Our generation grew up on social media. It all started with long nights on AIM, followed by MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and the list goes on and on. I have always been very interested in the idea of being able to connect with anybody, anywhere, and so naturally I joined social media very early on.
I made my first Facebook in 2008 when I was in eighth grade. None of my friends really had one and I rarely ever used it. By the time I was in my sophomore year of high school, everybody had a Facebook. I then joined Twitter in 2009, when it was mainly used by celebrities and used it to tweet at my favorite bands, but became annoyed when all of my classmates had one too. That same year, I was cyber bullied by a "catfish" Facebook account made by my best friend for a reason that to this day remains unknown.
As of today, I am a member of the top five social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, and Instagram. While I realized that there were more platforms being released, I was uninterested in becoming a member of any of them because I already felt like I had too many. When my life started to go wild because of my presence on social media, I decided to do an experiment. I was going to stop social media completely. I was done.
Making the Decision
In the last year, I have found that most of my upset, emotional outbursts were because of something I saw on social media. I wasn't tweeting at my favorite bands anymore because I had been made fun of for that in high school. Instead, I was creeping on every single person that might have the slightest issue with me and getting upset when I found a tweet that could be twisted around to be about me. My relationship was quickly going downhill. I was constantly uptight and every time I saw my significant other's name pop up on Facebook, I felt sick. Even if it was just him liking a status, I would feel like I had been betrayed. I was comparing myself to every single girl on Instagram that I followed and refused to post any photos because mine never looked as great as theirs. After arguments and breakdowns, I finally decided that social media wasn't the place that it used to be, and it was no longer for me. I felt ashamed that I didn't give it up seven years ago after the cyberbullying incident, but I knew it wasn't too late. I decided that day to stop using all social media.
Giving up social media wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I was so consumed by it that when I was bored, I automatically went to my "social" folder on my phone and opened my apps, only to see the first post and remember that I had told myself I wasn't going to do this anymore. Still, when I would open the app by accident, the first thing I saw would usually upset me. As the weeks went on, I got better. I only got on Facebook to share articles that I had written, though eventually I just started scheduling shares throughout the week, and when I received an email saying a friend had tagged me in something. Aside from the random times I'd catch myself on Instagram, I only posted once because I couldn't pass up the opportunity to brag about the Weezer concert I went to. So long story short, I wasn't able to go without social media completely, but my time on it was lessened drastically. Still, I felt like it was consuming me. No matter how hard I tried, it was always begging me to check it.
It has been a month now of almost social-media-free me, and I have to admit it has had its ups and downs. Many of my friends thought I was mad at them because I hadn't liked their pictures or replied to their tweets or personal messages. In reality, I still like them just as much, but we did fall out of touch due to my lack of social media presence. My relationship with my significant other and my family both improved. I am more trusting and relaxed, making me a much happier person and one that is much more fun to be around. And finally, I am more confident. I'm no longer comparing myself to everyone else. I'm happy and comfortable with my life, and even though I have lost touch with many of my friends because of this, I learned that I can survive without being glued to my phone and my real friends were the ones that didn't care whether I was on social media or not.
I feel that society as a whole has been consumed by social media. While I did not get rid of social media completely, I'm now spending less than an hour a day on these platforms and feel much better about my family, my relationship, and myself as a person. I plan to continue this journey to becoming a better me and if you take anything out of this article, remember this: Life isn't always how the internet makes it seem.