Thoughts on My Love/Hate Relationship with Social Media

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Whether I like it or not, I’m a millennial.

That means I, like the majority of my generation with internet access, grew up right along with the likes of Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, among many others. Twitter was founded in 2006, Facebook started in 2004, went public in 2006,  and by 2009 I had an account on both. I was in the 6th grade. A 13-year-old ball of angst, annoyance, and emotions, fully equipped with an outlet to express them.

This is the part of social media that I dislike; the fact that at any moment in time I could be haunted by my past words/photos/or even “likes.” But honestly, I think I’m most embarrassed by the incessant and pointless quality of my past posts… For example:

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Or:

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And the best one:

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Knowing myself that one is definitely a lie. There’s no way I only ate one cookie.

My point is, I grew up in a generation that was so willing to provide the entire internet world with every intimate detail of our lives, and now we’re realizing that it’s too late to take it back. Once anything is online, it’s pretty much there forever.

Luckily, I’ve had a pretty innocent virtual existence, aside from wearing my heart on my sleeve, and being ridiculously annoying in my teenage years. But I’m not alone in regretting my past social media personality, I actually think some of the things I used to post are pretty funny, and I think that once we learn the boundaries of the social media world, it can be a really cool place.

How?

Well take me for example:

In this exact moment I am sitting in my apartment in Barcelona, Spain where I’m studying abroad for the semester.

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Roughly five weeks ago I was celebrating Christmas with my family back home in Minnesota…

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…and four weeks before that I was finishing up finals at my college in Northern California.

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I have family in Chicago, D.C., and Nigeria, and friends in Wisconsin, New York, and Buenos Aires to name a few. Needless to say, making affordable phone calls to and from all of these places is virtually impossible. And that’s where social media comes in and changes the game.

If I’m being honest with myself, I have to admit that I only really talk to maybe four or five people every day. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the rest! Social media makes keeping in touch so much easier, but also takes away the pressure and drama of making a phone call or writing out an entire novel in iMessage updating someone on your life. We can keep up with or “follow” each other at the click of a button, and instantly know what we’ve been up to.

Aside from the personal perks of sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Social Media sites like YouTube are a source of community outside of the realm of real-life relationships. I grew up watching YouTube videos on everything from hair and make up tutorials, to step-by-step recipes, and even home-made music videos made by other girls my age. I found girls who looked like me, and those who didn’t and related to them both.

My mother is from West Africa and my father is American. Growing up in Minnesota, all of my nearest relatives were the same race, along with the majority of the people in my neighborhood and schools, so a lot of the time I felt “different,” even though my immediate family was multiracial. But soon I was reminded that I wasn’t alone. YouTube introduced me to multiracial vloggers like ShamelessMaya, and AndreasChoice, and they made me feel like I had my own little community full of people who understood me, and never again did I think of “different” as a bad thing.

My Virtual Life Today

Now that I am somewhat of a grown up and have to take care of my body and my home (even though it feels like I am in a new house every six months), I have begun to dabble in the art of “pinning” on Pinterest to find inspiration for making college living arrangements cozy and making yummy, healthy food on a preeeetty small budget.

On top of my Pinterest profile, I’ve done a little writing here and there, and take photos from time to time, because through social media, the possibilities are endless. There are no limits to what you can do and who you can be. Today I may be a blogger, and tomorrow maybe an amateur photographer… all I need is a new Insta handle!

Social Media offers people so many different outlets for self-expression, and makes it easy to build a community full of people interested in the same thing as you. I’m a firm believer in the goodness of people, and I think the “pros” of Social Media far outweigh the “cons,” and I think that if we all used it for genuine self-expression (not the ugly hateful kind), our world would be a much better place.

I think what I find more interesting than sharing my own life on social media, is getting to peek into the lives of everyone else. We just have to keep in mind our world isn’t perfect, and there are people out there trying to hurt us or use our personal information against us, and sometimes people just don’t tell the truth. I write to be the most open version of me, (as open as it is safe to be on the internet) and I urge you to do the same.

Alright friends, that’s all I’ve got for today. If you made it this far, thanks for reading!

Just remember:

  • Old social media posts are haunting and pretty embarrassing, but it’s okay to laugh at yourself, because look how far you’ve come! You’d never tweet at Justin Bieber today!! (But I still would)
  • Social media is a great way to keep in touch, but there ain’t nothing like an old-fashioned phone call. If you’re missing someone today, give them a call or shoot them a text and let them know you’re thinking about them. I’ve found that with long-distance relationships of any kind, a little goes a long way and some real life love is much better than a virtual “like,” in my book.
  • If you’re not missing someone specific and you just want to stalk a person’s life, then by all means, get your creep on.
  • The internet community is full of people just like you, and so is the real world. You’re never alone in your struggles, and you should never feel like you are. Don’t be afraid to find a new community, church, club, or organization. Reach out! I promise it is always worth it.
  • And finally, be you! But don’t give it all away. If you wouldn’t want someone to bring something up to you in person, don’t post it on the internet. It’s okay to have your own personal life, just don’t pretend to be someone you’re not behind a screen. Because I’d bet who you are in real life is ten times as awesome.

Until next time,

Plain Jane xx

 

 

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