THE REASONS SOCIAL MEDIA BREAKS CAN HELP OUR MENTAL HEALTH

by Rachel Thompson

I haven’t written for a while and I don’t have one solid reason. I have several.

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Working more than usual, for which I’m grateful.

Parenting — As a single mom of two teens, that’s a job in and of itself. My kids are good yet ya know, they’re KIDS.

Owning my own business and all that comes with that — fabulous clients who depend on me to be fabulous means 18-hour days just to run meet the demands, and that’s with an assistant! Not to mention the administrative crap, taxes, and all that.

Personal relationship — private. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Writing — Broken People is in the hands of my amazing editor and loyal friend. She lost her beloved mother so she understandably took time off. I know I want/need to add more to the book, yet I’m patiently waiting to get my structural edit back to find out what to write to fill those holes.

Focus  — more on my business writing, chats, and clients. I’m pulling together my third biz book and finding joy in helping writers navigate book marketing, branding, and social media.

The main reason I’ve not been blogging here? I’ve felt this online fatigue. I’m just…tired. Tired of the ranting and raving, of people’s entitlement over what I choose to post. Over what others post. Of the attacks. We’ve become a nation of attackers and attackees.

Will pain soaked in rage one day become empathy? Or something far darker…

What Happened to the Art of Conversation on Social Media?

The camaraderie which drew me to Twitter, Facebook, other channels, and even blogging is now full of blowhards teeming with rage and vitriol about well, everything. From books to politics to #MeToo to even cats (always a safe choice), sharing our lived truths has now become filled with denials, gaslighting, and people thrusting their absolute right to judge with aggressive opinions on what others have lived and experienced — and I’m just super fucking over it.

As I wrote in my post on protecting ourselves from social media trolls, I employ those same protections — yet those steadfast on spreading toxicity still slip through. As an advocate, vocal survivor and compassionate supporter of other survivors, I realize that puts a target on me because I’m willing to ruffle feathers. I’m here to have those difficult conversations.

Yet, it can be exhausting.

Twitter: I took a few days off Twitter this week. A few days off Facebook the week before. Why? Well, with regard to my tweets about what happens to survivors (regarding the brain and neuroscience), people decided to throw back as me enabling Harvey Weinstein (as if) and the latest situation with Asia Argento (I’ve made no comment on that). So to use my tweets as somehow part of those conversations made no sense.

Projection. People making assumptions about me without looking at my bio, what my tweets were in reference to, etc. One person became upset with how someone else used my tweet. I mean. This is not my problem.

Facebook: I shared a quote with the word ‘motherfucker’ in it, and someone decided I’m supporting rape culture because of that, and she decided to call me out on her page as a rape apologist. The quote itself is empowering.

I make the choice whether to engage. In some instances, I did respond with compassion and empathy and had good conversations with a few people about the long-term effects of sexual abuse on the brain — something more people need to learn and understand.

People are hurt and angry. Many are survivors themselves. I’m feeling the feels, too. I’ve lived with this rollercoaster for four decades. It’s a long, hard road to healing.

I’m a huge believer in The Four Agreements and this one: don’t take anything personally is more important than ever right now. People say what they say based on their own point of view and belief system.

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My point: this harsh criticism directed at me or ANY survivor and/or advocate is so entirely lacking in compassion, I’m having a hard time getting my head — and heart — around it. Yet, it’s NOT really directed at me. People are projecting their reality onto us. Being vulnerable in this situation is simply not a choice. And usually, I’m Teflon. Lately, I’m not.

So, I made the decision to check out of social media for a few days for self-care.

Is Social Media Necessary?

We make our own experiences on social media. I’ve always believed that and still do. It’s helpful for building communities (e.g., the #SexAbuseChat I founded back in 2013 has become a wonderful, supportive community for survivors and I look so forward to these conversations each week – Tuesdays, 6pm pst/9pm est). Chats are such a terrific way to meet others with common interests and learn from one another.

But…is it necessary? Naw. We can all live our lives just fine without it. As writers and business owners, it is extremely important for branding, networking, and connection. It’s super helpful for connecting with readers. Is it the only way? Naw. There are lots of ways writers can still connect in other non-social media ways: advertising, conferences, newsletters, book clubs, writing articles, podcasts, etc.

For visibility sake, I strongly recommend it. For your mental health sake? If it’s too much, take a break or hire someone to handle it all for you. An aside: I have one client who simply cannot focus on writing if she checks into social media, so she only handles Instagram (because she’s a photographer and she loves the photog community there). She has never once logged into her Twitter, Facebook, G+, LinkedIn, or Pinterest, and says she never will (and she’s got many, many bestsellers). She simply finds it too overwhelming and stressful.

Social Media/Mental Health Decisions

Here’s what we need to ask ourselves:

  • What is your goal in having social media accounts?
  • If you go without social media, do you feel better or worse? 
  • Is being on social media hurting you? If so, how?
  • Is social media making you anxious and depressed or in some way, affecting your mental health?
  • Is social media stopping you from writing your book?

I asked myself all these questions and decided to take a break from my personal accounts. Even a day or two made a difference. I didn’t announce it. I just did it. And the world didn’t end. In fact, I felt like a weight had been lifted.

I can’t afford to shut it all off entirely since clients pay me good money to create and manage their content and channels for them. Besides author branding and book marketing (and writing my own books), social media IS my business. I can’t afford to not be on it. I can afford to give my brain and mental health a break from the personal attacks, though.

Making Positive Mental Health Changes

Many people become addicted to social media; the studies are well-known. If you fall into this category, I suggest consciously weaning yourself, and slowly adding back in real-life interactions (interestingly, suggesting this on Twitter created personal attacks). Make your mental health a priority over social media. Crazy suggestion, I know.

Imagine that — suggesting something so crazy 🤪as talking to people face-to-face. What am I thinking! (And I get the whole introvert thing. I’m an introvert. That’s completely different than a recluse who never leaves their home.)

Embrace your creativity. What can you be doing besides chatting on Facebook or arguing with people on social media? Get creative! Write, paint, draw, think, whatever. Just do something. Change that negative energy into positive energy.

My own strategy: unfollowing and whittling down my own followers on my personal accounts, as well as blocking and muting a ton of people, as is my right. These changes feel good. Taking action feels good.

Social media is what we make it, and I am owning it, as opposed to it owning me.

rachel-author-jpg-225x300Rachel Thompson is the author of the award-winning, bestselling Broken Places (one of IndieReader’s “Best of 2015” top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in both the Los Angeles and the San Francisco Book Festivals), and the bestselling, multi-award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She recently released her first business book, the BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge, to stellar reviews. She is thrilled to be included in Feminine Collective’s two anthologies, Love Notes From Humanity: The Lust, Love & Loss Collection and Raw and Unfiltered Vol 1: Selected Essays and Poems on Relationships with Self and Others.

About: Business and Writing

She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, Feminine Collective, IndieReader.com, The Verbs on Medium, Vocal Media, Mogul.com, and several other publications. Connect with Rachel at RachelintheOC.com or BadRedheadMedia.com.

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and the live weekly Twitter chats, #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish (Tuesdays, 6 pm PST/9pm EST), and #BookMarketingChat, co-hosted with author assistant Melissa Flickinger (Wednesdays, 6 pm PST/9pm EST). She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Do you need help right now? Contact RAINN.org (all genders) or 1in6.org (for men).
Read more about my situation in my award-winning book, Broken Pieces.
I go into more detail about living with PTSD and realizing the effects of how being a survivor affected my life in >Broken Places, available now on Amazon.

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