Column: See that candidate’s face? Just keep scrolling
This election cycle has led me to say words I never thought I would: I’m really tired of Facebook.
And “tired” is a carefully chosen word here. I don’t mean I’m bored with it; I mean it has begun to exhaust me.
“Social media fatigue” has been a trendy syndrome to talk about for years now, but I never thought I would experience it. The term refers to the feeling a user gets when she becomes overwhelmed with too many social platforms, too many followers or too much time spent on these sites. In my case, it also has to do with feeling overwhelmed by strong opinions relating to the presidential campaign.
I’ve had countless friends try social media cleanses, where they choose an amount of time (usually a month) to either stop visiting social media sites entirely or limit themselves to one visit per day.
And up until now, I’ve thought this was a bit dramatic. I know it’s trendy to fear our growing addiction to social media and spread doom and gloom about how it’s affecting our social lives and mental/emotional health, but I’ve only ever known Facebook to be a wonderful addition to my social life, not a replacement for it.
I’ve used it to follow my favorite news outlets and keep up to date on issues I care about. I’ve reconnected with friends from high school and scrolled through their wedding photos in a matter of minutes. I’ve read their life stories, as told by them in bite-sized pieces. I love what Facebook allows me to keep up on.
But this is the first time in my Facebook-centric life that there’s been a presidential election going on where we’re choosing candidates from both parties. And it is truly wearing me out.
It doesn’t help that the political climate in America is only growing more radical in both directions. When men like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are running for the same office and coming away with significant support, it becomes painfully obvious how polarized we are as a nation.
I’m not saying extreme ideas are necessarily bad, and I’m not saying all Americans ever were or will be on the same page, or even that they should be. But with these extremes comes heated debate — and sometimes “debate” is too dignified a word for what we’re taking part in online.
I’m finding that even the ideas I agree with are beginning to give me a stomachache when I read them on Facebook — vehemently spewed by impassioned friends.
How many articles do I need to see about how Trump is encouraging a culture of violence against his dissenters? How many articles do I need to see about that one time Clinton flip-flopped or flat-out lied? How many Facebook statuses do I need to see from people bemoaning corporate media and its lack of coverage of Sanders? How many think pieces do I need to read about all the reasons why Cruz is even worse than Trump, but just quieter about it?
I agree with all of these things. It is my personal opinion that Trump is bringing out the absolute worst in people, that Clinton is a smooth talker who knows how to say what voters want to hear, that Sanders is still being underestimated by TV news stations, and that Cruz’s ideas and beliefs are horrifying.
But I’m so, so tired of it all.
It’s gotten to the point where logging on and seeing a political post immediately makes me feel anxious. I even started following a couple new pages: “HuffPost Good News” and the “Good News Network.” I need more positivity in my news feed before Facebook starts making me physically ill.
I don’t think I’ll partake in a social media cleanse, but I am already taking strides to reduce the stress it’s been placing on me lately. I’m trying not to comment on political statuses anymore, and in fact I’m trying my best to just keep scrolling any time I see a candidate’s face in my news feed.
It hasn’t been a perfect solution yet because I, like my friends, am passionate and opinionated. But at a certain point I think we all need to realize that most Facebook “debates” do more harm than good. Usually, nobody’s mind is changed. And usually, everyone involved walks away from their computers feeling worse than they did before.
Donald Trump may very well ruin my life if he’s elected. But I’m no longer going to let him ruin my life now.
Jessica Cabe is a former arts and entertainment editor for the Post Independent. Her column appears on the third Thursday of each month.
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