Amanda’s Social Media Sabbatical

Everyone needs a break sometimes. 

Note: I know I use a lot of parenthesis. I would apologize for that, but that’s how I write, so deal with it.

I love social media. I am a social media FIEND. I have been posting all of my pictures on Facebook since the 9th grade, all of the pictures on my phone/various cameras I’ve owned that I’ve taken of my friends, of places I’ve been, of books I like to read– I post them all up there.

I have thousands and thousands of pictures on Facebook, and I love it. I love it because it’s like a permanent collection of my life over the past couple years, and the people that I have known and still know and what I’ve been up to. I love it because at any point I can go back to 2011 and look back at my prom pictures, or pictures I took with my dance friends from 2009. I can look at messages from my friends and remember inside jokes or stupid fights we’ve had, and just remember. Most people don’t use Facebook in the extreme way that I do, but it really is my life in pictures and my life in text. It shows how I’ve grown as a person for the past six years, since I got an account in 2009.

I’ve had a Twitter account since 2012. I wasn’t always a big Twitter person– I would immaturely subtweet and only follow celebrities that no one cared about (like all of the actors on Degrassi, I’m ashamed to admit), Harry Potter fan accounts, and my dad. I didn’t really understand its purpose, and I hated the fact that I was limited to only 140 characters per tweet.

Now I love Twitter. I use it to post links to articles I find interesting, quotes from conferences I go to, links to pieces I’ve had published, inside jokes with my friends. My Twitter is a small piece of who I am, because it shows what I find interesting and what I like/think is funny.

I’ve considered that having these accounts and being really active on them might have something to do with vanity. You post these things about yourself because you like the attention being so public on the Internet brings. It gives people information that they might not necessarily need about you, but it’s there. You feel wanted, needed, obligated to continue posting because you think that people will care about you and every single little thing that’s going on in your life.

On a less self-deprecating/needy note, something that I like about having social media accounts and using them a lot is that they give me a way of expressing myself and who I am. I can like pages on Facebook or follow Twitter pages that are relevant to my interests, like Audrey Hepburn, publishing, Doctor Who, The Office, etc. I can post things that I like or that I write (like this post, for example). I can post pictures and tweet about the stuff that I do with my friends/the stuff that I do that I’m proud of. And I love that.

I use Facebook and Twitter more than any other social media accounts I have. More than Instagram (I’ve had an account since 2013), LinkedIn (2013), WordPress (2014), and Tumblr (Well, maybe not Tumblr. But I consider Tumblr to be “underground” social media, because not everyone knows my blog or what I post on it. I won’t talk about Tumblr that much in this post. Anyway, I’ve had a Tumblr since 2011.) I almost always have a tab up of one or the other on my computer, and I’m always typing or clicking or Facebook stalking something or other.

(I’m just going to mention this casually– Facebook stalking is nothing to be ashamed of. We all do it. I do it all the time. When I’m talking to my friends about someone they don’t necessarily know, it’s so easy to just pull up their profile on my phone. It sounds creepy, and no one wants to admit that they do it, but we all do. And if you post something on the Internet, anyone can access it. It’s a two-way street. Anyway…)

I’ve had a rough two weeks, which I won’t get into too much detail about. I’ve been going through a lot of changes, and a lot of the things that I’ve been doing have been self-destructive, and that is completely not okay. Facebook and Twitter were exhausting me emotionally, and I felt I couldn’t handle it. So (without warning) I deactivated my Facebook and my Twitter account. Bleep bloop. Gone. (For those who don’t know, “deactivating” doesn’t mean deleting. It just makes your account disappear, as in people can search your name and it’ll be like you won’t exist, until the next time you log in.)

I didn’t know how long I was planning on not having my accounts up, but it was really hard. My friends know that I’m a big social media person, so I got a few texts from people asking me if I was okay (which I was not, so I didn’t know how to respond to those). I didn’t get rid of Tumblr or Instagram, mainly because I couldn’t just do it cold turkey, Instagram I just couldn’t figure out how, and Tumblr is kind of on a different plane of existence than my other social media sites.

It was really hard, at first. I would immediately go on my phone and tap Facebook, only to have it prompt me with the login page. I use Spotify to listen to music, not iTunes, and because Spotify is connected to my Facebook account, I couldn’t listen to music without typing it in to YouTube (that really sucked). I would go on Twitter and once again be stopped because I couldn’t log in. If I would mention someone to my friends they weren’t familiar with, I couldn’t look them up. I wasn’t updated on people’s birthdays, Facebook events, Twitter trends. I couldn’t post pictures or status updates. It was kind of horrible. I felt like I’d lost something, which sounds strange because they’re just websites, but these websites were a part of my life, and now that I didn’t have them anymore I didn’t know what to do.

I got used to not being able to look at my Facebook/Twitter and found that I had a lot more freedom. I had more time to do homework and take naps, which were always interrupted with constant searches and checking up on people. I also had a lot more time to think, about myself and about what I was doing. Although there was a lot of other stuff going on in my life, I wasn’t bothered with the need to immediately check up on people online, and that made a huge difference.

After a week off of  Facebook and Twitter, I decided that it was time to come back, whether or not I was okay with it. I logged back in to my accounts and uploaded pictures, Tweeted, replied to notifications and messages, of which I had a surprisingly large amount. It made me feel better to get back, but I kind of ruined it for myself by doing (within the first five minutes of having them back) what I had deleted my accounts for in the first place.

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Maybe I wasn’t ready to have my Facebook or my Twitter back. But because I didn’t have them at hand for a week, I’ve gotten used to not constantly checking them, having that stuff on my mind, and letting it bother me/get to me. It’s something that I’m definitely working on and will continue to work on for the future. I may not be completely okay yet… But I just needed a break, and now I’m back.

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One Response to Amanda’s Social Media Sabbatical

  1. Sabina says:

    Finally read this! Taking time off from social media is important, but it’s also huge in how we live our lives so I understand feeling relieved to be back.

    Like

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