Recently I made the decision to disconnect from social media. If you’ve read my previous articles you will understand that this is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. To be quite honest, in the beginning it was more difficult than I expected, which might sounds ridiculous, but given that it is such a prevalent part of today’s western culture, unsurprising. I felt quite lonely and disconnected from everyone. That’s to be expected I suppose.
I think my main regret is the driving force that caused me to do this. It wasn’t all a big positive cleanse. It was, like most of my decisions, partly based on paranoia and anxiety. I would love to say that I did it purely for healthy reasons, like the reasons I always wanted to be social-media free. But it was more of a sudden, reactionary response to feeling fed up.
When you are someone who has sudden urges and impulses, you probably know the feeling of regret in the back of your mind, after getting really excited or fired up about something, and doing it in the moment without really thinking about how it will make you feel. You know what the possible consequences are, but you push them aside. And when they crop up, you brush them off.
Ooooh to live a life without social media….how terribly tragic. (Please note sarcasm). When we get too used to unnecessary privileges, we find it hard to live without them, however ostentatious the privilege.
The real point I am trying to make about being lonely, is that I have forgotten how to communicate effectively. Or that it is impossible to communicate with my peers without the use of social media. I miss my friends who I met around the college days, and afterwards, when I refused to leave and stayed around because I had found “my people” and did not want to let go.
Sometimes it feels that there are too many people in my life and just not enough time. That sounds like a strange complaint doesn’t it? I find it impossible to balance everything. Instead I swing from one extreme to the other; hermit or social butterfly. Both comes with their own stresses and tensions. I’ve always been terrible at making plans and following through on things, yet usually made an effort to attend social events despite feeling anxious or being broke, etc. I always found a way. But it became exhausting sometimes. Always chasing thrills, but never being able to maintain them. Connecting to people, while alienating myself at the same time.
Being stuck at home, means that that aspect of my life barely exists anymore. I adore my friends here. What I don’t adore is walking around my hometown, where I have lived my whole life, which basically feels like living in a time warp, with constant,involuntary shoves down the dark side of memory lane. I might not know exactly where I want to be, but I know where I don’t want to be, and that’s here.
I miss the feeling of connection. It’s not that I miss connecting with people online, it’s just that that was my only way of connecting with the majority of people due to current circumstances. I miss being around people more than anything. And I knew I would. In a way, social media only served to remind me of all the events I couldn’t go to, all the plans I was constantly flaking on, and all the people I couldn’t see. It was just a feeling of constant guilt and loneliness and missing people. My responsibilities had changed, circumstances changed, both financial and residential. I think what hurts me is that my friends and acquaintances might feel shut out. Or worse yet, move on without me. But being so near, yet so far, and being left behind, is a bit of a scary thought.
I like the idea of things being left up to fate. And surprising people. The problem with this is that fate is often prevented from occurring, because everyone else is so damned contactable all the time, and busy arranging plans, instead of letting things unfold.
And when you carry the idealistic view that the people who want you in their lives will make an effort to contact you, you will often find that you are alone. It’s too high-maintenance and challenging for people to reach out to you. They are merely busy with the craziness of modern life, and I feel that your twenties are a time when you have less expectations in your friendships. You perhaps see friends less, but start to get more of an idea which ones you should focus more on. But I know that there are many people out there, who are thoroughly influenced by social status and popularity, or visibility. And it’s not their fault. It’s simply a side-effect of the culture that social media has spawned. People like people who are liked by lots of people. Or appear to be. If you have ever felt, or noticed that you were more likely to “like” a status that was already “liked” by a more substantial amount of people, then you will recognise this.
Social status is not something that I believe is in anyone’s greatest interest. Particularly those who crave it and crave the approval and admiration of their peers. The higher your social status, or visibility, the more vulnerable you are to criticism. If what you are promoting, is indeed yourself, then any attacks you receive are personal attacks. It’s a vain and dangerous pursuit. Being overexposed is basically inviting everyone to have a say on your personal life and being. Fine if you can handle it. But it takes a special kind of person to handle that in a way that won’t affect you. And unfortunately most people these days have opened themselves up to the pitfalls of social media “fame”, the majority of whom are not equipped to deal with it. It has become such a commonplace thing, it is practically ingrained into youth and adult culture.
I believe that those who want it the most, often want it for all the wrong reasons, and are thus more susceptible to the downsides of being overexposed. Wanting a public platform as a source of personal power, and yet caring so much what people think and craving mass approval and admiration, is a recipe for disaster.
