Dear Social Media,
We’ve known each other for over ten years now. Wasn’t it good, in the beginning? I’ll openly admit that I lied about my age in order to set up a Facebook account, but it was worth it…because look what I gained, right? YOU. I was connected, and I had YOU to thank for that.
Then came Pinterest, my true love. Not only was I connected….now, I was LEARNING.
Snapchat was next, and then Instagram, which I memorably installed waiting in line for X2 at Six Flags on an orchestra trip in high school. My friends were crazy about IG, and it wasn’t long until I understood why. Facebook connected, Pinterest educated, Snapchat entertained, but Instagram…Instagram influenced. It attracted. It FLAUNTED. It was a dream come true for an insecure young girl with everything to prove.
We got along great for a while. There was so much pressure on me, in my teen years, to be extraordinary that I didn’t have much time for you. You didn’t mind, because you knew it was only a matter of time.
You dug your heels into my life so slowly, so imperceptibly, that when the crippling anxiety, the surprising jealousy, and the paralyzing apathy all reared their ugly heads, I blamed everything but you. You were my anchor, my escape. My way to stay connected. To stay relevant. To prove that I was doing okay. Like anyone blinded by love, I clung to you. It was us against the world.
I started gulping you in like oxygen. I needed you to breathe. I still need you. Every morning I wake up and scroll through every feed, making sure I’m not ignorant of the latest trend, tragedy, or tedious argument. You were my source for news, entertainment, inspiration, motivation, satisfaction. You were everything to me, though, at the time, I would have rather died than admit it.
You have turned me into a person I never wanted to be. I find myself judging strangers, fighting with friends, mindlessly scrolling through video after video, hungry, searching for something to satisfy…but every time, I swipe one app closed, my heart shifting anxiously in my chest, only to open another. Part of me knows that this isn’t healthy. But aren’t you’re just a part of life in the modern world? Don’t you keep me relevant, engaged, informed?
I remember life without you. I remember waking up on a Saturday and rolling out of bed without checking my phone first. I remember looking at my food, or my dog, or the sunset, and appreciating it without snapping a picture #forthegrams. For the love of literacy, I remember a world without hashtags. I remember real conversations with friends…the ones that connect you, inspire you, make you cry. I remember nightly walks through the neighborhood, both hands empty, listening to the sizzle of foggy yellow streetlamps. I remember books, ideas, wisdom. Peace.
I miss that world.
I miss doing something kind for someone instead of just bragging that I’m #blessed to have them in my life. I miss real humor…humor that doesn’t involve imaginary words that some sky high teenagers probably made up on their way to a Cardi B concert. I miss a world without ads around every corner, and most of all, I miss a world where I had time and space to think. I wish I could take back the hours, the YEARS I’ve wasted on you, and spend them a million other ways, but I know I can’t, and so I’ve decided to do the next best thing.
I’m breaking up with you.
I’ll admit, I’m scared. There are parts of you that I will miss…like the way you made me feel strangely validated, like the way you helped me (sort of ) keep in touch with people halfway across the world. There was a certain benefit to loving you, but it came with a price. After ten years, I can say with certainty…it’s just not working out. I’m not better off because of you…in fact, I find I’m much, much worse. I can’t live another day chained to a never-ending void of soul-sucking distractions. I want to live a life so stupendous that I don’t need to be distracted from it.
I’m not naïve enough to believe I’ll never see you again. I realize our paths will still cross from time to time. As a writer, and as a human being surrounded by others who are swallowed up in your halo, it’s inevitable that we’ll brush shoulders. But when we do, let’s make one thing clear…every interaction will be on my terms, playing by my rules. I’m done living under your thumb, and measuring my worth by the likes, follows, and comments that you feed me at will.
I want life–unedited, no filter, algorithm free, no caption necessary.
P.S.–It’s not me…it’s absolutely you.
Love, (or don’t, I won’t be around to notice)