The other day we celebrated the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere. We are officially in the season of spring.
Nature is emerging. Buds are blooming. Birds are chirping. Nature comes out of hibernation.
This spring feels weird because as nature is emerging civilization is in retreat, at least in much of the world, as we come together to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
This dissonance between what’s happening in nature and what’s happening in human life mirrors dissonance I’m feeling personally.
It’s time for me to re-emerge, to embrace the Spring by coming back online to social media, and I’m feeling a wave of anxiety about it.
Returning to Social Media
I’ve been off social media platforms for about the past year. It’s not the first time I’ve done this, but this time I’ve been away not only from Facebook but also from Instagram and Twitter (for most of the year). (LinkedIn too, but that’s a different story.)
At one point, I loved social media. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were places where I cultivated and nurtured existing relationships and made new friends.
But then things changed. It started to feel more like I had to promote myself and adopt a certain persona. I had to watch what I said to keep peace with people who were offended by some of my comments. After taking a year off of Facebook, social media hasn’t been the same.
For months, I’ve been wanting to return. I’ve missed certain aspects of my online communities and interactions. I have had amazing experiences, learned incredible things, and grew exponentially. And I’ve been wanting to share the fruits of those experiences with others.
Now it’s spring. The season to emerge. I know it’s time for me to renter online society. And yet I feel challenged and ambivalent about returning.
How to Return
Part of me feels the need to explain why I left, where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing.
How do I even begin to do that? Where do I start?
Why did I stay away? How do I begin to explain that?
Of course, maybe I don’t need to explain anything. Maybe I just return, and allow the process of discovery to unfold, as I reintroduce my new self to the world.
The Bad Parts of Social Media
Social media has some good aspects but it also can be a hotbed of negative energy. In my year off, many people told me they wished they could leave. I met many others who told me they don’t do social media at all.
Social media has been shown to trigger depression and anxiety.
Why would I want to return to this now, at a time of heightened anxiety?
Connection and Community
The answer to that question is connection and community.
Although I’ve been off of social media for the past year. I haven’t been disconnected. In fact, over the past year I connected more deeply with more people — in person. Instead of living life online I lived in the real world. I lived in new places away from my home city, extended far beyond my comfort zone, and I made new friends with the people I met where I was. I became part of the fabric of multiple communities.
Over the past week, one by one the places I go for community and connection shut down. Trapeze school. Yoga studios. Gyms. Restaurants and cafes. Even Starbucks, where I’d been finding a table at which to work for the last few weeks.
With each closure, I began to feel the walls around me closing in more. I need connection and community; it is my lifeblood.
And that means I must reemerge and re-engage online.
That’s the tension.
Shift vs Run
Social media may be filled with negativity, fear, and panic, but the solution isn’t to run away from it.
The energy won’t shift unless we shift it.
I know that online networks can be healthy, productive, nurturing, and nourishing places, if we bring that energy there.
In this time, those of us called to lead need to step into the murky field to elevate the level of consciousness.
I’ve spent the past five years developing the resources and resourcefulness to navigate this “unprecedented” time and mastering the skills necessary to thrive and help others thrive in this time.
My toolbox is fully stocked.
This is the moment I’ve prepared for.
The time has come to re-emerge.