A little under a week ago, I decided to cease the use of all social media for 30 days. I saw this detox as necessary because I realised that somehow, I had convinced myself that social media was necessary. This realisation along with knowing that life is awfully short, sent me into complete hysteria. I immediately deleted the apps from my phone and blocked the websites from my computer. Goodbye Facebook. Goodbye Instagram. Goodbye Snapchat. I was on a mission to prove to myself that I could exist in this world without social media and furthermore, that I would exist better without it.
Before I continue, you have to understand the irony of this situation. I am in my third year of university, studying a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English & New Media Studies. Some of my assignments literally involve using social media and a lot of the theory I study, is about social media. However, I kind of think that this is what led me to my Britney Spears meltdown.
You know what they say; “You should never mix work and play.” Well… I did just that. As well as using social media as a form of self expression and a way to connect with family and friends, I was also using it to build the foundations of my career. It soon became a significant part of both my personal life and my professional life, and naturally, I became overwhelmed by it. How can my existence hinge on a technological product, on something that is not part of this natural world? Those are the kind of thoughts that led me to my detox.
In the beginning it was liberating. I was finally free from the confines of hashtags and filters, and there was no longer an underlying pressure to uphold an online presence. However, as the days went on, my anxiety grew stronger. What if I was missing out on something? What if I had been invited to an event? What if someone uploaded a photo of me? These superficial thoughts eventually got the better of me and today, after less than a week of no social media, I logged back into Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
I had 53 notifications on Facebook, more on Instagram, and a long list of unopened Snapchats. Like an alcoholic with a drink, I mindlessly skulled all that I had missed. After an hour of vacant scrolling, I put the drink down and smiled. I had not missed a damn thing. All of the notifications, the snapchats, the videos, the pictures, the memes, the statuses… It had all amounted to absolutely nothing. It was in this moment of realisation that social media finally showed me its truth; It has nothing to give, only time to take.
I have since deleted Instagram and Snapchat and the only social media I am now using is Facebook. I use Facebook for this blog, for university, and to keep in touch with the people in my life, but I ain’t spending anymore of my time scrolling through the depths of nothingness. Social media is an additive of life, not a supplement for life. I don’t quite know where my degree is going to take me now, but it sure as hell ain’t taking me to a life of maintaining the virtual world, while ignoring the real one.
I think that in many ways, social media can be used positively. As I’ve said, it can be used to creatively express yourself and connect with friends and family. However, as it exists in its current state, these are not its main functions. From what I’ve seen, social media has become a place to compare yourself to others, to create social divides, and to give birth to the most narcissistic figures in human history. If you are able to look past all of that and use it in a way that makes you happy, then I am happy for you. However, until I am able to do the same, I think I’m going to be one of those weird modern-day hippies who doesn’t need to be on every social media platform to exist.