A week ago, I took the Positivity Pledge, and promised to only share good things on social media. I had grown weary of the competitive hand-wringing on Facebook and Twitter. The Chicken Littles were everywhere screaming that the sky was falling. As my own anxiety levels grew, I debated unplugging completely and walking away from the emotional arms race.
Social media is how I keep in touch with far-flung family and friends and how I promote my work, so I opted to try to change the environment around me instead.
I still read all of the hair-on-fire articles my friends and loved ones posted. I scoured news articles and nodded my head to their memes, but I didn’t pass them along unless they passed the smile test. Did they make me smile, or did they giving me a sinking-stomach feeling? If I smiled, I shared. It was that simple.
I can’t say whether or not it had an effect on the life of anyone on my friends list, but by Thursday I was noticing the effect that it had on me. I was a lot less stressed. When I didn’t post inflammatory things, I didn’t worry about validation of my point of view. I didn’t brace for the arguments that I “knew” were coming. I wasn’t focused on the flame wars that I wasn’t having, so I wasn’t constantly thinking about my next clever reply.
As the week went on, I felt the tension that my own anxiety-driven sharing has caused in me drain away. I don’t know that I’ll continue my absolute ban on negativity on my personal social media pages, but I do know that I’ll do my best to keep it under control.
A thousand years ago or so, I was a huge fan of the movie Bambi, and especially his side-kick Thumper. I was the understudy to play Thumper in the 2nd grade play. The other kid didn’t get sick, so I was a raccoon instead. But I rehearsed that line all day long for weeks, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” I used to think that was about protecting the hearts and feelings of other people, but after the past week I think it may be about protecting our own hearts and well-being too.
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