I got stuck on Facebook the other day. Went on for my evening thirty minute window – to update and post my scheduled engagements and was blindsided by so much and so many. Every post was another distraction and none of it could wait. 90 minutes later I found myself in tears having read a beautiful, eloquent, thoughtful, viral letter a rape victim from Stanford CA had written. As tears streamed down my face it became clear that stepping away from that arena to evaluate my experience was paramount.
90 minutes of time – my most fleeting commodity.
While pondering the vortex that sucked all of my attention for an extended time-frame, my thoughts were the following:
The news that makes it to Facebook is horrific and shocking. Events are presented in an over sensationalized manner to be sure to get our notice. It worked! It happened to me. I read all about the swimmer sentenced to 3 months in county jail for a horrible rape for which he could have served up to 14 years in the state penitentiary. Then I read that letter - so thoughtful, well worded and POWERFUL.
Without an iota of desire to diminish the beauty of the victim’s response to an unimaginable experience, I really don’t need or want to know about the world’s atrocities.
Feeling compassion and heartbreak for this victim (as an example) takes energy. For me it requires a lot of energy. On Facebook there are no many things that grab and beg for my energy and attention I feel drained yet compelled to keep on reading and clicking. Commenting, donating and sharing.
What happened to our middle of the road, thoughtful, and thought provoking news sources? You know, the ones where journalism thrived and expanded. Where research and opposing sides were presented for equal consideration?
Allowing my tears to guide me away from the all-consuming distraction was super relieving. My change in focus was quickly followed by the realization that I can choose not to make myself aware of events far beyond my circle of affect.
The desire to want this relief – of not knowing – was followed by a feeling of heartlessness.
Oh and to be heartless!
It is so far from what is me. I care, maybe too deeply, about humanity. The idea of choosing to not know, and not show support for, what is right and good left me feeling super sad and empty. Maybe even more sad and empty that the crime I read about made me feel.
Feeling super sad, heartless, and empty pushes me in the direction of self-judgment, self-doubt and even depression. These negative feelings of despair make me want a distraction (‘better check my social media’) and the cycle flows - in an ever-deepening downward spiral.
I’m hopping off the carousel. It’d be nice to be able to step on for an occasional spin to check in with the people and places that nourish and lead and let the world know what I am up to. Maybe one day soon I will master that – a clear, focused and undistracted visit to the land of too much information and compelled empathy.
This social experiment I call Limited Access is opening my eyes to so many lessons.