I unintentionally took a social media detox at the end of April/ beginning of May. I was feeling quite low and very shocked, and I realised that social media had been really warping my sense of self and the way I see the world. I’m doing a lot of growing up lately.
I can remember a really pivotal moment when I was about 16, figuring out who I was, thinking ‘right, my social media has got to make me look like a character that I am becoming. Post every party pic, post every mysterious looking selfie, reveal just enough but not too much’. I wanted an audience. I was who I decided I was, but not for the sake of my happiness. I decided who I was for the sake of how I was perceived by others. I guess I was good at marketing myself, but not really very good at finding fulfilment.
Everything I did I took a picture of to make it look like I was some really desired, nonchalant socialite who was always doing something fun and cool. All my friends were on my Insta. Snaps of the comfy mornings we spent together after a party that made boring life look so content, snaps of the days we spent down at the creek, the things we saw on our days out. Pictures of me looking oh so happy when in reality I was just hoping that I looked happy enough in a pretty way.
Don’t get me wrong, I have good memories of these times, but at the end of the day if these moments were so entertaining then why did I feel the need to romanticise the shit out of normality and then show everybody else? I was still going home every day listening to Teen Idle by Marina and the Diamonds feeling like my youth was just kind of mediocre.
It’s like a public scrapbook that I used to gloat rather than be happy. There’s some shame that comes with saying that.
I would literally look forward to getting a picture at an event instead of looking forward to the event.
Twitter was like an infection. My every quirky thought had to be documented, my every critique of what I was seeing, my every insecurity and doubt. I’m not going to lie, I love Twitter because it can be witty, and it allows me to showcase my sense of humour, but I hate the way that I was so addicted to it. So addicted to hearing other peoples opinions and thoughts. I couldn’t just be content in my own head, my own thoughts had become insufficient.
How fucked up is that?
I began disassociating from the moment, I lost the ability to find joy in reality as I was crafting this portfolio of ‘who I am’. I lost sense of if I was enjoying life or if I was enjoying the fact that I had something to keep me relevant.
To an extent, social media motivated me to get out there and do more, but at the same time it eventually took hold of the way my brain was seeing the world.
I shouldn’t be getting out there to show that I’ve been out there, I should be getting out there to make memories and find stories to write about.
My attention span was all over the place. Couldn’t read a book because the instant hit of social media appealed to me more, couldn’t just sit and paint, couldn’t just engage in ‘the art of doing nothing’. Couldn’t even do a full-blown work out unless I was at a class or in someone else’s company. Everything had become a bore.
My sense of self had become so distorted.
Recently I’ve really been evaluating, who am I posting for?
I turned off the notifications which tell me who’s liked my stuff years ago because it was making me neurotic, and yet here I am, still caring about the way my life looks. Caring about who’s seeing it. My private life became public.
I’m not saying that social media is a bad thing. After my detox, I’ve deleted all social media (barring Instagram) from my phone; but I continue to use social media for work. I browse the old insta maybe once or twice a day. I still post things, but now- I’m doing it because I want to look back on these moments. Not because I care about people seeing them. I’m not about to swear off social media all together because this is the direction that the world is going in. As long as it’s showcasing my work and not dictating my sense of self, I guess it’s harmless. It’s not social media which is the enemy, it’s the way that we are relating to it.
I never intended for this detox to ‘enlighten’ me or show me a different way of the world, I deleted social media because I just kept feeling hurt every time I looked at it. Feeling like I’m proving myself to the world. Wasting my precious youth so concerned with what everybody else is doing and how their internet world looks so much better than mine.
Nowadays, social media is the way that we meet people.
People get an image of who you are from your Instagram, or your Twitter.
That image is like, the epitome of who you are to these people. You actually think that you know each other. There’s just so much room for deception.
You form a relationship off constantly checking up on one another, checking what the other person is up to, knowing what they’re doing. It’s so co-dependent. It’s actually like an addiction.
People form a relationship with the portrayal of a person before they get a few weeks down the line and realise that it’s not all sunshine and well-lit pictures. We seldom actually get to know each other anymore. Do we even get to know ourselves?
Social media shouldn’t be something that we use to fill a void.
I’m still learning about myself and how to relate to social media. I was watching a documentary on Nina Simone where she said ‘There needs to be someone expose the sickness, and a doctor to cure the sickness. I am not the doctor to cure it but I’m the person to expose it’. I feel like that’s kind of what I’m doing here.
You gotta learn to love yourself and remain authentic, no matter how people see you. I guess it all starts with learning what you want to spend your time on.