Why I Should Take a Break from Social Media

Amethyst Hinton Sainz Current Affairs

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Well, folks. We have almost made it to the end of this never-seen-before type of semester. (I am not going to use the “u” word.) As I sit at home awaiting COVID test results* and continuing to hold WebEx sessions for my remote students, the bright moments of satisfaction and success of the semester perch here and there in the vast fuzz of my exhausted mind and heart. I know countless teachers whose spirits are battered at this point. In those evening moments when we seek distraction from the Canvas “to do” list or solace in the shared challenges and triumphs of teaching through a pandemic, the easiest answer is often to hop onto a Facebook group or check our Twitter or Instagram feed. What are the newest metrics? Who was that teacher who had that one great strategy? Which districts have gone virtual? What’s the tea from other schools in our districts? So much information just a few clicks down the rabbit hole.

I certainly rely on Facebook and Twitter during these moments. It’s an easy fix, and calorie-free. But II should probably consider taking a break, and here are my reasons why. 

Reason Number 1:  It Is What It Is

Knowing today’s COVID-19 numbers or any of the other minutiae of the pandemic or the policy decisions happening around me isn’t going to change anything at the moment. I have already spent the last nine months advocating and trying to organize around the issue of school safety amid the pandemic, and we’re a week away from vacation. Nothing is going to change my decisions or behavior between now and next Friday, and it most likely won’t change any of the decisions of leadership at any level. I am fairly sure that everyone is aware of the facts, the perspectives involved, and has made their decisions. Reading Facebook won’t change that.

Reason Number 2: It Doesn’t Make Me Feel Better

I am distressed on a number of levels, and, as one of my colleagues said so well the other day, no matter what I do I feel like I am letting somebody down. Another leader expressed that each day she feels that she is choosing the best of all the possible bad options. Though I seek collegial connections and solace on social media, that is only a portion of what I actually find. Mostly I find news, experiences and opinions that echo or increase my own concerns and anxieties. If I am honest with myself, I have to recognize that I don’t get off Facebook feeling refreshed, but rather wrung-out. I should probably find a way to funnel those mental energies into something more creative for the moment.

Reason Number 3: Toxic Times Out There

The abusive messages and actions toward educators and leaders alike right now should concern everyone. There is nothing more I can do at the moment to stop the community groups who have seemingly declared figurative guerilla warfare on teachers, district administrators, board members and anyone who has advocated for students to be in a remote learning situation. At this point, I see few opportunities to change anyone’s mind about any of this, and I feel like I understand the positions of these people pretty well. The bullying needs to stop. Or I can take a break from witnessing it.  

My husband and I finally sat with our teenage kids and watched the documentary The Social Dilemma on Netflix. I recommend it. The thesis is basically that social media is not a neutral tool that we use for our own purposes, but that it is a dynamic and powerful system that the developers use to make a profit. By its very design, it manipulates us in ways that even the creators do not always control. The machine intelligence that is constantly refining algorithms and driving us to stay in that feedback loop has no care for our minds, our hearts or our relationships with others. 

I am sure that I won’t completely ditch social media leading up to the holidays. I look forward to those family photos, memories, hilarious memes, and messages of love and caring. However, I will probably make myself a bit more scarce and try to fill my bucket in other ways. What is one thing you will do to hearten yourself and find peace in the next few weeks?

*I have had very mild symptoms, so no worries, I’m okay. 

 

 

Amethyst Hinton Sainz is National Board Certified Teacher in Adolescent and Young Adult English Language Arts, and is constantly trying to live up to that standard! This year she will begin teaching at Westwood High School in Mesa, Arizona as an interventionist. She has taught junior high ELD and high school English in Arizona for 25 years. She has been a Stories from School blogger since 2012. Amethyst’s alma maters are Blue Ridge High School, the University of Arizona and the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. Her bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Philosophy led her toward the College of Education, and she soon realized that the creative challenges of teaching would fuel her throughout her career. Her love of language, literature, and culture led her to Bread Loaf for her master's in English Literature. She is a fellow with the Southern Arizona Writing Project, and that professional development along with, later, the National Board process, has been the most influential and transformative learning for her. As a board member of the Mesa NBCT Network, she works with other NBCT’s to promote this powerful process throughout the district. She supports candidates for National Board Certification, and loves seeing teachers realize and articulate their teaching and leadership power! She enjoys teaching students across the spectrum of academic abilities, and keeping up with new possibilities for technology in education. Last year she had the privilege of running our school garden, and will really miss that this year. She is currently learning more about social and racial justice and is striving to be an antiracist educator. She lives in Mesa, Arizona with her family. She enjoys time with them, as well as with her vegetable garden, backyard chickens, and the two dogs. She also enjoys reading, writing, cooking (but not doing dishes), kayaking, camping, and travel, among other things.

Comments 1

  1. Lauren Cluff

    I couldn’t agree more with you Amethyst. As I step back from social media and focus on the real world going on around me, I feel much more focused and at peace. I want to stay informed but it is time to distance myself from the constant contention that social media delivers daily. It is hard to cut loose, but it is an addiction that thankfully can be cured.

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