Blog, Poetry

Social (Media) Change & Social (Media) Anxiety

Trigger warning – this post and the poem are about high anxiety and stress. Some people, especially those already dealing with these, may feel disturbed by the content.

So, after my second one was born, I took a break from social media. I completely disappeared off the face of the www, and that was the time I had least anxiety. I came back this year to promote my Etsy shop and it has been great connecting with so many people and have my work appreciated by so many, but the anxiety has started to come back too. Sure, it has a lot to do with my husband’s third seizure, but even so, social media engagement does have a role to play.

I don’t know why but there is a lot of negativity on social media these days. I know a lot of people say it is because people are trying to show their lives are perfect, which makes others feel inadequate and leads to anxiety, but that’s not the case with me.

My anxiety stems from the way people use words. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’m in love with words. I value words. Words matter to me. To see people use words so thoughtlessly, so carelessly, causes me a great deal of pain. Every single day, someone is telling someone they are ugly, their kid deserves to die, their spouse will leave them and run, for no reason at all. What reason could there be for spewing such hatred on people whose journey you have no idea about?

Hiding behind the keyboard apparently makes people feel empowered for all the wrong reasons. Another place that is evident is in how people comment on social issues on social media and criticize others who are not doing the same. People would say I condemn this or I stand with that and their job is done. Since when did social change become social media change?

Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe that social media has achieved a lot in terms of creating awareness and bringing people together. In India, so many people came together for candlelight vigils and protests through social media and they were able to bring about social change through that simple act of sharing a post, on multiple occasions.

However, while social media is a platform where important messages can be shared, it can also be a breeding ground for thoroughly misleading information, incomplete initiatives and senseless hatred. And it is the blurring of the lines between these, as well as the way information surfaces and gets lost the very next moment, that causes me a great deal of anxiety.

This is what made me write this poem a while back.

She sat in front of the laptop again

hoping to find answers to

the million unanswered questions

woven in the web of her mind.

Hoping to curb the wave of anxiety

threatening to drown her, yet again.

She came across images of violence

in a land, not very different than hers,

and she could feel the wave getting bigger,

pushing her even deeper in the anxious sea.

She quickly scrolled to roll down

the bumpy hill of kaleidoscopic images.

Cats playing with dogs

brought her back to the surface,

if only for a minute.

Her fingers were in charge now.

They were moving against her will.

They moved on to the next image,

and the next,

and the next.

She sank again,

at the sight of corpses and skeletons

and floods of tears, wet and dry.

Giggling babies rescued her this time,

pulling her to the bank,

like angels who stood tall

against her own demons.

She was exhausted from all this

pushing around.

She vowed to take charge,

take things in her own hands.

She stopped the browsing,

actively, consciously searched

for groups and pages and influencers

she could use as her inspiration.

But why stop at that?

She decided to become an influencer herself,

to bring about social change, one step at a time.

She wasn’t anxious anymore.

She posted information, opinions,

even calls to action.

She got one hundred likes, two hundred follows,

five hundred shares. They made her feel

empowered. She was finally getting somewhere.

Until, one day…

The likes stopped, the follows slowed down,

the shares took a break.

She could feel the waves coming back,

trying hard to drown her.

How will she come back from this?

How will she rescue herself this time?

I guess, only time will tell…

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021

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