The more social status you have the more accountable you become. And if your social status is solely based on your self-image and narcissistic pursuits, rather than a service or product etc, that you have to offer? Better buckle up, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Bad enough having to sacrifice your privacy for a cause you believe in. It honestly deeply worries me what social media has done to people. And that might sound real superior or pretentious, but sure I’m only off it about a month or two at this point. I find it horrifying that everyone must be constantly connected. Friends and enemies alike. There is no escaping your demons, or memories that you would rather put to bed. Not everyone is going to like you or have your best interests at heart. There are some in fact, who will do the exact opposite. I worry a lot about the anxiety and self-esteem issues presented, or exacerbated, by the existence of social media. I’d like to ask anyone experiencing these kind of anxieties or problems to stay safe and protect yourself as much as you possibly can. And to remember that you are a truly special being who has the love and admiration of many people, whether you know it or not. Just try to remember what, or whom is most important to you, at your very core. You can’t make everyone happy or please everyone all the time, but you can at least try to make yourself happy and please yourself (ooh, stop that.)
I think it’s just the life stage I’m at. I feel guilty a lot of the time for feeling the way I do, because there are much bigger problems in the world and people surviving without basic human rights, in a way that I can’t even imagine. Sometimes I think stress is something that is invented by privilege. We live in world where material wealth is often rewarded with the loss of self-sufficiency. It seems of the biggest or most common stresses in an elitist and capitalist society revolve around self-image, reputation,money, education and employment. Things that started off as luxuries, soon become a factor of stress.
I see so many people discovering their own power, but using it to promote and defend their own image, rather than recognise that it is their contribution to the world. Perhaps that is what I am doing right now. Sickening really. I can’t force people to read my writing, and I won’t try. Self-promotion does not particularly interest me. The promotion of thought is what interests me, though expanding your consciousness comes with it’s own dangers. Once you see things a certain way, you will never see life the same way again. Unless,of course,you continue to slip into denial and a comfortable ignorance, which is what I often practice. It does creep back up on you though. The guilt, the feeling of responsibility to attempt to change the things that you perceive to be destructive.
I don’t like having too much access to people I don’t know, or vice versa. Or knowing things about people that I am not supposed to know. Information is too readily available and it becomes addictive. It is a completely normal thing these days to “cyber-stalk” people you are attracted to, but it’s something that does not feel right to me, and never will. Just the idea of having information that you have not earned or something? Not sure how to describe it really. What happened to getting to know people? We’ve all done it. The issue is not that people will seek information. Curiosity is part of human nature, along with many other traits, both good and bad. The problem is that the information is so available, and that we give people access to our information. The problem is that we trust our species, with this power and don’t consider the fact that we are a flawed species who don’t always do the right or good thing, or think things through. I don’t believe anything that is online is ever fully protected, regardless of privacy settings. It’s an unsettling thought.
I’m lucky to have met amazing people who I have really connected with throughout my life. I feel that the more I connect with myself, and disconnect with the cyber world of technology and social media, the more real these connections become and the more I can sense what is meant to be, and what isn’t. That is why I resent the idea of people being drawn to you, or each other, for the idea of something, or a projected image alone. We need to realise that fawning over people that we don’t know, has much the same principles as fawning over celebrities. We admire the way they look, or the things they do or say, but at the end of the day, we don’t know them or have no right to claim a connection to them. Placing someone on a pedestal is a dangerous thing for both parties involved.
What’s also strange is that when people find out that you don’t have a Facebook, they automatically assume that you are a suspicious or untrustworthy character or that you are “hiding something”. What I am “hiding” is my distinct dislike of what I believe to be a wider societal issue. And I’m not sure I’m hiding it very well. Though I do try to refrain from bringing it up, because it’s a tiring subject to debate.
I may miss a lot of people. But it is up to me to make the effort and try to create the conditions to spend time with these people. Even if it is very rare. And I should be able to stay connected to people, without social media and without any expectations or creating imbalances in other ares of life. I will continue to miss people regardless, due to many other factors. So yes, I will admit that I have been feeling lonely or forgotten about at times, but that this was self-imposed and ultimately the better option for me. I’ll also admit that my ideals are rather far-fetched and I may be excluding myself for a long time, until I become more confident and independent in myself. And I’ll also admit that even thinking about the fact that not having online visibility could cause problems, only further boggles my mind.
I’m not advocating that everyone go social-media free or that this is something that does not have it’s own challenges. There are many positives too. It’s a great platform for sharing and celebrating the beauty of the world, and important issues. And can be a very effective way of communicating long-distance or canvassing for social/political issues. There are upsides and downsides to everything, no matter how we like to look upon things with rose-tinted glasses. This an option that I am trying out, that I feel is good for me and that I find interesting. Personally I am often torn by the conflict of wishing to reach out to as many people as possible and wanting to be invisible. I think that everyone is more affected by the new age of technology and social media than we aware of,, but the more we become aware, the more we can protect ourselves.
Any opinions or thoughts welcome.
I would love to hear what other little issues people have stumbled across that I might have left out.
As always, take care of yourself and believe in your dreams
Stay Golden x