Social Media and News

It’s easy to get carried through life. There is so much going on at any given time. About a year ago I went on a social media and news fast for several months. After I returned to listening to the news on occasion and went back to Facebook, Twitter, Discord, Slack, and other services, I found that they were not as interesting as I’d remembered. Or, rather, I found many more things in my life that were more interesting and more productive. Time away broke the spell.

It seemed to be on endless repeat, not just the memes but even the news itself. Steve told me once that most of news is just noise and we do not find the signal in the news until it was history.

I can believe it now. Part of the reason for the repeat is we have a narrative surrounding events that we want to see in our news stories. For example, in the case of a shooting you will always get the neighbor who says something like “It’s such a tragedy, I will pray for the family” and another who says something like “I just can’t believe that this happened here. It’s a good neighborhood.”

I’d always wondered how they found so many people to say such similar things, but yesterday Steve was the second type of person in the story. He says that the reporter asked pointed questions that eventually pulled that from him. I was deeply amused by this. Stories have a structure and demand certain elements. We comply.

I take five minutes at the end of the day to check Facebook and Twitter. I take 30 minutes in the morning to check headlines in the Washington Post, the Smithsonian, and Science Today. I may read a story or two that appeals to me. But I’m not in the news or social media all the day. When Facebook went down I didn’t know until it was all over.

I’m not advocating for social media withdrawal. There’s a lot good in social media and a lot of good people I miss by being there less often. But there is a lot good in the world and in my own brain as well that I would miss if I spent more time within the hubbub.

I’m there a little bit. The rest of my time goes into writing, family, art, and the house.

I hope your life is enjoyable online and off. Be well, friends!

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