Why A Social Media Cleanse Is The Move

A Social Media Cleanse Is The Move

Once a day, ten times a day, or more, we open ourselves up to a portal that allows us to find an unlimited amount of people who seem happier, prettier, richer, more popular, and generally 'more' than ourselves.

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We are so accustomed to hearing that we are a group of people who are always projecting an image. That social media forces us to act with a degree or level of inauthenticity. That we tell others that are lives are greater than they really are. Sometimes I think those things become irritating or redundant because we hear those observations so often from generations much older than us.

But I do think that those observations point out undeniable truths that we face when constructing our 'identity.' There are so many positives to being able to have control over how others see you or to have the ability to change or tweak your identity just by changing your pictures, bio, who you follow, what you retweet, which snap best friends you have. But it can also force us to deny us the right and joy to accept ourselves as we are naturally, without any intentional or deliberate manipulation of our image.

I have often found myself whirling into a crisis after closing instagram. A crisis I was not in before I opened it. "Oh my god what if I change this about me, went there, chose this, didn't do that, did do that, oh my god oh my god oh my god!!!!!" For example, I was listening to this podcast, and looked up the creator of it on instagram. All I saw was this super glamorous person who had a successful business and podcast that I totally admired. Then I started asking why I'm not like her or why I probably can't be as cool or successful as her in the future. Which are totally toxic reflections which only materialized because I opened an app.

Because a big part of her podcast is living in New York City, and I began thinking "What if I went to the school I got accepted to in NYC? Would I be cooler? Would my future be better if I chose that route instead?" Of course things would be different! But would they be better necessarily? I would probably always be wondering if I had made another choice too. For example, I would probably always have on my mind the looming financial burden of what would have been almost 75,000 dollars a year for a career that has a median salary of half that price tag.

Most people have probably experienced something similar to that at one time or another, no matter how confident you are. Humans are both self-aware and self-critical, seeking out ways that we are imperfect and how we can change that. Social media becomes the supplier, enabler, and feeder of that natural urge to critique and improve. Social media even takes that enabling a step further and translates it into selling. We are then told you need this dress, moisturizer, necklace, pair of shoes, or whatever a company behind an influencer is trying to fix you with, guy or girl. We open ourselves up to false narratives that tell us each time that we are not good enough. This also makes me question if looking and conforming to the images of other people with more followers actually hinders the natural development of our own personality. At what point does it threaten our individuality and creativity?

Plus, even if you reach that look, amount of followers, or up your account aesthetic, there is always going to be another person who is 'more' than you--which will turn into an unending chase to improve in a way that tears down your identity, sense of self, and confidence.

That is why I have decided to take a little social media 'cleanse' or break. But--I'm also being realistic and not fully deleting it. I'm not going to deprive myself of something that is such a big part of our lives today. That just means that when I re-download it, I will return to looking at the same posts and feeling the same way. Plus, I will need to know how to work with social media in journalism funnily enough, so there's no escaping it and I've got to know it! But it is also realistic and true that I can cut back my social media use and change who I follow. There are certain accounts I follow that just aren't adding to who I am and make me doubt myself--a unique person who developed over 18 careful years who is now doubting herself because of a post that took a few minutes to make, how ridiculous!

So, as a new year approaches, I encourage you, the one reading this, to consider making a similar adjustment. Think about who you are following, why you are following them, and how their posts are adding to your day. If it's positive, keep it. If it's negative, cut it out. No one needs extra stress, negativity, or drama in their lives--we have too many important things to do instead. Make sure you are feeding the positive voice in your head, not the negative one.

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10 Abnormally Normal Things About College

Some stuff just doesn't fly in the real world.
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College is a weird, weird place. For whatever reason, the young adults who are supposed to be cultivating their minds with all of the worldly knowledge available to them, seem to get away with quite a bit using the justification "it's college." Even the best students live abnormally while on the alien planet that is a university. So, while to us college students it may just seem like another day, here are ten things that are only normal in college.

1. Straight up theft.

In the future, if I walk into my forty-something-year-old neighbor's home and see a collection of stolen signs, stuff from the local restaurant, and property from the construction site down the road, I would definitely be concerned about the character of my neighbor. However, in college, people proudly display campus signs, traffic cones, or dining hall napkin dispensers that they have impressively commandeered - it's a cheap decoration and a great conversation starter.

2. All-nighters.

Maybe with the exception of parents of little babies, very few people willingly stay up for close to 24 hours on end. In the real world, if a friend came to you and said that they literally did not sleep the previous night, it's completely logical to be worried. On the other hand, when a friend in college says that he was up all night you laugh a little, give him an understanding pat on the back, and walk with him to the coffee line.

3. Atrocious eating habits.

Sometimes you don't have time to eat. Sometimes you order pizza at 2 in the morning. Sometimes you eat three dinners. Sometimes you diet. All I can say, is thank goodness that our metabolisms are decently high at this age.

4. Breaking and entering.

In high school, you hopefully knew everyone who entered your home. After college, hopefully, that's still the case. However, when you live in the middle of thousands of bored college students, people knock at your door, walk into parties, cut through your yard, and stop by without invitation or hesitation. It keeps life fun, but still not normal.

