So first off, my life as it is right now is really pretty good. I haven’t had a drink in 12 weeks and am with a caring partner who is also my best friend. Both of those things are wonderful things. The happiness I began to feel when starting a new relationship with someone who I really, totally connected with wasn’t just that ‘honeymoon’ effect of a new relationship. It was actually a process of him drawing out some of the best qualities within myself that I forgot I had and honouring them. He disassembled (and still does) my self-directed verbal abuse and in doing so that gave me the space to realize that I am worthy of living the best life I can for myself – which in turn becomes the best life for my kiddos as well.
When that process began I realized I needed to pull out a few thorns that were stuck in my side in order to really embrace life more. I talked about this a bit before in previous posts. Some things I can’t control very well and I won’t beat myself up over it (like anxiety) but SOME things I CAN do something about and that was/is the battle against substance abuse. In my case, alcohol. Anyone who has ever had a problem with alcohol abuse (aka, getting your ass kicked by a bottle of liquor) knows that it amplifies anxiety by a billion percent and the only thing that will help after a night of drinking is more drinking. So THAT was the first thing that needed to go.
But it’s not that simple. Our culture is geared toward substance abuse. Whether it be alcohol, other drugs, gambling, shopping… anything to make things feel better. People who are truly happy, joyful and at peace with themselves don’t overindulge dangerously into areas they can’t control.
So I chose to immerse myself in some sober communities. The Boozemusings Community has been fantastic. I found them through one of my two sober apps I installed on my phone. Sober Time I believe. Someone there had posted a link to a story at the Boozemusings site and I just thought… yeah, someone gets it.
I spent some of the ‘extra’ money I had from not drinking on some new tarot decks (okay, not actually ‘extra’ money, I am broke as hell but it seemed fair to treat myself to something that wouldn’t kick my ass ), and got back into that part of my mind. My spirit mind. I had forgotten how deeply I loved the esoteric and the spiritual. I forgot how happy my brain got, seeing colourful meaningful imagery via the artwork on the cards .
I started reading some books again, picked up some favourites from when I was on my spiritual journey before.
Things had been very flat and painful since my daughter died. They still are. Horribly so – but alcohol didn’t help, it just numbed it. But numbed the good things as well. And even before she died I had already begun to turn to alcohol because my marriage starved me of emotional support and joy, so alcohol helped replace the feelings of contentment that I had lost long ago. It also helped me with my social anxiety and made me feel like things weren’t SO bad (for maybe 5-6 drinks. All downhill after that but your brain always remembers those 5-6 drinks)
I also started re-attending the Anglican church that I first found as a sober, depressed, sleep deprived, sad mother about 8 years ago. And this time I have a partner that not only supports me going but goes WITH me and talks to others and interacts with others and hence has helped me to crawl out of my shell a bit more by making it all feel normal. I had thought I had ‘support’ of my previous partner but it was tolerance. He tolerated me going, but resented that he had to watch the kids while I went because it cut into his personal time etc.
Anyhow so finding a great online sober community to immerse myself in, and reconnecting with the brick n’ mortar real life community that was my spiritual home has been great. I also connected with a person there who said they would attend AA meetings with me, because they just passed their 1 year. I also decided to contact the local addiction and prevention services center to see about getting more direct support because I know how easy it is to fall off the wagon – and I don’t want to be in that position.
So – now to FACEBOOK. It’s weird how while using facebook it feels like this expansive large virtual alternate world of ideas, thoughts and communication — but after not using it for a while it feels tiny, controlled and fucking scary as hell. I know that Facebook has specialists that work on ways to make it more addictive – the sort of people who specialize in gambling set ups and other such things to find out how to make people use things more. Buy things more. Etc. Yesterday I came across an article about
a leaked confidential document prepared by Facebook that revealed the company had offered advertisers the opportunity to target 6.4 million younger users, some only 14 years old, during moments of psychological vulnerability, such as when they felt “worthless,” “insecure,” “stressed,” “defeated,” “anxious,” and like a “failure.”
