Life Beyond Social Media

by Elena Triantafyllopoulou

Mornings were not always calm.

Swipe, unlock, check notification, lock phone again.  As I drank my morning coffee, I mechanically clicked, swiped, unlocked, checked notifications, locked phone again. It was constant throughout the day, a low-slung voice hidden in the back of my head whispering this would make a good post, that would make a good post, which exasperated my inner peace.

All that changed this past July 1st, which marks my seventh month off of social media! All social media. Yes, it’s been this long, and no, I don’t miss it. Contrary to popular expectation, yes, I’ve survived.

Flashback seven months ago to the last time I posted. I remember taking a picture. I spent  considerable time taking it, editing it, finding a caption for it, checking that all was intact before I took a deep breath and clicked POST. What’s the big deal? It’s not like I’m getting graded on this. Except it seemed as though I was.  Then, I thought it was important to have a post be aesthetic, with captivating lighting, and an appropriate caption to grant me a reasonable amount of ‘likes’ and ‘comments.’ This was not just a short assignment; it was a mid-term project. Not casual; elaborate. This exhausting effort was why @username liked your post became the bell which made me salivate.

That same evening, while I was lying in bed trying to allow sweet slumber to take over, it occurred to me,  this is who I have become.

Nothing seemed to matter that evening except dwelling on this post.  I fought the urge to  check up on it. Check up on it? Why was I even thinking about it? I flipped on my stomach.  Why am I relying on the approval of others?  At the time, it seemed this one post defined how I was perceived, by everyone, including – if not mostly – myself.

The next morning, I woke up frustrated. I felt so neurotic and ruled by this platform which I had given power to.  Logically, I knew it was a waste of time.  But subconsciously, I fought the urge and tendency to feel like I was missing out on something.  But would I?

Despite all the self-actualization books, the Power of Now, Deepak Chopra interviews, as well as Ted Talks, meditation, and yoga, I slipped deep in this hole of unawareness. My time was spent scrolling and ‘liking’ and scrolling again.

I might be exaggerating here. I might just be blaming social media for my insecurities.  Or I might be placing too much focus on something that doesn’t need my focus.  And I might just be unnecessarily suspicious about the fact that we share aspects of ourselves a little too freely with everybody and anyone.  Regardless, it made me feel exposed.  I began to question if this type of openness is good.  I also wondered if we really are more in-touch with each other as a result of platforms which summarize ourselves into pictures and 140 characters.  Or are we becoming more introverted, more reclusive, with every tweet or snap chat?

January 1st, 2018, I deleted everything. And by “everything” I mean the last two social media platforms which stuck it out for me: Instagram and Facebook. Instagram was harder to let go of because, I enjoyed having it. But I had to choose my battles and this wasn’t important enough to have to fight for.

The first few days went a little like this: click, swipe, unlock, nothing, lock phone again. After seven  days: click, swipe, lock. After twelve: click, lock. And after twenty-one, (typically how long it takes to develop a habit), I let it be.

I felt and feel so free.  So present. My mind is not entangled in a virtual world and the compulsive voice has vanished. When I used to attend my life with the hope that I could capture the best of it to share, now, I just live it. My choice to detach has worked for me until now, but I am not nearly as opposed to social media as I was a little over half a year ago. Perhaps social media is the most self-expression some people engage in. Are we – am I – pessimistic to criticize it and render it egocentric, out-of-touch-with-reality? Times are changing, and developments such as social media seem unavoidable. We might as well adapt. Maybe space and better perspective is what I needed in my journey.  This was a first-world unnecessary struggle I had to disconnect from.  I needed to become aware, accept, and respect my innermost certitude.  And it has worked.

Which is Good.