Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Boston bombings & social media

A few weeks ago now, the city I've come to call home was hit with terribly tragedy. Two bombs brought one of the best days of the year to a screeching halt. A few people died, many, many people were injured and even more than that were faced with crushed dreams and a lost sense of security. It was a painful day for both Bostonians and people across the country.

I was horrified, of course, when I heard the news. I was scared for several of my friends who I knew were running or out watching. Thankfully they were all safe and my mother-in-law, who works right near one of the blast sites, wasn't in the office that day. Once I knew they were all ok, I felt slightly relieved. The distance kept me a bit emotionally removed.

But then Friday happened. Watertown was on lockdown. And while I have countless memories in the city of Boston and had actually watched the marathon with Meredith two years prior right across from where the bombing happpened, Watertown is much closer to home. I graduated high school a town away. My parents lived about a mile away from where the shoot out had happened. I turned on the news to reporters standing in front of the Panera I've eaten at countless times and Governor Patrick doing a press conference in front of my Target. It became personal then.

When Chris came in late Thursday night and told me there was a suspect loose in Watertown, my heart was gripped in fear. I thought of a close family friend, a second mom, really, who lives there. I thought of one of my close high school friends with a new baby who lives there. I was so scared. I prayed. I checked facebook. I slept restlessly. I woke to see my friends were safe, at least for then.

As Friday unfolded, I was glued to the television and to social media. I checked Twitter probably hundreds of times, desperate to hear news of the suspect's capture. All day long, I had a pit in my stomach and then finally, when it seemed like maybe he was long gone, they found him.

I felt relieved, but also, not really. My stomach was in knots and I was nauseous. I was glad that the suspect was found and that he couldn't do more damage. But I didn't suddenly feel safer. At some point I accidentally clicked on a link that led me to see the first suspect's corpse. You can't unsee that and I never wanted to see it in the first place.  After a day of being way too connected to media, I was fried.

There is something painful about hearing of terrible news stories or personal tragedies and not being able to do anything about it. Once upon a time, we would have only known about the pain people within our community were suffering through. Now, we hear about so much pain, near and far. Of course, there are benefits to this- people with no resources and no access to resources, can hopefully receive some. But sometimes it's just too much.

And for me, on Friday night, it had become too much. I erased Twitter and Facebook from my phone. Maybe not the most obvious course of action for what I was feeling, but it was necessary. I needed to stop reading about other people's lives for a bit, being so distracted by people far away. I needed to just focus on my husband and my children and my friends.

The internet is real. I have a few very real friends that I would never have met were it not for blogging and social media. But I just needed a break. A break from the incessant checking, updating, waiting.

That was more than two weeks ago and I can't believe how little I've missed it. I've checked both just a couple times- mostly when plans were being organized through facebook or to check up on news from new mama friends, friends waiting to have their babies or my dad who was traveling. Otherwise, I haven't been on and I really feel no worse for it.

In fact, I would say it's dramatically changed my daily life for good. I feel so much more present with my family. Because I have less to check on on my phone, I just don't check it as much. I actually find myself wondering where I left it, only to discover it's been hours since I last picked it up. This is not the norm for me. I have friends who will lose their phone or not respond to a text for hours. It's always baffled me a little- like, how have you not looked at your phone a million times since then?? But maybe I get it now.

The thing that has surprised me most is how different parenting has been. I have been more patient. Because I'm looking at my phone at more natural break times in my day (when nursing, during naps, etc), I'm not getting as frustrated when they are interrupting me. When Meredith is needing something and feels like she needs it NOW, I am better able to talk her through asking for it appropriately because I'm more present. Instead of dealing with the after affects of a tantrum, I'm more able to help her avoid one altogether.

Now, I'm obviously not saying deleting Facebook and Twitter have made me a perfect mom. Far from it. I'm just very surprised that it's made any difference at all, let alone such a marked one. I'm also not saying that I think everyone should do this. I love Twitter. I really do. Facebook is more of a love/hate relationship that sucks me in, but I think both have lots of good things about them. I love the community I've found through Twitter and I love that Facebook allows me to stay connected to family and friends far away. So, I'm not sure what the future holds for my relationship with both of them. I just know that for now this break is good. I needed it and I think my family needed it too.


Adrienne said...

First of all ~ I LOVE that photo! She's adorable, of course! And I love the motion of the train and the reflection you caught! For me, it's been a tune in/tune out kind of thing. And the stories of recovery and the sense of pulling together in the aftermath of it all ... well it's pretty amazing. I often wonder how social media would have changed my mothering. I'm often envious cause I love the number of photos that are possible (now that everything's digital!), the blogging to record stories and the long distance closeness...but, mostly, I think I'm glad it was simpler - and that as distracted as I might have been with (cough, cough) work sometimes...it seems to me that it was easier to just BE with the kids...no way to reach us at the park!! Big hug!

Michelle {lovely little things} said...

I can't even imagine knowing people in the city where something like this happened. I was riveted by the news and also terrified by the updates simultaneously, and I don't know anyone in Boston (sans other bloggers who I don't "technically" know in person).

I like how it has changed you though, I hope motherhood gives me that separation from social media, I hate how I rely on it for updates and news.

Great post!

Jodi Ann said...

I can really relate to this. At the beginning of this year, I decided to choose three social media outlets and stick with those, rather than try to stay on top of every thing everyone else was. Instagram, Blogging and Pinterest are the three and sometimes, after the boys go to bed, I check facebook, because it's a way to keep in touch with my family. But even in doing that, I still need the reminder to put the phone down. Thanks for sharing this! I realized just yesterday that half of the reason I get frustrated with my kids is because I'm upset at getting interrupted while on my phone. Sad, but true.

colleen said...

i just recently deleted facebook form my phone and i miss it every now and then, but really only if i'm bored. as for twitter - i need it for work so i couldn't get rid of it. and i found it super useful during hurricane sandy to know what was going on, what was closed, when power came back on, etc. it's an amazing tool. but i think if i was on the other end - using it to try to stay up on a really scary situation that i wasn't involved in i would get tired by the end of it or feel burnt out. and when i lose my phone i love it - it's so freeing and i don't miss it at all. i try to leave it away from me on the weekend, and i never take it out when i'm eating. all important things. i guess i'm basically saying - i feel you, and you do you.

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