Halfway into my 60-day no social media fast and I’m starting to see privacy and engagement with others in an entirely different lens. Growing up as part of the last generation to know what life was life pre-Internet, pre-cellphones, pre online social media, I think I look at the world in a completely different way than generations after me will only be able to conceptualize.When I first began this fast, I had one intent in mind: to stay more present. It’s no secret and you’re probably tired of hearing me ramble on about the notion of presence in my life. But this fast is starting to reveal things to me that I’d never even thought of when I first signed up for an AIM account.
I was watching some series on YouTube and in it, one woman, instead of simply asking another woman for her number, instead asked for her Instagram handle. My first thought was, ‘are we really doing this right now?!’ It brought me back to days when guys would ask for my AIM instead of my number. Part of it feels lazy.
When you connect to someone’s social media, you get a sneak peak into their world – I say a sneak peak because not many choose to show their entire lives via social media. And this ‘sneak peak’ can kill the mystery of things.
What good is it to catch up with someone if you already scrolled through their Instagram photos from the weekend?
What good is it to discuss if they’re making progress on making their dreams come true if every Facebook status keeps you up to date?
I’m not arguing against social media – I think it definitely can have its’ benefits but sometimes I wonder if the benefits outweigh the shortcomings.
Specifically, what now constitutes a private life? It used to be to know the status of a couple you’d ask one person in the relationship or hone into the grapevine to see if anyone has said anything.
Now, a person’s relationship is for public eyes whether it’s a new relationship with photos in Dubai, a first Valentine’s together, or even a breakup where inspirational quotes seem to hit your feed every few minutes, it’s as if now instead of seeking out information, we have to block it.
I’ve noticed that I haven’t missed any important news since the first day of my fast. I mean, sure, I’ve missed out on the latest celebrity gossip, but it’s become more evident to me what information is actually meaningful for my life.
And oh what a joy it is to actually not know something.
I now have conversations with my friends where they catch me up first-hand on what’s the latest tea as opposed to Instagram shoving it into my face for me.
I have friends asking, “Have you heard about such and such,” and I can honestly say no and we can dive into a conversation that otherwise would have been cut short had I already known.
I can now date someone and genuinely have to spend the time getting to know him without trying to expedite the process by scrolling through his social media feed resulting in a false sense of who this person is.
I think we can sometimes forget to take social media with a grain of salt.
I don’t know exactly what it is that deters us from sharing not only the good in life, but the struggles as well.
I also don’t know why we feel compelled to share every single good moment.
Why can’t we just live in a moment as opposed to trying to capture it?
Maybe some moments don’t need capturing and instead just need living.
There’s freedom in just being, instead of worrying about the best angle, the best lighting, and the best filter for a photo.
I don’t know what will be the outcome of this fast – I may decide to fast for another 60-days, I may quit social media once and for all.
Social media may be a hindrance to the live I’ve always envisioned having. After all, how encouraging is it to see couples getting engaged – when you’re still single, acquaintances being promoted – when you still don’t know what you want to do for a living, or others having traveled to 5 countries within one year where I'm just trying to make it to Thailand?
I’ve been told, “comparison is the stealer of joy.”
And I see now that I can wear outfits twice never fearing someone will notice in a photo (this is simply ridiculous!), I can actually hold conversations without using my phone apps as a crutch, and I can genuinely start to see who people are as opposed to a veil they’ve draped on social media.
If I learned all this within just a month of no social media, I'm ecstatic to see the lessons I'll have learned in the next 30 days.