I can't social.
Updated: Apr 16, 2018
Here's a question for you that I have literally been asking myself for the last 18 months...
What would you do if there were nobody to react to it?
Let me break it down and rephrase it a few different ways:
What would you spend your time doing if there were no "audience" to applaud or comment?
What would you "share" socially (i.e. facebook, instagram, snapchat, etc.) if there were no "friends" to hit Like or comment or re-share?
Who would you be in the absence of accolades?
This idea... this series of questions... is something I have been really contemplating. So much so, in fact, that in the last 18 months, I have gone on TWO social media fasts. I deleted all social media from my phone at first and logged out from my computer browsers... but then I went further and deactivated the accounts altogether. I wanted to find out who I was without the ability to receive feedback on it.
I mean, I wasn't some kind of over-sharing social media guru. In fact I didn't even have notifications enabled for social media alerts and I have never shared a single thing on Snapchat or Reddit. And I wasn't sharing every thought that popped into my head for all my facebook friends to react to... But I was spending a considerable amount of time trying to curate a picture-perfect life that wasn't too controversial... wasn't too political... wasn't offensive to anyone... was just pretty enough... and more or less conveyed my life's highlight reel in the most picturesque fashion possible. Examples of things I posted were vacation photos, pictures of my adorable dog, pictures of my nutritional plant-based diet, pictures of my back deck at sunrise complete with my yoga mat and blooming spring flowers, pictures of beautifully-placed cocktails and meals in restaurants... you get the drift. It was a stream of curated shots meant to convey to all that my life was meant to be envied and that flaws were so few and far between that we couldn't even catch them on camera.
But this isn't reality. Not for me. Not for anyone.
I'll be the first to admit that my life is pretty amazing. But it isn't picture perfect. Not even close. It's imperfect and messy and running late and filled with just as many basic salads and creased makeup and dying plants and construction dust as the next person's.
Fast forward to my social media fasts. Aside from being annoying to have to manually sign in to a lot of other applications I had enabled single sign-on via facebook to use, it was one of the most liberating things I have ever done. From the outset, I found myself bored in situations where I would normally be scrolling through social media to kill time. I was jealous of friends who were scrolling instagram and looking at beautiful pictures of cute puppies and peonies and outfits. Ultimately, though, I was forced to deal with the boredom head-on. I found myself walking instead of scrolling or stopping for a few minutes of stretching instead of looking up old flames to see what they were doing with their lives. Most importantly, at the end of my longest, most recent social media fast, I lost the urge to share completely (much to the disappointment of my family who enjoyed keeping up with us via social media).
The real test: Could I re-activate social media and add it back to my phone and browser and life in general without reverting back to old habits? It turns out, not only could I re-activate and rejoin the world of the cyber-living without being tempted to share a puppy pic or a full face of makeup... I'm terrible at it now. I don't even remember what the allure was in the beginning.
The outcome of this entire experiment is that I can't even social. I. Can't. Even. Social. I have no desire to snap pictures of my life and share moments. I have no urge to instagram a beautiful meal I prepared. Even in moments where I should feel the urge to share our joy with the world, like when we found out we were expecting our first child, I just held the news close to the vest. I kept it private. I didn't take any cute pictures with ultrasound photos or baby shoes and I didn't share anything anywhere. While this might sound crazy or even disappointing to some... I feel that it makes it more special. It makes it more real. It makes it more authentic. It's personal and it's ours to share joy in without stopping to try and capture a moment that we should just be living in.
So even today, although I have re-activated social media and do periodically look at my instagram feed, I don't check facebook... I VERY seldom share anything on instagram (and intend to transition my personal instagram account to use as my blog account), and my pinterest boards, once filled with new ideas on the daily, is now just a relic of someone from my past who sought to impress the world with a perfectly-coiffed vision board that was more aspirational than authentic.
I have finally discovered who I am without the peanut gallery: I'm content. I'm grateful for this moment and I'm living in it... instead of trying to photograph it.