From that article were quite a few different links – some of them not able to be read because they were behind a paywall – but this one is available to read from the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) : Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks
This is something we all know, and my partner and I have talked about a lot. Not only does Facebook steal data – datamining is so common with them now that no one seems to even care anymore – but they also study and target depressed people, including young people – looking for keywords about depression, anxiety etc – and it’s understood that depressed people buy more things . The implication from a few different studies and articles is that Facebook knows that putting depressing traumatizing shit in people’s feeds makes them buy more. Because buying things makes people feel better. But a big part of the linked study is about how the moods spread across social networks is contagious. The linked study is a 20 year study on Facebook. And the opening paragraph states:
Emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. Emotional contagion is well established in laboratory experiments, with people transferring positive and negative emotions to others. Data from a large real-world social network, collected over a 20-y period suggests that longer-lasting moods (e.g., depression, happiness) can be transferred through networks
Quite plainly — Facebook is shit. Any social network that uses you as an ad target is shit. You feeling bad makes them money.
When you give up drinking, or any drug it leaves your brain very vulnerable. After the initial explosion of mild euphoria when brain cells spring back to life etc there is a lull. A flatness. Women’s seretonin departments of their brains are damaged in as little as four years of problematic drinking, (whereas it takes TWELVE for men) and although we know the brain regains mass and cells and other things after drinking cessation we don’t know about the serotonin. You can read the article and see the study links here: Serotonin system in women’s brains is damaged more readily by alcohol than that in men’s brains, study finds
There is a full article and study here at pubmed as well, in regards to how it affects dopamine, serotonin and all the good stuff : Neurotransmitters in alcoholism: A review of neurobiological and genetic studies
So it goes back to choosing what I CAN do to give myself the best mental health outcome:
- Don’t drink. Not AT ALL. And enlist whatever help I need to stay sober.
- Stay away from Facebook and other social media platforms who’s SOLE purpose is to make you the most reliable ad target ever.
and tossing in something that sort of supports both 1 AND 2
Be around people and participate in communities that give me the space to safely achieve what I feel is best for me.
I still check Instagram regularly, looking only at stuff the people I follow post. I see no political posts in my feed – I see funny crap from Letterkenny, cool things from some of the Hannibal fan art creators that used to be on Tumblr, and clips from family, friends and organizations that I am connected to. That is my ‘ALMOST NO’ because they are owned by FB. But it doesn’t leave me with the same gross feeling FB leaves me with.
I have an account on MeWe – there are no ads there. No advertising – so you aren’t an ad target. Instead MeWe makes money from selling additional emojis or really cheap monthly/annual rates for Pages or video calls. Their groups are really great, much better than FB groups – it’s a great platform really.
I have an account on Tumblr – I got an account there when it first opened over a decade ago. I was REALLY happy to hear it got bought from Verizon by Atomattic ! I’m godisinthewind.tumblr.com over there.
My favourite non-facebook social networking platform is Diaspora though. I’ve been there just over 8 years. I use the Diasp.org pod for my Diaspora account. If you’ve never heard of it check it out. I use the name Birch Wind pretty much everywhere – so feel free to connect.
There are many ways that the internet is awesome and lots of fantastic ways to connect. I wish more of my friends would blog so I could go to THEIR site and read what THEY want to share. I loved LiveJournal for that small community feel – I still do in fact! When people wrote to write. NOT for revenue, not for clicks. But for expression. I still crosspost over to my earthandspirit.livejournal.com account from over here at WordPress. (I also cross post to Diaspora and Tumblr)
People don’t need Facebook. There should not be just ONE place for every person to be in a sinkhole — sitting there, having your emotional vulnerabilities sold to the highest bidder. Life is tough enough. Break free from non-thinking cycles of bullshit. Find positive communities in real life and online. If you can’t leave FB then SERIOUSLY weed out your friends list. Stop focusing on resharing of crappy memes and political BS. You want the news? Go read a newspaper, or go seek out the information from a reputable source. Get your brain thinking — don’t just sit in facebook being fed garbage news made to upset you and then resharing it with others like some sort of armchair vigilante. Write, be creative, seek out connections, interact fully.
Our brains are amazing things but emotions are SO easily messed with by the things people see as daily culture – Facebook and Alcohol. Life is difficult enough – deaths of loved ones, diseases, poverty – so many things that we each struggle with. Why purposely contribute to the downfall of our own selves by being sucked into such a destructive cycle. I won’t.