I love social media. I love reading funny updates from friends and family, watching videos of adorable pets, staying abreast of momentous occasions from people I don’t speak with very often. But despite all of the wonderful news I learn from social media, and the glorious “unfollow” button, I am still bogged with political banter, tortured animals, and nefarious messenger-chain-letters.
Even with all of the annoying aspects of social media, I still enjoyed scrolling through Facebook (which is where I spend most of my social media time)…until one day about a month ago. A friend of mine posted a candid photo of a bunch of us working on a project. The photo of me was awful – my hair was in a messy bun, I have gained a bunch of weight this year, and I overall looked like something from “The Worst of Jerry Springer.” I asked the person to take down the photo, but they kindly insisted that I was my own worst critic and it was “such an awesome candid photo of us all working together.” Finally, I decided she was probably right and I was thinking too much into it.
Until someone commented: “Who is that fat beast on the right?”
I was so shocked and hurt, and figured my friend would delete the comment, but no, instead came a mixed barrage of agreements, laughing emojis, and a couple of “you’re a jerk’s.” I quickly untagged myself from the photo and blocked the initiator, but I realized it wasn’t enough.
Something about social media perpetuates the cruelty of humanity. More so, the indignant, maligned sense of righteousness that comes along with the commenter. To him, I am subhuman, an unwieldy mass to be extinguished.
Of all the moments I try to recreate in my products, I never anticipated empathy as being a required sentiment.
I decided I would quit social media.
The hardest part of quitting social media as a business owner is that I drive 96% of my business from my business’ Facebook page and VIP group; without social media, my business would drown. I thought about having someone else manage my business social media while I took a hiatus, but I realized I would lose the core of my business, and that’s the raw honesty and the community I built around that. When I decided to quit, I could only do so half-heartedly, and that hurt the most. I needed to keep my own page so I could manage everything with my business.
I decided I would quit posting and hide as much as possible from my timeline unless it was directly related to my business. Part of me thought that I might be giving him power by shutting down, but I was reclaiming my sense of self – my right to not live my life on the web.
Since I stopped posting over the last month, I feel like I have washed off an enigmatic, parasitic need to prove myself. It’s as though I have spent the last 20 years (I’m going way back to AOL profiles and AIM away-messages here) documenting the fun and friends that I have. I spend so much less time searching for the next witty comment or cute photo that I am actually enjoying the little moments.
Now, I’m making it sound like I was hyper-addicted to social media, and that was never true, but I did find myself trying to make people laugh or showing off some fun activity I participated in. Worst of all, though, I would allow myself to keep going through photos of my past and compare my ever-fluctuating weight. I know what I am, but I felt like the consistent reminder of what I was was starting to break me.
I long for the opportunity to just delete my profile and make a strictly-business account, but there is so much good that comes from the ability to quickly message a group of people, create an event, or ask a question in my soaping groups – obliterating social media altogether would just isolate me from my time era.
With that said, it was high time I took a moment away from social media to find a moment of balance.