Season of Facebook mental fatigue

The fatigue, man. The fatigue. Facebook had been such a mindless escape. Kid pics, cat vids, friendly witticisms and pop culture think pieces. Throwback Thursdays. Restaurant check-ins. Selfie, selfie, selfie. I bet I could scroll in my sleep.

Then the political season came, and friends began posting pro this candidate, con this candidate. Like, like, ignore, ignore, ignore. I unfriended a few people, hid others. As time went on, my feed became more well-curated, more highly manicured.

There were a few surprises, of course.

A guy from grade school seemed to have the exact opposite opinions from me. His comprehension of the universe seemed so, so flawed. His wrongness so proudly wrong. Was he in a lower-level reading class than me, I wondered. I thought of us all, kids, sitting at a table in Mrs. W’s class. Was he there? I kept him as a friend, though. I’ve known him a long time.

Early on, I had to remember this race was not a sprint.

In a nonpartisan move, I hid the chronic posters, the people who yelled the loudest. I tried to maintain the integrity of my zone-out zone.

The scrolling continued. All day, every day, this constant chatter in the background of everything. First thing in the morning, whenever I had to wait for anything — whether it was for lunch or for my daughter to go to the bathroom — before I went to sleep.

Somehow my personal Facebook experience became a place where 98 percent of the people posting, feeding that hungry feed, were exactly like me. We all wanted the same thing, and we were all going to get it from the same person. Read this article. Now read this one.

I still occasionally visited the guy with the opposing viewpoints. I was a tourist. His page was like opening a door to an alternate universe where orange juice spilled upward, toward your feet. I wrote responses, then deleted responses, then I rewrote them and deleted them again. I screamed a lot in my head, then slammed the door shut.

By early November, Facebook was heavy. Like trying to run on sand while wearing a wet snowsuit. So many opinions. Even though they were just like mine, there were just too, too many. I’ve never, ever felt such mental fatigue about anything as I did about this election. Still, scroll, scroll, scroll.

Even now, Facebook is exhausting. Paragraphs upon paragraphs of people thinking aloud. Post-election analysis. Kate McKinnon singing “Hallelujah” on “Saturday Night Live.” A “Do You Live in a Bubble” Facebook quiz (turns out I do.) Even me, writing this.

“Can everyone just be quiet?,” I’ve wondered. Is even asking that a privilege?

Why not just log off Facebook. Read poetry. Run in the woods. Write a short story about two kittens vying for the primo napping spot on top of the television. But I just can’t look away. The scroll finger, it twitches.

Written by Christa Lawler for the Duluth News Tribune

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