Words Zahra K.
Header Credits Fatema A. (@cosmicweavers)
If airline companies gave free miles for every mile scrolled with a thumb on a touch screen, I would’ve travelled the world by now and still had sufficient left to pass on.
My journey with social media began the year I joined Instagram in 2014.
The thrill of clicking & posting on the spot, the instant gratification that came with the immediate likes and comments was surreal.
The shopping accounts that sold everything from pins to printers, the ease of window shopping from the comfort of my home, was too good to be true.
Everyone wanted to sell something, endorse a product, an idea or begin a trend & ‘influence’.
Thanks to the post & story notification options, even if we aren’t looking, they make sure we do.
The ripple effects started to show soon. There was a brief period in my life where I had this constant need to keep looking at my phone every few minutes. Scrolling through posts without knowing how much time had passed. Page after page, post after post… I used to be stuck in a vortex.
Browsing through images on Instagram, I forgot that real life is in my heart. My smile. My family, my friends, my surroundings.
Pictures online make us believe we need to do something more… something more exciting, need to have an outfit in this colour, or own that device, or feel we haven’t been there or done that. We need to be more physically beautiful, be more popular, be bigger than we are. Inadvertently, I was feeding my mind with a feeling of not having enough, not doing enough, NOT being enough.
It’s a lie. A net of fleeting fantasy. We are real. We are beautiful. We need to go be in the world. We have to stop comparing ourselves to the worlds highlight reels.
The convenience of social media has come with a cost. We disturb the alignment of our life goals with unrealistic expectations. It tends to get overwhelming. It is a constant in our lives & has entered our most intimate places and relationships. Nothing is sacred or untouched by it anymore.
Even though I was addicted, I never really lost sight of the fact that not everything happening online was good, right or perfect. I always seemed to point out when stuff went awry. When people of importance and ‘influence’ led others in a direction that wasn’t appropriate.
Having a tendency to get stuck in my own moral conundrums of right and wrong often keeps me away from popular opinions and agreeing with trends and ideas that are accepted by a large audience. I struggled internally and wanted to turn everything right. I called out people, I wrote strong posts, shared video stories with my opinions loud and clear. Some hit home, some in vain.
It took me a long time to understand I couldn’t fix anything or anyone and that everyone does what they feel is right for them. Even if it is seemingly incorrect, people always find ways to justify & validate their actions. I learned the hard way that it wasn’t my weight to carry. It wasn’t worth my time.
So, I began pulling myself out of the deep pit & decided to only follow people who helped me become more productive, who didn’t disturb my peace and mental state. I have become more conscious of what I look at, rather than passively glare at the screen & feed my mind with everything from the online buffet.
I routinely take a social media detox. Comb my feed often by following all those that make me happy, motivate me to do better, improve me and make me productive and unfollowing what and who makes me feel a little less about myself, hampers my self-esteem and body image, makes me angry, makes me feel I am not rich enough, that I don’t have enough.
There’s nothing smart about looking at umpteen posts and knowing everything that’s happening, if my mental health is in shambles. I have trained my mind to ignore posts that yell “waste of time” or “Oh no, you don’t need this right now…” – that’s the secret to my sanity.
It isn’t an overnight project, it is a continuous process. I let the current mood, situation, work at hand and vibe in my life decide what and who is good for me right now.
Since it is a necessary evil I cannot part with, I took charge of my life on social media for mere self-love and self-preservation.