someone less fortunate.
I went on an Internet fast recently — I spent 40 days without logging on to anything. Here is what I learned about how I had allowed social media to change me over the years.
1. Social media had transformed me into an input junkie. Without social media, I experienced the same restless anxiety I felt while detoxing from alcohol. I was twitchy and fidgety. I simply didn’t know what to do with myself. During every un-filled moment, I felt the urge to “check” something — anything. Facebook, Twitter, my blog, Instagram — just give me something through which to SCROLL! I had become unable to just sit with myself. I have “Be Still” tattooed on my wrist because I know that feelings, creativity, inspiration, wisdom, peace and the rest of the good stuff knock during empty moments — and that if we’re too “busy” to answer the door, they sneak into our souls through cracked windows and haunt us. We have to answer the knocks we hear in the quiet because it’s our LIFE knocking. But sometimes, answering the door feels like too much to ask — so, I log onto the Internet in order to LOG OUT of my life. I habitually log on for the same reason I used to overeat and get drunk — to avoid what I know I’ll hear in the quiet, which might be a voice that requires me to feel or do something uncomfortable. So, the Internet has become my enabler. It keeps me from stillness and discomfort, and this keeps me from growing. Pema Chodron said, “So even if the hot loneliness is there, and for 1.6 seconds we sit with that restlessness when yesterday we couldn’t sit for even one, that’s the journey of the warrior.” The Internet allows me to avoid my hot loneliness, and that squashes a whole lot of my peace and potential for growth.
2. I’d become a validation junkie, too. The hardest part of living without social media was remembering that my little life was enough, so I could just stay there and live it without asking for anyone else’s permission or validation. I realized that for me, posting is like asking the world — do you “like” me? Am I special enough? Am I funny enough, deep enough, smart enough, successful enough, love-able enough? How much do you like my opinion about this, that, and every other thing? Even if we’re looking to people we love for these answers we’re entering dangerous territory, but when we constantly ask a cyberworld full of strangers if we’re worthy? Not good. It seems we’re the first generation to graduate from high school — to escape all of its competition and insecurity and desperation for belonging and attention — and then to voluntarily throw ourselves RIGHT BACK into it.
3. Social media lured me toward shallow and rigid thinking. In order to navigate the Internet world, we learn to make things more black-and-white than they are in order to fit our thoughts into status updates and blog comments. When I was detoxing from social media, I realized that I was thinking in status updates. It seemed I had trained my brain to translate everything I experienced throughout the day into 140 characters or less. Everything complex became simple, everything beautiful became ordinary, everything three-dimensional quickly became just two. A week passed before I stopped automatically translating every indescribable moment, sunset or conversation with my kids into two sentences. I had to learn to stop shoving life into tweets and just let things be wild and big again.
Read the full article by Glennon Melton from Huffington Post.