i'm still shooting for doing one blog post a month, and while september has been objectively very stressful, a combination of my Grown-Up Coping Skills and some very fortunate (for me) schedule shakeups have aligned to give me enough time to sit down and consolidate my thoughts about the past month. this is going to be a long post.
basic updates from my previous posts:
- the SI joint pain that had plagued me through my previous few posts is now 99% gone. i can bend over to pick things up now, going up and down stairs is no longer painful or a fall hazard, and sitting on a pillow in my office chair seems to keep me from developing SI issues
- speaking of office, my dad is now moved into his office downstairs, and i've taken his upstairs old office, where i write this post. it's not completely finished, as all of my dad's old stuff is in here and i need to either bring his stuff downstairs or toss it, especially in the closet. that way i can bring all of my art shit and bookshelves into here and truly make it my office
- i'm having debates with myself about where to put a new desk, or if i even get a new desk at all. the dream is an L-shaped desk, but L-desks have to go in the corner unless you get creative with the setup, and the only corner where an L-desk could go would be corners where my parents could stand in the doorway and watch my computer screens over my shoulder. i rearranged my room at the beginning of COVID so i could put my desk in a place where that wouldn't be an issue and i'm stressed out over having to return to a setup that makes it easy to spy on me. my parents are not happy with me whenever i close the door to the office. that won't become an immediate, pressing issue for a few months though
- i finished my summer childcare job and only cried a little bit as the final child got ready to go home
- i mentioned in the previous post that i had applied to some teacher assistant jobs, and good news, i was hired! i actually got hired for two TA jobs when i only applied for one, because the university is pretty desperate for workers. it's 20 hours a week at hefty pay hike from what my last job paid, which is good
- the bad news is that they're late to paying all three TAs for this class, likely because we're late hires. the issue has been escalated to HR, and if it's not resolved by tuesday i will likely give my union (my union!!! i'm unionized!!!!) a heads up. was looking forward to a fat paycheck last week and i'm pissed i didnt get it
so those are some new things happening in my life. what follows of this blog post is some very old news, at least to me:
i have a pretty bad Social Media Scrolling Issue that makes me have mini-spirals if not full-on breakdowns occasionally and i want it to stop controlling my life
i'm sure at least some of you have migrated to neocities in order to, at least in part, shake yourselves of some bad social media habits, and i'm part of that group. i still used twitter, tumblr, reddit, etc. etc. extremely frequently after setting up my portfolio/personal website here, but i had some delusion about making neocities my "main", in twitter parlance, so i could have something to work on that would occupy my time and keep me from scrolling endlessly on social media. turns out it's really hard to make a website that looks semi-professional and my brain kept glancing off of the concept of regular updates (aside from this neoBlog), so i stuck to my usual stomping grounds.
over the past month, however, even though i only had two classes to attend (as a student) i still kept feeling like i was falling behind and catching up at the last second. part of that is the fact that my entire monday, 6 am to 10 pm, is occupied by teacher assistant duties like marking and attending lectures. however, the bigger problem that i already knew for years that i had was that i just couldn't.
a lot of what i'm about to say next is lifted from this tumblr post of mine, if not word-for-word then at least in spirit, but hang with me for a second here.
The Algorithm is not the problem, i feel very confident in saying that. the infancy of my social media life, and thus my social media scrolling issues, originated on tumblr between the years 2011 and 2013 (so age 10 to 13), before i even had a tumblr account. i had the classic bookmark folder full of blogs i loved to check, and i checked it obsessively and thoroughly. my issue was that i was (and currently am) obsessed with keeping tabs on people i don't follow. i scrolled back years on people's blogs and refreshed them frequently for new updates, back when hitting post limit so regularly you had a post limit blog was a thing1. even when i got a tumblr account in mid-2013, i never stopped "following" people by checking their blog without formally following them -- i just did that for a couple months before making the decision to actually follow them for real.
nowadays, i either go on hours-long profile-clicking-chains where i click on the profile of someone i follow, see they follow someine i tanegntally know about (and am annoyed by for minor discourse reasons), click on them, read through their page a little bit, see they interacted with someone else i sort-of know of (and am annoyed by for minor discourse reasons) and click on them, continue ad nauseum,
i pick one person's blog (usually on tumblr, because twitter stops loading posts after a certain point) and go back dozens, if not hundreds of pages looking at their posts, learning about their life, seeing what their viewpoints on different issues are. if i'm lucky, my brain might only make me search one specific phrase on their account (very easy to do on twitter, very hard to do on tumblr) which significantly shortens the lifespan of the scrolling -- if i don't choose someone else to do a deep dive on afterwards.
i also sometimes have issues where, if i'm watching a livestream of someone, i cannot force myself pull myself away from the stream until it reaches a natural breakpoint -- usually the end of the stream, which can take hours.