5. Calling mom when stuff goes down.

I really doubt a time will ever come that I don't need to call my mom for guidance on how to do something. But, hopefully the frequency of those calls with go down a little bit post-graduation. Maybe after four years of doing it on my own, I'll know how to fill out government forms, cook real dinners, and get stains out. But for now, I'm going to keep calling while I still can without seeming totally pathetic.

6. Being intoxicated at weird times.

Drunk at noon on a Friday is the quintessence of an alcoholic at any time - unless it's college. Not that this is necessarily a good thing, and it certainly doesn't apply to everyone, but there aren't many other places where people would instantly assume someone is intoxicated if they're acting even a little weird. I've even seen people drink in the library....

7. The messed up dating scene.



There are people who meet the love of their life at college and live happily ever after. They are people who meet the supposed love of their life at college and never talk to them again after Sunday. There are people who use Tinder. Hormones are high, freedom is bountiful, and football players are cute - what else needs to be said?

8. A warped sense of time.

The career I'm pursuing will require me to be at work by 7 am, five days a week. I am fully aware of this. Now, will I enroll in an 8 am next semester? Absolutely not - I'm not a demon. In college, nights often start at 10 p.m., dinners are eaten at 4, and mornings can begin anywhere from 8 to 2. We don't get that whole 9-5 idea.

9. Costumes... for no apparent reason.

High schoolers have a dress code. Adults have dignity. College students have fun. Here, people will wear a corn costume to get on ESPN, a fanny pack to get into a fraternity, or a tutu to match a theme party. Is it actually a weird thing, though? No one even blinks an eye.

10. Insanely close friends.

Name another point in your life when you live with your friends, study with your friends, drive with your friends, eat with your friends, go out with your friends, and even grocery shop with your friends. I'll wait. At college, it's easy for friends to seem like family because you're with them constantly. Love it or hate it, it's weird about college.

So, enjoy this weirdness while you can - it won't last forever!


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Cover Image Credit: Matthew Kupfer

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To The Marching Band That Changed My Life

Because hearing "one more time" for the last time can be oh so bittersweet.

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To the Zebra Marching Band,

Thank You.

Words cannot describe how much you have done for me throughout these past four years. Little did I know that upon walking through the band room's intimidating doors my freshman year, I had unknowingly found my second home. On the outside it may have appeared to simply be kids with instruments on a field, however, it was so much more.

Thank you for teaching me how to have an immense amount of school spirit despite not knowing a single thing about football. From playing our school's fight song by heart, to feeling an electric energy each time the stadium lights lit up on Friday nights, you allowed me to experience a sense of joy unlike no other.

You taught me that there definitely is no "i" in "team," even if it may have taken me a while to understand that. I was able to learn that I didn't always need to be self-sufficient, that in order for me to succeed, I needed to listen and work together with those around me. I soon realized that we each played an important role on that field and even if just one of us was out of place, we would all be affected. Once we put on those uniforms, we weren't simply ourselves anymore, rather we came together regardless of backgrounds or differences, and became one. Under that shako, no one knew who we were, because that 10 minute show wasn't about any one individual, it was about the band.

I thank you for showing me that a family doesn't necessarily mean you're related by blood, that a family can be as small as the people within your section, or as big as the entire band. Without marching band, I would have never met some of my best friends. You brought some of the most amazing people into my life that I've had the opportunity to form long-lasting bonds with. Although I may have not known it at the time, but after years of complaining about the weather either being too hot or too cold at rehearsal, making up dances to the drum-line's cadences, helping each other memorize music and sets, or saying the phrase, "It's not a show if you don't have to go" to each other, these once-strangers around me had become a part of my roots. Thank you for placing people in my life that would help push me when I didn't want to do another run-through or scream the loudest with me when it came to school chants.

You taught me the virtue of patience, because after hearing the director say "one last time" for the 5th time in a row, I DEFINITELY needed it.

Turns out those hour-long bus rides actually feel like ten minutes when you're sitting by the the right people (aka: the back of the bus.) You gave me a chance to experience those irreplaceable laughs, inside jokes, and memories made at marching contests that I would look back on in a few years and say "Man, I miss this." I never did think I would ever get so excited over spending my Saturdays watching other bands perform while competing for a trophy of our own.

Thank you for both the significant and insignificant details. For the everyday normality of walking into the band room and being greeted by a hundred kids in a frenzy, to the medley of saxophones and tubas and other practicing instruments that would eventually become the background noise to my life. Or from having the opportunity to march in front of 20,000 people at the Magic Kingdom Parade at Disney World, to leaving a legacy by being the first band in my school's history to not only pass on to finals, but place eighth at our state marching contest.

In the end, you transformed me into a girl who adores the clarinet and is passionate about both music and marching. So much so that next year I'll be at Boone Pickens Stadium, making my dreams a reality by marching with a college band.

Just know I could have never done it without you, because when it's all said and done, I wouldn't trade getting to be a part of the Zebra Marching Band for the world.

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