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  • Writer's pictureJL Nash

Culling is Kindness

I’ve just raised my head above the parapet after what seems like 6 months of disconnection. It’s a writer’s nightmare to be disconnected from the current work-in-progress but this has been me. What have I done instead? Earned money (has to be done), been ill, recovered and watched the world respond to COVID-19. The beginning of the COVID year was quite productive for me but then reality hit and money needed to be brought in despite the huge changes in society. The social disconnection from friends and family (thousands of miles away) was starting to affect me and I discovered there’s only so much Netflix and Nordic Noir on which one can binge before needing an eye test.

But I’ve raised my head and I can see that vaccinations are being rolled out in many countries. Facebook has quit hosting news (in Australia) which is I think a good thing. Perhaps now people will go to the source of news instead of relying on watered down soundbites or fake/conspiracy/paranoid pseudo news. Local businesses are being favoured over international corporations where possible and there’s one more thing I am noticing. Social relationships. Instead of becoming more widespread with the access of the internet and group online activities, many people I know are cutting down their distractions, reducing their time on social media and culling unproductive relationships. They are choosing how to spend their time rather than be forced to use up available time because it exists.

I too have done this — not as part of a trend but it has helped to shape a life with cleaner lines. Now, there is no ambiguity in the time I choose to spend with people. Life is too precious and the amount of time available to live it, uncertain. Why waste personal time on activities and people who do not contribute to a life well-lived? Social interactions still require planning according to a COVID plan of an establishment, a socially distanced environment, or online meet-ups, singularly or in groups. I find that I do not wish to spend time with people who do not share my values and boy oh boy has this pandemic polarised people. In days gone by, I’d have put up with all sorts of crackpot ideas from friends.

One of my friends said to me – “Do you actually believe in the virus?” I wanted to scream. I know people who have had it — who have died of it — and I was asked whether I believed in it as if it were Father Christmas or the Tooth Fairy. It’s a bit like finding out a friend has been a closet Trump supporter. I began to wonder what use it was for me to rage against stupidity and as much affection and shared experience we had, was it worth it for me to waste my time supporting nonsense? It’s a tough one. After all, what am I doing if not disconnecting even further?

I think it’s simply time to cull. Get rid of the hundreds of ‘friends or followers’ I don’t know on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, etc. Less time on social media is more time for my own reconnection with (once again) my work-in-progress, then I can spend more time planning for and connecting with people I respect and who respect me (and the world we live in). I can finally read those books on the shelf, find the time to tell those I love that I do, and find in amongst it all, gratitude.

We know that gratitude stimulates the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine and the more we practice gratitude, the stronger our feelings of wellbeing and happiness (from an internal source) affect our mood and immune system. The active practice of writing down and expressing positive emotions not just in lists of good and happy stuff but as letters of gratitude or notes of gratitude to others fires up those neural pathways over and over again. I’m culling, I’m being kind to myself and eliminating toxic and unproductive emotions emanating from others where possible and I’m being really grateful for what current affairs in the world have shown me to be important for my well-being.

I can’t help it, though. I am a socialist and while that is a dirty word in many a mouth, it leaves me believing that your well-being is just as important as mine and perhaps I won’t chuck out the closet Trump supporter or the anti-vaxxer as ex-friends. Perhaps I’ll simply be grateful they have shown me where the truth lies and in that, I will have compassion for them and wish for them the same amount of neurochemical satisfaction that I am getting.

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