Sometimes Social Media feels like high school, or worse yet, middle school. It’s like Degrassi Junior High with memes. Do you ever get that feeling that somehow we are all fighting for a second chance at first place? Or at least to not be the Facebook version of the dweeb from Mrs. Kraft’s 6th period History class — which I actually was by the way — so that maybe, just maybe, you can experience a sliver of the popularity you missed out on as a teenager?
I’ve had that feeling. And I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I fell into the dangerous trap of relying on comments and emoticons to determine my mood and perceived popularity. It’s that moment I Instagram a perfectly crafted selfie and then dive into a hash-tag orgy with attendees like #fatshion #happy #lovinglife #myfatiscute #honorcurves #effyourbeautystandards #plusmodel #plusblogger #youdontknowaboutthislife #onmywaytothetop #naturalbeauty#checkmeoutnowimafunksoulsista #godisblessingme #fuckyes #thisliferighthere, and so on.
The anticipation of what may or may not arrive post-post, is what I call “The Twitch.” It lasts approximately 7 minutes, which is how long I wait before I let myself see who enjoyed my post (ok, it’s more like 4 minutes).
When it’s good, it’s really good. I’ve beat my record. 56 likes in under an hour. 17+ comments. 4 shares. Fuck yeah.
Other days, not so much. 2 likes, and one is from my mom. Fuck.
As a writer, my biggest vulnerability is that I rely on you to approve, validate and praise my work. It’s like being in the teen movie Clueless and I’m a dorky Britney Murphy. I await the virtual high I might get as a result of my writing efforts…Was my comment witty? Was it inspiring? How many people liked it? Did anyone comment? Any new followers? Who shared it? Has it been 4 minutes yet? Nope. It’s been 37 seconds.
The roller coaster of emotions is violent and thrilling. It’s a high. Dare I say, an addiction.
I found myself worn out a few weeks ago, overwhelmed at work and, trying to keep up with my blogging, modeling, and various other projects. The stress caused me to have a fibromyalgia flare up that forced me to slow down. I decided to lay low, realizing I was under too much stress and that something had to change. I got to talk to my boss about my illness and get the support I needed at the office. But I also knew I needed a break from social media. I always think I’m going to miss out on something HUGE if I look away for a second. But that rarely happens. Actually, it has never happened.
|Don’t let this be you
So, I took about a week off from Facebook, Instagram and blogging. And while it was tough the first day — it felt like withdrawal — after that I felt quite free. I was no longer hostage to insanely long hash tags and scary selfies. My mind quieted down. I picked up the book on my nightstand in the evenings and read for hours. I had not realized just how much time I was spending trying to stay relevant in social media. As much as I wanted to stay away another week, I couldn’t. I had an editorial spread in volup2 magazine come out, and I wanted to share it, which is one reason social media can be so great. I’m pretty much back to my old ways, crafting witty emails and posting awesome photos of cute fat girls on my page. But I’m slightly less neurotic about the whole thing, and that feels good.
Taking a break showed me that life does go on without me. I learned that I like having time for my hobbies, like crafting and creating collages on Polyvore. I realized that I don’t need to over-post either (showing restraint can be a good thing). I also discovered that I’m not alone. There are other people who have experienced the same addictive feelings I have, and we agree it’s a tricky business. Finding the right balance is what I’m always seeking in life, and this experiment was no different.
At the end of the day, this is isn’t junior high. This is life, swirling around me with enough stress of its own. My love affair with social media is really more of a crush now. I’ll always flirt with it, but I won’t commit. I’ll need to use it to promote my work and see the beautiful photos of my nieces and nephew growing up across the continent. But I’ll rely on myself and my spirituality a lot more to lift me up and keep me going. To the best of my ability, that is.
ciao for niao,