I’m typing this on my phone at quarter to 4 in the morning while the Facebook and Twitter apps are installing on my phone. It’s an unnecessary piece of information, yes, but it seems the most natural way of starting this entry; I need and want to sleep yet I would feel uneasy waking up in the morning while being aware I let thoughts I deem important slip away.
Anyway, last week, I uninstalled these frequently used social media apps in my attempt of being more productive not only in times I need to tick off items in my to-do list but also during Saturday afternoons when I feel as free and laidback as I did in grade school.
I disconnect so I can connect better next time. It was a liberating feeling to continue living without things I deemed indispensable. (This may also apply to matters not involving inanimate objects.)
Social media can become toxic when excessively used. Don’t get me wrong. I could go on about how it has made life more convenient. I love how I can still genuinely connect with friends I care most even when being physically together does not seem possible. Whenever we do get together, I can join in discussions that either stem from their online posts or branch out from these. While typing “HAHAHA” till my reply justifies my appreciation of someone’s humor, I laugh out loud in real life; this scenario has probably led my mother into thinking I need professional help.
Social media has become intertwined in people’s everyday lives that I surmise some people are driven to do something only because they feel the need to update their online presence and remind people—or trick into thinking—they are interesting and progressing with their lives.
I dislike, however, the feeling of exhaustion and shallowness after constantly seeing people highlight milestones in their life; sometimes, I can’t help but compare my behind-the-scenes with someone’s premiere night. I have nobody else to blame but myself, of course, because I am in charge of my own feelings. I am overwhelmed by guilt whenever I squander my first hour of the day scrolling through my Feed, as if it’s a prerequisite to start the day, and my plans of being productive are thrown out of the window.
It’s ironic, really, how a medium meant to connect people can trigger a feeling of loneliness. A quote from World’s Greatest Dad sums up this feeling well:
I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.
A couple of takeaways from going on a social media sabbatical:
- “You have as many hours as Beyonce.” I forgot where I read this. It’s a subtle reminder I can control how to spend 24 hours. Lurking in Facebook and Twitter does not sound an appealing way to maximize limited time. Too much of anything isn’t good, they say. I was amazed at the time I have to finish tasks I have long set aside, to sweat toxins and worries out, to be immersed in a good movie, and to bask myself in the power of words.
- As far as I know, 9 out of 10 people do not let the whole world know of their miseries that make them question their purpose and self-esteem. Vague tweets and status updates, maybe, but no honest-to-goodness, no-holds-barred thoughts. No one directly says they have cut ties with a person they now equate ‘unrequited love’ with. Nobody, in all seriousness, posts about how post-grad life isn’t going the way they imagined it during freshman year and live tweets about his existential crisis. Nobody announces how his bank account badly needs to be replenished. (People have been loosely using ‘broke’ which, in some circumstances, can be synonymous to being financially irresponsible. Your parents pay for everything you need and want. Save up, kid.) Meanwhile, the other one refers to people who air their family problems online i.e. confronting members through status updates and the comment thread which makes people bring out the popcorn, as if broadcasting it would weave broken ties. It can be uncomfortable for the reader, too.
- Point is: Comparing yourself with others is pointless, especially when you’ve seen only a paragraph of a book’s chapter.
- I easily accept people and I can tolerate and am amused by different degrees of jejemon-ness. Having social media as the extension of people’s thoughts, though, can either increase my admiration for them or chip off my perception of them being intellectual and open-minded. (Yes, I may be reminded of my Twitter and Facebook feed on the aftermath of the US legalizing same-sex marriage.) Certain posts has been and will be associated with some people; that can be good news or bad news. Is “don’t judge a person based on his tweets and posts” the contemporary version of this adage? To some extent, yes, because it has become a platform for one’s thoughts, the processing of which is an important part of being human; a part of me says no because some people just aren’t that articulate and expressive and nothing beats face-to-face interaction. Interpretation can be difficult without non-verbal cues.
- Two rules: 1) You are on the right track as long as you stick to the core principle of truth, and 2) Don’t post online what you cannot say in real life.
I’m aware I cannot fully give up Facebook; for reasons stated above, I talk to people through it and I cannot imagine a life without conversations with some people I can’t see on a daily basis. Ah, this all too familiar love-hate relationship with social media. In the end, it challenges my self-control. Maybe this is a good way of becoming a more disciplined, functional adult.
I still buy and feast on a bag of Cheetos but I don’t finish it in one sitting to the point of feeling and looking bloated.