The internet and social media can be a lot of things. Work. Information. Distraction. Fun. A place to keep up with distant friends and family. But, as we all know, it can also often be a negative place. Ugly stuff. Trolls. Arguments. Hate.
That's nothing new. It's been there from the start. But lately, I've found that some of my "happy" places on the internet--the places I go for a break from work or stress--are becoming more and more unhappy, tense, or negative. And instead of finding an escape from stress, I'm finding more of it.
For me, Twitter used to be my watercooler where I'd "hang out" while working from home. Fun pics. Book recommendations. Funny comments. Chatting with friends. There was a lightness to it. And there is still a lot of that aspect there, but lately, there's also been so much heavy stuff. Heated debates. People calling out others. Arguing. Ugly comments. Facebook can be the same, especially around election time.
And I'm not saying those type of things shouldn't be talked about on social media. Everyone should use their platform how they see fit. And a lot of those topics are important ones, things that should be discussed. But being exposed to it every day sometimes feels like an avalanche of ugh feelings, makes the world feel like an impossibly dark place. Kind of like watching the news all day. It can affect your mood and weigh on you.
I write romance for a reason. It offers a temporary respite, a safe place to escape. I think we all need places to escape sometimes, places where we focus on the bright parts of the world, the things that make us smile or laugh or get excited. It's good self-care. It helps balance things out.
Sometimes we just need fluffy kitten and puppy pictures, dammit. :)
So though I always have books to provide a happy place for me, I've also found myself yearning for my happy place on the internet. Somewhere that I can go and just chat about nothing too heavy or look at pretty/silly/funny things or make new friends. And lately, I'm finding that I gravitate to a few specific places:
1. Instagram - I'm still kind of a newbie to Instagram, but it's quickly become one of my favorite places to take a "mind break." Cute pictures of friend's pets, funny pictures, planner p0rn, gorgeous landscapes. It's a place where people post things to make you smile, where they share the best little things in their day. (Come find me on Instagram if you want to join me in my happy place.)
2. Facebook groups - My solution to FB being kind of negative has been finding (or creating) FB groups. There's my Fearless Romantics Reader group, which is a happy place to talk about books. And then I'm in a planner group of publishing/writer people. We nerd out about planners, notebooks, pens. It's silly and fun and I've met new friends through it. It is such a happy place.
3. YouTube - Okay, this one isn't overly social for me. But since I've gotten into planners, I've spent way too much time watching people's videos on how they decorate their planners and such. it's also become my go to place when I'm researching products I might by, like when I was on the search for my mechanical keyboard.
4. Etsy - So this one can get expensive, lol. But I love seeing people (particularly women) open up their own businesses and sharing their creativity with the world. There are so many beautiful things there. And you feel good about buying there because you're supporting peoples' passions and small businesses.
There are a few others like Pinterest, but their interface often annoys me, so I don't spend as much time there as I would if I could adjust how things work, lol. But in general, those are my main go to places when I need a break.
So, I'm curious. What's your happy place on the internet? Or maybe just your happy place in general? When the worlds gets too stressful, what's your go to "brain break"?