It’s hard for me to remember what life was like before Social Media changed everything.
Before MySpace. Before Facebook took over. Before any of us ever announced what we’d just had for dinner, or made a snarky comment about an actor, or decided that everyone needed to hear our exceedingly valuable opinions about politics, or allowed the number of “Likes” on a post to dictate our mood.
What did we do with all that time?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, because I feel like I’m hitting a Social Media wall. I don’t know if it’s exhaustion or disinterest or a combination of both, but what used to be a fun sideshow has become to central to my life, and I think it’s time to change that. Which is going to be really hard.
I went back this morning and looked over my Facebook history, and it filled me with all sorts of feelings.
These were my first posts, back when I thought one’s name was the first part of any status update.
I can’t recall whether I actually got no “Likes” or comments on these important shares, or if they’ve disappeared over time. I did notice looking back that “Likes” and comments do seem to disappear. For what reason, I do not know.
Leave it to a “Like” whore to feel the need to explain a lack of Likes.
Looking through my history, what I found was in some ways a history of my last ten years, and in some ways totally not a history of it. Because, of course, unlike a diary or a journal, we don’t generally share every thought we have on social media. And if we do, it’s called oversharing. And if we don’t, we are not being, perhaps, our truest selves, or we are showing the world only the good stuff, which is normal but not so authentic.
When something good happens in my life, my gut reaction today is to share the news on Facebook. I don’t like what this says about me. Am I really living in the moment if part of every experience is sharing it with 2,560 “friends” on Facebook, some of whom care, most of whom don’t, many of whom are probably judging me harshly for wanting or needing to share it?
Am I the only person who is exhausted, thinking about all this?
Am I alone in wondering if I might be better off not having my mood impacted by how many “Likes” I get on a certain post?
Looking back at the past ten years, starting at the beginning and scanning forward, these are some of the things I’ve learned about me:
- I’m not as funny as I think I am, though I am often kinda funny.
- Not every thought that I have is as important as I think it is in the moment. It might be okay to let some of them go.
- I am kind. Except when I’m not. Probably like most people.
- Moods come and go. If I’m struggling, I can rest assured good times are ahead. And vice versa.
I’ve broken up with social media in the past. It hasn’t stuck. It’s hard to do, and honestly I have mixed feelings about it. I have enjoyed connecting with people from my past, or friends with whom I might otherwise not have connected. But I do think it’s time for a change of priorities. And I’ve already started to make that change. I’m posting a lot less these days. I expect, in the future, to continue to de-escalate my posts. Perhaps share important milestones, but not daily updates.
So it’s not a breakup, but it’s a de-escalation. I’m going to try and teach myself how to exist as I did in 2007 and before that. Via phone, email, and in person. Back when I might run into an acquaintance in a bar and not hear, “I feel like I know what’s been going on in your life from Facebook.” And not think, “Yeah, I feel like I just saw you an hour ago.” And realize that we’ve been connected, but not really. Not in the truest sense of the word.