Recently, I made the decision to remove myself from all social media. I deleted my TikTok, my Twitter, and all of my posts off of Instagram (and only go on once a week to check on my new baby cousin). After years of scrolling mindlessly, watching others live their life and having others watch me live mine, I had a wakeup call. I ran into an old friend, someone that I don’t speak to much anymore (but have no malice for), and she seemed upset with me. When we parted ways, I texted the group chat — “is she mad at me? Why?” It seemed that the general consensus was that I had posted a photo of a get together I had hosted, and she knew almost everyone present. And she wasn’t invited.
Now, I fully acknowledge the validity of her feelings. It is absolutely hurtful to feel left out and isolated. But I also acknowledge that her feelings are her own to work through, and that I am not obligated to invite someone to a gathering when I do not speak to them anymore. But this incident stayed in my mind. I couldn’t shake it. It was the first time that I realized my content that I post is talked about. It’s dwelled on. It weighs on some people, and I’m sure it’s screenshotted and sent to group chats to discuss by people that I don’t even have close relationships with anymore. And I acknowledge that I had done the same thing (but isn’t it funny how until we become self-aware, we always think our behavior is different or exempt somehow?). It was the first time that I realized my posts are bits of my life shared to be not always celebrated or appreciated, but picked apart or judged.
In a time where the norm is to post and share every single thought, movement, and milestone, I started to stop to think — is this worth it? Do I want to post this quote that very obviously is a not-so-subtle jab at whoever I was upset with that day, or do I want to post the details of my new relationship to only be picked apart? You live and you learn, and I was starting to understand the subtle repercussions social media was having on my life and my mind. It was a constant fire hose of information, fueling gossip, bad feelings, negativity, and my ego and need to be seen.
Privacy is a blessing. Living life quietly is peace. To learn that not everything needs to be shared into the world is a liberating feeling, and it is equally liberating to learn that you don’t need to know what is happening in everyone else’s life. It’s okay to not know. It’s okay to do your own thing. It’s okay to hold near and dear the special and intimate moments of your life and your thoughts.
Now don’t get me wrong — I am not judging anyone who doesn’t choose to do this. I totally get it. I do, however, encourage everyone to take pause — check their intentions. What is your intention, what type of feeling do you get when you post/scroll, what kind of benefit do you draw from the little rectangular device that seems to be nearly impossible to put down? If you can answer these questions honestly and feel good about those answers, then all power to you. But the advice I will give — live quietly. Or at least quieter. Find joy in not knowing what’s happening in the lives of people around you, unless you intentionally are meant to know. Find peace in knowing that only the people you choose know what is happening in your life. And move from there. Nothing will ever be perfect, but choose to control what you can. And let go of the rest.
- Madeline James