A couple months ago my social meter ran out. I needed time away from people to rebuild my energic supply. Not for the first time in my life, I discovered that my social battery refused to recharge and as the weeks pulled ahead I began to lag even more. In times like these I find myself in a state of extreme introspection, more so than the normal state I reside within on a day to day basis. Several keys items presented themselves to me and I came to the decision to cut all ties with social media – Social media death if you will. Instead of ghosting everyone, I figured I would share my thoughts because I am apparently incapable of keeping my thoughts to myself and maybe someone out there in the online world is experiencing the same thing I am.
Yesterday was a horrific shit day but when I came home my amazing family had a surprise for me. They presented me with the most beautiful orchid I had ever seen, a bottle of my favorite wine, a lovely note, the perfect song playing in the background and lots of hugs. After the rush of gratitude, love and tears had worn away into the early hours of the evening I had an overwhelming urge to take a photo of the orchid and post it on social media. I sat with this feeling and deciphered it…. I felt obligated to thank my husband publicly so that he would know how much I appreciated him. What? Why?
Writing those words, then reading them out loud to myself, makes me feel really stupid but it’s a legitimate feeling. Every day we are exposed to this type of behavior on social media. We take snap shots of our lives, the most perfect moments, and share them with whoever happens to be looking. Most of the time we aren’t taking snap shots of the broken moments, angry expressions and shit days that occur in between the precious, beautiful, enviable moments that we curate online. My husband teased me once, months ago, by saying “If it’s not on Instagram, it didn’t happen.” The truth is, if it is on social media then it didn’t happen the way we are pretending it did.
Let me switch gears here for a minute now….
I want to tell you about the most powerful memory I have of my Dad. I was eight or nine, a 3rd or 4th grade elementary aged child. We are sitting in the living room of my childhood home – in a dome that Dad built with his own two hands. Dad is reading in a lazy boy chair and I am reading on the floor. The book in his hands is enormous and on the cover is a menacing, demon face that grins at me from across the room. I ask Dad what he is reading and he tells me that it is Swan Song by Robert McCammon. He tells me about a little girl named Swan who can bring the dead, post-nuclear world back to life with the touch of her fingertips and about the various antagonistic characters who are working against her. I was intrigued and Dad allowed me to read the novel when he was done a few weeks later. I believe that Swan Song played a crucial part in the development of my interests and I have so much gratitude to my Dad for the examples he set for me growing up.
When my children grow up, what will be their most powerful memory of me? What will they emulate? Will it be the books I read, activities I involved them in, the music I listened to? Or will it be the time I spent on social media, the time I wasted interfacing my intimate life moments with the artificial humanity of the Internet?
I have a rather intense personality. I know that I can be difficult to be around – I even have a difficult time being around myself sometimes! I am the most extreme type of introvert I know of. I also battle with an attention disorder that manifests itself in various forms – an addictive personality, intolerability to clutter and chaos, inability to focus or extreme hyper-focus, poor self-esteem. I read something by John Eastwood, who I believe is a professor of psychology, that really resonated with me. He said “Not knowing what we are searching for means that we lack the capacity to choose appropriate goals for engagement with the world.” Social media generates a powerful sense of FOMO, the fear of missing out, and an overwhelming habit of self-comparison to others. It pulls a personality like mine in so many directions, exacerbating the struggles people like myself deal with regularly.
Now I know that many people can use social media without it becoming a tiny monster living inside their cell phone, hitching a ride in their pocket and gnawing a hole in their brain. I get it… but for a moment consider…
Why do we feel less beautiful without a filter?
Why do we feel compelled to connect emotionally with strangers?
When did we decide that artificial social interaction is more important than being present?
When did we stop calling people to wish them a Happy Birthday?
When did we decide that a moment didn’t have value if it wasn’t shared?
When did we decide to curate our lives?
When did we decide to allow a database to tell us what to remember and when?
Look up! Live.
Thanks for reading, maybe I will see you in real life. ❤️