“‘I’ll look stupid.’ ‘Then shut your eyes. It’s amazing how much vanity it takes away.'” (Mark Green)
attn: I began drafting this post in the evening of the 29th June. It’s now the 4th July. I genuinely didn’t plan to post this on America’s Independence Day but it’s funny how well that fits, no? Cue the post…
I woke up in the middle of the night yesterday and everything came together; I understood that social media really just isn’t for me, so I went back to sleep, and in the morning, I was able to delete all my apps and get on with shaping my life.
…If only it could’ve been that simple. Truthfully, ‘simple’ and ‘straightforward’ aren’t words in my dictionary. I’d like to think that that’s part of my charm.
My troubled relationship with Snapchat & Instagram is actually something that’s been brewing in my mind for a while, but whenever I try to pinpoint exactly why I want out of that whole scene, my head becomes a massive bowl of goop. And then I get anxious about a future where I don’t have these virtual chains around my hands. Or, say, what if I relapse after announcing I’m leaving social media? People would think I’m a fraud. (See next paragraph) Opening these apps gives me knots in my stomach and a flush in my cheeks, and coherently piecing together why I have this response has been a long process.
I’m still disconnecting myself from the silly notion that self-worth lies in what other people think of you, but I know I’m not alone in feeling what you might call a disgust for social media. I know people who look at Snapchat just for the sake of getting rid of the notifications, or people who go on Instagram just because they feel obliged to double-tap on people’s photographs as a sign of friendship. And people have been successful in ‘quitting’ these things – friends of mine have done so as quietly as mice – but I’m me, and the drama that I physically emit like ultraviolet radiation is just a byproduct of what’s going on inside my head. Thankfully, by writing this blog, I can chip away at the marble and get to know myself a little better.
So here’s a transcript of the internal debate I’ve been having. This is an insight into my perspective. Perhaps, in reading this, you’ll be able to see a reflection of how you feel, too. But we’re all so different and unique with our own varying life experiences, and I’m sure there’s someone out there who would rather eat both their feet than remove themselves from social media. If you’re reading this, I’d love to know your opinion on the matter. No matter how you feel, maybe I can inspire someone else to do some soul-searching.
Instagram is an image-sharing service. The picture is the most important, the caption an almost unnecessary second. You share pictures, usually examining the peak time to post and using hashtags to give greater exposure. Companies use it to promote. As for me, I post photos whenever I want to feel validated, whether that’s by likes or by showing curated snapshots of a perfect life. I post so specific people see my pictures and think I’m cool. I’m not really ashamed to admit that anymore.
My Instagram is public, and to me? There’s not really much of a difference as to if your pictures are public or not. At the end of the day, it’s all the same concept. You’re picking and choosing certain things to share with other people for validation through ‘likes’, no? I suppose you go private if you want to hide your persona from people who you know are snooping. I went private for a while just so it would feel like I had my own little community of friends exclusively following me.
My problems with Instagram would probably go away if there were no “likes” system. That’s why I’m so excited to be writing this blog, because I’m able to share my experiences without judging to see what amount of people ‘liked’ my content against others. It’s silly to think I need that kind of validation. I’m free to do what I want, write what I want, engage with what I want here, and every single word that I type is my own brand of swan-shaped resistance. I’m writing this blog for me, and if people happen to find enjoyment in reading about my life? Good for them! And if they choose to engage in it, that’s absolutely amazing as well and it warms my heart.
But the best thing about this blog is that it makes no difference whether or not I’m writing into the void. I’m fed up with selling my self-worth to corporations that only care about how to convert my engagement into cash.
However, quitting scares me because not fitting in is still something that scares me. But who exactly am I trying to fit in with? Is there anything to even fit into? I want to talk to and associate with people like me. I don’t want to fit into a crowd where I don’t belong. If I want to talk to my friends, I will message or ring, and if they want to talk to me they’ll do the same. I’ve tricked myself before into thinking I’m friends with people because we watch each other’s stories or like each other’s Instagram posts and thus we “know” what’s happening in each other’s lives. It’s not real.
Social media sucked me in and became one of my hobbies. It became part of me. And it’s a fat hobby that requires a lot of attention because there’s constantly new content, so it knocks your other hobbies off the shelf slowly and subtly. Yes. Looking at snapshots of other people’s lives, and double tapping those snapshots in a display of affection/appreciation, becomes a hobby. That’s one of my big issueswith Snapchat, too – that feeling of being obliged to make yourself into a public spectacle.
I went on Snapchat and used it properly last week, and really looked at the content that I saw on my friends’ stories. Including, but not limited to; filming grandparents with the caption “look at how cute they are”. Panorama shots of landscapes. Selfies with friends at dinner. A few clips of a film they’re watching. Food. Intimate moments made not-so-intimate. And I thought about how I’ve put all this stuff on my story before as well. Is it not ridiculous? Why am I living my life like this, as if I’m a piece of entertainment?
(And I understand sharing selfies with friends to those friends as it allows them to screenshot the pictures and keep them, but I mean, putting them on my story? Who am I doing that for? The morning after a night out, after posting ~20 things on my story, I’d constantly be checking who’d seen it and I think I understand why now.)
I want to experience things with the people I’ve chosen to experience things with, not feeling the need to share that experience with hundreds of other people too. I have to WANT to do things rather than feel obliged to.
I’m not including WhatsApp, LINE, Facebook Messenger, etc. when I talk about social media, by the way, because they’re virtual extensions of standard communication. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, gimmicky things are what I consider social media, but Instagram and Snapchat as apps based on the visual are definitely the worst for me.
Why aren’t Facebook and Twitter as bad? Because Twitter is basically just used to scream into the void. Twitter is also good for text interaction. Facebook has basically just become a news and a funny video outlet. For me they’re just much less overwhelming.
We’re better than being slaves to technology. We’re better than this and we don’t even know it. I need to stop feeling like I need validation from people who actually don’t matter to me. We’re made to feel locked into this system and I refuse to be complicit. I’m not happy with it, but it doesn’t mean that others can’t be. You have to do what makes you happy and if you have any doubt that you’re not enjoying it take the correct steps and try not to leave it too late to do so.
This was a heavy one. It took days to write because every time I reread it I had to rewrite a bunch of stuff, as some things were totally clouded by emotions from personal vendettas. But I’m leaving it as it is now. I need this to be documented, so that when I look back at it I can really identify what my real issues were at the time of writing. I’d like to think I’m really getting to know myself and I’m glad that I’m finally taking these steps.
So what’s next?
I don’t know yet if I want to make new social media accounts for the promotional purposes of this blog. I think I’ll remake a Twitter and I plan to engage with things that matter to me. I’m going to look into it, because I don’t want to be sucked back in, but I would like to give this blog exposure in any case. If just one person can discover this blog and feel inspired I’ll be more than content. I really do understand just how incredibly important it is to find a voice you can relate to.