Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. How active you are on these platforms defines your relevance. Your worth seemingly measured by your follower count.
I’m constantly reading tweets from people “Feeling bad about not being active on social media” (And I’m guilty of this too), getting upset about algorithm changes, joining follow trains (again, guilty) to boost their social standing. We even feel the need to apologise for taking ‘time off’ social media to spend time with our families.
Social media has become such a draining popularity contest that we’ve forgotten it’s meant to be social.
I used to rely heavily on it. It’s where I read my news, got my blog traffic, and spied on old acquaintances from school. I lived by the adage ‘If it’s not on Facebook, it didn’t happen’. I posted all of my holiday pictures, every waking thought, every detail of my day – anything that would make my life look interesting. But who was I trying to impress? And why did it matter so much?
So years later, I gave up everything. It was sucking the life out of me. I convinced myself that I would no longer live my life through a screen, and I didn’t need it anymore.
I felt liberated when I deleted all the social media apps off my phone – like I’d disappeared off the face off the Earth. At last I was free to do or say whatever I wanted without being under a watchful eye. I didn’t feel like keeping up with what everyone else was doing, because I had no idea what anyone was up to. I lived in a bubble and for once, my mind was quiet.
However, giving up social media doesn’t seem to be a sustainable option. Because almost everyone you know uses at least one platform, you can be left behind if you don’t use it at all. If you run a business, social media and an online presence is absolutely essential. And sometimes, it’s just nice to be connected.
To sum up, social media isn’t evil. I think the problem is with the way we use it. It’s okay to be offline, to not be on every platform, to not have many followers. You don’t have to add your co-workers on Facebook if you don’t want to, and if social media is overwhelming you – it’s okay to quit.