This is kind of a culmination of several posts that I almost did over the past month and a half. Originally I felt awful because I was being such a terrible blogger and not sharing my thoughts with my dear readers (all two of you), but now I'm kind of glad I didn't. I always do better work when I've let something that bothers me sit and fester for a little while. This has been greatly bothering me, and it's had a very long time to sit and fester, so if I hold true to past performance, this post should be a masterpiece.
In general, I think social media is more trouble than it's worth (which is why - after deleting a couple of my social media apps and redownloading them and deleting them and redownloading them, along with the conclusion I came to which I will state at some point in this post if I ever mange to escape from the grips of this terrible run-on sentence - I chose to pretty much get off social media for the foreseeable future). Many people agree that social media is not a positive influence; however, in my extensive research (aka top results on Google) the main issues people have with social media include invasions of privacy, excessive wasting of time, and exposure to bad grammar (Um, well. You're not wrong.).
However, it seems to me that social media causes problems that are much more serious than the possibility that the difference between "your" and "you're" will be forgotten forever. While that would indeed be a tragic day for the English language, I see my peers losing more than an appreciation for the nuances of our lexicon because of social media use.
I see their self esteem shattering.
I see their confidence being lost.
I see their relationships suffering because of insecurity.
(Oh yeah, and me too.)
In case you're still skeptical, I assure you that as established in my previous posts, I'm pretty much an expert on all things social media. However, being a teenage girl on social media, I have an especially expansive knowledge of how teenage girls use social media. I did a little casual research (which I actually didn't know was research at the time to be honest) and discovered simultaneously not only teenage girls' number one use for social media, but also what I believe is the number one cause of the problems I just mentioned.
Every time I get together with any of my girlfriends, at some point in our conversation one or both of us will bring up the people who have been our latest Internet stalking victims. Let's be honest, ladies - we all do it.
I used to think that social media stalking was completely innocent and harmless (unless of course you like someone's photo from four years ago, in which case you are doomed), but after seeing its effect on me and my friends, I'm convinced that it absolutely is not.
Personally, I don't really have issues with self confidence. I guess I'm just too clueless and out of it to realize when something I do isn't "cool," and I've accepted that people are different and that some people will like me and some people won't, and that's that. However, most teenage girls do struggle with self esteem in one way or another, and the way most girls use social media only encourages this.
I'm super picky about my Instagram photos and I carefully monitor my page all the time to make sure that everything clicks and looks appropriately artsy and that I'm presenting myself exactly the way I want to, and I've found that this is pretty typical with most girls on Instagram.
Instagram noobs being all, "X Pro II or Valencia" got us like:
On average it takes me about thirty minutes to do an Instagram post.
After careful deliberation, I decide whether or not it's been long enough since my last post that I can post without people thinking that I have no life outside Instagram. Then I painstakingly select a photo, basing my decision on my previous posts so I don't have too many of one kind of photo. After all, variety is the spice of life - even my fake Internet life. Then I go through a ridiculously long series of editing apps to make sure that my photo is perfect. Then I comb through thousands of quotes and song lyrics on Pinterest in search of one that I can pretend is meaningful. After posting, I watch like a hawk to make sure I'm meeting my like quota. If I don't get "enough" likes, I sneak back after a couple days and delete the photo, ashamed and determined to "do better" next time. This is how most girls roll on Instagram, and the result is a ton of seemingly perfect profiles.
It's amazing how easy it is to get access to total strangers on Instagram. Not only is it easy, but Instagram's "Explore" page practically encourages you to go check out as many people as you can.
And sure, they're total strangers, but COME ON - their eyeliner game is totally ON POINT. My eyeliner game is NEVER THAT ON POINT AND IT NEVER WILL BE.
Eyeliner is harmless enough (and if you're lucky enough that that's your only trouble, all I have to say to you is that practice makes perfect).
But when you compare your entire life to this other person's best representation of theirs, it's easy to feel like you just don't measure up. But for some reason, it's insanely difficult to just not look at the things that make you feel bad about yourself.
The thing that I hate most about social media is that it can give grossly inaccurate impressions. People pick and choose what they want to put out there to represent themselves, and it's easy to lose sight of the fact that even though their life looks perfect based off of their online profiles, they're human and they have imperfections and things that they don't like about themselves just like you. They could be losing sleep every night stalking your profile, wishing they could be like you - just like you do with them.
IT ISN'T REAL.
