A couple of weeks ago, I decided to get Snapchat and Instagram out of my life. Simple, right?
Less checking, less “likes”, less “views”, less worrying about what I put up, how I appeared, what people knew. I enjoyed a privacy that came from the “not knowing” and “not checking”. I thought, “let people wonder what I’m doing”. Except that’s probably not the case, because let’s be real, everyone is mostly worried about themselves. It’s the spotlight effect.
After about a month of not having the apps on my phone, I re-downloaded Snapchat just a day or two ago because I heard my brother had it, and I wanted to add him as a friend in case I ever decided I wanted Snapchat back again.
However, even after having it a brief time, it felt foreign. And you don’t realize how easy it is to compulsively check Snapchat until you’re “bored” and have nothing to do.
So while I tried to go through and purge my current state of “leaving people on red”, it was far too easy to then scroll endlessly through people’s stories and compare their glamorous spring break pics to mine. But I had to remind myself. Snapchat harbors a lot of highlight-reeling, (even when you’re on a beach day drinking in Mexico, you can’t always be having that much fun, right? I mean, there’s gotta be some painful hangovers and hotel complications and sunburn in there somewhere, right…?)
It’s complicated, because I teeter on a fence between wanting to eradicate it from my life completely and wanting it back so I can make a farce and go filter-less and use it to promote good things, such as community service or body positivity or cute things to brighten someone’s day or thought-provoking messages instead of promoting myself, my material goods, and/or my social status.
I teeter because there is cognitive dissonance.
As much as my parents or friends claim me an ENFP, there are some things I’m inherently shy about. Standing out, as fun as it is sometimes, draws attention and sometimes the pressure of having all eyes on me (how oh how on earth did I do theatre, then?) is too overwhelming. Like I talked about in my earlier post about speaking in “plain English” and raising my hand in class, there’s still some discomfort in being the first to speak, the only to speak, to have all attention turned instantly from one stimulus suddenly to my face, my being. My comfort zone has always sort of existed in a realm in which I excel quickly, quietly, subtly, in the back of the room with little attention. Confronted with attention-seeking individuals I retreat into my shell, completing whatever task asked of me privately, to my best ability, meekly retreating only to submit the work I have done. Compliments have felt weird. Standing out has felt weird to me. When I was about 10 or 12 I remember a verse striking a chord with me when I did community service with my church.
It comes from Matthew 6:2:
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”
This idea, I believe, is not limited to community service or “feeding the poor”. In my eyes, one doesn’t need trumpets to proclaim they’re doing good, the attention of the media, or the satisfaction of likes or favorites or retweets.
The idea behind this verse at is probably the biggest reason I prefer not to live my life excessively out loud, especially through social media. And one could say “but Stephanie, you have a blog that’s all about you. You have/had an Instagram, a Facebook, a Twitter….” etc. And I will say that yes, I have/have had all those things, but it’s not been the best thing ever. A less mature, angsty-er me sought those things as refuges, places where I had a chance at being slightly noticed in a world where I perceived everyone else was getting a say.
But it’s so much more than that now. It’s so different. I don’t want to share frivolously. I want to connect, I want to share, I want to enrich. I may have some complaints here and there but I know that for the most part, I want to share that which is upworthy. And I don’t mean pictures of cute kittens or thebomb.com fashion looks.
Rather, I want to share that which challenges people, that which nurtures minds of all who read it, that which is impactful, that which promotes truth and goodwill, that which helps make me a step closer to the person I want to be. There’s so much negativity flying around lately– be it the aggression that exists still over the presidential election, the snide comments towards people who aren’t like ourselves, the microagressions towards those of different faiths, nationalities, genders, or ideas.
For this reason, I know social media is not all bad. Not at all. So many valuable and meaningful movements have emerged as a positive result. I just don’t want to get consumed or make it all about me. Therein lies the dissonance. But therein lies a potential for great personal change.