[This is an adapted version of a private note I posted to my personal Facebook profile on January 1st, 2018.]
All that said, the last couple of years have been, well, the last couple of years. The way 2016 and 2017 affected my mental health isn’t sustainable. I discussed this a little in my #NaNoSoMeMo post. I knew coming into 2018 that, if it’s going to be more of the same, I need to be more deliberate about Facebook boundaries. I decided to post what I came up with in case it’s helpful to anyone dealing with the same thing.
Disclaimer: This is a list of personal boundaries that I came up with based on my own mental health needs, my own friend list, and my knowledge of my own abilities and resources. These elements are different for everyone, so I’m very much NOT suggesting this list is what everyone should be doing.
- NPR has a daily 10-minute world news podcast called Up First. I’m going to listen to that every morning and then ignore news for the rest of the day except for news about STEM and arts and entertainment stuff. This will include ignoring news articles that I support and agree with. I may end up hiding news pages that I like and respect, like NPR, The Washington Post, and The Hill. I hope my friends understand that this isn’t apathy or disdain, it’s just gaming Facebook algorithms. If anyone is curious about my opinion on a post I haven’t interacted with, they’re welcome to message me and ask.
- I will not be posting any articles about sociopolitical current events to Facebook. Again, this is just me gaming the algorithm. If I post one article about, say, patriarchy, racism, or homophobia in mainstream evangelicalism, Facebook thinks that’s all I want in my feed for the next ten days. And I don’t need it in my news feed because I already lived it. Besides, I have a small friend list, and everyone on it is either already educated on the issues I care about or knows how to Google them.
- My Facebook memories show me that, in my first few years of Facebook use, I posted more about random stuff I was doing, watching, reading, or thinking. Not sure when or why I stopped, but I want to do more of that.
- As far as my public/professional accounts, my rules for this year are that I’ll only engage on sociopolitical issues if (1) I have something to say that I don’t see anyone else saying, (2) I have a big enough following on that platform for my words to have any kind of an impact, and (3) I have the psychological resources to engage with the general public on that issue. Other than that, I’ll remember that I’m a writer/entertainer, not a news service, and expect my followers to remember that, too, and I’ll be gaming algorithms to show me feeds conducive to better mental health.