Social media has always been a point of tension for me. It is simultaneously one of the most irritating and most enjoyable things in my life (is that sad?) I LOVE reading blogs and watching Youtube videos on anything from organization to book reviews. I log in more than a few times a day to laugh at memes my husband sends me and read funny tweets from my friends. But those are always punctuated by annoying Facebook posts that are either political or irritating “humble brags” plastered in my newsfeed by well-meaning “friends”.
In 2014 I graduated high school and moved an hour away to attend college. I was never the sort of person who loved or hated high school, but I was glad to be moving onto something else. However, I was tired. I was tired of social media, tired of the people I went to school with, and tired of so so many people either pretending their lives were perfect on social media, attacking each other, or arguing about politics. So I deleted it all. That’s right, I deactivated Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even Tumblr. I needed a break and some time to find myself and enjoy being disconnected.
The feeling was amazing. No one knew where I was or what I was doing. I didn’t feel obligated to post an updated “selfie” or read through my newsfeed a million times a day, and I was blissfully unaware of the political commentary and arguments raging on Facebook. I spent time with my Grandpa riding bikes and visiting places from his childhood, I worked a part-time job, I read 10 books. I felt like I was living life off the radar.
The truth is, the internet drives me nuts. So many people type before they think, they disregard other people’s feelings or they post without all of the information. I am so tired of people my age obsessively checking their follower to following ratio, seeing how many likes they got, or worrying that their post wasn’t funny enough, they didn’t post at the “right time” to gain optimal attention, etc. We are all guilty of one of these things. What does this say about our generation? (myself included). It seems like we are more concerned with the way people think we are living, rather than actually living. I didn’t like how social media made me act, the time it took away from the other things in my life, and the way other people behaved online was taking its toll on me as well. The months I spent without a phone in my hand were good for my soul, I did things with the knowledge that other people wouldn’t know about it because I didn’t post about it. I did them solely for my own pleasure. Imagine a world where you lived for the experience and for the enjoyment, rather than the Snap Story or post so other people will see.
Many times my irritation with the internet was not at the millennials so concerned about crafting their social media image. Often, especially in the wake of the election, it’s directed at those who are so obsessed with using their keyboards as a way of proving a point and “winning”. Even in the face of tragedy, there are people still at one another’s necks. Even older people perpetuate the negative effects of social media. Recently I have even seen people who are deeply religious and usually very kind post cruel things about opposing political parties. Social media gives us a platform to voice our most negative thoughts, but should we always take the stage? I know I have had to step back a few times. I believe that Facebook, Twitter, etc. can dredge up negative feelings, and sometimes it’s okay to take a break from your own thoughts, as well as the thoughts of others.
To me, it seems as if social media is a way to prove something. We spend so much time trying to highlight how good our grades are, opinions are, our marriages are, and our lives are. Instead of worrying about what people think when it comes to what we post, which has no bearing on our lives at all, I feel like it’s more important to actually live.
I think the greatest thing about being plugged in is that it’s all up to you. It’s up to you to know when to step back for your own well-being, and I also think it’s up to you to not compare yourselves to others and to stop looking at it as a competition. We don’t always have to be plugged in, and it’s more than okay to take a break once in a while. Social media does not equate to worth, the amount of likes you get are not going to matter in 5 years or even 5 months. Invest your time into things that matter.
So yes, I did eventually get my social media back after many months, but now my philosophy is that it’s for MY enjoyment, and when it is no longer enjoyable to me or it’s taking too much of my time or security, I’ll delete it again. I think social media can be beneficial when used in moderation and with an adjusted view. I had to adjust mine, and now I look at it as a way to share moments with my close family and friends, to laugh together, and to share in joy. I don’t compare myself to others, and I scroll past the humble brag posts and arguments the best I can and remind myself that these people are finding their worth in social media, when it is worthless.
I find my worth in the love from my family, the support and laughter from my friends, and in the eyes of my husband. I invest time in those people, and I share my most intimate and special moments with them, not the world.