I was never much of a social media person. Maybe it’s because I was a bit late to the game. My parents didn’t want me to have it until I graduated, but of course, I made accounts anyways.
Sophomore, junior, senior year of high school, I joined Snapchat, then Instagram, and TikTok (eventually they found out, but this story isn’t about that, and besides, that was years ago).
But ironically, I never really enjoyed the apps as much as I thought I would. Perhaps I built up my expectations too high, since I wasn’t allowed to have it. After enjoying the platforms for a few months at a time, I found myself taking somewhat frequent “social media breaks” and researching how social media affects the brain, dopamine levels, and so on.
Not to say social media doesn’t have any negative effects; I’m sure it does. But I think I was trying to excuse myself from it, rather than just supporting my own decision to forego.
I remember there was a time when I hated my phone.
I’d be sitting in the Campus Center, doing work with friends, and if I had to get something from my dorm, I’d take my keys and my wallet, but leave my phone on the table.
“I hate my phone,” I’d tell them.
Or when I’d go for runs, I didn’t really care if my phone was charged or not (looking back, that was kind of dangerous). I would just let it die, and part of me felt better when it did.
But since, I realized that I never really needed to have certain plat- forms. I never needed to prove why I should or shouldn’t have them or figure out some “defect” that made my reaction different than others.
Besides deleting Instagram and TikTok (I like Snapchat), I’ve also paired down the accounts I follow on remaining platforms, such as YouTube, and have shifted the music I listen to (though that happens a lot) to be more intentional about what I consume.
I think getting rid of the clutter, in terms of media, has helped me in many ways. I have more social energy, value my day-to-day interactions more, and feel less anxiety about being perceived online.
Obviously, this position entails being perceived and interacting with a lot of people. That could play a part in why I don’t like personal social media so much; because I already have that built into my weeks. In the future, this may change, which I don’t take a “social media is bad” stance or commit to never having it again.
For me, the takeaway is that you don’t always need a reason to say something is good or bad for you. Go with your gut.