When I became newly single the last time around, and having spent three years with a highly toxic and destructively negative person, I realised I needed to de-tox. I’d started to become very aware of how other people affected my mood, my thought patterns, my behaviour. In fact I am acutely aware of it now and it is something I am constantly monitoring in day to day life.
So when I moved and escaped that relationship, I did a number of things. Firstly, I stopped associating with negative people wherever possible. Then I stopped watching mainstream tv – in particular advertising, the news and lifestyle/documentary programmes with a negative bent. Then I streamlined my social media. You would be surprised how the drip feed of bad news, advertising pushing you to buy things you don’t need, awful soaps, depressing documentaries and lifestyle shows like ‘Love Island’, will affect your mental wellbeing. It seems as if we feed off, and thrive on, a diet of aggressive tv and confrontation. No wonder people are so unhappy and so reactive and intolerant in real life.
Instead, post relationship, I sunk myself into some big projects including finishing writing my book and starting, and largely finishing, a film script based on it. I went back to my creative roots, a work base that had been stifled by the negative vibes around me.
The detox was life changing. i felt invincible, happy, content being single and discovering my old identity and my freedom. Actually I loved it! Now that I am back in normalsville, reconnected to media and using sites like Twitter a lot more, I’ve noticed those negative thoughts creeping in. I’m going to ditch the tv again (I’ve only had it back for about 6 weeks) and I’ve been carefully weeding out problem accounts on my Twitter feed.
It’s been an interesting exercise. A recent post by DatingDad on whether men should blog, was one the final straws for me in this respect. I’d followed and commented on the thread discussed in it and been disappointed and, frankly, depressed by some of the negative comments so liberally conveyed. To date I’ve muted 11 of the accounts I currently follow on Twitter, because you know how offended people get when you unfollow them. I have also removed a number of other accounts whose feeds are just plain angry. I don’t need it. The casting out of unfounded and derogatory comments for likes isn’t inspiring.
The accounts that affect me the worst are, perhaps not surprisingly, by women, often those on the dating carousel, who hate being on the dating carousel and think all men are assholes but can’t bring themselves to leave the dating carousel. I hate contradiction and I don’t see what purpose these people are serving from a writing perspective. I wouldn’t mind if the angry comments were backed by hard fact, or put in a more constructive or humorous way, but they aren’t. They are off the cuff, unfounded, often spiteful.
The least negative blogs and Twitter feeds, the most interesting, the most positive, the most amusing, are blogs by men. You’ll find them on my Twitter, I don’t need to list them here. They are rarer. Most men aren’t that fussed about writing. But those blogs that exist are well worth the effort. They are not bitchy or self serving. They offer an interesting slant on dating and relationships both good and bad. They are a view from the other side of the fence – one we don’t often hear. They are a genuine perspective on the dating game, and juggling life and families with a new way of living. Opinion comes from a mixture of long term singles, newly single husbands who have been on the receving end of infidelity and those dishing it out. The range is good and I appreciate the different ways in which they approach their situations using humour, fact, statistics and personal experience.
Writing done well can be therapeutic. It can serve to record a journey, a way to manage thoughts and expectations, a way to garner useful opinion and get perspective. I have no issue with that. It can be just as useful from the readers perspective. My blog is mostly observational, with bits of my dating experiences thrown in where valid and, I hope, interesting. But I don’t think I would have to go very far into my own Twitter timeline to see how the negative feeds I have been reading, have affected my perspective. I am making a conscious effort to stop it. Because it’s not helpful and, in fact, it is damaging on many levels.