Okay, maybe it is you.
I want to tell you about a toxic, self-absorbed relationship I had on and off for many years.
This relationship was with social media. Specifically, Instagram.
I want to tell you how and why I finally ended it for good.
Any “Seinfeld” fans? If so, remember when George described breakups as knocking over a pop machine? You need to rock it back and forth a few times before it finally falls over. It’s just like that. Instagram is my pop machine. God, that was a great show.
Anyway, I started off on there like most did: accepting friend requests from every human being I’d ever passed in the hallway in high school 20 years ago; that drunk girl I met in a washroom; the grocery store attendant; my Uber driver’s uncle (okay, I’m exaggerating, but you get the point); posting my kids every milestone; humble bragging about my husband (who, by the way, is wonderful, but I didn’t need to always announce it); oversharing my abs (yes, I was one of those. I cringe at the thought even though this truly wasn’t long ago).
I was seeking validation—I was trying to get my cup filled by other people because, at the time, I couldn’t fill it within myself. As the saying goes, insecurities are loud and confidence is quiet. Well, this was true for me.
Not once was I trying to look better than anyone—I was trying to prove that I was just as good as the rest. It became an obsession with oversharing, overfiltering, and overconsumption. When I did the math and realized how much time and effort went into my curated, online life, I felt sick. I also went back and forth with the struggle of how much to share of my childrens’ lives, which is a whole other topic. (I struggle with people oversharing their children online, especially on a public page.)
I would often realize all of these negative things and deactivate my account in disgust. It lasted a year once, but I inevitably returned. I became known for my constant breakup with socials, and people would constantly ask me if I was okay. I hated that because all I was doing in leaving was trying to be okay! I wasn’t okay when I was on there, yet no one questioned it then. It was when I broke free trying to better myself that I was asked if I was okay. Isn’t that ironic?
Anyway, I was obsessed with how I was perceived, wondering if people like me, trying to be funny, trying to look as perfect as I possibly could with filters. It all became too much. I will save my story about body dysmorphia for another post, but socials sure did not help that either.
Constantly being bombarded with perfectly edited and filtered photos of women’s bodies made me feel anxious all the time. Trying to showcase my highlight reel made me feel anxious all the time. Having my head in my phone for truly trivial and senseless reasons made me feel anxious and guilty all the time. I knew this relationship was toxic—I knew I needed to get out for good.
So I did. And once I did, I immediately did a ton of research on the topic of social media and how it’s truly destroying our society. I could write an essay on that topic—it’s truly fascinating and terrifying. It helped me affirm my choice.
I am now finding ways to fill all life’s precious moments with things I love to do, like reading, working out, doing yoga, hanging out with my kids, watching a show with my husband before bed without my phone, having coffee in complete silence…and now blogging.
I live in the present now, documenting all the precious, raw moments in my brain, not in a post for superficial likes.
I urge you to take a break from social media and see how it makes you feel, especially if any of my feelings resonated with you. I didn’t lose touch—my close friends still text, my family chat is still going off all day long, and my kids and husband see a less distracted Mom.
If anything, I replaced filtering my wrinkles with filtering out people who didn’t deserve a seat at my table. Now I have quality over quantity. It’s a wonderful feeling. I truly feel free.
Let me know if you try this or if you already live this way.
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