If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I’m deep in the trenches of social media. Not only, do I regularly post content on three different platforms, but I am also online almost every day. And I have been for five years now. Lately, since burnout hit me like a ton of brick (which I will reflect on in a different post in the new year), I’ve been reflecting on my use of social media, how it has changed my life, what I could do to improve it, etc and I thought making a blog post out of it would be a good idea. For posterity’s sake, but also just in case it would be relatable to anyone.
When I first made this blog and then expanded to everywhere else, I had no idea how huge of a part social media would start playing in my social life, and life in general if I’m being honest. I naively thought it would be a place to share my thoughts, boost my content, and DIP for the rest of the time. But look at me now haha. A lot of it has been good, bringing me things I didn’t know I needed, things I couldn’t begin imagining I wanted. But some of it has been bad too, and has made me consider quitting more than once if we’re being completely transparent here. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s start with the good, move on to the bad, and the wrap this up with my thoughts and feelings.
All the friends I’ve made
This is arguably the best and most valuable thing being on social media has brought me and the only reason I will never regret making my accounts and being on here, no matter what the negatives are. I’ve talked about this before, but whoever said that relationships made online aren’t “real” is spewing a load of bullshit because these friendships are some of the realest, if not THE realest relationship I’ve ever made and I can safely say that 80% of my best friends are people I’ve met online. These are people who know me better than anyone IRL does, people I’ve gone to when I’ve needed advice and guidance, with my joys and sorrows as well as my deepest darkest secrets. These are the people who are a fixture in my ever changing life.
And beyond my best friends, online is where I met like minded people, people who care about the same things I do, the most obvious thing being books, but not limited to that. I have met people who are also passionate about social justice (or people who have introduced me to it, more on that in the next section), about diversity and inclusion, and on more frivolous things, people who have the same -sometimes trashy- sense of humor, people who humor my shit-posting and random thoughts that pop into my head and that I share without thought or question. And so much more.
It introduced me to myself and (some of) my passions
This might sound dramatic, but it really genuinely isn’t. Growing up in a country where taboo is a strong societal metric, where things deemed taboo aren’t talked about, and where most things are deemed taboo, I wasn’t exposed to much. I wasn’t educated on most things that I now advocate for (after extensive research), I didn’t have the vocabulary and knowledge for a lot of things that I have come to claim and identify with. And if I am being honest, growing up with a skewed perception of what’s good or bad because of being exposed to a single “point of view” my whole life, I didn’t know any better. Who I am today and who I was 5 years ago would not be friends today, and in retrospection, I really dislike the person I used to be. The only way I was able to change that and work on it, or even be aware of things about myself that needed to change, is by being exposed to the internet. Or rather, the global and international sphere of the internet.
Being exposed to people, perspectives and lived experiences that are both similar to and different from mine, was a bit of a galaxy brain experience. In the sense where I didn’t know what I was missing out on, how little I knew both about myself and the world, until I was given the tools and words to properly explore both. Might it be about foreign politics, the importance of representation and inclusivity, queerness, mental health, and so many more topics and issues that I am passionate about now. It was a learning curve, a lot of trial and error, a lot of saying the wrong thing, choosing the wrong label, before getting it right. But I wanted to get it right, and social media was only my starting point. What social media, and by extension the people I met through it, have thought me, I took and used to expand on through my own research.
This blog is the biggest witness of that transformation for me. I don’t delete my posts. I never do. It’s a principle of mine. Because in a lot of ways they are a reflexion of who I am as a person and my personal growth. If you go back to my content from 2016, it is very different from what I deliver today. And for that, I am extremely proud of myself and grateful to social media.
I’m staying informed
This is kind of the next natural step to my previous point. Social media is a tool I use to stay on top of everything happening in the world, be it important issues that people are standing up against in other countries or new terms and concepts. Social media is especially crucial for the former because, as experience taught me, traditional media is very selective on what gets reported *squints* so a lot of the time, really important happenings in the world get shared on social media by locals when you never hear a bleep about them on the news. Take for example the BLM protests happening in the US which traditional media barely reported the scope of and stopped reporting while the protests were still going which made it seem like things have “gone back to normal”, same thing with the ramping Islamophobia in France, or the abortion ban in Poland, the gender based violence in South Africa, and countless other issues all over the world.
On a more personal and frivolous note, social media is how I find my next reads. Blogs I read, videos I watch, photos I see on bookstagram, lists and threads on twitter, etc… If I had never come on the internet looking for books, I would have never diversified my reading, read ANY of my favorite books, and would probably have stopped reading a while ago because of how dissatisfied I was with the -very white abled allocishet- books I was picking up. If I only relied on what was available in bookstores here, I would simply not read because of the aforementioned reason, but also because we only got a handful of books here when I first joined. Things have gotten slightly better now but the main reason they even did is that many readers here have gotten on social media, learned about new (and diverse) books and brought attention to them.
