Charlie's Blog: SOC 25


SOC 25

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.

My battle with Twitter addiction seems to be a running gag here at the C-blog, but I feel that I am now on the verge of winning the battle. The key seems to be seeing all social media as an unqualified evil thing and to see life free from social media as a truly sweet thing indeed. I hate Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and whatever else occupies the space known as social media.

There are two Catholic bloggers that I follow. They post on a semi-frequent basis. Both of them blog fulltime. Both of them depend upon charitable donations to live. And both of them spend entire days on social media. One burns up Facebook while the other flames people all day on Twitter. Why would I or anyone else want to contribute money to this nonsense? Once again, social media is evil.

Nothing is actually evil in itself. It is in the usage that a thing becomes good or evil. But some things can be used well like wine and others can never be used well like cocaine. Social media is more like cocaine.

I used to see some value in being on Twitter, but I realize that this is an illusion sort of like how people think their lives are enhanced by smartphones until they smash into the rear end of another vehicle while updating their Facebook status. With Twitter, you can plug into the political zeitgeist and find out what the buzz is at any moment. For me, I was curious about what people were saying about Judge Roy Moore which caused me a brief Twitter relapse. But I got back on the horse, and I am off Twitter again. That was over a week ago.

I read more now. My email inbox gets emptied. I run out of things on Feedly to read which is the tool I use to keep up with blogs, news, websites, videos, etc. I highly recommend it. I also write more here at the C-blog. Things are better except for what I call the Twitter fidgets. I liken it to the way a smoker who has quit keeps jonesing for a cigarette. I keep wanting to get a social media hit.

I quit Facebook years ago, and it was similar then. I didn't think Twitter would have the same addictive effect upon me, but it has. In fact, I think it may well be more addictive. To fill that void, I turn to blogging. Blogging is not addicting. If it were, I would write way more than I do now.

These SOC posts are a sort of online journal for me. I contemplate keeping a journal though it would be a handwritten analog affair. Journaling is great for mental health. Virtually every pyschologist and counselor recommends the practice. I've kept journals before, but I trashed them after a few days when I lost interest and went back to Twitter.

Social media is just a huge distraction from writing. I would recommend that all writers delete their social media accounts. You will get more written, and the writing will be way better. Writing is productivity. Social media is just activity.

On a brief sidenote, I shared a story about a coworker who was suspended for using his smartphone while driving. Since then, he has been terminated for doing it again. It boggles the mind except he obviously didn't value the job enough to stay off of his phone.

As for me, I fight a constant battle to not reactivate my Twitter account especially when news events drive me insane with a need to know more and to also gauge the political zeitgeist. I'm fighting the good fight as hard as I can which brings me to a lesser fight but one that is becoming equally important, and this would be the issue of trash culture.

With art, you have treasures, and you have trash. Virtually everything funded by the NEA these days is trash. Likewise, there is rock music and classical music. The treasure/trash thing runs through a lot of cultural endeavors, and the internet has not escaped. For instance, I noticed that I really love and appreciate email, Feedly, Wikipedia, Google News, the Drudge Report, etc. I would put those things on the treasure side of the column while Facebook and Twitter would be on the trash side of the column. I tend to see blogs as being on the treasure side.

With these things, my mantra has become "learn to discern." You have to learn to separate the good from the bad sort of like how you pick the good radio stations on the dial. When you make better choices, you should get better results in your life. This isn't to say that rock music or popular art are completely devoid of value. These pop culture things have their moments. But they are momentary. In high culture, these things are customary.

SOC 25 is an essay I abandoned some time ago as I relapsed back onto social media again. I'm back to sanity again. I came back to my senses again as I listened to Paul Joseph Watson on Infowars say that he saw no reason to be on social media unless you had something to promote. The irony is that PJW has a very active social media account on Twitter. I don't know if he is on Facebook. In a related story, another Facebook exec came out and decried the social detriment of his own company.

Social media is addictive because you get a response. That's it. You post something. People like the thing you posted. You get satisfaction when they hit that LIKE button. Dopamine is released in your brain. REPEAT.

Writing a blog does not have the same effect. There is very little feedback when you write a blog unless you also have comboxes open. For the most part, writing a blog post is akin to putting a message in a bottle and casting it in the ocean. You really have no clue where it will go or who will read it.

The conflict inside me is the belief that if you are going to write on the internet especially about subjects of political or religious interest then you have to be on social media both to gauge where the public is and also to promote your work. I don't believe that anymore. The reality is that you spend all your time on social media and relatively little time on writing.

Writing is a lonely affair. In fact, I think this is one of writing's virtues. You close yourself in a room with your writing tool of choice, and you put your thoughts or stories on a page. The reader really is an afterthought in the mind of a writer. It doesn't mean that the writer doesn't care. But writers should follow the lead of the muse and not be overly concerned with the audience. This is why movies are so bad relative to novels. Movies are made in community. Novels are written alone.

The great conflict within me is a decision to either embrace the world in some way or to reject the world in favor of something higher and better. Becoming Catholic definitely put me on the path of rejection, and I find myself going further and further down this path as I reject pop art in favor of fine art and pop music for classical music. I even contemplate jettisoning digital for analog, but I think this is drastic and stupid. There is nothing inherently bad about digital technology. The internet itself has allowed me to access higher culture and knowledge that I would not be able to discover in the analog days.

A writer is like the saints of old like Simeon who went to live atop a pillar removed from the world. The irony is that the world ended up flocking to these men. By elevating himself above the fray, Simeon became a potent symbol of being removed from the world and focused on God. Writers perform something similar except they opt for isolation instead of elevation. They are more like the hermits in this regard. But writers publish, so this is where the spectacle part comes into play. I don't think St. Simeon was trying to put on a show for people. He just wanted to be closer to God.

I already reject a lot of the conventional world with being Catholic, a conservative, a vegan, and an advocate of simple living. I have always marched to the beat of a different drummer though it was not my intention to be an oddball.  I just became this as I learned and embraced new things. This is why it is so odd for me to have this social media addiction problem which is really a desire to be known and liked.

I need to go back to bed now. Good night.