Week Long Social Hiatus

Last week I took a break from social media.

I don’t know why I never have before. It was nice, and I wasn’t as tempted to check as much as I thought I would be. I didn’t miss anything noteworthy, either. A week isn’t a long time, but it was long enough for me to break my dependence on my phone.

This technology is crazy. I really enjoyed the purge. Yet when I opened one of my social apps up again, which I wasn’t even in a rush to do, all the anxieties and the urges to refresh and get new content that felt so distant during my time away came flooding back immediately.

I’ve put some barriers on my usage before.

Throughout high school, I had a strict policy that if it didn’t happen on my page, it didn’t happen. But I eventually gave into scrolling my timeline and news feed and whatever because I felt like I was being too self-centered.

I turned off all push notifications over a year ago. It was a huge help, but over time the addictive nature of my personality found some other way to obsess and constantly refresh the page when I opened my apps.

Aimless scrolling and obsessive refreshing. I hate it. It’s like checking the fridge every twenty minutes knowing damn-well there’s nothing in there you want. And the past week was the wake up call I needed to actively fight against this crap. I felt so much better not worrying about anything going on that wasn’t directly in front of me. I want to continue being more present in my own life. Y’all don’t need to know half the stuff I usually post about my life online. And I definitely don’t need to know who’s watching, liking, or commenting all the time when I do post content.

So I’ve decided to change three things.

1.) I’m leaving my phone across my room when I sleep so social media isn’t the first thing I engage with when I wake up.

2.) I’m not going to look at who’s viewed my stories on IG and Snapchat, or scroll through who liked my posts. I’ll only concern myself with comments and real engagement.

3.) I’m limiting myself to checking my notifications and scrolling a little bit three times a day for no longer than 30 minutes.

I’m not saying all of this to be profound or anything. I’m not doing anything new or noteworthy. But I think we could all use a sociality check. Sociality, get it? Cause it’s not IRL? Does that work for everyone, or should I stop? I don’t know, but we’re rocking with it for now. By that I mean we should all take a look at our relationship with this technology every so often. If your habits on social media aren’t making you happy, reevaluate how you use it. And there’s no cut and dry answer. A healthier relationship with my socials was taking better control of my time and not letting it run me. It’s difficult, because old habits die hard and I’ve been droning out looking at screens for I guess a decade now.

The psychological effects of this stuff are serious business. The developers of these advancements don’t use them or let their children use them. That’s scary. We’re just guinea pigs, and there’s nothing in the history of humanity that can help us anticipate what’s to come. And what has come so far has been children committing suicide and mental illness skyrocketing with new media-based diseases being coined every year. I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know what’s being done or what could be done for the mass public to practice better habits around social technology. So until then, the responsibility rests with individuals. And this individual is trying, at the very least. This is a topic that really interests me. I went to and am going back to school for Emergent Media Studies and Production. If you’ve made changes in how you navigate the web and the socials, let me know and let’s exchange notes and stories.

Much Ado: Instagram

Guys, if you didn’t know, I’m old. Too old for this world.

Yeah yeah sure, all legal documentation and social media bios will tell you that I’m 23, but I swear this is a mistake and some kind of cruel joke. I don’t belong in this generation.

I try to make it work. I try to be about the social medias and whatnot. But this stuff is the worst. And every time I get to a kind of comfortable place and find my little niche aesthetic for each platform, they revamp and make me learn new things. Don’t I have enough things to learn that actually matter? Ugh.

I’m probably very late to complain about this, but like hell if that will stop me.

So…this Stories feature on Instagram..

What’s up with that? I don’t get it.

I can only pay attention to maybe two social media platforms at a time. Lately it’s been only the least useful ones, Snapchat and Tumblr. I realized how long it’s been since I used Instagram and how much my blog was thriving when I utilized it regularly. I took a lot of care to follow a lot of artistic users who always kept me inspired on that site. Honestly, I wholly forgot about the app when it changed its iconic logo to some rainbow gradient, minimalist nonsense. But I rediscovered it yesterday. And found this Stories feature. I tried to use it a little, but…

Why the blatant and shameless rip off of Snapchat?

And if you’re going to do that, at least improve upon the concept.

Social media, as annoying and over demanding as it can be to our lives, is a compilation of some really fantastic media, communication, and marketing tools. The appeal, at least to me, is the variety of each platform and the differences that make each site work toward different uses. You can’t, or at least shouldn’t, approach all of them in the same way.

That should be reassuring to these companies. That should give them a blanket of security in the sea of competition. As long as they do what they do well, and cater to the best examples and most effective users of their platforms, they will stay relevant.

Someone please tell all of this to Instagram. In an industry where you’re only as good as the content you freely allow the masses to create in your space, it’s dire for the space itself to maintain a strong foundation and not act like the insecure, desperate attention-seeking tweens who use the product. And envying other apps’ appeal and feeling threatened by their competitors seems to be Instagram’s entire business model.

Like, chill. You’re embarrassing yourself. We all love you just the way you are.

Instagram is like that gorgeous friend who is hopelessly insecure about themselves.

Instagram is that person who can’t compliment anyone as if someone else’s good features discredits their own.

Instagram is like those mid-life crisis panicked people who dress in trendy clothes that don’t suit them and use current slang that they don’t understand to desperately convince the world you’re still cool.

You’re pretty, Instagram. You are beautiful just the way you are. Just because Snapchat is cool and fun doesn’t take away from your cool and fun-ness. Wasn’t rendering Vine completely useless and causing it to shut down enough for you? When will this end? How much is enough?

I must commend you for taking care into developing with the times. I mean, while you were a huge factor in Vine’s demise, the fault also fell upon Vine’s failure to develop beyond their initial concept.

But,

Half-assedly biting off of the sole function of an entire application is not effective development.

I have no interest in splitting my attention between two platforms just to do the same thing. That’s the point of utilizing multiple social media channels. I open Snapchat with expectations. I take pictures and videos and doodle and write all over them, and look for the latest snap and geofilters. I go into My Stories to see what my friends and others I subscribe to have posted in the past 24 hours. I look at the event and location based curated stories. I follow maybe 70 people and only about half of them are active on a daily basis. People can only find me if they have my phone number or know my username.

I open Instagram with expectations. I try to only post quality imagery on my page or at least have a decent caption for something basic. I scroll through my timeline to see photographers, artists, musicians, djs, restauranteurs, coffee crafters, etc. post quality imagery and good reads for captions. I follow over 1,000 users on Instagram. I have maybe 500 followers myself.

I do not care about the monotonous day to day goings-on of over 1,000 people. I can’t care about the random day to day happenings of over 1,000 people. And 500 people are not going to care about mine, nor do I care to craft my day in a sequence of pictures and videos to entertain that size of an audience. I know it’s not popular among people my age to realize, but I am not that important. And I’m definitely not that interesting. And random strangers can find me way too easily on Instagram. I don’t want to publicize my life to an unapproved crowd. I’ve had an issue with a stalker before. And for what, Instagram? Where’s the pizzazz? Where are the stickers I can swipe across my screen to have my friends know where I am? Where can I turn my face into some piece of fruit? How about you leave the whole operation to the pros, and stick to what you know.

This needs to stop. Please everyone, reassure Instagram that they’re pretty and useful and current. And stop tempting them and other platforms to start merging services by not knowing how to post proper content on the proper mediums. It’s as annoying for them as it is for your friends. The shallow understanding of social media is really killing the game. I have many a rant regarding that, but I’ll end things here.