We are told to love ourselves, but we all have the ability to construct our lives and stage illusions of who we are – especially on social media. This doesn’t always match what we feel inside.
It’s easy to blame social media for this problem but it goes deeper than that. We are afraid to be ourselves because we don’t think we’re good enough. But on the inside, we have stories, inspirations, passions, that we have almost an obligation to share. We should all be sharing these to be authentic, to connect with others who feel the same way. Instead, we share to impress.
I’ve noticed recently a lot of targeted ads on social media about young 20-somethings who quit their jobs and make money documenting their travel and leading completely frivolous and useless lives. But it is important to learn that this doesn’t make you more interesting. It doesn’t make you a better person. It’s not giving back meaningfully to society. The inspiring people are the ones who are honest about their insecurities and are open about their stories. This isn’t confined to social media either, this is adaptable in all areas of our lives.
I am still anxious about things I did years ago and worry about what people think of me. Even on this blog, I sometimes worry that my writing can come across to readers as some pseudo-intellectual dribble. But nowadays I am more able to accept myself as ‘good enough’ and feel comfortable with who I am. Knowing that I have a small readership on this blog has also helped as a stepping stone, as I find that I am free to be myself, speak my mind, and prattle on and on knowing that few will notice or care.
And I love it.
No pressure at all!
But on occasion, I relapse into old ways (ie. being opinionated online, being depressed by countless profile filters for supporting victims of terror with no meaningful action, counting the acquaintances who are engaged or married or generally comparing my life with others – sad I know, but true). The result is that I end up with self-deprecating and negative thoughts that I have been working to avoid. Like discussing politics or religion, social media is that instigator of anxiety and frustration.
Ultimately, we all want to be loved, valued, and heard.
On social media, people seek love, value and a listening ear from people who … well, really don’t care, unless it includes contributing their own two cents. We’re not connecting with people who are important to us, we’re connecting with strangers who don’t have our best interests at heart and gaining validation from the amount of ‘likes’ or followers we have. And even comments of a positive and supportive nature feel non genuine simply because it’s easier (for example) to rely on a Facebook reminder to wish someone ‘happy birthday’, rather than giving a person a call, hug or even a card. Social media has allowed us to become lazy and take shortcuts. Cancel plans in the last minute. Not respond to plans. Excuse rudeness. I could go on.
If happiness is found through meaningful action, the first step is to eliminate identified causes of unhappiness.
This is my new resolve. To quit social media indefinitely in order to dedicate more time to myself, build close relationships and seek purpose in this world.
What do I think will happen if I went off the grid?
This is not a new concept, but eventually I hope I will find myself in a better place mentally. I hope it will eliminate the anxiety I often feel when interacting online, and learn to become authentic and happier within myself by comparing my own past as a measure of how successful I have become.
I’ve already quit Twitter a year ago with positive results. Initially I had withdrawals, but eventually the addiction for it wore off. Really, how was I contributing anything by retweeting a celebrity, or attempting (poorly) to be witty in less than 140 characters?
How will I document the process?
I am journalling more frequently offline, but I would like to use T27R as a means of recording some aspects of how I use my time more productively and tackling issues around self-development.
How this will turn out is unknown and part of the excitement of the journey. Who knows? Maybe this will lead The 27 Resolve to new territory! Maybe you won’t hear from me for another 6 months because I’ll love my non-digital life! Maybe I may fail and fall back into social media after a week! Who cares? I’ll reflect on that if and when I’ve come to that, and when I’ve learned something valuable to share!
Have you quit social media before? How did it change your life? Was this for the better or worse? I want to know your thoughts.