Oh my goodness. Have you ever seen a first grade class on Zoom? It’s adorable, yes, but also wildly chaotic.
“I lost my tooth!”
“I can whistle.”
“I’m crying because my dog died three years ago.”
It’s so incredibly random. And that’s just the first two minutes of the conversation, unprompted, before the teacher tries to regain control and settle into the task at hand.
How does he or she gain control?
“Alright,” I’ve heard teachers say. “I’m going to mute you all right now.”
Then it falls silent and the teacher can talk, uninterrupted, and the kids can hear her more clearly. They take turns talking. They can respond to one another easier.
I wish Mute All was a general life function. It’s not that I don’t want to hear what people have to say, I just really, really want to stop the noise.
I manage several social media accounts so unplugging isn’t an option. Until Facebook makes it possible for organizations to own accounts rather than individuals, I am not able to go a day without opening up Facebook and seeing everything people post.
(I’m sure you will all have ‘advice’ on how to get around this, but then I’d have to give a lesson in social listening, which is also part of my job, and I just don’t want to.)
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Facebook and Instagram as a way to see into the lives of others. I love seeing kids growing up, people finding their passions and definitely vacation pictures! I love sharing the very same things. I hate being bombarded with people just telling me what I should think and feel.
When I login, I open up to pages and pages of political “news.” And everyone is a scientist. And half the people of the world claim COVID is a conspiracy while the other half think the rest of us aren’t taking it seriously. Plus wildfires. And deadly mosquitoes. And hurricanes. And death. And brutality. And parenting “advice” given in an off-handed and passive agressive way. And my goodness we might have to “cancel” Halloween.
Then, I see people degrading themselves, for what I can only believe is a way to cover their own pain. I see other people crying out for help, but not asking the right people. I see other people living through pain and heartache. Then, I see people who lie. People who try to justify their incredibly selfish actions. People who annoyingly believe they are right about everything and casting off anyone (even family) that doesn’t side with them.
It’s ugly. So ugly. Sometimes it makes me hurt. It literally breaks my heart to see these things and be stuck in this noise.
Snooze vs. Unfriend
Earlier this summer, I told my husband that I just couldn’t see posts from certain people on Facebook and Instagram. I told him I liked them just fine, but the things they were posting on social media were hurting my head, and sometimes my heart. I didn’t want to “unfriend” them, but short of unplugging, I just didn’t know what to do. “Unfriending” people can be incredibly political in and of itself. I couldn’t go on social media every day and feel this sad, or this hurt, or this angry.
“Mute,” he said. “You can snooze someone for 30 days on Facebook. They don’t know it and you can reconsider how you feel in a month.”
So, mute, or snooze, I did.
If it had become a trend
If someone’s post made me angry, and it had become a trend…mute. If someone’s post had made me sad, and it had become a trend…mute. If someone’s posts were stirring up something uncomfortable, and it had become a trend….mute.
So that I could hear them better in person. So that I could love them as my neighbor, friend or family member without being mad/sad/frustrated. So I could walk away from social media at the end of each day without feel dirty, or angry or anxious.
At first I felt bad. These are my friends! These are my people! How can I mute them!? But honestly, this is a form of self-care. I want to enjoy all of the time I waste on social media, not feel angry. I want to see cute pictures of babies and puppies, not be told how I’m suppose to parent or what I’m supposed to think.