I have a confession.
I was thinking about maybe not doing this anymore. I considered coming offline completely in fact. No Instagram, no Facebook and no more writing my fears, failings, hopes and dreams in a public space where only five people were ever going to read them. Perhaps it’s silly to try and open myself up to people I don’t know, when i’m still figuring out for myself who I even am. Maybe I’d be doing a better service to myself if I just worked it all out in silence and put it into a book in 10 years time?
I might sound a little self depreciative here, but it’s part of the vicious cycle that a lot of us go through constantly when we’re sharing stuff online. We use social media to put things out in to the world, hopefully with the intention of saying or creating something positive. We quote great speakers, poets, musicians, authors. We write eloquently about the emotional processes we’re working through in the hope of uplifting somebody else … and then we spend the evening refreshing instagram wondering why actually no one seems to be taking much notice. We check Facebook all night and are disappointed when our friends can tag us in a meme but not share our emotional outpourings. We feel shit.
I said “we” a lot there didn’t I? Forgive me. Maybe I should have just spoken on behalf of myself, but I don’t think I’m in this alone. I don’t think I can be the only one who feels this way. You tell me. Here are a few of the thoughts that have crossed my mind after posting something that I’m claiming to be sharing just for the love of it …
“Did I get the timing wrong, maybe people are busy?”
“Should I delete it and share it again later? Or tomorrow?”
“Maybe that picture’s bad, is it my outfit?”
“I wish I looked like some of these hot instagram girls so I’d have more followers who would read this …”
“Wait, she posted that after me and it’s already got 100 likes. She is prettier though …”
“Maybe the likes will go up if I stop checking it …”
WHAT AM I DOING?!
All of this - feeling negatively about myself and other people, that’s literally the complete opposite intention that I set out with. In fact, that’s the opposite intention not just when it comes to social media, but in how I try to live my life. I want to make people feel good. I want to feel good about myself. But the nature of our sharing culture doesn’t help us to do this. We set out to uplift others and end up disheartening ourselves.
Why? Because now we’re all seeking something. Something bigger than acceptance or attention - what we’re seeking is validation. We want to feel that what we’re doing is good enough, that people are impressed by us, that we’re keeping up with everyone else’s highlight reel.
I went back to “We.” But I’m pretty sure I’m right.
So … how did I work this all out, what am I going to do about it, and what the heck am I doing here again?
I’m not sure exactly what specifically made me realise it, but suddenly this just didn’t feel fun anymore. The idea of writing something and posting it already made my heart drop a little, because the last few times hadn’t made me feel good. I’d been sharing stuff here for around 18 months, and at first I genuinely was OK with only a few people acknowledging it, but now I needed more. I wanted to be heard and noticed. It’s not just blogging either, but social media in general. Starting off the day scrolling through what everyone else has been doing - seeing who’s working with who, or more to the point, who’s still not working with me, who’s dressing better, who must be earning more, who’s off killing it in LA … it’s so toxic.
I’m intensely emotional and introspective, so maybe some of the extremities of the isecurities all of this triggers won’t be relatable for everyone, but like I said, I know it’s relevant to all of us on some level. The point of all of this was supposed to be positive, and I was doing it wrong. I was being a hypocrite. With that cemented in my head, in one fail swoop I unfollowed THOUSANDS (why had I ever needed to know about the lives of so many people??) on social media and didn’t even think about sitting down to write another post, let alone share it. I’m all in or I’m all out, and for a minute I was definitely in camp “out.”
And yet here I am. So after all that chat, what’s this?
Well, naturally, I continued to analyse my thought process:
Did I feel better for not worrying so much about what others were doing? Yes.
Did I still have something to say? Yes, always.
Was I prepared to ignore the fact that I think I’m supposed to use my voice? Never.
Was I prepared to wait to say everything in 10 years time? Umm, no .. actually that seems really long.
In 2018, do I need to find a (healthy) way of utilising social media without letting it destroy me, seeing as it’s the most powerful and FREE platform that could exist?
So, this is where I’m at, and please bare with me because I’m really, really determined to figure this one out.
The writing keeps coming. More so in fact. It comes regularly. It doesn’t just appear at midnight once every 6 weeks. I’ll use this space for what it is - an incredible opportunity to put the things into the world that I want to see. To grow something, whatever that looks like. But with a very, very close check on my own happiness. And if I can’t do it, then I won’t do it. Sounds easy enough. Watch this space …
With all of that in mind, and the point going forward really being about more than myself, I’d encourage you to think about how all of it makes you feel. Not even just social media, but the conversations you have, the people you surround yourself with and generally the things you let into your space. If you’re relying on someone other than you to make you feel good, then do whatever you can to put a stop to it now.
The post it note above my desk for a long time has read: “DON’T SEEK VALIDATION.” Clearly I need to pay it a little more attention, but I’ll leave that as my closing thought for now.
To be continued.