I've been off of social media for about a week now. This seems like nothing, but it's a big deal as my life and job revolve around social media. Still, I had to make the call to protect myself from all of the negativity that's happening. Between coronavirus (COVID-19) and the riots, social media has become too heavy and overwhelming for me. This isn't for me to say that I'm whining about what's happening, but if quarantine has taught me anything, it's to take care of myself.
Before people jump down my throat and say that I'm ignoring the issues with the riots and murders — I'm not ignoring them.
I've become accustomed to seeing a new name on my timeline every day since the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012. I had just turned 12 when he was killed. I can remember my mom sitting my older brother and me down before we went to school to explain things to us — I'm sure she never figured she'd have to talk about. Imagine that, a 12-year-old and a 13-year-old having a conversation about living as a Black child in America right before she sends us off to school. Imagine her fear as a single parent and our fear as children who were just getting over the news of our parent's divorce. It was a lot to take it as a kid.
Trayvon's death sparked a conversation and it seemed like after he was killed, more and more black people were being killed. Every day, it was a new name and a new "situation" where someone feared for their life. For years, I got used to the names on my social media feed and the numbing effect began to settle in. Every time I would check my social media, it's a new headline with a new name and a new "situation," and I just scrolled past them. It wasn't shocking or alarming anymore. It was just like, "Oh man, another one? Again? When will it end? Is it ever going to end?"
Lately, the outbreak of the riots and looting, on top of COVID-19 still being an issue, social media has just become too much for me. I was tired of checking to see rising numbers in COVID deaths, seeing politicians cheat college students out of stimulus checks, and seeing people sprayed in the face with tear gas. I had to do something for me and deleting social media was the best option. I used to be able to just scroll without hesitation, but I can't anymore. I used to get mad every time I saw a new name of a black person killed by police, but now I can't scroll without getting sad.
As a black woman, discussing mental health is something I shouldn't talk about because many families in the black community think of mental health as a taboo topic.
According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 10 percent more likely to experience serious psychological distress. In another study, it was proven that many black people are not open to discussing mental health, but are willing to seek help. Trauma also adds to mental health problems, so with these riots, how are black people supposed to protect themselves, not only physically, but mentally? How are they supposed to feel safe in their mind when they've been taught their entire life that they can't have a mental illness? How are they supposed to be the best versions of themselves when the rioting ends and they're traumatized from being sprayed in the face with tear gas, shot at with rubber bullets, and pushed around and stomped on? How does someone heal from that kind of trauma? Our (black people's) many-great-grandparents and so on didn't even heal completely from the trauma they ensued during slavery and segregation, which is why the topic of mental health needs to be a priority now more than ever.
I understand that people are using social media to have petitions signed and show their solitude with the black community, but eventually, it becomes too much. If you're reading this and you know the overwhelming feeling I'm talking about, I suggest that you take a social media break.