I’m not going to lie. When the “I quit social media” headlines began trickling into my social media feeds I immediately reconsidered my digital purpose. The irony is nothing short of tragic. I read, I researched, I pursued and damn, I was hooked. This “social media” thing must be so unrelenting, so evil that I had to eradicate it from my life effective immediately. So, I did the one thing any defiant youth could do: I deleted my Facebook app. For perhaps a whole two hours. I began reconsidering all my social media accounts, what was their purpose? Did I really need them? Who wants to actually see my purportedly “fake” life, digitalized, liked, shared, edited, commented on, tagged in. Blah blah blah. You get it.
After a few days of deep contemplation, and many ridiculous “news” articles read about the matter later, the thoughts in my mind began to settle. My perspective on social media was finally lucid after this apocalyptic proposition of a life without social media first wreaked havoc on my social media trajectory. For a minute, I was going to quit it all too. But just for a brief minute.
I’ll be the first to admit that not everything I post online is organic or in the moment. But is that really the point of it all? If I really wanted you to know exactly how I looked when I went out to coffee and how great the food was at brunch in that exact moment, I’d invite you along. If I wanted you to see the raw photos I took whilst traveling, I’d tell you to come along with me and experience it for yourself. What I share is a collection of the best memories, a range of different moments and ideas as well as experiences that I’ve had. It’s like a gallery of my life, and its free entry for all. You’re invited to browse, laugh at it, enjoy it, hate it, be inspired by aspects of it, or think I’m totally self-absorbed and remove me as a connection in your life. You have as much as a right to criticize and judge me and what I share as I have a right to in fact create and share that content. I think both parties should be accepting and respectful of that principle.
I think what can be learned from this whole saga, if one can even call the unfurling of events in such terms, is that social media is what you make of it. Essentially, social media is another platform of self-expression and the digital representation of your thoughts, ideas and at the core of it all, you as an individual. If you choose to construct a fake image of yourself for self-validation, well that’s your choice. If you use it to engage with critical ideas, movements and share your unique experiences with others, then that is also your choice. The way you construct your digital imprint is representative of your values, and the manner in which you want others to perceive you is an inherently personal and freely informed choice.
Do I need social media to validate my life and my purpose? No. Do I need social media to enrich my life? Yes. And there is nothing wrong with that. I don’t think there has ever been a time quite like now when everyone is so comfortable sharing their lives, their views and their purpose on a digital and ultimately worldwide platform. I find the ability to ‘connect’, however artificial it may be, with content from all spectrums of thought and with people from all corners of the earth simply remarkable. I’m not however reducing the satisfaction of your existence to the presence of social media, or lack of, in your life. It is merely one platform to achieve certain aims on the multifaceted global stage. Perhaps you are one of the rare species who is more content without social media in your life, and all of its #obscenity. I respect that, and if honesty permits, I’m a little jealous.
When like comes to share, the proposed “quitting” of social media on a large scale would place unnecessary barriers up between individuals and new thoughts and experiences. Whilst this may not be the reality we had all envisaged for our lives – this quasi-dependence on the digital world – that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t embrace it. Start learning and start sharing. Each individual has a right to self-expression, whatever form that may take. So, in the wise words of pop culture’s reigning queen: social media, you’re my blank space baby, and I’ll write my name.