Hello everyone! I hope you’re having a beautiful day 🙂 ❤
In the last week of December, I invited all of my followers to vote for which posts would make up my first week of content in the new year! In the fifth poll, Why Did I Leave Social Media? garnered the most votes.
From 2014 through 2016, I used Instagram. From 2012 through 2019, I used Pinterest. From 2015 through 2017, I used Twitter.
I’m all done with those three sites now. Why, you may ask? That answer is given (in quite the complicated way) in the rest of this post. 😉
Thanks for voting for this. I’ve really been needing to write about it.
Why Did I Leave
For every one positive experience I had on social media, I had between five and ten negative ones.
How’s that for a pros and cons imbalance? Sure, one inspirational photo description may have brightened my morning for a split second, but the next ten pictures I scrolled past weren’t helpful for me at all. There were girls kissing their boyfriends (I mean – you know, each girl with her guy… I made that sound weird haha), travelling around Europe, having a ton of fun on church retreats and trips, going to concerts with VIP passes, holding group Bible studies with their closest friends… when I saw posts like that on my ho-hum days, I felt like my life was going to be ho-hum forever. Even if people were posting about things I myself have done in the past, I wasn’t doing it right then, and the comparison ran wild.
I found that I kept getting involved in discussions, hobbies, controversies, and trends I wasn’t even interested in.
This relates specifically to Twitter, which is one of the main reasons why I quit using it. It was so weird – the stuff that was trending and the topics that were recommended to me to participate in are what I joined in on lol, even though that was not the reason why I joined the site. I just kept wasting time scrolling and clicking and reading on Twitter, and I wasn’t even talking to anyone worth my time so I just stopped.
I became increasingly dissatisfied with my real life.
This is a HUUUUGE one. I was less and less of a fan of my own life (which sucks, because it’s really cool when I think about it) because others will always have different stuff than I do. There are different abilities, different interests, different outcomes, different styles, different life stages… the list never ends. (Well, maybe it does, but try me – that list was pretty comprehensive.)
Instead of just recognizing that we’re all unique and being individuals is what makes life so awesome, I really thought that someone having something different than I did meant they were better off than I was.
It got to me so often and really messed up the way I saw myself because of what I was exposing myself to and how I was feeling about it.
I compromised the content I actually wanted to be creating for what my audience liked.
I didn’t do this all the time, but I did it enough to the point where I remember it vividly. It happened more than once: I’d share a picture I really liked, and it got a small amount of likes. I shared a picture I wasn’t all that proud of / got little satisfaction from posting, and it blew up the internet. Okay not really, but it felt like that to me because the like/comment different between the content I loved and the content I didn’t was ridiculous. Over time, I realized just how important it is to love what you do and not to live solely for others’ enjoyment. Your heart has to be in it, too.
I felt completely isolated.
So Robin Williams said somewhere: “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.” Can I just say how much this resonated with me? I never would have thought it could be possible to be surrounded by people (physically or virtually) and feel like you’re standing in an empty room. It’s terrifying. It looks like everyone else is happy and connected and living the dream online life and you’re the oNLY ONe out there (or in there?) in the cold. It’s totally a lie, but it feels so real and if you don’t get out of that fake reality fast, you’re going down.
It became a popularity contest.
At first, I’d be happy to find others like myself who were on Instagram because we had a lot in common… but that became one of the biggest problems. Our lives were so similar to the point where I felt like if one of those girls had something I didn’t, I needed it or deserved it or lusted after it and ew. Not fun. Some days, I’d feel really good about my content, and other days, if someone was doing “better,” I sent myself to the dumps, Planet Misery, Destination Exasperation… need I go on?
I measured my worth by the amount of pictures I was tagged in.
So I had a few friends at the time I was doing Instagram that totally could have shared pictures of the outings we were going on together, but they never did. I felt so horrible when I’d share a picture of the two of us, tag them, and then not get tagged back. It was so weird, and how disgusting to feel like I was worthless because my friends didn’t even like me. I have no idea if the lack of tagging back was even personal, but it sure felt personal, because the rampant mixed signals we’re all giving each other online is suffocating our society.
I became really paranoid about the signals my followers were “sending” me.
I’d be like “ooh Olivia’s been liking all of my posts and commenting on some of them. That’s cool.” Fast-forward to two days later: “oh my gosh Olivia didn’t like that post. Did I do something? Was the picture that bad? Did something happen to Olivia? Does she hate me now? Did she like die or something?” Thought streams like that would lead to hyperventilation and deleted content. Also, Olivia doesn’t exist and neither does my feigned paranoia haha, but stuff like that happened and it was exhausting to say the least.
It took my loneliness to a new level of desperation.
You know, you join these websites thinking: “YES! I will NOW find people to talk to! The WAIT is OVER!” Turns out, a new kind of waiting begins. And it’s not even waiting; it’s talking to tons of new people, not vibing with any of them, and ending up totally defeated. It’s more exhausting than just not having friends. haha
I was never satisfied.
The thing is, social media at different times became an idol in my life, and when you start loving something so much that it absorbs you and takes over your normal way of doing things, you never hear the end of it. I never once thought while I was doing Instagram, “I responded to comments and posted a pic and scrolled down my home feed for thirty minutes, so I’m happy to take a break now.” No. I was never happy to take breaks. I was only happy to be on Instagram. That was what I was living for! I never reached the end of responding to people (okay, sometimes I did), posting new pictures, receiving new notifications, scrolling scrolling scrolling down my home feed.
I think the addiction started because I was aggressively trying to get to the point where I felt satisfied with what I was doing on Instagram, but that sure never happened. It only stopped when I deleted all of my accounts. *peaceful smile* Pure bliss.
In conclusion, here’s the short version:
- I’m not on Instagram anymore because it was taking from my life more than it was adding to it, all the friendships I made eventually fizzled out, I was tired of experiencing life for the sake of taking a picture for Instagram, and the “follow for follow” trend killed any joy I had left in regards to the platform.
- I’m not on Pinterest anymore because the website is rampant with irrelevant advertisements, there is absolutely no social side to the platform anymore, the website took away the ‘Following’ page and just gave me recommended pins I never liked, it consumed too much of my time, and it zapped my creativity more than it encouraged it.
- I’m not on Twitter anymore because it is basically a platform for angry people, I never got to the point where I had people I actually wanted to be following and interacting with, and it was just another social platform that I wasn’t enjoying.
Some of you may be thinking, Well WordPress is pretty social, and yeah, it is. The ‘social media’ I’m referencing in this post are the head honchos in this group of sites, and I’m not grouping WordPress as one of them.
It’s been a rocky, rocky journey to say the least. My online life has been a crazy one, especially since the first thing I ever did on the World Wide Web was join a forum site for Christian girls when I was nine years old. Being part of various websites over the years has both added to and taken from my life, but I don’t want to overshadow the lessons I’ve learned with the negativity I’ve faced at all.
I’ve talked to a lot of cool people. I’ve found new hobbies. I’ve grown as a writer and as a person. I’ve had awesome experiences where famous/semi-famous people noticed me and even responded sometimes. I got inspired and motivated and found new ways to be creative. I found people over the years who helped me not to feel so alone in this crazy world, and even though we’re not in contact now, I appreciate the companionship we did have.
Thanks for reading. *tips my hat to you* This wasn’t an easy post to write, but I’m so glad I did it.
Let me know in the comments below if you relate at all – I’d love to chat with you!