While I don't struggle with self esteem, I have huge issues with being insecure of my relationships. I attribute this to an unfortunate mix of personality traits and character flaws, but whatever insecurity I feel outside of social media is magnified by like, a million as soon as social media becomes involved.
One of my personality traits/character flaws is that I tend to be jealous. While my friends agree that I am "the chillest person on earth," I decidedly lose my chill when I get jealous. I know that jealousy causes problems in relationships anyway, and I struggled with it even before I got involved in social media.
If you can relate to me at all on the jealousy thing, social media is not for you.
Similarly to the false impression thing I mentioned earlier, social media gives you twisted ideas of how your friends interact with other people. This can be damaging to friendships, but I've seen it completely ruin more-than-friendships.
I used to think that people talking about how communication and trust are vital in order for any relationship to succeed were just reciting cliches, but as I've had more experience with my own relationships and indirectly with others', I've come to realize that it really is that simple.
Simple? Yes. Easy? Not at all.
But as difficult as it is to develop communication and trust in real life, it's even harder on social media, and to be honest, I wonder if it's even possible.
Here's an example:
Billy sees Susie's witty status, chuckles, and likes it, blissfully unaware of the impending chaos this innocent little like will cause.
Sally, Billy's soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend, loses it when she sees that Billy liked Susie's status and after completely overthinking everything, assumes that Billy and Susie have been talking constantly behind her back and that Billy wants to ditch her for Susie. To avoid the embarrassment of being ditched for another girl, Sally texts Billy and breaks up with him.
All because Billy thought Susie said something funny.
While Sally rationally knows that of course Billy isn't interested in Susie because in reality he never sees her or talks to her or has any sort of meaningful connection with her, seeing them interact with that person on social media gave Susie a false impression of the extent of their relationship.
I don't think that I can even scratch the surface of how despicable social media has become to me lately. Does it have potential to be good? Possibly. Has it done me any good (other than giving me the opportunity to share this blog with more people)? Nope.
The only meaningful impact that I see social media having is overwhelmingly negative.
I don't want to sound like a hippie, but negativity is not something you need in your life, especially when that negativity is completely contrived.
So if you find yourself feeling not good enough because of all the "perfect" people you see on Instagram, get off Instagram.
If you find yourself obsessing over every minute detail of your relationships, overthinking and freaking out all the time because of seeing your friends' Internet interactions with people who aren't you, do whatever you need to do to stop seeing those interactions (and probably also work on that deeper-rooted jealousy issue too).
I've been doing some pretty drastic rethinking regarding my personal social media usage. Initially I started by just unfollowing people who I didn't care to keep up with and deleting people whose interactions with others caused me to feel insecure. But I found that I couldn't just stop checking up on everyone. I wasn't addicted by any means, but I don't think that it would be inaccurate to say that I was obsessed.
But how stupid is it to continue to be obsessed with something that drags you down daily?
That's why I'm officially off social media for as long as it takes for me to get my attitude changed.
I don't want to be one of those people who has an on-again, off-again relationship with social media, either.
I saw a meme one time that said that getting off social media is the grown-up equivalent to a kid running away from home - people only do it for attention, and everybody knows they'll be back right away. That's definitely been accurate for most of my friends who've "gotten off." (Yeah, they're all back now.)
I'm not doing this to get attention. I'm doing this because I'm in control of what I allow into my life, and reality is hard enough without letting unnecessary, contrived, artificial drama to permeate my life.
As a Christian, I try to make decisions in my life based off of biblical principles. These are the passages that most influenced me to make the decision to remove social media from my life.
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. (Proverbs 4:23-27)
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:23, 31)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Social media sounds suspiciously like something the Bible says to avoid, and even more suspiciously unlike something true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy or praise. Consequently, I simply couldn't justify continuing to allow it in my life to the extent that I have previously.
If you can stalk on social media to the glory of God, good for you. All it does for me is encourage jealousy, which ultimately hurts me, which is definitely not a good example of me keeping my heart.
I was a little more transparent in this post than I generally choose to be. While I didn't have it in mind while writing this post, it makes me think of a quote from Ernest Hemingway that seems to be somewhat fitting for how I chose to approach this subject: "Write hard and clear about what hurts."
Social media has hurt me indescribably. It's damaged my trust, it's encouraged manipulative behavior, and it's made me angry at people I love, all without good reason or justification.
In life you have to pick your battles, and right now I'm choosing to battle with reality first.