The concept of social media is one that baffles me. We are living in the turning point of an era. New technological developments and increased social media outlets give way to a new plethora of mental health disorders and communication issues. People are becoming obsessed with themselves through their online profiles. People have an over abundance of information at their finger tips and many use it for vanity, self-indulgence, and instant gratification.
We’re breeding narcissists. We’re breeding a contradictory mind that knows so much but perceives so little in actual reality.
People are distant yet over-socialized. The hallways of my college are filled with sore necks and big thumbs as students are constantly communicating, but not face to face. I consider the internet as our doorway to an alternate dimension. Be who you want to be. Create a new self. Some choose to reside there more than reality. It’s frightening how much control the promise of perfection has over us.
I’m stuck in a limbo. I grew up in a time where technology boomed, but unlike today, not everyone had access to it. Smart phones popped up during my high school career. I did not partake until college when it became necessary in order to keep up with school. I participate in social media; I have a blog and a Facebook. It’s strange but I often get the question “why don’t you have an Instagram?” Truth is, I used too. I had an Instagram tailor made to fit an image I wished I had. I endlessly edited selfies to achieve an artistic glow. I scrolled mindlessly through photo after photo of the fake butts, boobs, and lips of Instagram models. My self-esteem was shot. It began to affect my daily life, my mood, and my wallet. My typical day began with waking up, turning off my alarm, and gluing my phone screen to my face. How many likes did I get on the picture I posted last night? Are there comments? Who saw my snap story? Which Instagram model should I admire today? What’s so and so been up too?
After this quick social media binge, I would go to the kitchen and make myself some detox tea that some celebrity “swore by” and begin to think myself to skinny. Time to get ready, I’m putting on an entire face of makeup. Foundation, concealer, contour, highlight, eyeshadow, fill in the brows, brow gel, eye liner, mascara, bronzer, blush, and occasionally false eyelashes. I’d then curl my hair in hopes of achieving that “messy” “beachy” look. I spent money on clothes that were never worn. I bought into the “Boho” style thinking that was “me”, but only the hangers in my closet followed that fashion trend. My nights were often sleepless as I stared into the bright light of my newsfeed in a dark room. I was numb to the poor vision, headaches and body aches, depression and anxiety, and negative body image. I had found my release in my own fake world at the palm of my hand.
It’s a sad thing when you realize you’ve spent hours staring at a screen wishing you could be anyone but you, especially when the girls you admire aren’t even what they appear to be.
Just writing this makes me cringe because it’s true. I was a consumerist zombie. Remembering what I thought was important during that time makes me feel like a shallow bitch. I was lost. I thought I had found myself, who I truly wanted to be. But it took a good smack from reality to realize it was the opposite. I was having an identity crisis trying to keep up with social media’s ideas of beautiful. I was desperate for attention, depressed, and settling for something I couldn’t explain. This pressure from social media presents what I consider a “new puberty”. It’s an awkward phase that’s growing as the gap between teenager and adult widens. Social media provides an illusion so you can ignore your conflicting identities and try to smack a popular label on your “look”.
Ultimately, my relationship brought me out of my social media addiction. I was taught to love myself, define my own values, and use free time for myself instead of staring at a device. I deleted my Instagram and even deleted my old Facebook to start over and try to portray my online profile as realistically as possible. My photos are unedited; I’m only friends with actual friends and family.
At 21 years of age, I can finally say I am happy with myself. No, I didn’t diet and lose a lot of weight from detox tea. No, I didn’t start a fitness plan and hashtag my progress until I got super fit. I deleted my Instagram. I stopped following unrealistic women marketing bullshit products. I started focusing on myself. It took some time to kick the urge to whip out my phone and scroll through my feed, but that urge subsided. Instead of spending hours depressed on my phone, I now utilize time for experience. I feel as though I woke up. It’s invigorating. Its like I’ve become conscious of my own life again.
I’m not saying Instagram or social media is all bad. It’s a wonderful creation to promote business and stay connected, but it can be addictive when you begin to confide in it as a release from the real world. Believe me when I say I’m so much happier loving my real self instead of the one I concocted for internet profiles.
Strange things happen when you quit social media and they happen almost immediately. Pulling myself out of social media brought my attention to how fast the world is moving around me and without me. I’m not up to date with current fashion trends. The slang I hear my classmates use makes me feel old-fashioned. Limiting my social media has removed me from mainstream pop culture and trends. I don’t know popular music. I don’t understand strange references to viral videos. I’ve had people perceive me as an “old soul”, a “renaissance woman”, “weird”, and “smart” because of my limited social media usage. In a time where using social media is the status quo, some are inspired by my action, others horrified. Another thing this life change has taught me, is to not give a shit about what other people think of me. It’s oddly satisfying to be confident without these things. Minimizing my social media changed how I look at myself and my future.
Challenge yourself to ignore social media. Some may be terrified by what I’m going to suggest, but if you can do it, don’t use social media for a week. I understand that at this day in age this can be impossible for business owners, students, bloggers etc. Allow yourself time without social media, put down the phone and go outside, read a book, cook food with a friend, just sit there and observe the world around you through your eyes and not through the eyes of your phone.
Thanks for listening!