Sunday, April 3, 2016

Turn Off Yo Phone.☝

I am a supreme lover of social media. Ever since the days of Myspace (when I was forbidden to even have one) I have had this affinity for online platforms. Admittedly, I believe that over the years as the Internet has grown and connecting with others is much easier, my love for social media has become an obsession. I say that in courage because I know that I am not the only one

Check your Facebook. We all know someone that's obsessed. 



As I've gotten honest with myself about my obsession with social media, I've learned to discipline myself with it. I don't use multiple platforms. And with the platforms that I choose to utilize, I manage my time on them carefully. Even if I have only two social media outlets, I don't want to spend so much time on either of them that the reduction does no good. People underestimate the power of too much online engagement. In my personal experiences, I've felt mind boggled when I'm steadily connecting with people all day long. I can't seem to focus on much because my mind is too concentrated on whatever I've been exposed to. I'm a thinker. So anything that I encounter (coonery included) makes me want to analyze and discuss more. I see this as a natural tendency of my personality and in many ways, a gift. However, I do recognize that it can be unproductive and unconducive to my mental and emotional health. 

Although I've recognized these patterns in my own life, I still realize that we live in a society that promotes the very opposite of what I'm striving to achieve. I want isolation sometimes; I want silence. I want to be unconnected and have no one know exactly what I'm doing nor where I am. I need that "me" time. But many individuals don't feel they need it. Or, perhaps they don't know that they need it.

Facebook.

Instagram.

Snapchat.

Twitter.

Whatsapp.

YouTube.

The list could go on for days. Of course many of them are not as popular as others, but I'm sure you understand where I'm going with this. There are now millions of crevices and corners on the Internet that allow you to connect with anyone, anywhere, at any time that you see fit. At first it seems fun. It's interesting and exciting because you can share your photos, look at other people's photos, talk trash about celebrities, talk trash about your friends... Whatever your heart desires. But the issue arises when you don't know how to turn those desires off and you begin to value yourself based on what the Internet says. 




You should not value yourself based on how many likes you get on an Instagram photo. It should not affect your self-esteem if no one shares the Facebook post you made last week. Who cares if no one watched your Snapchat? These are all minuscule things that appear juvenile but millions of people deal with every day, including myself. That is, until I remind myself that who I am cannot be defined by strangers on the web. I have to control that urge to be known and recognized because if not, it will control me. When social media platforms are advertised to you, they don't issue a disclaimer stating that overusage may lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, and/or low self-esteem. That's not what they exist to do. You simply use them to connect with friends, make new ones, and express yourself in an open, online space. Don't get too emotionally invested.

Society promotes the idea that popularity = success. If people know you and recognize you, you are a somebody. And in that case, I am perfectly okay with being a nobody. I love my privacy and peace. I don't yearn to be digitally connected with others constantly because for a person with my personality, that is both mentally and emotionally draining. By the end of it all, I have no energy or vitality for myself. So I choose to be selfish in that regard and I am not ashamed of it.

Individuals that commit suicide due to cyberbullying are often mocked and ridiculed because people say they "could have turned the computer off." Turned the cellphone off. Blocked the perpetrator's number. But it's so much more complex than that. When a person (one whom may already have self-esteem issues to resolve) is consistently confronted with negativity in regards to their sexuality, appearance, etc., the hurt doesn't just dissipate when the computer is turned off. It ingrains itself into their psyche. And stays there. It buries itself and feeds on every ounce of negativity that follows. And for a young person, that is a very extreme situation to cope with. Many victims of cyberbullying are teenagers whose brains have not fully developed, they're experiencing puberty and hormonal changes, and a plethora of other things that we all deal with as young adults. It's extremely overwhelming. So it is shameful to blame the victim in any situation. Social media has a way of wrestling with the mind until it gives up and gives out. 

With that being said, I am a supreme advocate for going off the grid technologically. Disappear off Facebook for a week. You'll survive. And I promise that when you return, you'll feel so much more refreshed and empowered over the urge to be seen. Many of us now feel that we have an online presence to maintain. Our reputation has to be upheld or people will stop being engaged or interested in us. But to that I ask this question: why do you need others to consistently be interested in you? Honestly make that consideration and let me know how you feel in the comment section below!

Thank you for reading and happy typing!