Happy New Year! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday season. Got any big resolutions for 2016?
My goal for this year is to stop spending so much time on the Internet and particularly social media. I’ve concluded I take in way too much nonessential information on a routine basis and it’s not good for my productivity or my health. With the countless Internet-based distractions available, it’s amazing we get anything done!
I know I’m not the only one who feels pulled in too many directions lately, although I do have a more personal reason to reign in the distractions. A while back I was diagnosed with ADHD, which basically means my brain has problems focusing and organizing certain things. It seems I’ve struggled with many of the symptoms since childhood but it went undiagnosed for decades since I managed to perform pretty well in school.
I managed it well enough to function without treatment for many, many years. It wasn’t until more recently, when a far more serious illness required me to start taking a medication that makes my brain foggy and forgetful, that I found myself facing a perfect storm of chaos.
The secondary diagnosis was quite a surprise at first, which might sound strange to folks like me who habitually Internet-diagnose themselves with just about every disease we encounter. I was somewhat familiar with ADHD, but have always dismissed it as a potential issue for me since I’d never had serious behavior problems as a child and could name several areas of my life where I am capable of intense focus and organization.
Apparently I got distracted before I made it all the way down to the bottom of the WebMD page where they discuss the tendency to hyper-focus in certain areas of life. Oops.
I finally understand why I often could stay awake for three days straight working on some song or short story I was writing, focusing so intently I would often forget to eat, but later find myself literally incapable of eking out a short essay for school on a topic I understood well until 45 minutes before it was due.
It also makes a little more sense why I was able to pass the bar exam and draft complex documents at work without much trouble, but I sometimes forget to turn off my car before exiting when I arrive at my destination, and often get lost in my own town because I can’t remember how all the roads connect.
I’m finding lots of helpful coping methods, but the last thing I need is my 300 closest friends and advertisers checking in with me all day, every day. I agree 100 percent with publisher Ashley Trice’s column from this past November about the overwhelming and suffocating nature of social media. It’s just too much!
For those of us who aren’t news journalists or public officials, what’s the sense of urgency? Do I really need to be among the first to know some random celebrity has died? Do I really need to watch the latest national crisis unfold on live TV? Would it really make any difference to read the same information five hours later, when I’m scanning the major headlines at the end of the day? Do I really need to stay “plugged in” all day?
I think Facebook and other social media can be a lot more overwhelming than many of us realize. I’ve heard quite a few people talk about cutting back on it lately (nobody quits/cuts back on Facebook without making a Facebook post about their decision; that’s the law), so I know I’m not alone.
I have no intention of actually “quitting” Facebook, and I still consider it a fun and exceedingly useful tool when used in moderation, but I do want to cut out the habit of mindlessly scrolling over and over again to catch up on a million things I don’t even care about.
Here’s a real-life commentary of some of the thoughts that played through my head during just five minutes of scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed just a little while ago. And … go:
“Oh wow, look at those pictures of my brother’s garden!” That looks fantastic. I wonder if this cold snap will finally get rid of those bugs that keep eating my greens? Speaking of, I meant to Google that new organic pesticide. What was that stuff called again?
“Ah, man, I didn’t realize her sister died last year. She was so young. Jeez, that poor family!” I had no idea they’d been dealing with such a tremendous loss. Isn’t it crazy how you just never really know what other people might be going through? I wonder if I should say something?
“What?! So eggs are bad for me again?” Oh well, screw that. I just made a big bowl of egg salad 45 minutes ago. I’m already invested. Hey, whatever happened with that thing about bacon causing cancer? According to the Internet there’s pretty much nothing left to eat for breakfast that won’t kill me. Heck, at this point I may as well just go back to donuts. Mmmm … donuts.
“Oh wow! So those two are getting married now?!?!” But I thought … Never mind. Not my circus, not my monkeys.
“Oh no, Cousin Bob is at it again, posting sketchy articles about Obama’s secret plan to confiscate all firearms from all citizens and encouraging folks to prepare for a violent and bloody revolt. Yikes!” I think I’ll be putting an extra chair between us next Thanksgiving. Hey, I wonder if he ever remembered to return that casserole dish to Aunt Edna for me?
“OMG, look at that abused puppy! What kind of monster did this?!?” Why is the apocalypse taking so damn long?
“Oh wow, look! There’s an asteroid coming right towards us!” Good.
And … stop! That’s just five minutes. Seriously, Facebook! You’re all over the place! Have you looked into ADHD?
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