Social media is one of the most important innovations of our generation. It connects us in ways never before possible. It democratizes the power of celebrity and has helped us learn everything there is to know — it even taught this beauty enthusiast how to make lipstick (which turned out to be a pretty worthwhile endeavor).
Despite all that, a month ago I felt deeply compelled to walk away from social media completely.
Let me explain.
A month ago I turned 32 and decided to take a break from social media. I deleted Instagram, Twitter and Facebook from my phone, and for 3 solid weeks I let myself forget about documenting my life so I could focus on living it. Then, as inevitably happens when you give up something cold turkey, I got the itch and went crawling back. In some ways it felt like reuniting with an old friend — so many laughs (oh hey #InMyFeelings challenge), so many feel-good moments (literally everyone on the planet seems to have gotten married). And yet, it also felt a little defeating. I didn’t miss spiraling down a 30-minute long Twitter-binge, but that’s exactly what I found myself doing within a day of my return.
Worse than the time sink, though, is this ever present desire to prove that I’m living a life worth viewing. In fact, it was this very desire that sent me on my social media break in the first place. I was coming home from an amazing birthday trip and thinking about which pictures I would post to Instagram, when it hit me: I don’t even want to post these photos. I love that they’re just mine, and that they represent a rare few days where I got to take a break from my ever-present stress. So why was my first instinct to post? Not only is it exhausting (I firmly believe there are far too many filters on IG) — it’s anxiety-inducing! I have to make sure I choose a pic where my stomach is sucked in and my hair is laid and my outfit is cute and my smize is perfectly smized…by the time I’m done I’ve chosen the perfect — and perfectly disingenuous — depiction of my life, and that’s not how I wanted to remember that moment.
I want to be clear — social media isn’t a bad thing; I had just let it become a bad thing for me. So I’m in the process of relearning how to use it. I’m posting a lot less frequently, and when I do, I pause and ask myself why I’m doing it. Is it something I really want to share, or something I feel compelled to share for the likes/retweets/validation… Sometimes those lines are blurred, and I’m still working on creating my own rules. But I am working on it, and for now, that’s what maters.