The freedom to express myself with social networking began with the appeal and the availability of social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, among others. This was a freedom that I went overboard with, a fact that I am not proud of. And here are my confessions on the addiction, the reasons and trying to reform:
1. Posting every detail I possibly could about my life or my emotions became a second nature. I am guilty of having gone to dinners between friends where, after the obligatory picture-taking, we spend several minutes updating our profiles with photos of the event and “Let The Good Times Roll” types of captions. I was more than capable of posting five different collages of the same event at once. Within a year of having an Instagram account, I had posted close to 2,000 photos, considering I led an average life. And speaking of Instagram…
2. I also regularly check my timeline on Instagram. I make it a point, every night before bed, to look at all the photos of all the people I follow until my feeds run out of new posts. I do the same when I wake up in the morning and sporadically during the rest of the day. Sometimes I do the same on Twitter and Facebook. By my estimate, about three hours of every day was wasted on browsing my profiles. Correction: AT LEAST three hours.
3. I wasted so much time by living vicariously through my online accounts. So many of my posts were nonsensical and pointless. Without knowing it, I let go of my right to privacy. Complete strangers could see what was important to me, and even what wasn’t. They knew where I had my dinner, what it was, what kind of make-up I bought, and also the bitchy side of me that sharpened her claws online and ranted endlessly when I had issues with other people.
4. My addiction started when I relentlessly went on to over-post photos of parties and quotes on moving on and asshole guys to “prove” that I was okay after a broken heart. Misguided overcompensation, if you will. And a serious lack of judgment. This in particular disappointed me and I went back and deleted over half of my own posts. Over even half of half. Best two hours I’ve ever spent on social media. Felt like purging my own misplaced insanity.
5. This confession is why I realized my obsession was so out of place: I am not a celebrity. I have no great acts to my name. I barely ever travel. I have no amazing talents to speak of. I am not wealthy. I understand less than half of political and economic issues in my country. I am not beautiful in the way that society wants me to be. All I have are my words and my mind, which occasionally spews relatively coherent thoughts. What business do I have, announcing every detail of my life as if people would care?
6. I became too engrossed in social networking and embarrassingly, I thought constantly of how my life looked through my profiles. I posted something new every goddamn day. Ashamed as I am to admit it now, I based some decisions on how my friends and “followers” would interpret it. For a while there, I seriously forgot to live.
7. So I stopped. I stopped religiously checking my timelines. I stopped devotedly posting endless nonsensical things as often as possible. I went out and about my business without documenting every moment for the posterity of my social networking sites. That’s not to say I never posted anything altogether, or that what I did post was as important as world peace—I just stopped making it my first priority. And it felt really good, to not be so consumed with what my handful of “followers” would think as to spending my time in the company of those who truly matter.
8. When I looked back at my Instagram photos, all I saw was a girl living the pretense of an exciting life. Multiple photos of “epic parties” and a “great” social life depicting a pretentious existence. Instead of proudly reminiscing, I felt sick. I do have a good life, and I love it. But I reduced it to a hollow and exaggerated portrayal of one. My Instagram timeline was more exciting than my life really was, yet at the same time, it did not do justice to what a good and real life it is.
9. I do not plan to deactivate my accounts or to never post anything ever again. I still believe that social networking is a good way to keep in touch with friends and family and once in a while, hear news of them. It is also still a way of expressing what’s on my mind. And I will likely still have moments where I post a few irrelevant things. But I will no longer allow myself to be ruled by it. I will live my life for me, and no longer for what I can post online. My life is more exciting than my Instagram or my Twitter or my Facebook accounts. It’s time I learned to celebrate that life, albeit quietly, but with more dignity.
10. Even this piece is ridden with self-absorption. Nonetheless, I wrote it anyway, in the hopes of reminding even just one other person out there to not go overboard with social accounts. We should not be dependent on these. We create these accounts—they should not create us. YOLO, right? Don’t waste more time than you should by trying to prove to the world that you are doing just that.
But that’s just the opinion of one reforming social-networking addict.