I deleted social media for a week and I had a hard time shaking the overwhelming feeling of needing to share everything with everyone, or specific things with specific people…like I owed it to them or something. I think where that stems from is fear. Fear that if I don’t make myself relevant in peoples’ lives on Instagram, if I don’t stay funny on twitter…I won’t be relevant in their real lives.
On the flip side of things, staying off of it was way more easy that I had expected. I really wasn’t tempted to open it up or redownload the apps. Instead of flipping through instagram on my phone, I’d flip through old photos, check emails, FINALLY get rid of those annoying red bubbles that pop up on all of my apps. But most often, I kept my phone on ring on the table in my apartment and made myself busy with other things. I actually relaxed. The distraction of social media during downtime makes it hard to tune into just one thing. I find myself trying to wind down with a movie while simultaneously checking emails, posting an instagram and scrolling through pages and pages of tweets only to find that the movie is over and I couldn’t even tell you what the main character’s name is. So from a zoomed out perspective, it was easy and I succeeded and am going into the weekend feeling refreshed and present….blah blah blah.
Most people will say the key to staying off social media is to keep yourself busy. It’s kind of like a breakup in that way. In order to get over it, everyone will tell you to fill your days with activities and surround yourself with people who keep your mind off of it until, eventually, you forget you miss it. I think this method has some merit to it, but are you really healing from it if you just fill that void with something else? You can’t just put a patch over it and call it good. The hole is still there, there’s just something covering it up so other people don’t notice. So, I had one day in my 5 day hiatus that I didn’t even leave my apartment. A full day at home to force myself to relax and spend some uninterrupted time with myself. I woke up, made breakfast, cleaned my entire apartment, worked out watched a movie and then that’s when I felt it come crashing down on me. I had nothing to distract me from everything I was feeling. Everything that I had sort of let build up, because I was able to brush it under a rug, was starting to make its way out in to the open to hang out with me! How kind! With nothing to take my mind off of things, what did I do? Forced to deal with my feelings, I just sat in it (as uncomfortable as this was). Wrote in my journal…I also FaceTimed my mom. But what I didn’t do is post a photo on instagram to validate myself, tweet my feelings or creep on someone whose life appears to be 1 million times better than mine. What if we didn’t have social media to distract us from feeling this way? Would we be more in touch with our feelings as a generation? Would we be more productive? Would people actually focus on creating meaningful and lasting relationships? How do we even do that without the internet….???
What sucks is that it’s become trendy to go on a “social media cleanse” and then hop on instagram live and answer all sorts of questions about it to your thousands of followers. Was your intention really pure then? It’s all so frustrating to me and I find myself somewhere in the middle of it all. I think social media is a fantastic tool. There is so much to learn about the mechanics of these outlets and the influence it can have over people, businesses and relationships is second to none (I mean have you seen the FYRE documentary???) It allows you to connect with people from all over the world and opens you up to opportunities that would have been impossible in the past…but there’s gotta be a happy medium. I get so tired of always having the thought in the back of my mind of “I should post this!!!” or “If I post this then x y and maybe even z!!!!!” No. You should enjoy it while you can because this moment is gonna pass, probably already did. I’m even more sick of always having the fear that I’m way cooler on the internet. What if they think my photos look better than me in real life? What if I’m not as funny as my tweets or instagram captions? I start competing with this made up version of myself. Read that sentence again. I AM COMPETING WITH MY-MF-SELF. How stupid. If anyone in the world is gonna be a fan of mine, it should be myself. At the very least. The unrealistic expectations social media (and media in general) enables us to create are out of this world.
While it’s fun to entertain the thought of what 2019 would be like without social media, it unfortunately is pretty out of the question. Sure, you can delete the apps and pretend that alternate universe doesn’t exist, but it very much does. And it’s not going away. Even if they did outlaw it, I am fully confident that there would be some sort of strange selfie prohibition or bootleg app access. Wouldn’t that be a trip. Bottom line is that there can be a lot of good done through these outlets but I think most of us could benefit from taking a step back and asking ourselves if the time we are spending on social media is helping or hurting us. And I’m not gonna lie, it felt pretty good to ghost around for those 5 days.