A few months ago on Instagram, an acquaintance posted several articles about how damaging it is to overshare about our lives. Not long after, she stopped posting altogether. This was someone who had been consistently sharing pictures of her children from the moment they were born–to suddenly ghost the platform was surprising, and caused me to review my own posting habits.
I posted if my dinner was particularly delicious. I posted if I tried out a new coffee shop, or was enjoying the view of snow outside my window. I posted if I was reading a really good book, or decorating for the holidays.
So, I asked myself–why was I really posting these things? What did I hope to get out of it? The truth was, I wanted attention from a bunch of near-strangers even though 99% of them don’t care about me. The only reason they “like” my posts is so that they can get more “likes” on theirs. The exception is close friends and family members–people who probably still don’t care what I ate for dinner, and who I’d call if I had an important announcement.
By using the platform the way that I was, I felt pressured to capture daily moments in a commercially pleasing way, and to scroll mindlessly. I wasn’t fully living in the moment; I was imagining the moment I’d post about it on Instagram.
I tried to convince myself that I was using Instagram as a virtual scrapbook so that my closest friends and family can receive updates on my life. However, if this was the only use of social media that brought me true joy, why was I following dozens of acquaintances–and worse–why was I allowing them to follow me? Did I value their judgement of my life more than I valued my own judgement and privacy?
No. While I enjoy watching lifestyle vloggers chronicle their lives, I didn’t want to be one of them. I enjoy moments more when I’m actually living them, rather than worrying about how pretty they are or whether they are worthy of posting on social media.
And so, I did something dramatic.
I forced all but around 20 of my closest relatives and friends to unfollow me. I fixed my settings so that I can no longer see how many likes others received on their posts. I only follow close friends, relatives, and strangers whose posts bring me joy–think autumn inspired accounts, tea, and all things hygge. I also changed my account name and details so that nobody can tell it is me, unless I’ve given them permission to enter my inner circle.
At first, this change was scary and I had to look toward my fiance and his friends as examples. Not one of them needs to post to social media to have a good time or feel connected. They just live in the moment, and reconnect when they see each other–even if that means finding out about a job change or other milestone months after the fact.
While I haven’t been semi “off the grid” for very long, I’m already noticing the effects. I’m finding more intrinsic value in things, because I’m enjoying them for all that they are rather than worrying about capturing them for Instagram or feeling anxious about whether others will also find them cool. I am also relishing the privacy; in a society that is so connected, choosing to disconnect is a luxury. Not everyone needs to know everything about us all the time. They don’t care. A “like” on social media is not a true connection with someone else. In many cases, it is a disconnect, because what we’ve posted makes them feel anxious or dissatisfied with their own life. This is certainly not a healthy environment to foster.
This isn’t how everyone approaches social media. Many claim that it brings them happiness. In that case I say great! But using it the “typical” way just isn’t for me. I recommend reading up on the pros and cons of social media and thinking critically about your own behavior. Are you truly happy and putting love and light into the world? Or are you addicted to the false sense of attention?
I still plan on posting every once in a while. And I still have Facebook if I really want to catch up on what is going on with an acquaintance. But I’m finding the beauty in sharing less about my daily life. It’s like I’ve retreated into a cozy cottage…I’m relishing in the simplicity of lighting a candle just because I like its smell, and baking homemade bread that only my fiance and I will enjoy, or ever know existed.
And obviously, I’ll still post stories from my life on this blog. The difference is, I’m not posting about every little thing. You’re my friends, but even friends should have healthy boundaries 🙂