an artist finding meaning in 2019
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finding meaning in 2019

We’re nearly done with another year and another decade. Since getting hit by a car while biking a few months ago, I’ve been doing some soul-searching and working on finding meaning in 2019. I see and experience so much suffering right now and have been asking myself how I can “be the change”. Allow me to start with sharing why I recently decided to permanently deleted my personal Facebook account.

It seems like it should have been harder to leave but it really wasn’t. It was a nice experiment but the world is very different than it was when I joined Facebook in 2008. I am very different and most certainly the platform itself is different in pretty terrible ways. I would say, “It’s me, not you,” but that’s not sincere. It’s all of it. Existence is transpersonal after all.

Here’s an incomplete list of things I found increasingly problematic on Facebook:

  • I realized recently how bad it was for my mental health. Maybe it’s the notoriously horrible and ever-shifting algorithms or maybe it’s my level of investment in outcome (probably) but either way, Facebook just wasn’t feeling good. I’ve learned to stop doing things when they don’t feel good.
  • I noticed that people would “like” that I was going to an event but I wouldn’t see them there. They wouldn’t ask to join me. So weird.
  • Speaking of events, with one exception, my friends acquaintances invited me to their theater shows but not to their home. Not out to coffee. Not even a text message saying “hello”. I’ve heard people say, “Oh, it’s just that everyone is busy.” I want to say, “Busy doing what? Checking Facebook?”
  • Back when I did spend actual time with people, I would start to tell them something and they would interrupt me to say, “Oh yeah, I saw you talk about that on Facebook.” Of course I had no way of knowing that because they weren’t engaging in the FB conversation, they were just peeping. Lurking. Like people do.
  • When my father died earlier this year, a family member announced it on Facebook before I had heard. My brother was kind enough to call me but I didn’t know for hours because I was outside. On my bike.
  • You can’t opt-out of Facebook Messenger. I’ve experienced people sending me DMs on Facebook Messenger in a very uninvited and sometimes demanding way. It’s mostly men that do that although I once had a womxn say, “I’ve noticed you’re an early riser too. How are you?” I don’t want or need people to be tracking me that closely unless we share a home together. In this case, we’re not even sharing a meal together.
  • Social connections aside, I don’t trust Facebook. Their ridiculous messages like, “Good morning, Kymberlee! We care about you and hope you have a great day!” feel like manipulation. Like grooming behavior. I’m wary of people trying to make me feel good who are known to be doing nefarious things. I can’t support that anymore.
  • Facebook feels like a dumpster fire. A fire that I don’t have the energy for and have no interest in feeding.

Society has allowed Facebook to be woven into every aspect of life. They make it hard to leave. Like the mafia. But we get to choose where and how we spend our life force.

The thing is, I remember a time before Social Media and before the internet.

I remember a time before cell phones and answering machines (or text messages). I remember having to wait for things. I remember having to adjust the antenna on the TV to get a good signal. I remember eye contact and hearing a person’s laughter, not seeing a laughter emoji on a screen. I don’t see our culture becoming happier as we become more “connected”.

Or maybe it’s just me.

Either way, Facebook just became both invasive and isolating to me. It’s like being in a room filled with hundreds of people who think they know you but nobody is actually talking with you or each other. As part of my journey to finding meaning in 2019, I’ve made a choice to fill up my life with experiences that I savor, not that I instantly share somewhere. I’ve also made a decision to keep a paper address book with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of people that I cherish and who gift me with their presence.

It’s been a couple of weeks and already, the world is brighter. I spend time really noticing when I’m happy or sad. Just feeling it without distraction. I do still spend time on the internet because I’m not a luddite. I know that Mark Zuckerburg got (somewhat hilariously) interrogated by Congress. I know that Twitter will no longer run paid political ads like Facebook does. I know that there are anti-government protests all over the world. But it’s different outside of that space. I’m not witnessing so much arguing and grandstanding, so much misplaced rage and disrespect. Frankly, so much polarized nonsense.

Finding meaning in 2019 means care not caretaking.

I had a fear that perhaps people might think I didn’t care about them when I left but then I realized that I have demonstrated how much I care for folx repeatedly. Caring for myself hasn’t always been a high priority in my life and that has cause me suffering. It’s paradoxically because I care so much that I need to stay away from a space that feels really toxic. My care for myself and others needs a more embodied outlet.

I ran into this quote that has been attributed to Frederick Nietzsche (but for which I could find no citation) today:

To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.

How do we find meaning in a world that seems to be traveling at breakneck speed on a permanently loud setting?

I see such intolerance for taking time to explore and listen right now. I did a lot of exploring meaning on Facebook as I went back to school post-divorce and got two degrees. I’m grateful for that time and for the people with whom I shared ideas. I used to have these beautifully chromatic conversations filled with complexity and ambiguity that helped me deepen my perspective, not unlike a college seminar. (I downloaded all of those conversations before I left.). Sadly, that hasn’t happened in a long time. It’s as though complexity retreated when 45 was elected along with respect and graciousness. I like what President Obama recently said which is very similar to what I’ve been saying for years:

Life is messy. Play anyway. That’s something I’ve said (and lived) for years. That’s how we I find meaning: through playing, exploring, questioning, challenging, talking, creating, loving, constructing and deconstructing. And also through listening, softening, deepening, and remaining open to possibility and pleasure.

I’m doing a lot more of that and really digging it. Writing and creativity are what drew me to the internet to begin with. I’ll be blogging more often because I still need an outlet for what comes up for me. I’ve had a lot of folx tell me that they enjoy what I share. If that’s you, consider signing up for my newsletter. There’s a lot of content there and a free gift each week because another way I’m finding meaning in 2019 is giving stuff away.

If you’ve stayed to then end, thank you! May the road ahead treat you kindly. xo ~Kymberlee

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