Scrolling for Likes and Other Social Media Disasters

In theory, there’s nothing wrong with being active on social media. I just choose not to be as active as before.

I’ve used social media for multiple purposes: Business – marketing and selling like mad, hoping to attract new clients. Showing off – “Look at me! Look what I just dreamt up in my kitchen people!” Loneliness – Hey guys, follow my stories where I update all the time! Friends and family discount – letting people keep up with me when I moved countries.

It’s been good to me in some ways and terrible to me in others. But the negatives aren’t all social media’s fault.

Social media platforms never said to me, “Hey Jackie, feel inferior when you scroll other people’s feeds, please and thanks.” It never asked me to sit there for minutes that then turned into hours, randomly flipping through pics and videos. It definitely didn’t force me to change the way I wanted to write or do business based on stuff other people spewed on Twitter.

Social media is a great instigator. It feeds on insecurities. It revels in our want to be prettier, thinner, more successful, then chops us down to size with the – look here, *insert random pic* think you’ll ever be this? Pfft.

It instigates, but it doesn’t choose our next moves. That’s all mindset, and mine was rotten when it came to this stuff. I could say all day it didn’t impact me, but the emotional debris lying around proved differently.

I let social media platforms impact me negatively for a long time and didn’t even realise it was happening.

For example, I decided I’d approach business in a way that didn’t fit me because “gurus” were supporting it. I felt I needed to update constantly to be relevant or for people to want to read my work. I nearly faced creative suicide, focusing on all the things writers, agents, and publishers said I should do when writing – instead of just writing.

My relationship with social media was a mess! A far cry from where I started with it on Hi5 many years ago (who remembers that one)? After that it was MySpace, and then . . . enter Facebook – a new age of social media networking had begun.

Facebook took out everything else for a while.

Initially social media was a fun, weird place for me. It was new. I didn’t focus on paying for ads, or if people would like me, or anything. I did things like write all my sentences backwards for kix (jokes), not caring if people thought it was as cool as I did or not. I shared poetry though I wouldn’t consider myself a poet. I didn’t overthink adding people or not. I just had fun.

Somewhere along the line that all changed. I wiped fun away and wrote a new story on the chalkboard – social media’s purpose is to get people to like whatever it is I’m doing. It became a way to make them see, “HEY! I’ve got something to say too, come over here.”

Social media lost its appeal.

I didn’t notice it had till I started feeling overwhelmed. It wasn’t the years of scheduling posts on multiple platforms, endless retweeting, or liking posts just cause. This all helped, but the last straw was what came after – that feeling of having no choice but to post.

A heaviness pressed on me most times I posted. I couldn’t get out from under it. A post/story meant checking every time my phone buzzed to see who had liked or commented. It meant being stuck to my phone, something I didn’t want.

So I stopped.

A hard thing to do initially. I still checked my phone every time I put up a story or post. Still wondered in the back of my head who may have looked even if they didn’t like. Over time though, it hit me that if someone really wanted to get in touch, become a client, or otherwise, they’d find me whether I was super active on social media or not.

Bit by bit I stopped checking and being anxious all the time, and it freed me. Then I took it a step further and did what I’d wanted to for a long while – I stopped posting regularly altogether.

I’m now many months into this new way of being as it relates to social media and there are some other changes. Some of these I didn’t initiate, they just happened.

I find for example that I’m less inclined to click on random clickbait posts in my newsfeed. Trained flamingo rides a pink trike at Coachella? So? I give in at times, but overall I’m not bothered. I’m more interested in my life.

When I do go on social, I seldom stay longer than a few minutes – without having to grudgingly pull myself away. Before I would have scrolled till the end of the line – you know, the point where you’re asked to refresh for new posts.

Another thing is, I don’t miss any of it. I’m calmer, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out either.

To reiterate what I said at the start, there’s nothing wrong with being active on social media, right now I just choose not to be. It works for me. I feel healthier mentally and emotionally. It’s allowed me to focus on my life and what I want from it without relying on external influences. My creativity’s no longer stifled. It’s let me be more in tune with those I don’t need to jump on social media to see.

I say mindset is a hell of a thing often. I’ve had to reshape mine as it relates to social media and my life is better for it.

For posts like this one, consider reading: How I Got Here and Why I May Not Stay | What It Feels Like Finishing A Novel After Five Years | This One’s For Mum

For help with your writing project, visit my For Writers page.

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