Impacted my mental health
I won’t blame my anxiety going highwire in the past few years on social media. My life has gotten more stressful as the years go by and ~adulting~ started happening and a few things got incertain, as well as just…many bad happenings that have graced my life, but social media is definitely a factor.
Being always “on”, always taking in everything that’s happening everywhere all the time, both in the book community and in the world at large get overwhelming. Especially when there are so many bad things happening *gestures vaguely*, it brings a sense of desperation and doom. And I am the kind of person who like to stay informed, so it’s really hard for me to turn my brain off, recognize when things get too much, stay away and take some time off to check in with myself and recharge. I get so laser focused on the bad that it’s hard to step out and away from it, to look for the good because there *is* good. Being anxious about these things makes me even more anxious which makes it hard to look away and makes me even more anxious. So in a way, my anxiety fuels itself and social media facilitates it.
That being said, I’d rather this than be ignorant and oblivious to what is happening. I just need to learn balance and stepping away because the only way I can keep going is by taking care for myself.
Being overly exposed and visible
Contrary to appearances, I am a very private person. I might be very ~visible~ online (ew) and loud with my opinions but when it comes to personal things, only a handful of people really *know* me. And gaining followers is something that I’m very grateful for, it’s a humbling experience, but at the same time it puts you under more scrutiny than you ever signed up for, suddenly people feel entitled to opinions on you and your character because of the fraction of yourself you allow them to see. And that is something that makes me cringe inwards, want to close everything and move to the top of a mountain. This kind of visibility feels like too much at times and it’s not always positive.
Over my years being on here, I have had my fair share of hate, harassment, defamation and questioning of my character which is part of the package when you’re online. I know that, you know that, everyone knows that. But it doesn’t make the hits easier, and that brings us back up to my previous point. Whenever I am about to share something that might come across as controversial online, I have to brace myself for the potential hate, my anxiety spikes up and takes a while to come back down.
I waste way too much time
If you’re online, you’re probably familiar with the concept of aimless scrolling, most recently called doom scrolling because of the current state of the world, but the thing is, I have come to notice that my online habits over the years have gotten a bit…out of control, especially after I got a phone that keeps track of how much time I spend on it as well as on specific apps. I am now hyper aware of just how much time I spend online and it is worrisome, especially since a lot of the time I’m not doing anything specific, and a lot of the time I am crushed under the weight of a to-do list waiting to be completed.
I noticed that whenever I got stressed I went on one app or the other, which made me even more stress because of said to-do list and also because there’s always *something* happening online, which in turn made me spent even more time online because I was too anxious to focus on anything productive. It was a bit of a vicious cycle that I increasingly felt the need to break out of. Especially since if I stopped being aimlessly online so much I could get things done faster, be done earlier and have more time for leisure. But that was easier said than done. Unhealthy coping mechanisms are a beast to vanquish.
I will be talking about the steps I’m taking with blogging in the same post where I will tackle my recent burnout. As for my general conduct with social media, it’s something I’ve been taking care of daily since then. I have burnt out before, but this last one has been the worst BY FAR. I just completely stopped functioning and just the thought of going online filled me with so much anxiety that I logged out of everywhere for a couple days and that felt…good. Which was the slap in the face I needed to question my online habits and put them in perspective.
Since logging back on after my three day break, I found myself wanting to spend as little time as possible online. I’m mainly online when I’m chatting with my friends and when I want to post or promote. Doom scrolling is something I have actively stopped myself from doing. I am only allowing myself social media on breaks from doing one thing or another and only in short bursts. And when I find myself with some free time which is a novelty for me in the past couple weeks, instead of getting on my phone, I have started reading (yes, I know, something I should have been doing all along), watching something, and even working on some things I have been meaning to do but that have never seemed urgent enough to be put on my to-do list.
I have come to realize that I developed an unhealthy relationship with social media, where it has overtaken my life in a sense. I was ALWAYS on my phone, something that family and friends IRL have commented on more than once. It is my safe space and my refuge no matter the negatives so I still want to be online and for that to be feasible I need to learn a better balance, to cultivate a better relationship with my online space where I’m not always *on*, which ties into me learning to take care of myself on a larger scale.
Something I have been actively working on the past few weeks is slowing down and being more aware of how time I spent online. It has been a learning curve but I can safely say that I have gotten better at it. And according to my phone, I have cut the time I spent on it in half. Is my first reflex when my hands are empty to reach out for my phone and go on social media? Yes. But I have been more conscious of it and thus redirecting my attention to other endeavors.
That’s it until next time.
What have your experiences been like with social media?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.