Burnout – The Legacy of Social Media

pensieve_icons18One of the reasons that I celebrate the turning of the Gregorian calendar when my spiritual and ancestral year turns at the end of October is due to the flow of energy.  I truly feel the end of the year when Samhain arrives, but I don’t feel that burst of vital new energy until January first.

The egregore created from millions of people anticipating, planning, preparing, and celebrating isn’t something that is easy to ignore.  We all get caught up in it.  More so, I would say, than the commercialism of secular Xmas.  Everyone loves a new beginning.

The time between Samhain and Twelfth Night I’ve come to call the Fallows.  It’s the dark time of the year.  Our regular concerns are put aside and we focus on warmth, food, family and friends.  That’s probably also why many of us put on an extra ten pounds around this time of year.  We don’t worry about getting exercise or fresh air because (for me, anyway), it’s damned cold out there!

Today, it was 6C outside, sunny, and I really felt it.  I needed to run some errands, and I was nearly skipping down the street to the grocery store.  I didn’t – because I was pushing a stroller, and I don’t need a broken neck. It is still winter after all, and the ice doesn’t disappear for a single +6 day.  But it was there for all to see and feel.  The promise.  Spring is on its way.

What does this have to do with the article title, you may ask.  Well, I’m getting to that.  Over the weeks of our various winter holidays, I have noticed a trend.  People are burning out.

A few of my friends have either deactivated their Facebook accounts or have just begun avoiding them all together.  I’ve even seen a few people shutting down their blogs and seeking to remove their online identities entirely.

I have mixed feelings about this.  One the one hand, I want to shout “You GO, Girl!” as loud as I can.  I fully encourage people to seek life, harmony and happiness away from the glow of the computer screen.

And, yes, I do understand the irony of that statement coming from someone who has written over 100 blog posts in the last year.  I still stand by it, and at times, I struggle to find my own balance.  Having a little one around does help, and I endeavour to spend as much time as possible playing and running and chasing.

My other feeling on seeing people need to remove their various accounts in order to regain some sense of balance in their lives is a sort of sadness.  It makes me sad that we sometimes have to go to these lengths to get our lives back on track.  That computers and social media have such an enormous grip on our lives that they can become an addiction for which abstinence is the only cure.

And it is.  Companies are making and spending billions of dollars to find and create better ways to waste your time.  More little things that seem like nothing, but will end up sinking hours of your life in a bottomless pit of mild entertainment.  Silly flash games, apps for your phone that don’t really do anything at all (who didn’t have the lighter or beer glass app at one time?), more and more “social networking sites” to be maintained and updated daily.  Is there anyone out there any more who doesn’t know what Angry Birds is?

(Photo credit: RelaxingMusic)

The constant hammering away at your free time leaves you with no time.  No time to rest.  No time to just relax in the quiet.  No time to focus your attention on enjoying that cup of coffee that you’ve been looking forward to all day.  Where else can this road lead but to burnout?

Imbolc is still weeks away, and for those of us in the northern parts of North America, winter has a ways to go yet before it’s ready to give up its grip on the land.  I’m inspired by the energy of renewal and resolution, and by the image at the beginning of this article.

Rather than waiting until total abstinence is the only way to regain a sense of what real life is, make a commitment to reduce the amount of time spent online.  Delete the games from your phone.  Keep only one (perhaps a crossword puzzle or word search game), if you can’t part with all of them.  View your assorted online presences once per day, and once only.  The world won’t end if you don’t see the latest row on Twitter.  Set a time when you turn the computer off.  Shut it right down and unplug it for the night.

Take your new extra time and focus it on self-care.  Indulge in a mud mask.  Take a bubble bath.  Read a book made of paper.  Paint your toenails (guys too!).  Soak it up.  Let yourself be rejuvenated while we wait for the sun to warm the earth again.

Rest well, folks.  The growing season will be here before you know it.

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