The way I treat social media has been changing. (Here are a few more examples.)
Social media is an extra service individuals can use within their own boundaries and comfort levels. A user can have profiles on one platform, all platforms, or none at all and still be validated as a person at the end of the day. Our lives do not depend on social media, it's just an extra way to engage in human life. I know I am not required to live 100% online or offline, but in the past it has felt like I needed to live more online than off. Instead of thinking this way, I am changing how I think about and use social media.
Two weeks ago, B and I received tickets to attend a pre-screening of the movie Nerve (which is now playing in theaters). The plot surrounds a fictitious mobile game named Nerve, in which users are categorized as watchers or players. Watchers strictly view, like, and engage with the content, but never produce their own. Early in the movie, watchers are characterized as timid, without courage, or without value to add to their online presence. Players are pressured by the watchers to relentlessly produce more content and continue to level up their game. Players are brave, publicly vulnerable personas who are willing to push their way to the top ranking.
If you choose to play the game, you're either all in or watching from the side. There is no option to play as you wish. Thankfully, in real life, we have the option to participate, engage, and share. Our social media use and online presence is on our own terms.
In the context of this movie, I identify more as a 'watcher' of social media. I check the platforms I have profiles on, occasionally liking photos or content, but social media is more about viewing content (seeing photos from friends or brands I like, gaining access to new articles to read, and interacting with friends). Because I use these platforms this way, I'm consuming more than I'm creating. I post Instagram photos, status updates, and tweets a lot less now. When I first felt this shift in my mindset, I still felt the urge to flick through my photo stream daily to try to find a photo to post, but over time the pressure I felt to share decreased. Now I'm comfortable with the fact that my day isn't marked as good because I shared something on social media, or as bad and wasteful because of my absence.
I won’t delete my profiles or old posts any time soon. It would be unfair to the old me who enjoyed creating the content, photos, and writing the silly, angst tweets. Going forward my out-going messages will look and feel different to reflect my new attitude. I will still have fun posting photos, sending silly snaps, and sharing but it will be less consistent and I'll be using platforms for fun, not to build my brand or seek approval.
I feel enough self-imposed pressure to be the person I want to be and have the life I want to build. Removing myself from self-validating social media has improved my ability to be more consistently self-loving.
I do not want my life to be lived for and chronicled by a screen seeking approval any more.
My purpose is to live for myself, not to live for chance of a like or following of others.