I won’t do any linking to stories about human misery here, but trust me when I say that in the past week there’s been a rash of troubling news in my home state. Three separate stories, which occurred with in a few days of each other, concern children being killed, maimed, and abandoned. In addition there’s been a rash of Facebook rants that I haven’t been a part of, but have turned nasty. You know, of the racist and/or sexist and/or homophobic variety. Sigh. What to do? I don’t want to delete Facebook; I actually love Facebook. I keep track of friends, events, etc…. I just need to quit with the constant scrolling and reading. I’m tired. I’m bored. I’m waiting. So I read Facebook. As a result I end up angry, upset, and depressed.
I moved the app on my phone (my Android won’t let me delete it). That should help. I’ve unfollowed everyone who isn’t a human or a book-related site and as a result my feed is free of news sites, politics, and activism. I’ll use NPR streaming at work to catch up on world news and I work at a library so I’m not going to suddenly become ignorant of the world. I may even take up reading the newspaper on my lunch break. A newspaper is tangible. I can read it, fold it up, put it away and wait until the next day for more news. None of this constant refreshing to see the latest updates.
I’ve also decided to use other forms of Social Media to spare myself. Facebook is a blessing and a curse. Cute pictures of my friends’ kids one second and then you scroll down and it is a horrific murder confession splashed on a news source. Other types of social media are more….. contained… I find cookie recipes and chore charts on Pinterest, adorable kid pictures on Instagram and bookish banter on Twitter and GoodReads. I’ll start posting more to these forums and, yes, it will post to my Facebook, but I don’t need to go there to see it.
When the world starts to seem bleak I tend to withdraw from society and focus on my home. I can pray and donate money and do some volunteering. I can voice my beliefs and vote for those who reflect my values. Knowing every detail of a the callous murder of a toddler doesn’t do anything but increase my anxiety and depression. I’m helpless. I cannot fathom hurting a child and and I certainly can’t fathom how to fix society so children no longer hurt.
I cannot save everyone’s child, but I can take care of my kids. I can hug, hold and love my husband and kids. I can bake cookies, make forts, and build Lego towers. I can clean their bodies, and take them to the doctor and kiss boo-boos. I can do this. I’m pulling away from this messy world and focusing on my little nest.
This also means that I have a hankering to do more “home” projects. I’m cleaning, baking, knitting, exercising, stitching, and writing. My children see that I’m engaged in life. Yes, I will sit and stare at my smart phone a little bit during the day, but mostly I’m actively engaging in living my life.
Yesterday I had enough. I was obsessively checking on this one particular news story because I was so horrified I couldn’t think of anything else. Then I started crying, at work, in my office. Enough.
When I got home from work and after the kids were in bed I did the only thing someone who feels sad and helpless can do: I baked scones. I haven’t baked for fun in such a long time. I was busy and occupied and as a result I have happy coworkers with bellies full of lemon blackberry scones. That is so much more rewarding than determining “what classic movie” I am or sharing a post on “insert random activism article” here.
Cheers for babies, hugs, mugs of coffee, soft dough, bits of yarn, warm cat purrs, sunshine, and general good things. Cheers to all that.