Over the course of the past year, I have found myself just totally fascinated by the internet. There is so much you can do here! You know the show tune that talks about a place where everybody knows your name? They're totally talking about the internet, duh. I have been rediscovering the internet and I've found it to be this amazing place to reach out, share and connect with people from all over. We have the Facebook, the Youtube, the Vine, the Instagram, the Tumblrs, the Twitters, the LinkedIn, the Reddit, the Buzzfeeds...there are countless websites, blogs and social media networks that we can create accounts for and let our voices be heard! We have come a long way from AOL messenger and Myspace, my friends. The internet is clearly where it's at. Or is it?
The internet is everywhere, literally- it's in the palm of our hands, the back pocket of our jeans and at the bottom of our purses. Smart phones, tablets, and even watches and glasses now, have enabled us to have all the news and updates, all the time. But isn't there some kind of saying about too much of a good thing? Hmmm??? How much internet is too much internet? And when should we step away??? The answer to this question is different for everyone, but I'll share my experience of the very moment I knew I had to step away and breathe.
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Kim K. shared her Paper Magazine cover on the internet with the hashtag "#BreakTheInternet". People had all kinds of things to say about it, good and bad. Regardless of whether people were saying good things or bad things, people were talking. So once again, she won and she is still famous. And once again, many of us are asking, "But how, Sway?" If you have the right platform and you put something on the internet and push it in the right way, it will travel and it will travel quickly... Kim K. is very aware of this. She knows what she's doing. She knows how to create a buzz and how to stay relevant and keep her name in our mouths, good or bad. She is the essence of something incessantly sensationalized by the internet.
Now, let's go to the opposite end of the spectrum. In the last year, we've seen the internet flooded with hashtags like, "#BlackLivesMatter", "#ICantBreathe", "#JusticeFor(Insert Name of Black Life Lost)", "#IfTheyGunnedMeDown", and even "#CrimingWhileWhite". Initially, I found myself totally obsessed and inundated with the events surrounding these hashtags. I was overwhelmed with emotion, my writing was heavy and I couldn't always tell the difference between what might have been passion or anger. One morning, as I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, I came across the newest story of a black life lost and sensationalized by the media. In the very moment I saw this article, my heart grew heavy and I rolled over and asked myself, "How long do I have to feel sad about being black?" Now, before I go any further, please allow me to clarify: I am proud of my beautiful black skin and heritage. I am quite aware of my blackness. My eyes have been open to racism and many of the ways it is implied and enforced. I don't wake up in the mornings wishing I was not black- this is not what I mean at all. What I mean is that sometimes, when the things you see, feel and experience on a daily basis become so incredibly magnified and amplified by the television and the internet, it can become overwhelming. I'd started feeling so overwhelmed with emotion, I couldn't write and I didn't want to scroll through any of my timelines. I began to wonder, "Is the media Kim K.'ing me in the worst way???" In the same way that Kim K. knows how to get people talking about her and her life, was the media doing the same with me? Was all of this about sharing the news or was it about making me feel some type of way about myself, my life and my community? Was all of this affirming that my black life matters or was it assuring me that it doesn't?
That morning, I decided I needed to put my phone down and unplug for a while. I realized I had become so engulfed in every story, every post, every video- I began to feel like the internet had actually broke... me.
In today's world, we want everything "now" and we must be in the "know", but sometimes, it's good to unplug. Everything that is part of the "now" or the "know" is not always put in front of us with our best interest in mind. We must keep in mind that their are tragedies every day, just as there are victories everyday. The media picks and chooses what to magnify and what to skip over. It is up to us to choose for ourselves what we become invested in and what we ignore. I'm sharing this experience because I know I'm not the only one who has felt or feels this way. The internet can be a wonderful place to keep in touch and stay up on all that is going on in the world. But it can also be a scary place that may suck you in and overwhelm you if you let it. Let us try our best to be aware of ourselves and understand when we are reaching out limits. Let us find the joy and peace in unplugging when we need to. The internet and all of it's goodness, glory and garbage will still be there when we're ready to plug back in. I promise.