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Social media, as a medium has been doing its job incredibly well. From various social networking sites, media sharing sites, and even blogs, social media has a lot to offer. So what changed it for me?
This may not be a good thing, but I started using social media back in 2009, and the first social networking site I joined was Orkut. I enjoyed writing on people’s ‘walls’, sending friend requests, and so much more. With how long it has been, I barely remember what it was like.
But somehow, despite liking Orkut, I ended up hopping onto the Facebook bandwagon. Along with discovering Facebook, I joined MSN and had Yahoo Messenger too. It’s so weird saying this out loud since I’ve stopped using everything except Facebook, which I’m barely on as well.
Do you know what’s weird though? Even though I was already using so many social networking sites, I was just as addicted to Youtube. I know what you’re going to say. YouTube had videos, so it’s quite obvious. But it was more about videos. I was starting to get into the first wave of YouTubers. Names like Zoella Sugg, Marcus Butler, and every other popular British YouTuber there was back then.
However, things changed when I joined Instagram in 2012. While it wasn’t the Instagram we know back then, it did take over a lot of my time. Unfortunately, if you follow me on Instagram, the posts from back then are just blurry, oddly taken selfies with very cringey captions. There’s a reason I have 250 odd posts right now, there were more but archives exist for a reason.
Breaking the Habit
You can safely say that I was addicted to the internet. On one side, I was constantly trying to keep up with all of these YouTube videos, and on the other hand, I tried finding the perfect picture to put on Instagram. However, I slowly started feeling saturated. Not only because I was trying so hard to stay on top of things, but I slowly started feeling like I was looking at things through my screen.
Every meal, every person, every moment I experienced was always through the lens of my camera. And it didn’t seem odd to me then. I just had this odd need to capture every possible thing just because I thought it would possibly look good on Facebook, or Instagram.
Every check-in, every tagged picture, every cringey status update made me feel like I was truly leading an interesting life. And maybe I was, but it wasn’t social media, it was me. It was everything I did. So why feel the need for validation?
In ‘How My Bottled Up Emotions Sculpted Me’, I mentioned how I started my first blog in 2013. This was also around the time that my Facebook usage went on an all-time low. However, this was also when I started using it more for sharing updates about the blog, which wasn’t being updated as frequently either.
Sounds like every single person using social media up until this point, so what’s the issue?
Going Through Changes
As someone who only read the Sports section in newspapers, most of the news I read was either on Google or Facebook (don’t judge me). Along with that, I’d also end up reading people’s perspective. It would either be in the form of comments on the pieces or when my friends would share an article.
I vividly remember how much I enjoyed reading every single comment, I legit lived for the drama (in some way I still do). But eventually, I got so tired of reading all of the negative articles, or comments or just malicious thoughts put out for the sake of it. What I have come to realise is that while I did enjoy partaking in the “drama”, I didn’t seem to enjoy all the negative vibes social media seemed to emulate.
It’s not all bad, though. Social media gave us vines (rip), memes and now the dreaded tiktoks. Most of the content has been a healthy or unhealthy mix of all of these. And we as consumers have learned to deal with it.
However, I’ve met and befriended various people here. I’ve had the opportunity to learn about them, grow with them, and even be their shoulder to cry on through tough times. I grew the closest to one of them, and speak to her almost every single day. She even reads every single one of my blogs (Hi!). But this was just one side of it. However, what has elevated my anxiety has been the dark side.
Not only have I come across people who just like to talk shit for the sake of it, but I’ve often been on the receiving end of it too. Trolls play a huge part in the culture of social media, and solely exist to stir trouble or more. If I may, I’d like to talk about one particular thing I’ve come across that was showcased in an episode of a popular series called ‘Black Mirror’.
A very common phenomenon, that is also extremely popular and has a negative outcome for us as a society. Every time something big happens, or in this case something as minor as a misunderstanding by public figures like celebrities, this toxic culture comes up.
If social media influencers make a bad decision as a young adult, and it comes out when their career is at a very big high, #_iscancelled comes into play. Guilty until proven doesn’t exist for most of us, and while that is great (my opinion) during the most straightforward cases, it shouldn’t be a thing.
This might be a terrible example, but in Season 3 Episode 6 of Black Mirror titled ‘Hated in the Nation’, a popular trend called #deathto was introduced. A video attached to the original tweet with the hashtag explained how whoever had the most #deathto tweets would die. It is an extreme take on what this social media trend can eventually become. One of the examples we see in the episode is when a girl takes a photo pretending to urinate on a war memorial and ends up with the most tweets.
While the reality isn’t the same as this particular episode, the cancelled culture does play a huge part in making social media just as toxic for many people on here. But that’s just what I think of it.
It wasn’t as apparent, but I decided to slowly step away from some social media sites and apps because it didn’t help with how negative and anxious I was feeling.
I earlier mentioned that Facebook used to be a solid favourite, but my block list on there could say otherwise. However, I now only use it to share updates about my blogs. I’m barely on there for anything apart from that. I also made the obvious choice of having a private profile on Instagram, except for the profile I made for my furbaby Alaine. You can read more about her here and here. I rarely use my twitter, and only people I trust have my Snapchat.
I’m still incredibly vary of social media, but during this pandemic, I have spent most of my time on Instagram, scrolling through my feed, unable to look away. I did talk about the effects it has on me here, and unfortunately, it still does.
So what is my opinion on this?
Social media has always been a great place to network with and entertain yourself as an individual. But as a society, it can turn into an extremely toxic medium faster than we can blink. From slandering, cyberbullying, and even cancel culture, social media has a long way to go.
If you would love to hear more or share your thoughts on social media and the culture around it, let’s have a conversation. However, if you’ve enjoyed this content, you can find more of my work here.
That’s it from my end!
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