I am an empath.
I absorb energies and emotions a lot easier than others.
As a result, my instagram experience has become a bit vexed lately.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out whether I need this thing or not.
I go back and forth between wanting to share myself and choosing to be private.
Like most, I find myself checking it obsessively during waiting periods, at red lights and in between commercials.
When I begin to feel the drain on my brain I take days and sometimes weeks off at a time.
I kinda enjoy being disconnected. I feel the difference. Like I’ve stepped into a time machine.
Without instagram, I am instantly transported back to simpler times. A la 1999.
Within days I suddenly become comfortable with the pace of my own life. I can hear my own thoughts.
I feel less like a ball of anxiety and more like a walking anomaly. I want to tell somebody.
I want to suggest this new mindful practice to others. But the only place I can think to do so is Instagram.
How will people of social media know this valuable information if I don’t get on social media and tell them?
So I log on with the teflon that is having been off for weeks. Nothing can penetrate me. I know better.
Not Shade Room, not a single meme, not even a lifestyle update from my favorite blogger can distract this 21st century mission.
I’ve seen how It looks on the other side. I know I’m not missing anything. And even if I did, my continued breaths is just the proof I need to convince others that life goes on.
So I cue up my stories, (this message is best verbalized) and try to articulate my thoughts; the ramblings that have been bumblin around in my brain since logging off, plus the information I’ve gathered since halfway reading anti-social-media literature like, “Digital Minimalism” and “Deep Work”. Then I press record.
I sound like a preacher. Delete. A goodie-two-shoe on a soapbox. Delete, A tattered character on the corner warning you that the world will soon end. Delete. Delete. Delete.
I recoil and place my not-so-well-thought-out-think-piece to the side until my persuasiveness has crystallized.
But while I’m here I minus well scroll.
Check in on The Shade Room, a few memes and whatever it is that my favorite lifestyle blogger is up to.
Before I know it, three weeks have passed and I feel drained again.
Like someone not only sucked my soul out but took all those good reasons why social media sucks with’em.
I log off again. And then back on. And then off again. This has been my instagram experience lately.
Conflicted. Strategically stuck between craving real connection and avoiding any real attention.
Trapped. In a cycle of realizing that scrolling distracts me from making art, then logging off to make art, only to be forced back on this bitch because, now, who the fuck will I share this art with?
Tired. I want to figure this thing out. Seperate myself from the pack. Beat the attention engineers at their own game.
Ultimately. I don’t wanna be a robot. I desire for my brain to operate differently than the masses. I want it to work optimally and not with the unconscious glitches that come with sustained social media use.
And to think, all I have to do to escape this millenial matrix is to get off instagram permanently, morphing myself into an immediate conversation piece at parties like, “Whatttt. You’re not on Instagram?, the people will say while gripping their cocktails,”Tell me more…” as champagne glasses clink with interest.
I’d be forever tagged as ‘No IG Destiny’, taking myself on a social experiment; a lifelong scientific journey discovering how my life unfolded and how my mental capacity differed from the 1 billion people that log on everyday. Am I better off or worse I wonder?
But am I the only one that feels this way? Am I the only one that jumps in and out of this proverbial jump rope, treating it like digital double dutch – stomping the pavement with vigor one minute and being whipped by a wireless device the next?
From where I stand, it seems that we all acknowledge the perils of this thing – how it makes us feel, the toll it has on self esteem and productivity, our generation, the next generation – yet we still participate.
Is this not an addiction? And if we all are in fact addicted, is this the new normal? Should I just get with the program of consistently engaging on this platform or risk being left behind? Or will this inkling, this nudge that I feel to take the road less traveled eventually pan out in my favor? Mentally? Creatively?
I have questions. I’ve made observations. And writing them out below, in what can only be described as a literary-drug-frenzy has been my rehab.
Nothing bought this dependency to my attention more than a personal problem I experienced early on this year. You couldn’t tell me every declaration or word of advice situated on the screen was not directed towards me. I was a screenshottin’ fool, on a rampage taking in advice, not from professional psychologists but professional reposters, allowing these notions to imapct my mood, good or bad. It made me think how many people have been impacted by messages seemingly meant for them. How many people have altered the course of their life as a result of a curated feed?
A curated feed where it’s typical to see the same 7 posts, 7 times within a 7 day period. So much so, when someone sends me something I’ve gotten used to dismissively saying, “Seent it”
Like this meme I “seent” the other day – it humorously illustrated how quickly we skip from one story to the next, not allowing the full 15 second frame to run its course. But why? So we can get to the next story and skip that bitch with the same haste? What are we searching for exactly? And until we know, will we ever escape this bottomless pit of curiosity we have for strangers on the internet?
Another percolating question. Why is it necessary to say, “Wait til’ the end” on a video that lasts a quarter of a minute? Are our attention spans that short? Where we going? Do we have plans in the next 9 seconds? Are there that many options to choose from?
And if I’m on here every moment boredom strikes anyway, aren’t I missing out on opportunities to be mindful? What if what the universe wants me to see is not on the screen but in the sky or just up ahead? How will I know? How many useful messages have I missed to date? And to think, the cosmic communication I require to move forward in life may just lie outside of my handheld device.
I mean, think about it – we’re watching people grow in real time, which could be an awesome experience if we all agreed to share the inevitable growing pains and not just the heroic highlights. I dunno what Instagram’s motto is right now but without this balance, they should consider changing it to “Expect Perfection“, for that is what this attention-engineered app has evolved into.
A program that gives users the freedom to, at any given time, post stuff not for their 1000’s of followers to see but for that one person that did them wrong. Do you comprehend that? That sometimes we are taking on whole ass energies that were meant for other people, just so the poster can get their point across to some knotty-head-negro? Yes ladies and gentleman rather than openly expressing ourselves we subliminally post things in hopes that it’ll impact someone that has wronged us. And what if they don’t see it? We find another and post it the next day until the single intended receiver, gets the message and then whaddaya know, those “He wronged me” quotes turn into “Him love me” quotes. God help us all.
But that’s not even the biggest taboo though. You know what is? Crying on Instagram. And I get it, I cringe just as much as the next person at the sight of an ugly-cry-face unloading their emotions to strangers but why? Why, if we all agree that we’re being our authentic selves, should we hide this part?
Shouldn’t we be able to document our lives without fear of judgement? Without being habitually forced to look at other ppls lives? That’s what I want; a peaceful, non-preachy platform to record moments I want to remember, not rack up likes that I’ll soon forget. (Shrug). Maybe I’ll buy a camcorder.
In the meantime, I wonder – if you had to downsize the folks you follow to the top 25 people that most impact your life, would your online experience be worthwhile? How many people genuinely add value to your timeline? Who do you look forward to seeing? Tuh. Are you, yourself, interesting enough to add value to the lives of others with the content you share?
Perhaps this will put it all in perspective.
I heard someone refer to social media as a whole person this past weekend, “So-shawl Madea” they called her and yes it made me giggle but also helped to personify this app as a loudmouth instigator who makes you laugh one minute, inspires you the next, but just like Tyler Perry’s Madea franchise, mostly just berates you for an hour and 48 minutes and once it’s over, you’re left feeling flat and empty.
Finally, I wonder. Is it possible to simply just “Pull Up, Post Up and Hop Off” this thing once you’ve shared whatcha need to. Notifications off. Not checking for how many likes you’ve racked up. No scrolling to see who else has posted today – if folks have comments, “Fine I’ll check’em later during my designated dookie time”- Not whenever a notifiction appears. This has been how I manage my addiction lately. This management program admits, “I don’t need an ounce of this shit! But I do need a gram”.