Social Media – Some Thoughts
Do you remember the good old times when social media wasn’t invented yet? When our social interactions were limited to the people we actually knew from real life, people we had met? I don’t know if those times were better or worse. They were different. It was easier to have actual conversations, and we had to learn to deal with difficult people. There were no mute and block buttons when we didn’t like someone’s opinion, we had to learn to handle adversities differently. The newer generations might think they have it better. What they do have, what we all have now, are new skillsets and opportunities. But they come at a price: the price of accountability, realness and the mental health of many who are prone to compare themselves to others.
Social Media Use
I have never really bought into the idea of social media. I think it has to do with that I am a very private person on my personal social media, and that even on the apps that I use to connect with like minded people, I don’t feel the need to be the coolest kid in town. And I don’t have the consistency, nor the skills, to become a social media influencer. It isn’t important to me, and a lot of times, it is extremely shallow. To me, social media is just an extension of real life, extending real life to some weird extremes. Cliques still exist, bullying still exists, there are the assholes, the shallow pretty ones, the activists and the quiet ones. The only difference is that people seem to have lost the understanding of that there is a real person behind every account. A person with feelings.
Bullying and harrassment have become so much easier with the help of social media. And even otherwise kind people suddenly join mobs, and send death threats to those whose opinion they don’t agree with. Because there is no accountability anymore, and people can’t translate real life empathy to a picture on the internet.
I use social media inconsistently and behave differently on different platforms. My Facebook is pretty much full of fun sarcastic memes, some mental health advocacy, some political opinions and the occassional shallow update on my life. You will find pictures from my daily walks, from the place I live, just as much as me ranting about politics or the latest weird hype in the alternative music scene. But just like anywhere else, you will never read about how I am doing, what is troubling me or what my personal life looks like. I am also a moderator in a mental health group with thousands of members and that is something I enjoy doing very much.
Twitter I only use for my sexblog promotion, and to stay in touch with some sexblogging buddies. I don’t get involved in political debates, I don’t really post much about my personal life at all. I sometimes feel that I only show one version of myself there. People don’t really know me. But it feels safer that way because Twitter is really the playground for bullies, cliques and all kinds of attacks. It is the one place on the internet where when you say one wrong word, you might end up with death threats and thousands of people harrassing you. So keeping it shallow, and only focused on one or two topic, really seems like the best option.
Now Instagram, I use more often than Twitter, mostly to look at lots of pictures and get inspired. I have three accounts: one for my sexblog, one private/goth one and one that is for another hobby. I hate the censorship on Instagram and I don’t think I have posted on my DeviantSuccubus account for quite some time. But I use the other two accounts frequently, mostly just to get inspired, but there are new posts from me a few times a week too. Just like with Twitter, I don’t really follow the majority. I don’t have a goal of getting a million likes. Nor do I feel the need to talk about any sort of personal stuff. I just hang out, and take the positives from it.
Approaching it realistically
See, I have had to deal with a lot of internet drama during all the years I have been online, even before social media. And it just isn’t worth the energy for me. People just think they can do whatever they want to do, without any sort of common sense and decency. Most of the time, there are no consequences for bad behaviour. So I don’t see why I would try to be “real” and vulnerable online, or expect any kind of positive vibe from people in general. I am approaching it realistically.
I can understand that many people want social media to be a safe haven with accountability, support and just a fun time all around. But that is never going to work, unless you very much control who you want to have on your timelines and feeds. I am pretty restrictive with who I follow and befriend. I don’t really block people because I can’t be bothered. The best way to deal with bullies is to not give them what they are looking for, which is a reaction. I think I have a good handle on that.
What I find most frightening is that when we all control who we can see things from, which people we want to interact with, we lose the ability to communicate and to deal with people who don’t agree with us. You can see that pretty clearly when a lot of times, you are only getting a snarky: “Go educate yourself” instead of a genuine exchange of knowledge that will lead to mutual understanding. We are all stuck in our ideological bubbles online and I think that is one of the huge risks of social media: polarization and extremism. If everyone around you agrees with you, then you won’t grow and learn new things. You will just automatically assume the whole world thinks like you. And of course you get genuinely upset when you sporadically read a post from someone who is on the opposite end of the political spectrum.
So while I am trying my best to not create an ideological bubble around me, it is really difficult to not do that because people get nasty online and I don’t have the energy for that. Social media for me is mostly distraction. When I am really unwell, I like scrolling through funny and cute animal pictures and clips, or watch make-up tutorials. I don’t want to have drama with people who have no impact on my life otherwise. I think I use social media in a very emotionally distanced way. The few things I am passionate about, ideologically and personally, I have on my Facebook. Those are people that are my real life friends, those are people I trust are interested in my thoughts on certain subjects.
Still, I stay emotionally disconnected. I have never had a breakdown on social media. And I have never talked about my mental health in depth, other than in combination with my mental health advocacy. I sometimes feel like I should, to balance out all the people who think they have real problems but actually have no idea that there are people out there who fight for their own sanity and survival every day. But then, I don’t like being vulnerable. I do look at them with a sort of jealousy, because I have genuinely no idea how to safely share things about myself that are personal.
And that is the thing. People think that social media can be a safe space, a space for validation, honesty and support. In some small corners of the vastness of the internet, that might be true. But in the end, social media is only a reflection of real life, and that means you will still meet ignorant, hurtful and judgmental people. And they are not even held accountable. So I think social media should be approached lightheartedly, and if you ever feel that you want it to be your safe space, so you can be yourself without a fear of hurt, harassment or ridicule? Then you can actually mute and block the people you don’t want close to you. That really is the one serious advantage that social media has over real life.