When I was in middle school, I created a Facebook page. I had heard about it from my friends, everyone was doing it, so why the hell not? I posted some pictures of myself, befriended everyone I could possibly think of, and eventually started playing the little apps and farming virtual cabbage. I spent a decent amount of time building an online persona, letting everyone know what I was up to, chatting some, stalking some. The usual. After I had my page for a little over a year, something changed. I still don’t fully understand why the change happened, what particular event made me feel the way I did, but one day I came home and deleted my page. My parents never fully believed me when I told them that there truly was no one reason, but that I simply didn’t want to be a part of the online community anymore. They thought maybe I was bullied online, maybe someone hurt me or threatened me. No one did; the whole process just left a bad taste in my mouth.
Throughout the rest of middle school and high school, I stayed away from social media. When Twitter and Instagram came on the scene, I never even touched them. When others asked me why, I either told them I wasn’t really sure or said it was for “a lot of different reasons.” Some thought I was a little strange for it, some said they respected it, and I didn’t really mind either way. Now that I’m at college, I’ve had to change my ways. In order to share my articles, I’ve created a few pages, but I’ve hardly given them much attention at all. Maybe I should. Maybe a stronger online presence would do me well, but it has always been difficult for me to bring myself to shout out the details of my life. It’s hard for me to accept that anyone truly cares.
The question has been rolling around in my head for a few years now is why do I hate social media? Maybe it’s the narcissism that surrounds the whole process. I’ve always felt that social media is a way of saying, “Hey everybody, look at what I’m doing. Look how happy I am and how great my life is!” The vast majority of pictures feature a bright, copy-and-paste smile, all good feelings. No one ever seems to post a picture of themselves that conveys any emotion other than glee. When was the last time someone let you know they weren’t doing well through an Instagram picture?
Maybe it’s the unrealistic expectation that everyone sets up for themselves. People only post their best online, leaving everything below for the interpersonal interactions. When you only post pictures that make you look perfect, you set yourself up to look less than your best in person. Your subpar days, instead of going unnoticed, now receive extra attention. Everyone’s expectations of your beauty are too high, and you’re the one that set them there.
Maybe it’s just the disconnection from reality that social media causes in people. If I wanted to spend all day with my face in a screen, I would sit at my computer and watch videos of rhinos fighting lions. There’s nothing that says, “I’m a boring person” more than checking your Twitter feed while someone is trying to have a conversation with you. I want to spend my life in the moment, enjoying the things that I do and the places I go. Not worry about how I can capture it all in a picture to show to everyone I know.
Maybe it’s the way people judge others from the things they post. When someone posts an opinionated statement, there is little they can do to argue for it or explain it. People judge what others believe from a distance without discussing and debating controversial issues. The online medium is simply not a good way to debate a controversial topic. When I post this article, if someone disagrees, I won’t get to defend my position to them; they’ll probably just hold me with a lower regard. Imagine how much worse the effect is when it’s only a 140-character tweet, rather than an entire article.
No one reason in particular turns me off to social media, and I know that it helps people network, keep in touch with old friends and satisfies people's urge to feel important. I just know that at the end of the day, I want to be present with whatever I’m doing and enjoy things for their intrinsic value to myself, not for how awesome they make my life look to others. I want my life to be exciting enough for it to be the only thing I need for entertainment, and I want people to know me not by the things I post online, but from real-life interactions.