I did it again; deleted all my social media on a whim, sitting on the floor of a crowded train on my commute home. I was reading a magazine article about decluttering, and even though it was speaking about the tangible, it conjured up memories of how frazzled social media makes me feel.
I always know it’s time for a break when I get into a ‘social media mindset’. When I start looking at my day in terms of ‘instagram photos’ instead of real, moving, breathing, moments. When I start thinking in bitesize ‘tweets’ instead of messy, unfiltered and raw trains of thought.
For some reason I think that this mindset makes me feel disconnected from myself because it involves the process of filtering – I need to shrink down my thoughts to 280 characters, my mood into an emoji, my day into a square. And this removes it from the actuality of existence. I stop moving with the moment and start anticipating, waiting for the next thing and the next thing, always with the thought in the back of my mind: “what will other people think about this”.
Social media mindset is toxic because it’s inherently grounded in the gaze of The Other. As much as I like to convince myself that my instagram is for ‘me’, I ultimately post things for other people. I already have all my photos saved on my phone – the only real reason to crop, edit and caption them is so that other people can see. So that other people can ‘engage’ with this curated image of ‘Emily Morgan’.
But this image is just a projection of my life. It is not my life. @em.claire and @em-morgan and @emsclm are not ME. But sometimes even I forget that.
Other people see only @em.claire. Sometimes more, if I send them hazy text messages at 3 in the morning, or cry in front of them, or tell them about my day without really thinking about the words coming out of my mouth. But I’m the only person that sees me, unfiltered, 24/7. And it is so so damaging to be constantly comparing @em.claire, with all of her carefully chosen outfits, and carefully placed crystals and plants and books, with no makeup Emily Morgan sitting in a baggy tee in her messy room, stressed out of her mind because she’s avoiding all of her responsibilities and pretending to live in a picture perfect world.
So where does all this leave me? Right now I’m sitting on my bed, birds chirping outside, with a phone that hasn’t buzzed in 2 hours. And it feels so fucking peaceful. I’m about to write in my journal for the first time in WEEKS. My thoughts have been too all-over-the-place to even put on paper lately. But messy, confusing, ungraspable thoughts are the best ones to try and write down. And I need to embrace it. The only thing stopping me was the fabricated online world that I was trying to keep up with.
So here’s my challenge for you. Next time your phone buzzes, or you get a notification, pay attention to how it makes you feel. Really listen to the reaction of your body and your mind. See if you can go a few minutes without checking what the notification is. Does it make you anxious, to not know what’s going on? Do you fear you might be missing out, or letting someone down?
When I get anxious when my phone buzzes, and so agitated I can’t wait to see what’s there – that’s when I know it’s time to switch off.
promising myself i’ll write tomorrow
give myself a break tomorrow
slow down tomorrow
world moving so fast around me don’t even have time to sit with my sorrow
i’ll do it tomorrow
i’ll do it tomorrow
moving through the motions
with arm-fulls of hidden emotions
when the fuck did i lose my devotion