Storms, Seasons and Social Media

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

Anne of Green Gables

It’s not the first time I’ve used this quote on the blog (and I’m sure it won’t be the last time). Autumn is finally upon us – that season of colour, crunchy leaves and closing nights. This year feels a bit different of course, with Coronavirus hanging over the world like an ominous cloud, dark and threatening. I try to channel my thoughts into hope, remembering a handwritten sign I saw while out walking on the headland. Storms don’t last forever – a maxim against despair. There are many such desperate places where I live, a coast of stormy seas that clamour against cliff edges. And yet, the sea always turns finally towards stillness. For me, my wild home is the answer, the reset.

Storms pass.

And also – You are not alone.

Sea, Caithness

These last few months have been difficult for all of us, everyone. There can be few people who would honestly say they have not felt the inevitable ups and downs. I live a quiet-mouse existence, so perhaps I haven’t felt some of the worst effects of isolation. Yet even introverts enjoy social contact, family, friends. When I do meet people now I talk too much, then fret later about not being a good listener. Conversation, it seems, is a precious gem we didn’t truly appreciate before.

And that distance between us now fosters a sense of unease, a sort of distrust that wasn’t always there before. That small crumbling of the belief that most people are trying their best, and are fundamentally good. I felt that crumbling myself, over the summer, when incidents of irresponsible tourism left some of us feeling a sense that ‘Brits at Home’ were not the most appealing of prospects. I felt myself inwardly seething at the litter-droppers, the fly-tippers, even that person who kept leaving their dog bags hanging on the fence close to my home. I was incensed by the leaders who were using their words to invoke a culture of hate, the social media users who were using their voices to spread unchecked information. Too many news cycles, too much scrolling, too much negativity. It’s not good for you, on the inside. That’s when I need the outside, the contact, the reminder.

Storms pass. You are not alone. Most people are fundamentally good.

Recently, I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix, a documentary shedding light on the darker side of social media. It highlights some of the negative effects of connectivity – the amplification of societal divisions, the spread of misinformation, the negative effects on mental health, the addictive nature of social media apps. It was another ‘reset,’ another reminder. I’ve written about the cloud of other people’s opinions and my own relationship with social media before (both here and here if you’re interested). As someone who feels like the world can leak into my skin a little too easily, it’s something I’m mindful of. I love the social contact, the friendship, the camaraderie. The arguments and accusations, the opinions, the politics – maybe not so much.

A few years ago, I fell ill with a bout of pneumonia. Looking back, I think I had let my immune system quite simply fall away. In my constant state of doing, perfectionism and anxiety I was vulnerable. I ended up in bed for three weeks, and then suffered a post-infection illness that lasted over a year. I was on nobody’s radar, showed up in no statistics. Yet my life was impacted hugely in a way that went largely unseen. Recently, there have been posts and people on social media I have had to unfollow, skim over.

We are all trying to navigate this situation in the best way that we can.

It’s easy to overlook, I think, that even though the world is in a ‘new normal’, nothing is really normal right now. We are all contending with daily, cumulative traumas – whether they be worrying about restrictions, feeling anxious about money, or getting used to the strange experience of life behind a mask.

Our reactions are valid – as is the grace we can grant ourselves to accept our own feelings. Someone once told me to talk to yourself as you would a friend, and I think that’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard.

If I was talking to a friend I would be understanding, I would be kind, I would listen.

And today I’d tell her:

Storms pass. You are not alone. Most people are fundamentally good.

Please be kind to you graphic


I’ll be back with more blogs after the October half-term break.

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