Art by Myles Rowser
I’ve come down with a case of being too woke and it’s starting to take a toll on both my mental and physical health. I’ve seen a lot of articles talk about self-care in relation to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and other oppressed communities and I think it’s important to take some of those self-care tips and apply it to the –isms and –phobias we also experience in geek culture.
Here are a few ways we can survive in a culture that’s sometimes hostile:
Find Your Community
One of the most important things for you to do is find your community and safe spaces. This can be a group of IRL or Internet friends, troll-free online forums or meetup groups.
There are a lot community specific places online and in person that you can join. Geek Girl Brunch, Black Girl Nerds, Gaymers, Geeks Out and Geek Girl Pen Pals Club are just a few. Do some research and ask around about online and in-person communities that fit your needs.
Having a place where you can just be yourself and not worry about intolerance or hate is vital. Not just for the journey towards a more diverse geek culture, but for life. Finding a place where you feel comfortable may take some time, but never give up.
Do you know any other community specific groups or sites? Please comment and I’ll keep the list above updated!
You Don’t Have to Engage
The second thing you should do is don’t feel the need to engage. If you’re like me, a lot of your feeds are filled with people sharing and talking about the latest injustice. I know sometimes social media can make you feel guilty if you don’t talk about the latest negative headline or don’t tweet out the newest hashtag. But remember, you don’t have to talk about it, and if you do talk about it you don’t have to reply to anyone.
It took me a while to really feel okay with just being silent on topics of injustice on social media. It’s only recently that I decided to speak up only when I really wanted to and not when I felt pressured to. It all comes down to awareness – make sure you’re fully aware of your actions and in control of them.
It’s also okay to not educate everyone, or anyone for that matter, about diversity, race, gender, religion or sexuality. It’s not your job. Explaining why representation matters and your own humanity is tiring and you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to.
I’ve also come to realize the similarities between talking about social justice online and dealing with street harassers. Street harassers will cat call and try to make you feel guilty for ignoring them or shutting them down, but you have to remember, just like social media, you don’t owe them shit.
The third thing you can do is to get off the internet. Now I’m not telling you to cancel your internet and phone service, but I am telling you to tune out when your social media feeds and the news become too much. Switch on airplane mode for a few hours, play a game offline, watch a movie, read a book, go to the park and try your very best to not use your social media apps.
If you can’t tune out all the way, that’s okay! This is a judgment free zone. Instead, try muting and unfollowing accounts that often post negative news. If you run across negative media, think like Dory and just keep scrolling.
Go to your Happy Place
Last but not least, when things are overwhelming go to your happy place and do something that you truly enjoy. It’ll (hopefully) cheer you up and it’s also a great reminder as to why you fell in love with geek culture. Because I won’t lie, sometimes we need reminders.
My happy place is shoujo manga and anime. The storylines are so innocent and sweet. I know the most stressful thing the characters will experience is a love triangle or holding their boyfriend’s hand for the first time. Even that stresses me out! But in a good way.
Whether it’s society in general or the pockets of geek culture that you’re apart of, it’s important to be mindful of your mental and emotional bandwidth. If things are literally too much for you to handle, please please please seek professional help. You do not need to go through this alone.
Do you have any other tips that work for you? Please share in the comments!