Does anyone else feel like their social media usage has changed drastically in the past couple of weeks? I know mine has.
I’ve been thinking a lot about social media. I feel like most of my friends have fallen into two camps — those who have decreased their posting significantly and those who have increased their posting significantly. I am not here to say that either choice is bad or good. I will not talk for anyone else about their change or lack of change in their social media habits, what might be behind it or what they are thinking.
I have noticed that I am on Instagram more now that I have ever been (except for during the nights of feeding when my daughter was an infant), but what is different now is my need to share posts. In the beginning days of the war, I made a point of sharing a lot on Facebook, not so much about the war, but more about efforts to help people – events, places for people to get help, ways for people to help. I have noticed that those things are being circulated less and less, I am not sure if things are more established, things are not happening any more, or that people are afraid of sharing stuff in public forums.
And as that slowed and the war began in full force, it became more about posting things about how Jewish people were feeling or the many ‘Bring them home’ posts (please may the hostages come home safely and soon), or calling out the UN and other women’s groups for not speaking up against the women and girls who were raped and assaulted, or calling out the UN and other child advocacy groups what about the children that were taken hostage. Or trying to share the ‘good news’ stories because there needs to be a bit of light.
Now I feel like there is a slight guilt if I am not posting or sharing something. Like if I’m not even doing this I don’t care or aren’t paying attention, that I am letting people down who really need support. I also know that some things I have shared have offended people – sometimes I didn’t realize that there was a message there, as I was blindly sharing in this fitful need, sometimes I did agree with most of what was written, sometimes I did get swept up in the sentiment — and this posting felt like I was doing something.
But is it really doing anything? Why do I have this need for all that social media right now? Here are some things I have decided, and maybe this might resonate with you too.
Need to feel like I’m Doing Something
I think this is a big one. I feel like I am so far yet so near, but because I am not in Israel there is only so much I can do. I also know that there is only so much money I am able to donate, and somehow posting things feels like an action. It’s an action I can do every day and even multiple times a day. Will it actually change anyone’s opinion? Will it actually get any government or international body to change their ways? Honestly, I don’t think so (I am very happy to be proven wrong). But staying silent on the side while there is a war going on, hostages haven’t been seen, and antisemitism is on the rise also feels extremely wrong.
Boredom and Habit
I think, like for many people, social media was my backup when I was bored and wanted a bit of mind-numbing entertainment. It used to be the place to scroll and see funny pictures, some interesting articles, some ridiculous things. So even though the landscape of my social media feeds have changed, my interactions haven’t yet. I still want to scroll and find those things, but I’m not. But then I am drawn into all the things that are being shared and want to be part of that too, so I am sharing.
Wanting to Scream Too
I want to scream into the void too! I want to yell and cry about everything that is happening. And in a weird way, posting other people’s words, pictures and videos kinda feels like I am doing that screaming too. It might not come off that way, and in the end doesn’t feel the same as giving a good yell – but it is a good try.
Fear of Missing Out
Being outside of Israel on 7 October and not looking at my phone until after Simchat Torah was out on Sunday evening was shocking. I know that things will get shared the fastest on social media. It is where I hear about rockets, soldiers being killed, marches, – just everything going on. It feels like if I am not connected all the time, I will miss something again. I will not know what is happening, and it’s important to know (or at least feel that way).
Need to Feel Connected to People ‘Like Me’
Being on social media makes me feel connected to other people, and thanks to algorithms, connected to other people who are feeling similarly to me. Almost every Saturday night for the past month, a news story is about another 100,000 people marching in London at pro-Palestinian marches, and there is always a bit where someone somewhere spoke about getting rid of the Jewish people in horrible ways. So although it is intense, it is nice to see many others thinking the same, being scared, wanting to call for change, thinking that this is wrong.
Need to Connect with Others
This time has been very isolating and lonely. If I am speaking honestly, I feel very alone right now. I am not sure who my in-person community is or should be, or even what is actually happening on the ground here. I feel like if I was leading a community there would be things I could be doing, but as I don’t have that responsibility I am just on my own. I don’t really have people I can talk to about this at work or for many it’s now ‘old news’ so why bring it up. And then after work, after my daughter goes to bed, what else is there to do — so here is a way that feels like I am connecting.
It reminds me of the early days of Lockdown when it was the way to see and ‘be’ with other people. It just feels a little less lonely.
I am not really sure what the point of this post is or why it’s been on my mind. I am not even sure I will change what I have been doing on social media.
But maybe writing this too is my way of connecting with others — saying that if you have found this in yourself, you are not alone. It is hard right now. It is isolating right now. It is scary right now.