in pretty much every scenario i described, i will be paralyzed by lacking the executive function it takes to break my mental loop i'm in that pushes me to continue doing what i'm doing. in the nature VS nurture dichotomy, what's happening with my current scrolling issue is this:
nature: something in my brain makes it particularly hard for me to work up the executive function to do something
nurture: my formative years on social media were maldaptive, but not influenced by The Algorithm -- just me wanting to learn as much about random people on the internet as possible and trying to finish my miles-long dashboard every evening after school
it got to a breaking point sometime last week when, while trying to force myself to sit down and work on urgently-due homework, i simply could not work up the focus to do so. instead, i kept having an insatiable urge to go scrollin scrollin scrollin scrollin on twitter, or tumblr, or ANYTHING. i was using the forest app/extension on my phone, my browser, AND my ipad to prevent me from going to my main problem sites -- but i knew a workaround. i had recently migrated from chrome to firefox but kept chrome installed on my laptop just in case i needed to grab any info from there i forgot to transfer over. i opened up chrome, and lo and behold, i could scroll to my heart's content.
but instead of feeling relief like i wanted (but never got) or paralysis like i knew usually happened, i was instead hit with a wave of despair -- i didn't want to keep giving into my brain's circumvention of the metaphorical child locks i put on my impulse control, which was a years-long issue i already knew about (see the tumblr post on my blog linked above). i just wanted to be able to sit down and focus on things, and not have hours upon hours of my day stolen by scrolling. even deleting the apps off of my phone and logging off every platform i could think of couldn't keep me away -- really away, without logging in on the browser for a few minutes, logging out, logging back in, etc etc -- for more than 24 hours. i cant remember the last time i went 24 intentional hours without checking ANY social media whatsoever.
i have many, many neocities blogs in a bookmarks folder in firefox, and one of them is omoulo's digital wellbeing page. omoulo is an artist who i don't know for being an artist, and i don't even know where i found her from, but she is someone who has "quit social media" (read: cut out every single part of social media except the posting art part) and cultivated a much more offline life. she has quite a few blog posts about the topic, and it was through her that i started reading cal newport's digital minimalism. i have some thoughts about the book, some positive and some negative, that i just realized i could put up on the media journal whenever i finish the book so i'll just save those thoughts for then. but the important part is that newport outlines a 30 day "digital declutter" where you cut out every single part of the internet that is not vital to your day-to-day life. and when he says vital, he doesn't mean "minorly useful", he does mean everything, no music, no streaming, no random google searching, nothing.
it's intense and it scares me a little bit but i want to try it out at some point. i already know the "no music" rule is getting striked from my version of the digital declutter with my misophonia and sensory issues, but i will probably try to take it upon myself to go offline with music as opposed to streaming off of spotify, since looking at spotify playlists can occasionally become a time black hole for me. i also have no intentions of trying to replace any chat clients i use (facebook messenger, discord, etc) with real life socialization. inentional, face-to-face meetups with acquaintances and friends are very draining for me for what i find to be very little upside, and at points its also pretty clear that newport is a well-off suburban academic who wrote his book in a pre-covid world -- sorry mr. N, i'm not going to hold "friendship office hours" or hang around in a coffee shop all day, and most people don't have the time or energy after work to randomly drop by people's houses.
i don't think that social media is causing my anti-sociality, and i'm much more preoccupied with the time it is costing me and the bad, let's face it, stalker-esque habits it has cultivated in me for a decade at this point. going off of social media for 30 days won't cause signifcant social disruption for me. most of my friends are online friends i talk to directly once in a blue moon, and none of them i am particularly close to, though no fault of their own. the same goes for my real-life friends -- i don't talk to them on social media, and the occasions i do talk to them offline are rare.
the biggest hurdle i feel like i will face is finding other things to fill my time with. well, not finding them -- i have a decent list of things already i would like to do whenever i feel the urge to scroll. i might even surprise myself and do something social anyways, after all the chatter in the previous paragraph of how i hate socializing offline (there's a zine club downtown i've had my eye on for a few months)! i think my biggest hurdle will be convincing my brain it's worth it to do the non-scrolly thing as opposed to nothing. i am very acquanited with doing nothing, since the second-most common thing i would do in the paralysis of my executive dysfunction after scrolling would be to sit very still, staring at the wall ahead of me for an hour or more. i can see myself sitting and doing Literally Nothing while intending to do something even as the thrall of social media begins to fade.
i don't have a specific date in mind yet for when my 30 day declutter officially starts. i still have to work out the rules, list everything to replace social media with, curate my siteblockers in more detail, and download some of my music offline to avoid using spotify. i also want to finish newport's book first before i make any rash decisions, so i have all the information at hand. i don't know if i'll announce the declutter in advance so people know how to get ahold of me outside of social media. i have a feeling most people won't miss me in any significant capacity.
i probably had more to say but it's getting late and i have to get up at 6 am tomorrow. i hope i get more time to write and do art, but i have a feeling most of my newfound free time will get eaten up by work and school.
1: fun fact: my current blog that i've had for 7 years is built off of the ashes of my post limit blog for my original, first blog. when i moved from my original blog to my new blog to escape stalking from my ex-friends, i deleted my post limit blog and used the email for that account for my new blog. i had my first blog for maybe two-three years before moving and it has tens of thousands more posts on there than i do on my current blog.