The Wonder of a Self-Aware Social Addict
Hi my name is Allie, and I am a social media addict. I don’t like to go an hour without checking Instagram because I feel like I’ve missed out and if I’ve been off it all day, I spend at least 15 minutes scrolling back to find the last picture I liked. I love tapping that favourite button on Twitter, and yes I will call it the favourite button until the day I die, even though Twitter decided to become a follower (no pun intended) and change the name to “like”. My Snapchat score is in the 100’s of thousands and my time on Tumblr dates all the way back to 2010. I love social media, and I’m not afraid to admit it.
But when I started using social media, beginning with Facebook in my early teens, then Twitter during my One Direction fangirl days and eventually every other platform, I never once thought about how these platforms and the things that I was using them for were affecting how I saw myself. Because to this day, I honestly believe that they never have.
People can say that I’m lying or that I’m naïve, but I really don’t think that social media changed my sense of my personal value, on a conscious level. Now, has it changed many other things? Yes, it has. I now wonder about social media and its effects on a larger scale, I majored in media production in university mainly because I wanted to explore deeper understandings of our consumption, and I am definitely worse at managing my time then when I didn’t use social media; all of that is very true. But for me, I know who I am and I don’t let social media dictate that image and that value of myself.
When my friends and I talk about our first impressions of each other, I’m always surprised by what they say about me. One of my roommates told me that she really admires me because she thinks that I am one of the most confident people that she has ever met. And when she says things like that I’m genuinely floored, not because I don’t think that I’m confident, but because she doesn’t think that she could be too. She tells me that she doesn’t feel like she can leave the house without makeup, or she doesn’t speak her mind all the time because she doesn’t want to ruffle feathers, and that she always worries about what those around her are thinking. And those are things that I have no problem with whatsoever. It makes me sad that the things that she sees on social media or the influencing people of those around her make her feel that way. And I don’t understand why those things don’t affect me.
My environment growing up was a good one, I admit. But I have 4 older siblings all of whom I love and all of whom are different, and I am really curious as to how they would have turned out had they grown up in the social media age that I was so surrounded by. Facebook came out when my sister was in university. She never had to think about followers and likes when she was 13 years old, never had to worry whether her crush saw her Snapchat story or not. I often wonder if she would be the same person today if she had these things to worry about. And I wonder if I would be too if I didn’t have it, because the rise of social media greatly influenced me to think deeper about social media than my sister ever cared to.
My sense of self is that I am an opinionated, often realistic to a fault, caring and confident woman who shares too much and is terrible at keeping secrets. I value every trait that I have, good or bad, and I am grateful that I grew up in the time that I did because social media helped me to figure out my life’s path. And while there are extreme pitfalls to it, terrible pressure put on young boys and girls, bullying problems and national security risks, there are extreme advantages to it as well. The value of myself comes from myself, and from the people that I care deeply about like my family, close friends and mentors. No combination of likes and followers is going to make me change who I am, but it will make me think about how it could change others.
That’s why I am proud to say that I am a self-aware social media addict. Maybe one day I can help those who don’t realize that they are too, and research the negatives to help girls like my roommate care less about followers and more about learning why followers mattered to them in the first place. Maybe one day social media can have an important role in society without using that role to tear down people’s self esteem, without hurting one’s sense of value.
Wonder only comes from those who dare to wonder, and without me and others like me daring to use it all those years ago, social media will never be better than its worst qualities. It’s the addicts like me that are going to change the conversation, change the narrative of social media, because I believe that it is worthy of great things to come.