I just completed a week-without-social-media challenge I imposed upon myself. Specifically, no looking at my Instagram or Facebook feeds. I could post things, but I would spend one week without checking the feeds. It used to be a sign of good design if a webpage required no to little scrolling. Continuous scrolling through image after image, idea, link, article after idea, link... you get the idea, I suspected was having a negative impact on my head space.
I read books this week. Finished re-reading Jeannette Winterson's beautiful, haunting The Stone Gods. Have almost finished Frederich Gros' A Philosophy of Walking. I was able to savor each short essay expounding on the meaning of walking. As a lifelong walker, his thoughts on this human, solitary act are such a pleasure. I started reading The Iceberg - a devastatingly well-written memoir by the British artist Marion Coutts; her account of living with her husband's illness and death. H is for Hawk is up next as is a new book about Agnes Martin that counters the myth of her as a solitary mystic and, I hope, makes her more human, real.
I also fell ill with some bug that's going around. When I'm ill, looking at my iPhone makes me nauseous, hurts my head space, my eyes. So while ill, I slept. I rested. I didn't get out of bed one whole day. I spent time under blankets staring off into space.
I didn't miss all that scrolling, that rapid glancing consumption of images and ideas - occurring at such a chaotic, haphazard pace that little of it gets worthwhile attention. Scrolling as a form of reading, of taking in information is an annoying format. Especially for a human who was conditioned to read left to right, from top to bottom, to turn the page. I don't like the physical sensation of scrolling - whether using one's fingers on a touch pad or screen, or using a mouse to drag a scroll bar. It's inefficient, awkward, slow.
So about 20 minutes ago I opened my Instagram feed and scrolled through the last several hours of images. Immediately I could feel energy inside my head leaving my body, leaving the room and being pulled into the machine that is my iPhone. It felt slightly nauseating. Unsettling. I couldn't enjoy the images, even the good ones. I began to experience a feeling of disconnect from my body and surroundings. I unfollowed several accounts thinking if there was less in the feed that would be an improvement. Not so much.
I have to figure out where to go next with this. Am I finished with social media in the forms of Instagram and Facebook? Will I only post but not follow what anyone else is doing? Will I check in on accounts from which I routinely learn something and friends only? I don't have answers as of this writing, but I like how disconnection from these two forces felt.