The death of a relative is a sobering reality. All of a sudden, death becomes as real, as close, but still as distant as the neighbours next door that you never exchanged words with, even though you’ve been neighbours for more than a decade.
Since my cousin lost her battle with cancer, I took a much-needed hiatus from Facebook. It seems the only time I contemplate life is when I am faced with the phenomenon of death. Death doesn’t exist in isolation. It’s the name given to a state of being marked by the loss of life.
Deactivating Facebook felt right because I was losing myself. It felt necessary because I was becoming as bitter as the politicians I criticised. That couldn’t be the extent of my existence and my resistance.
Two days from today will make it one month since I deactivated. I’m feeling the benefits of my decision. Now my breathing feels more controlled. I feel more rational in my thinking (Maybe I’ll take up yoga). My days feel longer so there is more time for doing things I’ve been putting off. I’m not overwhelmed, swimming against a tide of negative news piling up in my newsfeed. And I have more time to focus on gender justice and women studies.
This reflection I’ve embarked on is a reflection of self. A sort of backwards birth unlike the kinds of reflections on the rapist’s paradise I call my home country- Guyana. I haven’t set my mind as yet on when or if I will return to Facebook and I’ve slowly found ways to cope with this new lifestyle. With no regression in sight, the hiatus also allowed me to focus on my course material for this concluding ‘semester abroad’ at the New Jersey City University in New Jersey, Babylon. I return to the UWI in September for my final academic year.
I recall meeting a young woman in NYC. She told me she was anaemic. But that she also suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and has regular anxiety attacks. What a cocktail.
But, It made sense to me.
Her face was most-times pained, her knees always buckling as she stood; somewhat giving in to the parrot-toed slanting of her feet. When she sat, her legs locked at the knee. Her posture, befitting a 90-year-old woman. Her 70s afro, and coke-bottle-ish glasses didn’t help the situation either.
Concerned about her health because she seemed too young, I asked about her day. She said she plans every minute of it, and works quite hard to maintain that order– a symptom of her compulsive disorder. I asked about relaxation and the time she designates for taking care of herself mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and physically after a long day’s work. She said she spends one hour on Facebook every night, and that equates to her relaxation time. Yikes.
With eyes squinted, raised brows, and lips folded into my mouth as though resisting (in great pain) the urge to say something, I thought to myself how problematic it was for her to equate Facebook with relaxation.
Breaking my silence, I painted an image to her where she comes home from work after a rough day. She saunters over to her desktop determined to have some well-deserved rest and relaxation. She opens her Facebook and begins scrolling through a world where children are being killed by governments, where people are killing each other, where big business trumps people’s rights and all the other things that wax prominent in the Facebook algorithm of News.
Reflecting on my words, she managed to link her regular one hour ‘Facebook relaxations’ with a tightness in her chest that subsequently follows. It’s been a while since I’ve last seen her, so I haven’t any updates on whether she considered divorcing Facebook from the idea of relaxation (although she seemed convinced in the moment), but I hope it has brought her some relief.
As for me, I will continue to explore ideas of love, and resistance, and liberation, while not doing it on Facebook. This is about exploring a world where love is spoken as resistance and liberation against power, and where I can engage with the many others who have brought the message to the people through non-Facebook ways. A face-to-face connection that can withstand suppression from ‘power’ companies, and monopolising telecommunication giants.
With love, liberty, and vybs,