Earlier this year, or possibly last year, I cannot remember exactly, as a way of being less distracted by social media, I tried to come off Facebook but rather than deleting my account I just switched off all notifications and deleted the app from my phone. Facebook is still a useful place to share information about local poetry events I organise so I realised that it wasn’t a good idea for me to disappear completely from there.
I didn’t use Facebook very much at all, other than to share news about poetry and literature events and local arts events, but during the General Election, I did share that I was voting Labour, mainly because I was noticing a fair bit of political posting there, including targeted ads and misinformation from right-wing groups, and I wanted to make a little stand about what I believe in and stand up for. I was heartened to find out that most of my Facebook contacts broadly share my political bias which, of course, proves that I circulate in a bubble of like-minded people but also that I am in contact with people with shared interests which was and continues to be comforting during difficult times.
However, some interactions on Facebook are a bit stressful, to be honest, so I am back to popping in and out of that space and not spending too much time there. So I posted a letter there to my friends and I thought I’d share it here as well, as a means of explaining where I am and what I’ve been doing to look after myself during a somewhat tricky time. The letter is as follows:
Hello everyone. Like many of you, I’ve had to find ways of protecting my own mental health over the last few days and one thing that has helped me is being in the company of other people. At the moment, Facebook is a place where I find the many opinions, arguments, ideas sometimes overwhelming and sometimes upsetting. For that reason, I don’t have fb on my phone and I’ve turned off all notifications, so if I haven’t responded to something you’ve said, that is why. But important to say to you that I have found my little bubble of like-minded people a wonderful refuge during a difficult time, and you often inspire me, so thank you for that.
Regular places I am, and would love to see you, are in Trowbridge at Drawing Projects UK (please google them if you don’t know them) on the first Saturday of every month (2-4pm) for our Trowbridge Stanza meetings. Everyone is welcome. We meet to read, listen to and talk about poetry. I send out a monthly newsletter which you can subscribe to or there is a Trowbridge Stanza page on my website (www dot josephinecorcoran dot org).
I also try to go to many other events at Drawing Projects UK, it’s really worth signing up for their newsletter or finding out more about their project. There is great cafe there, too, so a good place to meet. I also go to the Zero Waste Shop and the local artists shop in Trowbridge Town Hall and to their events. Again, really worth a visit and a good place to meet. Some fantastic grassroots arts work going on in Trowbridge at the moment!
I also try to go to poetry events in Bristol, Bath and Cardiff (and London and other places of course) so please say hello if you see me at any event/festival/reading.
I also make sandwiches for our church’s soup and sandwich run for homeless people and people in need. This is a soup run organised by all the churches in Trowbridge who work together on a rota to provide hot soup and sandwiches. Even if you’re not religious, it’s worth checking out what churches are doing in your community where you live and offering support and/or donations if you can. We donate food for our local foodbank through our church, for example. St Nicholas of Tolentino in Bristol is particularly active in the community and does amazing work but is in need of more support.
So the point of this long letter is to say where I am in person and to tell you what’s helping me get through what has been a sad time. But I am a writer (and a poet to boot!) so I am extremely used to disappointments and I am absolutely not going to feel defeated or pessimistic about anything.
Love and solidarity