In the last decade, social media has taken over our culture. I was in junior high when a lot of the popular sites came out, like Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. I even remember having a Twitter “before it was cool” and being so annoyed with everyone from Facebook making Twitter accounts and “ruining it.” Twelve-year-old me had it rough.
Much like most people my age and younger, I’ve had social media accounts for more than half of my life. People in my generation were some of the first accounts on these sites and we’ve grown up with these apps a tap away. They’ve been great for a number of things, including staying in touch with near and far away friends alike, creating new contacts and friendships, discovering businesses, and, for some, creating and growing businesses.
But social media also has its dark side. A constant connection can lead to a number of negative things, including comparison culture, feeling the need to wear a mask or create a new “aesthetic” persona, and endless distractions. I was beginning to feel all of these things and more. I felt unfocused, reaching for my phone and clicking on social media apps was more like a reflex than a concious decision. I’d zone out as I scrolled through the feeds, mindlessly switching to the next app when I reached the end of my scroll. I was beginning to become anxious, feeling like there was a million things to keep up with in both the social media and real world alike–both interferring with the other.
So last Sunday (June 16) I deleted Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I kept Snapchat but with the rule of not posting anything on my story.
I was actually surprised how little I missed it. Occasionally I would go to tweet or follow someone on Instagram only to remember the apps were deleted. I felt so much more focused and productive during the week. I could no longer just sit around and scroll, I was able to do other things I enjoyed without distraction. It was nice being disconnected.
There is a mentality in our current culture that whatever you do has to be broadcasted. You feel this pressure that people need to know what you’re doing and where you are, like you have to make it known that you’re “living your best life.” It was so refreshing going through an entire week without the pressure to post, living every moment in the now and not for the likes.
There are definitly good things about social media. I often use Twitter for comic relief and Instagram and Facebook are great tools for keeping connected with others and posting about my blog, faith, Delight, or other things/organizations I am interested in. The key for me is knowing when to log off, having control over the time I spend on the apps, and knowing my purposes for posting.
I think it is so important to keep social media in its right place. We have social media, social media doesn’t have us. As soon as we start to feel chained to something we need to reevaluate what it is we are investing our time, energy, and heart into. Your social media and your identity are two separate things and they should remain that way. It is okay for Instagram to be a reflection of your aesthetic or Twitter to be a reflection of your humor, but don’t let them become you. You are worth so much more than likes on a photo.