“Hey! You should try this new thing called ‘Facebook’. It’s invite-only but, I can send you one.” This conversation happened fifteen years ago and I still remember it clearly- even though it seemed so insignificant. A stylish twenty-something Agnes Scott student who was a friend at the time emailed me an invite to Facebook. I was a freshman in high school and couldn’t wait to try it out!
Fast forward fifteen years later, I found myself stressed to the point of vomiting. The manufactured “reality” and pressure to “put myself out there” had me reconsidering my social media accounts. Was Facebook really a necessity? Sure, I used it to build a few small businesses but, did everyone need that level of access to me? Do I need to update my Instagram every five minutes to remind people that my business exists (or that I exist)? Do I need to go on Tik Tok and get lost in a rabbit hole that leads to getting nothing done? Do I need to be inundated with the news, politics and everything wrong with society? Do I really need to add fuel to every fire? If you haven’t guessed, the answer is no.
I am happy to announce that I deleted the following:
At first, I was worried. How would people know who I was without social media? As someone who owns a small media company, how the heck would people find me?!? How could people get to know me and find my work without social media? How could I keep up with people?
The questions and doubts kept coming until I came across a video by RoxyTalks on Youtube (which you can watch here). Then, it dawned on me: the right people can easily find me whether I’m on social media or not. It may sound ridiculous, but, my mind was blown!
I kept my Medium, Podcast, Blog, and Youtube Channel. To be a media company, those are necessities. I also made a new Instagram that I manage through Planoly. I schedule posts and stories in advance and minimize time on the app. I keep it to about 90% work and the occasional fluffball picture. With the Covid 19 Pandemic, my life isn’t that sexy right now. I’ve traded traveling for staying in until this passes and am saving up for some epic adventures in the meantime. I’ve traded hours on social media convincing myself that I’m actually working to actually working. On top of that, I have a productive garden (I picked a radish today!) and have rediscovered old loves (brushing up on a few languages I forgot and learning new ones, reading, creative writing). I’ve started working out again and my house is way cleaner and significantly less cluttered. I even started a business with the clutter on Mercari! My Fat Babies (cats) and Mr. T the Chinchilla are happy to have more “mom time” too. I’ve discovered how fulfilling it is to actually have a conversation with someone- whether on the phone or text.
It should come as no surprise that social media creates a false sense of reality. Most of the “influencers” use heavily edited photos of themselves that aren’t representative of who they are. That couple that is “madly in love” may not like each other very much at all. If you want an example, click here.
On top of that, people feel that they are automatically entitled to you. Guess what? No one is entitled to your business. Your dress size, sex life, struggles, love life, children, pets, job, political beliefs, religion and anything else I’m forgetting are no one’s business and no one is entitled to it. You don’t have to explain it to anyone else either. While people are welcome to share what they want, there is increasing pressure to share way too much to people who are virtually strangers. Have I met a few friends on social media that I kept up with when I deleted my accounts? Actually, yes. However, I can count them on one hand. But, everyone that is important to me knows where to find me with the exception of a few people who I truly lost touch with and would love to talk to.
Social media can allow people way too much access to your life and cause more trouble than it’s worth. In a lot of ways, dating apps are the same way. You can read about that more here.
In fact, dating as a whole has become trickier with social media. It’s so easy to find someone on Instagram, see their arm around someone else and jump to a conclusion. I’ve seen more than one post on Instagram like that, jumped to a conclusion, and it ended up being a female relative! While social media can give insight into a person and their life, it can create a false sense of intimacy and reality. Think about it: how many people don’t look like their Instagram or dating app pictures in person? The answer: a lot. How many couples secretly hate each other but act like the perfect couple and are “couple goals” on social media? Honestly, a lot. You don’t need to know about their ex or their past history most of the time (on social media or otherwise). You don’t need to try to figure out if you’re their “type” or “have a shot” with them. You don’t need to psychoanalyze them or remind them that you exist. You don’t need to create a false reality that isn’t there.
You also don’t need to compare yourself with other couples or accept poor behavior because you want what you think someone else has. When I was fourteen, I had my first boyfriend who treated me pretty terribly. At twenty nine, my love life has been a mixed bag over the past fifteen years. Some were really great, while others weren’t. There were a handful that were downright terrible. But, I learned the hard way how to weed out the ones who are awful within the last few years and have it down to an art. While so many people are afraid to walk away, I have no problem walking away when treated poorly now and it rarely happens across the board. When I stopped giving people full access to my life, there was so much more peace, stability and security that I craved for years. I don’t feel the need to go through someone’s Facebook or Instagram to see what they’re up to because I know that the right person isn’t going anywhere and only has eyes for me.
At nineteen, I survived a rape with someone I met on a dating site. A year later, I was stalked horribly by someone I met on a different dating site. Both were terrifying and the access both had to me through social media made it worse. Even though I blocked both, one gave my phone number out to random people. In both instances, I was in fear for my life and my life derailed horribly. It’s been nearly a decade and I’m at the point where I’m almost fully healed from both experiences. It has taken almost a decade to resolve my trust issues and truly become secure enough within myself.
You shouldn’t have to remind anyone you exist either. There’s a huge difference between putting yourself out there and letting people find you and being desperate for attention. If you want to know why people do this, check out Gary Vee’s podcast on the topic here. The most secure person isn’t usually the loudest. If anything, they tend to be more quiet and reserved. Why? They know they don’t need to ask for attention or beg for anything. Showing up is simply all they need to do and that’s all you need to do.
During most of my time on social media (besides Instagram), the amount of drama I found myself in was ridiculous. A few years ago, my neighbor and I got into a massive (and stupid) fight on Facebook a few years ago. However, there is a happy ending to this story: we’re on good terms now and he’s actually a very lovely person. Even better? He is rarely- if ever- on social media either.
Now, my life is peaceful and I can do what I love in peace. I hope I can use my Instagram to make someone smile or help them. But, I also know that I don’t owe anyone access to my life and neither do you.
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