It’s been several months since I left social media for good, though I decided to hang on to Twitter in the end, anticipating that I might need it for professional reasons (but LinkedIn rather ironically had to go.)
I haven’t necessarily seen the quality of my real-life relationships improve as I suggested they might in my post in February, but I do have a clarity of mind I don’t think would have been possible with it; I can’t imagine being constantly reminded of coronavirus would have been enjoyable.
It took a while before I stopped framing my life through the lens of Instagram, imagining what the caption for the image I was going to post was going to be, instead of experiencing the moment itself. So I’d certainly say that my ability to experience the present has improved: using my eyes to look at beautiful scenery not my camera; using my ears to hear live music not my microphone. Reading Alan Watts’ “The Wisdom of Insecurity” also helped me to realise this.
Something I’ve come to appreciate in this time without social media is our need, as a society, to “present” everything we do. Even in a non-virtual sense, it’s as though unless we overemphasise the things we’re interested in, they’re not important. It’s not acceptable to merely say “I went kayaking the other day and enjoyed it”. I must declare my eternal love to the sport of kayaking or it’s not of any interest to anyone. And it seems as though everyone needs to have some kind personal “brand” (and some sort of social “proof”.)
I think social media’s probably responsible for this. Just as we package and present our lives in a certain way online, we feel the need to do so in real-life to make ourselves seem more interesting, because “more likes in the virtual world translate to more popularity in the real world”. My generation was the first to grow up with social media so it’s interesting to see all these biases finally emerge from our subconsciouses.
What’s more important is how I think we define our own personal value. If we’re to remove others from the equation, do our interests make us happy because of the way they make us feel?
That’s all that really matters.