I think I’ve grown up and out of social media.
Sometime in 2019, I nearly completely abandoned social media and it drastically improved my life. Social media has never been a time sink for me, as I’ve never been a person who posts a picture to commemorate every important or instagram-able moment of my life — except when I go chasing gorgeous sunsets with my DSLR on vacation. In fact, 2018 was really the first year I actively used my Instagram. I basically used Facebook and Instagram for the messaging features and maybe I spent 15 minutes a week trolling my friends’ posts with hilarious/obnoxious comments, or looking for events for stuff I like doing.
I try to keep it pretty positive and jealousy isn’t my thing, so it’s not like I was getting upset about any particular content. Yet somehow I can say — maybe subconsciously — it was having a serious impact on my life and mood.
Some of my mindset change was driven by a new person coming into my life and me subsequently falling under the umbrella of his peaceful, good influence. We grew up entirely differently — him from a small village in central Europe, and me from suburbia in America — and his perspective has had an incredible impact on me. We spend every night talking for nearly 2 hours about all kinds of stuff, me teaching him about America and our customs, him teaching me about his country/customs and the topic of social media, posting only the best aspects of our lives (to quote him: “be who you are, always!”), and oversharing comes up a lot.
I started realizing so much of what we want to post about our relationships, our families, our lives and… everything, really… should be private moments. I always knew this, but it was never something I actively thought about before — why am I posting pictures of me and all my friends? Why am I telling you guys I ate a wonderfully delicious pork tenderloin? I don’t know!
Some of it is because I want to create my own organized digital memories, some is just a touch base to let people I don’t text regularly with know I’m still breathing, but really… What am I doing on here? Why do I post pictures of extravagant things when quite honestly a lot of people struggle to pay rent? Who am I trying to impress, even subconsciously? Why am I so self absorbed? And who really gives a crap about my pork tenderloin? (I actually really do care about all pork tenderloins)
See, empathy plays a huge role in my life, maybe because I’m a big study of philosophy, ethics, and psychology. I do take the time to think about the impact my actions have on other people, and the consequences. Do I want to be responsible for someone having a self-pity moment because they saw how gorgeous my vacation was? Do I need everyone to see that I just got a new outfit, or I just got married, or whatever? No. I don’t want any part of that at all.
So I just …stopped! I didn’t post. At all. And it was so much better. Life was so much better. Like I was living my life for me and not living so I can get the best selfie of me doing random shit, or me in my relationship, or me cooking a hot dog, or bending myself into a yogic paper clip, or diving in the beautiful ocean, or whatever.
I shun the idea of having my profile pic be anything but just me — not me and my boyfriend — because I’m my own person (and I don’t want him to get in trouble for the things I say). I don’t want my identity or my sense of fun to be tied to always having him in a photo with me — it just feels so juvenile now, and when we’re in the middle of a hike and stop for a selfie — just, why? My partner told me once to “enjoy every moment” with a pointed look as if to say “wake up and look around you, put the damn camera down” and hell — that’s good, simple advice and I’ll take it.
I’ll still tinker with my camera and shoot killer sunsets, occasionally catching the perfect selfie when the golden hour light is awesome. Maybe I’ll even let my guy be in that selfie. I’m sure I’ll still post occasionally. But I’m perfectly happy for nobody to know about all the things I’m doing and all the places I go, and even the status of my relationship — some because I’m too busy to post anymore, and some because these are my personal experiences and I want to keep it that way. It also adds mystery to my life — people have started to ask me what I’m up to rather than wait for a post showing them the best selfie I took for the day. Human interaction — imagine that!
So I archived everything on Instagram and now solely use it to peruse ads for yoga pants, jewelry and succulent gardens (this might need to stop because there are a lot of convincing ads with convenient shop now button for all of the things I like). It’s like QVC but with pictures of my friends and their families and dogs in-between. And Facebook… I’ve heard this so many times but it really is a necessary evil for events and recommendations. And so I can occasionally keep up with all my friends around the world, of course. In between ads for yoga pants, jewelry and succulent gardens.
I think I’ve grown up and out of social media. And it feels really good.