Time to be anti-social, by Veronica Zundel

 My film critic friend calls Facebook 'the water cooler for the self-employed'. I know what he means:
social media are where we gather in our coffee and lunch breaks, chew the fat with colleagues (or the nearest that writers get to colleagues) and recover from the intense process of writing, which as I mentioned in my last post can be as taxing on the body as on the mind.

But is social media (or should that be 'are social media'?) actually good for us. Water from a water cooler is undoubtedly good for us -- it refreshes without making any demands or subjecting us to any unwelcome news. Chatting with fellow workers is more ambivalent; we may be encouraged, or we may hear unwanted gossip or a worrying rumour. Social media, unless we use it (them?) very carefully, is even more unpredictable. We might be cheered by some rare good news, or we may be plunged into depression or envy by seeing evidence of other people's apparently perfect lives, their high-achieving children, their impressive ministry, their exotic holidays (can their lives really be that perfect? I can't help thinking of Jesus' words in Luke's version of the Sermon on the Mount: 'Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep' -- Luke 6:25. But that's a bit mean of me, isn't it?)

In reality I only use Facebook and occasionally Twitter. I don't take enough pictures for Instagram, and TikTok is definitely not for my joint-creaking age group. But on a slow day I can end up spending several hours scrolling through Facebook - I have over 1000 friends there (I even know who some of them are!) and that means a lot of posts, even if I frequently unfollow people for being vomit-inducingly pious, or in one case for being a Covid-denier. I also belong to several groups, though some of them I can't remember joining, or why I did!

 So I have decided to take a week's break from 'FB' in this last week of August -- it's not much but a month is probably more than I can bear at the moment. Writing is after all a very solitary pursuit, and as an extrovert I need social contact; added to which I am in the process of leaving a church which is no longer what it was when I joined it, and haven't yet got stuck into the new one, which is quite a long way away. I wonder what I'll do instead? Read a book, perhaps? Or several? That would certainly be better for my writing. 

Facebook friends, and especially ACW, Scargill and MTW friends, I will see you again in September. I doubt if I will have missed that much.

Veronica Zundel is a freelance writer for the Christian market and a recent graduate of the PoetrySchool/Newcastle MA in Writing Poetry. She writes a column for Woman Alive magazine, Bible notes for BRF's 'New Daylight' series, and blogs at https://ift.tt/3kyZWGD and https://ift.tt/3gE1cYb (The Thinking Faith Project).

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