A necessary hiatus

So, I have broken the cardinal sin of blogging: I have been inconsistent. It has been three weeks since my last post. I’m not sure what the blogging gods require in order to provide absolution, but let’s pretend it’s done.

Sadly, blogging would have been at the expense of something else, and everything I needed to do – all my other commitments – ranked higher compared to losing a couple of hours each week to maintain a consistent schedule. Of course, there was the alternative; churn something out on time at all costs, no matter how dreadful or false, knowing that only a handful of people read these anyway. Hi mom! Who am I kidding? There’s nothing in here interesting enough for my mom.

So, taking a break from blogging was part of a more sustained step back from social media in general. Why? Because it hasn’t been serving me. With the general election on this side of the pond and Hillary running for president on the other, I didn’t need the daily grind of news articles highlighting the general fear of women in politics. Yup, even though we’ve had the vote for ages, it’s still painfully obvious in the blatant sexism, objectification and willingness to throw in a nasty smear campaign. To be fair, that seems to be the tone of this election anyway regardless. It’s exhausting. And viewing it through social media such as Twitter (because I still believe Facebook to be the work of the devil so I don’t have to look at anything there), actually makes me less engaged, rather than more.

Because it actually encourages people to feel good about armchair politics.

To tweet their opinions, often brimming with 140 characters of righteous indignation, about a political candidate or a party when they can’t be bothered to actually join or donate to the party they claim to support. They don’t actually get off the couch and knock on doors, or get involved in any kind of political activism to actually change the world for the good of mankind. Yet somehow hitting send gives the brain the satisfying sensation that something has been done. In reality, nothing has changed. Even if you feel that you have shown some support, or awareness, the people who need that are unlikely to see it. Not like they would if you volunteered at your local food bank or soup kitchen, or actively put your ass on the line to improve race or religious relations in your community.

I am as guilty of this as anyone, of feeling this sense that hitting send means something real. I’ve faced up to the hard and painful fact it doesn’t. That I haven’t done anything other than opine. I’m doing here. The irony is not lost on me.

But that is the reality – harsh as it may sound – and in the current political climate, seeing more of it meant hitting the critical mass point to hammer the truth home to me. Some days, Twitter has been a downright angry place, and scrolling through my timeline feels like I’m being shouted at for ten minutes. What can I say about suffering in Nepal? Nothing, I live in one of the most tectonically stable countries in the world. I spent six months in New Zealand and a couple of hard quakes sent me running like a baby back home. What can I say about race relations in America? Nothing. I can have a vague sense of right or wrong, but I can’t feel like an opinion of mine would embrace the nuances of a situation when I’ve grown up without the weight of cultural history on my shoulders.

So, taking a break, assessing myself and my values honestly rather than in a way that simply makes me feel good and validated, was something I needed to do. Ultimately, I felt the need to write about it before normal posting resumes. If you’ve made it this far, then thank you for letting me share it with you.

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