Social media today can be a toxic environment. Between the chaos in the United States, and the controversy over the recent events at UBC there is a slough of negativity. Within this, my writing took a step backwards. I made mistakes that I know better than to make, and I found myself silenced. These situations are important, and I don’t intend to detract from that. But they can be overwhelming. They are both things that we should educate ourselves on and take a stand on if we feel able, but we also need to give ourselves permission to step away.
Negativity and fear can be overwhelming. It can cause us to question the work we are doing, and “if it really matters” in the larger scope of things. While we should never become an ostrich and stick our head in the sand for all time, it is okay to step away. It is okay to make our media feed positive, and it is okay to mute and unfollow someone who you admire but whose recent tweets may be stifling you.
We need to be able to practice self-care. If we are constantly bombarded by feeds that are attacking people for taking a stand?how will we take a stand when it is our time? I found myself overwhelmed by the mass of people talking about Trump and UBC. I generally use twitter to stay on top of the publishing world and to find community with writers. My routine in the morning is coffee and twitter, did I miss anything? A publishing announcement? A webinar that may interest me? A new agent in the field? But lately, instead of seeing that, what I saw was Trump, racism, sexism, and personal attacks. I saw attacks on writers I admire, and I lost heart. I found the discussions on UBC enlightening, and I tried to understand the perspectives from the side of those who wrote the infamous letter as well as those who felt attacked by it. And the many who showered people they once admired with hatred.
It is too easy on social media to bully and abuse others from the relative safety of “home”, hidden behind the computer screen. These made me, subconsciously, second guess my own work. Is what I am writing important enough in today’s world? Does it have a place within the chaos that is taking over? Each paragraph, each sentence, everything I wrote felt dry and forced.
But then something changed. I made a choice to change what I saw in the morning. I took the time to go through my feed and update my preferences. Some I have followed for years have been muted, possibly temporarily. I have searched for other writers who encourage discussion over hate. Writers who are open to understanding the other side. These conversations are important, and these are the ones we can learn from. I also took the time to remove Trump as much as possible from my feed. There is a time to understand what is happening in the US but first thing in the morning is not it; not for me.
Since doing this, since making the conscious choice to make my feed what it was intended for. I have found my voice again. My words have flowed more easily. And while I may still wonder if my writing has a place in the world, this is a fear that all writers face. But this fear won’t stop me, and it won’t silence me.
Deanna Roney is an AU graduate who loves adventure in life and literature.