11/16/2016 0 Comments
Facebook, Fear, and Inhibition
(Disclaimer: I fully acknowledge that I am sharing this on Facebook and the irony inherent in this.)
For many of us, it has been a very stressful week, to put it mildy.
Whatever your political beliefs, there has been reason to be on edge. Facebook has been flooded with everyone's opinion of the goings-ons, alarmist prophesy, and reporting from dubious news outlets.
The day after the election, I found myself overwhelmed. I recognized that my system had gone into the familiar pattern of the startle response. I have written here about this phenomenon before: neck tightened, head pulled back, shoulders flying towards my ears, back and breathing constricted; a relic of the fight/flight/freeze response activating to help us deal with threats to our safety in our autonomic nervous system. This response also can correspond with panic attacks, and makes it very hard to access higher brain function--we are essentially forced into our brain stems.
Usually, when I experience one of these responses (which is often), I use strategies from the Alexander Technique to counter the onset of the physical response, and to clear up the corresponding mental static. However, 2 days into our current predicament, I still found myself frozen. Why was I unable to move this response through my body (besides obvious concerns?)
Whenever I signed on, any amount of space I had found in my system was immediately snatched up by one alarming statement or another. In that way, the startle response was constantly 'refreshed' with every refresh of my news feed.
One of the central features of the Alexander Technique is the concept of 'Inhibition'--that in order to stop the activation of a habit or response, we have to give ourselves a little space from the stimulus to create the possibility for change.
With the constant stimulation of Facebook, I was unable to find the space I needed to calm my system. So, on the advice of a friend, I 'Inhibited' Facebook--at least on my phone.
Within a day I had found significant relief. My breathing returned to normal, my sleep improved, my neck released, and my brain started to move towards positivity and action rather than fear and victimization.
I have long been concerned about the 'bubble affect' and reactivity inherent to Facebook--the danger of a stream of information shared by people from our limited social circles and the encouragement to 'react' by immediately choosing a simplified, emoticon-depicted emotional response. These factors tend to cause us to be unlikely to listen to others and 'tribe up' instead of using these platforms for reasonable discourse and expansion. Ironically, being virtually connected to everyone in the world can cause us to become more isolated than we have ever been to outside ideas. It can also cause what I am calling the 'meercat response'--a wave of fear running through communities, caused by the unmitigated sharing of our fear response virtually.
Obviously, it pays to stay informed. I still go onto Facebook a couple of times a day from my computer--but it is too easy to get addicted to the adrenaline of the emotion flying around on it. My quality of life has improved since I separated it from anything I keep on my person, and I suggest you do the same.
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Thoughts on what is going on in the work and the world right now. Many posts to come.