Social media can sometimes feel like a beast attacking you. But I have come to realize over the years that its attacks are more like whispers than roars. It doesn’t smack you on the face and make you grovel on your feet. Instead, it seeps into your everyday thinking, controlling your moves, thoughts, desires. The chess player and the chess piece. We have become the piece. Or at least I have.
Facebook. It’s weird. I know that an acquaintance is stuck in traffic at this very moment, at exactly what intersection. I’m aware of a college friend’s blatant opinion on politics (is politics the new icebreaker?). I have an image of my colleague, her husband and children’s morning look every single day. It’s intimate, but not really. Personal, but not really. And yet I scroll.
Twitter. I am bombarded. Here’s The Exact Moment Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling Realized ‘La La Land’ Didn’t Actually Win Best Picture. Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Lizzie McGuire The Movie. Semi-Permanent Freckle Tattoos Are A Thing Now (what?). What I Ate For Dinner. What I Wish I Ate For Dinner. It’s information, but not knowledge. It’s entertaining, but not worthwhile. And yet I scroll down.
Instagram. I am tempted. If I buy this (overpriced but well-branded) magenta chiffon ribbon, my letters will look prettier. Oh my gosh, there’s a flash sale on these suede wedges… Link in profile… Direct to website… Buy (true story). I have not yet tried this new restaurant; must go there with the hubby this weekend (another true story). I am tempted and I shouldn’t be yet I embrace the temptation because it is perfectly packaged in this beautiful square.
Pinterest. I am intimidated. Why doesn’t my bedroom look anything like a chic boutique hotel? How can I create a makeup flat lay just like that (step # 1: have a lot of pretty makeup)? What did I do wrong – my chiffon cake is not ‘pillowy and soft like a cloud’? Pin, pin, pin. To remind myself that it needs to look like this. I need to look like this.
It’s not anymore the time wasted that bothers me. I reckon it’s gotten much deeper than that. I realized it when I had 10 tabs open on the same window, all click-throughs from my accounts:
I am crafting my life based on the world wide web (it’s called a web for a reason).
Scary, if you think about it. Handing over power to links and posts and pins and brands to define my relationships, my knowledge, my desires, my life. We’re not totally aware of it because we’re in love with the pretty, the edited, and the great (social media is excellent at these). It’s much better than the humdrum and ugliness out there, right?
But what a greater tragedy it is to keep ourselves buried underneath all these tabs and posts, behind these flattened identities on the so, so many screens and squares. Because we are not only losing our time. We’re losing a strong sense of who we really want to be… which is, most of the time, just simple people trying to figure out this thing called life, hearts and souls wanting to love and be loved. That’s it. That’s more than enough.
That’s the raw, unfiltered truth; no more unnecessary layers needed. So rest easy. Like it, share it, pin it, heart it, would you?
Yes, I realize the irony of this post since I depend on social media for my blog. I am not saying that social media is evil. It really depends on how we use it. Here are ways I’ve tried to stay as the chess player and keep social media as the chess piece:
- Have an accountability partner. It helps if you have someone whom you can trust to keep you in check. In my case, my husband has the passwords to all my social media accounts (and I don’t). That way, I can only use it when he’s there (which actually makes me use social media less because I want to spend more time with him and not on the screen).
- Set a strict schedule for social media use. There are only certain days within the week (and certain hours) when I can log in to my accounts. There is really no need to check social media every single day and every single hour. It just adds to the overwhelming swirl of thoughts in your head, believe me.
- Listen to podcasts. I’m usually alone in the day and I often find myself automatically grabbing my phone for company. These days I’ve decided to explore the world of podcasts instead of engaging in endless scrolling. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot more from listening to people’s ideas than looking at the latest designer shoes available from that Instagram shop.
- Take it with a grain of salt. I’m still working on this. I’m quite sensitive so I can react easily to posts, whether it be a friend’s opinion on something controversial or a sale alert (very weak when it comes to this one). We have to learn to detach ourselves from what we see online because more often than not, it only contains half the truth (or half the desires).
- If all else fails, deactivate. I tried this for a month late last year. And let me be the first to tell you that it was one of the best things I ever did. If my craft didn’t depend on social media and if I didn’t find good inspiration online (yes, yes, there are actually beautiful ones out there), I would leave the world wide web completely. I am an old soul.
Good luck! Hope to see you in the real world!