It’s 2019—a time when if you are not on social media, eyebrows are raised and you are made to feel weird. On the contrary, some say, “Lucky you” with a sigh, when they find out that at least someone can resist being on social media. So there is a clear distinction — those who are active on social media, those who wish to leave but can’t, and then comes my category, those who are happily not on it! But this wasn’t always the case with me. Let me tell you why I chose not to be a part of social media.
Social media is a broad category and it takes into account several platforms. I am only taking into consideration the part where you share your daily activities, pictures, updates…..and you get the rest.
A crazy addiction: There was a time when I was extremely active on social media but little did I realize that it was controlling me and not the other way round. Every morning, in between meals, in the loo, while driving, before sleeping… my phone was always by my side. I would check my phone the minute it would beep. I would view a friend’s post, watch a video, and then click on the next link and then click… click.. click! I used to sleep for a few hours and I’m sure my eyes wanted to emit strong rays that could destroy my phone…but I was addicted. Even in a room full of people, it used to be just my phone and me, or the thought of what to post next and how many likes I must have got.
Looking for approval: While this addiction lasted a good time, I began posting on social media just to impress. My posts used to be about me and what I did but the pictures were taken as a means to impress others and gather numerous likes and show my ‘wonderful’ life. I was putting out a part of me – polished and presented – to be likable and get noticed. Little did I realize that it was unhealthy. I wouldn’t repeat clothes as I was posting frequently (shop more so I could show off), I would go to nice places to eat so that my pictures would stand out, order food that would look good and do things just so that I could post something. Crazy, right? But it seemed like a whole lot of fun back then.
Unknowingly and soon enough, I took each comment seriously. If I looked fat in a picture and someone mentioned the same, I would feel low the entire day. Even though I was sharing a part of me, my personal life, I was planning it and presenting it to a mixed bag of people; only some who mattered while the rest were there to increase the friends/followers count. Yet, approval in the form of likes, hearts and words mattered so much.
Constant comparison: All of the above did hit me after a while and I began to slow down. My posts reduced; I was being more real, putting out my thoughts but the addiction didn’t stop. Now, I was looking more at what others were doing and there was less of talking and more stalking to be honest. I began to question my life choices, my profession, my lifestyle and this was my breaking point. I would wake up and see posts about a friend’s promotion, vacation in London, fancy purchases and all of that. I started comparing myself to others and did that with each passing day. The result of this was noticeable in my physical world. There was constant comparison and it seemed okay for me to sit and sulk.
I gradually realized the above points. I used to deactivate my accounts, but then get back to it within a few days. Did the same again and got back even sooner. But this approach wasn’t right. I had to stop this urge, which would reflect in my physical world as well, if not handled with care. I analysed myself, my actions and out came a question – why do I care what others think and are doing? I had no answer. I’d made social media a platform where I could easily access the lives of others and then go into a deep introspective mode. It continued for months, and out came something good.
Social networking platforms were created as a medium to interact and express. Soon, added features, popularity and the excessive usage gave birth to a different outlook. However, it is never the medium that is at fault, but the way it’s used. Like in the case of the Internet. So I had only myself to blame, as I grew attached and let all the negatives rule my experience.
All this may sound extreme to most of you but I am certain some of you will relate. While I don’t identify with social media anymore (on a personal front) I have nothing against it. The experiences, however, have made me value life and what’s around me, and I am in a happy space. At the end of the day all that matters is you are happy with the choices you’ve made. I’d rather blog than post pictures. To each his own.
Whether on a platform or not, my only advice is that be real and don’t let it bother you. Interact, share, explore and enjoy every aspect, but don’t get dependent on virtual interactions and reactions alone. Be on it for the purpose it was created for.
After years, I created a social media account for my blog and I was glad to note that my usage was strictly work related. I don’t fear going back to the phase I mentioned above, because I am secure, seek no validation and happily off it. I am glad I made a choice and I have never felt the need to change it. If I ever wish to return, I am confident I can control it, and not the other way round.