My Social Media Journey

my friends to me in elementary school

When Facebook started to get popular with my crowd in the 7th grade, everyone was so excited to join. My friends encouraged me to get myself a Facebook account because that’s where everyone was and MSN was going to die out. I signed up for a Facebook account at my friend’s house with the help of her brother and was excited to start adding all of my friends, apparently I was really behind. When I got home from my friend’s house that day, my mom was ranting about how unsafe this new Facebook website was for children (I had lied about my age to sign up). She warned me not to join the site, how timely.

My mother was very hesitant on allowing me to use the Internet in general. She only allowed me to use the computer when someone was home, I had to tell her who I was talking to on MSN, and she even needed to know the exact purpose of Neopets and why I was playing it. When the Internet started advancing, the WiFi password was a privilege in my house, even though I was the one who set it up. My mother was very adamant on not letting me waste my time on the computer when I could be out practicing for my upcoming soccer game or hanging with my friends. What she didn’t understand was that my friends were online, that’s where we interacted now. By limiting the way I used the Internet, it impacted the way I spoke to my friends.

Obviously I kept my Facebook account despite my mom not approving it, how rebellious of me. Though, I had to be very smart about it because if my mom saw me on the site, I would have been in a lot of trouble. I used the website off my iPod Touch, one of the main reasons I got the iPod Touch was so I wouldn’t be limited on my Internet use. It is the same iPod that I signed up for Twitter and Tumblr too. It was a great way to connect with my friends, especially since my pay-as-you-go plan on my first cell phone was expensive and I was a broke child with no allowance.

Everything was great with me being on social media without my parents’ permission until my teammate/bully found out that my parents didn’t know about my Facebook account. My teammate blackmailed me for weeks, threatening to tell my dad that I had a Facebook account without their permission. I would go home and cry about the way this girl treated me because she could hold this over my head. I couldn’t tell my parents that I was getting bullied by this girl because then I would have to tell them about my Facebook account. It was a vicious cycle that I didn’t know what to do. One day at soccer practice, this girl was threatening to tell my dad right at that moment if I didn’t do what she said. Instead, I grabbed my phone (which had been upgraded and now had access to a Facebook app) and deleted my account right there. I told her that she could do whatever she wanted, but now I didn’t exist on Facebook so there was no proof. After that, the bullying stopped and I had deactivated all of my social media in fear of the situation happening again.

I re-downloaded Twitter a year later just before I started high school because that was where my friends were talking about the bands we liked and interacted with said bands, so I joined so I could be part of the conversation again. Though, I created my account without using my actual name initially so couldn’t be found by anyone other than my two friends on Twitter. It wasn’t until 11th grade that I felt comfortable enough to download Facebook again — and even then I used it sparingly.

Looking back now, this situation seems so ridiculous. I should have just told my mom in the beginning and everything (probably) would have been fine. It wasn’t worth the hassle I went through hiding it and I definitely could have worked around the disconnect with my friends. I have friends now who don’t use social media and still interact with them regularly.

To my younger self, the stress that social media has brought you over the years is definitely not worth the minimal gains you may feel by being included in the conversations. Do not let your FOMO get to you because the best interactions with your friends are always offline. It is nothing to worry about if you didn’t see the drama that occurred on Twitter last night because that’s someone else’s problem you shouldn’t have to deal with. Don’t forget that your mental health comes first and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice it to keep up to date with everything your friends are doing. Don’t worry about the number of followers you have or your tweet milestones because looking back now, they mean absolutely nothing but an embarrassing tweet in 2010. Yes, it was cool that one time Rio Ferdinand tweeted you, but the 400 tweets you sent to get his attention was ridiculous — you don’t even remember what he tweeted you now and it doesn’t matter. When that Facebook memories or Timehop reminds you of that embarrassing post from your high school days where you were filled with teen angst and felt lost, remember that now as a 21 year old soon to be university graduate, you still won’t know what you’re doing with your life and that is okay because you’re not alone.

My ridiculous posts from my past are now just a reminder of how much I have grown in terms of mental strength and confidence. The shy, cowardly person who was bullied off social media is now a strong, vocal presence online and offline.

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