Dropping out of social media for a breather

Dropping out of social media for a breather

Poster reading: Escaping the social media trap & leaving the OCD maze

I made a decision in Dec that it was time to step back from social media for a bit. It can suck you down into a soul-destroying pit if you aren’t careful. I was already stressed and depressed by the years of helping mom through her cancer treatments and operations. When I discovered I had spare time, because of improvements mom’s health, I noticed how Twitter/FB etc were so depressingly stupid. I can troll with the best of them, but sheer level of insanity being actively promoted on social media began to crush me. It was like watching the worse bits of zombie apocalypse shows on an endless loop – hopeless, dark and paranoid. So, sometime in Dec I went to the doctor and am back on antidepressant after many years. They also calmed my OCD. Lately the obsessive compulsions had started to interfere with my life in major ways. Unfortunately, I hadn’t noticed how bad things had gotten.

As my general outlook improved, I decided no social media for a while. It seemed to aggravate everything. I also took a long break from web work, photographing, writing, everything. I’ve gone for long walks, listened to old radio dramas, watched trashy monster movies (Reptilica rules; Godzilla drools) and read. Oh, my I’ve read. Prior to Dec, I was having difficulties concentrating long enough to finish simple novels. Now, I plow through books at a furious pace.

Breaking up with the zombie apocalypse

Before I logged off though, I unfriended a whack of people who I began to view as unhealthy to talk to. Let me tell you, the calm and quiet on this end of the computer has been enlightening. Getting away from social media was one of the smartest thing I could have done. My head feels clear, for the first time in eons. With mom improving to the point of being self-sufficient, I had difficulties refocusing myself. That and the worry cancer will return. In short, I was slowly driving myself insane, with the help of social media. Breaking up with social media was much easier than I thought it would be. I simply … stopped.

I’ve enjoyed the break and don’t think I’ll look at things the same way. I’ve almost attained a zen feel to my outlook. Things are going to happen; some of which I can’t change. That’s ok now. Having a sense of balance back in my head means I can cope with what gets thrown my way. Good days; bad days. I’ll talk about them both here. But right now? The good are far outstripping the bad. I suspect without the disconnect, the antidepressants would not have been as successful. I’ll tell you, I’d forgotten how loud the noise in my head was. When it suddenly stopped, I had problems coping for a day or two. It was so silent. A million different voices competing through the daily noise. Not voices like strangers talking to me. They were me, my internal voice on steroids. My brain was like a runaway train. And the outside noise, oh god the loudness of the world. I was living with my headphones in and a white noise generator running constantly. I was often frantic with anxiety when I got home. OH THE BLISS OF SILENCE.

The sounds of OCD

Want to know what the ‘voices’ were like? Think of 10 people yelling at you to do things a certain way or warning you things aren’t “right” and if you don’t correct them, you’ll be in danger. Complicate that with a sensitivity to noise on a level that makes me sound insane.

You didn’t check the door but you need to take the steps a certain OMG did you touch that. CLEAN YOUR HANDS YOUR hands you didn’t say that correctly please please stop the sink has dishes in it I feel paralyzed what do I do I can’t make dinner in this mess the water isn’t hot enough wash your hands again no again I’m tired but we need to get the phrasing right that’s not balanced try to set things up properly no no you lost count now we have to start over wow it’s noisy wonder if did you remember the sanitizer Oh god this bathroom no nonnononononon check that door again did you have to go this way there’s always dog shit here and you know it does things to you you need to align those pages correctly if I start straightening this out I won’t be able to stop

You get the idea. The meds halted all that. I often wonder if the OCD causes the depression, or the depression causes OCD. I still can’t deal with the external noise well so I bought a pair of earplugs that dim the sound but still allow me to hear conversations. Its difficult to explain the quiet and it’s searing effect on me. When I realised how silent everything in my head was, I stood in the middle of my room with my eyes closed and thought “not going to go off the meds again”. The peace and order in my thoughts are magnificent.

I’ve tentatively dipped my toes back into social media again. A few posts on Instagram, a tweet here and there. But I can’t bring myself back to Facebook. The sheer amount of insanity on the platform is keeping me away. I’ll go back, eventually, because I have friends I like to chatter with. Maybe…

I’ve been working on new content over the last week and very happy with what I’ve created. A few new Instagram posts have already gone up. Now with the weather improving, I’ll head out and start taking photos, well, as long as the COVID-19 stays at bay in my area. Look for a few stamp posts, a new vlog post, and some great tech news. Will be fun.

WT:Social – an alternative to Facebook?

WT:Social – an alternative to Facebook?

Logo for WT:social website

Is WT:Social better?

