I like social media. A lot. Probably a bit too much. I spend a fair whack of my time writing, reading, commenting, referring, (inferring), thinking, copying & pasting, and being bossy to people that I barely know. As I write this, I have Twitter and Facebook running in the background. My GooglePlus is neglected. But don’t worry – if anything happens there, a badge on my iPod will alert me to the fact. And look…my iPod is right next to me, charging off the laptop.
Oh dear, some people are saying, inwardly tsking. She is a sad case. What a waste of time and energy that must be. And for what?
Social media has been good to me. The connections I have made and re-made through Facebook in particular, and Twitter more recently, have been good for my mental health. A lot of mental illness constitutes feelings of isolation and loneliness. Sometimes my depression makes face-to-face contact with people difficult and exhausting. But I am able to write, well enough.
For people who love to write, but may not be ready to blog yet, social media gives an opportunity to riff a little…with built-in feedback. Feedback is important, because it can be quite constructive, and companionable. (Yes, it can be negative, but I have rarely found it to be so.) The other beaut feature of this sort of contact with people is that it can be taken at your own pace.
Oops…there goes my notification from g+. ‘Scuse me for a minny…Aha. That was my friend Karen telling me she loves Australian plants too. She was looking at the photos under the ‘Flora’ tab in the menu. How nice!
It’s about points of connection. Karen doesn’t live in the same town as me. We both have three young kids. Would I have had this opportunity to find a fellow floral-nerd without my blog and g+? Perhaps, perhaps not. Certainly not right now, in this moment.
For me, social media has also been about constructing my own positivity. I’m not saying I write things that aren’t true. I’m not saying I put a positive spin on everything. But I do not like to drag people down. I do not like to be negative, especially not for any long periods of time. That has been, perhaps, my greatest challenge in social interactions of any form. Because when you have depression, things might be completely crap for months or years at a time. Other people won’t have the patience for that. You might not have the patience for your own depression either, but you’re kind of stuck with it. So for me there has been a balancing act; how to be honest, yet appropriately varied in my responses to people’s questions or small-talk.
Over on Facebook right now, a friend (with whom I’m losing a poke-battle) is celebrating because he is moving back to Australia soon after a year of post-graduate study in England. I almost don’t feel like he and his wife have been away, thanks to facebook. (Oh, and I just got a notification to say that the Bishop of Tasmania congratulated him. They know each other from Melbourne days.)
Twitter would like to butt in here. It is my sister-in-law’s brother Will, telling me about a place called Giraffe Manor in Nairobi. He is obsessed with giraffes. He will read this post and then think twice about ever tweeting with me again. But then he will forget about it in his giraffey-delirium. And next time he is in town I will buy him a beer and show him my giraffe chair.
So, as you can see, my powers of concentration are not compromised one whit by my indulgence in social media use.
To sum up, I would just say this: don’t forget, depression is completely tweetable.