Looking at the sea, I thought about the past year of my life. Everything seems different now. The world has changed. I’ve changed. A year of opting out will make things different.
The afternoon sun and gentle waves greeted me as I descended the staircase. I thought about how I’d stopped writing and sharing my stories, twinging with sadness as I held tightly to the railing. “Maybe it’s time to go back“, I thought to myself as my feet sank into the sand.
Last November, I took a big step back from the Internet. The emotional undercurrent of the presidential election was unavoidable. Every article, post, or picture I saw online was filled with more than politics. They were all filled with fear and hatred. Most political campaigns thrive on divisiveness – “us vs them” – but there was something different this time. There was something much darker flowing through the Facebook posts and Tweets.
I’d go to work, and it would be worse. The streets around my office were closed to vehicles and heavily guarded. My email was filled with policy speculations what it meant for the economy, and nothing seemed promising for the average American.
Noticing how much the constant media bombardment affected my mood, decided to opt out. I deactivated Facebook for a few months. I unsubscribed from email lists. I stopped logging on to sites. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made. It allowed me to regaining control over my emotions and evaluate what was really happening.
What I noticed while opting out was how disconnected everything was making me feel. All of the constant contact was creating barriers between other people and me. I was forced to get honest about a lot of things, like:
- I could contact anyone around the globe, but how were my daily relationships?
- What was I really doing to contribute to a greater good?
- Without pictures to post for likes, comments, and comparisons, did I really value myself?
Truthfully, I didn’t like many of the answers.
So, I worked on my answers. In real life. I opted out of looking to others for suggestions or inspiration. As I started to tune into what was right for me without external influence, things changed. I had difficult conversations. I lost friendships. I lost boyfriends. I stopped drinking. I stopped writing.
It wasn’t easy.
Slowly, I started to see how being disconnected from myself rippled out into the world. Picking up a rock along the shoreline, I considered all of the political divisiveness being broadcasted. We’re told that somehow the answer is in destroying the opposing political party and deregulation of industries, and to believe in this idea unwaveringly. In reality, we must be connected and cooperative to affect positive change. And this first starts with the connection to yourself.
I sat alone on the beach and realized it was time to share my story. It was time to write again.
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seatThe revolution will not be televisedThe revolution will be no re-run, brothers
The revolution will be live– Gil Scott-Heron