I’ve signed onto WT.Social  to see if it’s a viable alternative to Facebook. Like many, I’m experiencing a growing distaste for Facebook’s uninhibited support of hate groups and trolls. It’s not a matter of it being out of control – there doesn’t seem to be any attempts to stem the tide. Reports of blatant racist or violent rhetoric are often met with the standard Facebook response that the group/person didn’t violate community standards. Even calls to hang the Prime Minister of Canada are met with indifference from the powers at FB. They don’t see it as a violation of their own community rules that clearly state “Expression that threatens people has the potential to intimidate, exclude or silence others and isn’t allowed on Facebook.” The site is rife with examples.  Facebook is creaking under it’s own weight of inaction and implicit support for openly violent groups.

That has led to many to look around for alternatives. Jimmy Wales, of Wiki fame, has tapped into that need with a new initiative WT.Social. I signed up the other day to see what it’s all about. Although it’s a bit frustrating at times, I’m going to stick with it because I like their philosophy of going beyond click bait titles and encouraging people to look at the issues.

Let’s deep dive into the pros and cons of WT:Social

It’s growing quickly. I’m already seeing an increase in articles and quality content.
Many articles are lengthy pieces designed to encourage discussion rather than troll comments.
Lots of new groups to explore.
Easy to create a group.Easy to find groups to join.
Isn’t dependent on farming user data.
Directly addresses the elephant in the room:

The social giants have a lot of problems we think a people-driven platform can solve. Fake news and clickbait are both endemic issues that can’t be fixed with a myopic focus on ‘algorithms’ and ‘engagement’.
But the issues go deeper than that. Nazis, bigots, harassers, trolls – no mechanism currently exists to effectively combat that. With how large an ecosystem internet is, no mechanism can perfectly combat it.

There is a learning curve. The site will evolve with time, and hopefully people will allow the changes to happen as they are needed. I often find people become wedded to a design or layout and get heated when changes happen. Change is part of the internet and will be important to WT:Social’s survival.
No mechanism to report trolls or fake news so far. I’m sure this will change, but I already came across a group promoting pedogate with the same tired pro Trump lies.
Friend requests don’t always work. I’ve had to accept the same person 4 times before it worked.
The site has grown so rapidly, it can slow down and stall out.

So what’s my take on WT:Social? Patience is needed because it’s a work in progress. What’s exciting is being on the ground floor of a new platform that invites us to help it evolve. Here’s hoping it succeeds beyond our wildest dreams.

Join me on WT:Social

If you’d like to join me over at WT.Social, head to Bitter Grounds or if you are interested in stamps Philately – looking at stamps from around the world. The first philately group on WT.Social!   I encourage you to participate in both groups
You are welcome to leave comments or post an article you think might be of interest to myself and my readers.  Hope to see you there.

Still using Google+? Going, going, gone

Still using Google+? Going, going, gone

Google+ Logo

Are you still using Google+? Hopefully you received the note about it’s pending demise.  Google is putting an end to their social media experiment on April 2nd.  G+ has limped along for years, never really taking off with the public. Forbes magazine ran an article back in 2015 titled Five Reasons Why Google+ Died. It’s taken another 4 years for Alphabet to bury the corpse.

Google Plus, the company’s social network, is like a ghost town. Want to see your old roommate’s baby or post your vacation status? Chances are, you’ll use Facebook instead. Feb 14 2014 The Plus in Google Plus? It’s Mostly for Google by Claire Cain Miller behind a NYT paywall article. 

The New York Times was right. People may have signed up for an account, but they weren’t visiting it on a regular basis, like they do Instagram or Facebook – people just didn’t take to the platform. I played around with Google+ for a bit but quickly gave up because it was just too messy to work with. I didn’t enjoy posting or looking for new material. And quite frankly it was more bother than it was worth. I saw very little return for my effort.

So what does this mean?

1 – If you have a lot of photos on your G+ page, think about  moving them to a safe place because they will be deleted after April 2. Google will allow you to download & save your content  prior to the close date – see this article for help Download your Google+ data.

NOTE:  photos stored on Google Photos will not be affected. This is a separate entity.

2 – Using Google+ to sign in will no longer be an option after April. Any + sign-in button will become non-functional. Google will be replacing the feature with a basic Google sign-in option.

3 – Comments will vanish. Sorry folks, but any comments you left while signed in with your Google+ account will simply go away. This is already happening on Blogger sites, so if you are a Blogger user and start seeing comments disappearing, this is the likely culprit.

If you missed the email notification, visit the Google page Shutting down Google+ for consumer (personal) accounts on April 2, 2019.

** Evidently some people think Gmail accounts will be closed. This only affects Google+, the social media platform. It will not touch Gmail, Google drive, Blogger, or Google Photos.