Freeing myself of toxins and surveillance

An illustration of a cellular phone with a cable tied to various social media icons, like the Twitter heart and the Facebook like button. A man in a navy suit and red tie, with a beard, is holding giant scissors, ready to cut the cord.

Part of sobriety is working a program. Often times this program involves talking about your shortcomings, accepting them, surrender, and forgiveness. It also involves cutting out the things you are addicted to, and all of the ways that addiction manifests in ways that negatively impact yourself or the people around you.

Counseling is another aspect that can help identify addictive behavior or manifestations of addiction. I’ve been going through a lot of stress over the past year, so even without being an addict, I’d have done well to hit the therapy sessions to help learn how to cope with stress.

One of the coolest things I’ve learned in this round of therapy is that the action of problem solving gives you the same feel-good brain chemicals that break up those heavy knots of anxiety when stressful situations arise that acting on addictive behavior does. The difference, of course, is that it’s not instantaneous.

It’s interesting for me to learn that one of the reasons I’ve been able to stay clean for the vast majority of the past sixteen years is largely in part because of my job. It’s not even a career I planned on. It just happened. It’s repeatedly been such a life-saving accident, and why I continue to impress on people that this trade — this vocation — should be more accessible to people without formal education or access to privileges and resources that have turned this profession into a classic example of “professionalism” turning regular labor into classist gatekeeping. I’m so glad I have been able to advocate for Computer Science education for incarcerated youth and adults, and for other marginalized people — I know it is something that makes a real difference with access and awareness.

Now onto why I’m writing this post.

Today in counseling, my counselor and I identified that social media — Twitter, in particular — causes me enormous amounts of stress. Not only is it a manifestation of my addiction (as it is for a lot of people), but I get anxiety from the notifications (I have push notifications turned off, but once I log in, I feel the need to interact with every single person who has interacted with me). With the large following I have, it’s an impossible task to keep up with, so I am constantly feeling the need to check if I have any notifications, so it never gets to a point where it’s overwhelming. Except… it’s always overwhelming. When there’s none, I worry that I left my phone open and the notifications auto-cleared, leading me to scroll endlessly through all of the tweets I’d never have seen before.

On top of that, there are people who monitor my social media. For contract breaches. For things to harass me about. For mistakes to use against me. For pure interest — positive or negative. Being surveilled is something that I never imagined would happen to me, and I can tell you, nothing has made me more wishful of a life off the grid with a garden and only my family and friends to concern myself with.

I am looking forward to being free of the mental hold that social media has programmed into me, especially in how it personally affects me.





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