4 Things to Remember When You Feel Suffocated by Social Media
What I remind myself that I should never lose track of when scrolling down my feeds
I have never felt as suffocated by social media as I have these past few weeks. My friends believe that I am the full on social media junkie, and perhaps it’s because I share a lot of what I am up to or what’s on my mind. I am an over sharer and most of the time I am up to or thinking of something worth sharing anyway. However, it so happens that I am also very aware of what’s going on around me, because of social media. I am always up-to-date, whether it’s political, economic, social, tech. Things that before would bypass me, because I wasn’t that pro-active when it came to searching for information. It required too much physical effort from my end. That’s one of the main reasons I appreciate this era of social media.
That even if you don’t watch your local/international news stations, or buy your daily newspaper or your magazines; you will always be up-to-date with the current affairs. I really was the audience for this, based on the way it’s shared in edible bytes through various platforms which are easy to consume and readily accessible and available. I mean, if there’s an emergency, we don’t have to wait for the breaking news on TV or be in a place where there’s a TV. As it’s happening, there’s an outpouring of tweets, WhatsApp messages from your groups and friends, status updates, blog posts and newsbytes. You’re forced to be in the know, there’s no excuse for being unaware. And even when you are, it’s as simple as going to Google and typing in “that which you didn’t know” and there’s an abundance of information on it. It’s for you to choose which credible or verified sources you’re going to use to gather information that will bring you up to speed on what’s going on.
That at one point you didn’t have voice, and now you have a voice on everything and anything. There are discussions over what’s currently trending in news and you can be a part of the discussion. And your opinions whether valid or not, are consumed. Unlike before when you were subjected to panels on TV at 7pm or 9pm, and your opinions were confined to the walls of your living room with your family members. That you can be challenged when you’re wrong or your opinions are invalid, and in a short span of time, you can be switched on and woke!
That’s what makes social media exciting for me and what keeps me glued to my phone, at least when I am on it. As I scroll down my twitter feed (my favorite platform of all time) with all this information on my fingertips, I have developed a condition that I call ‘FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) on current affairs.’ Like there’s something happening every second. Just when you think everything is calm, there’s a firestorm starting somewhere. And it’s fun to be up-to-date, participate and even banter – at least when you’re an opinion giver and not the one featuring or being targeted by the newsbyte. When you’re the other side of the table it’s demoralizing.
Well, what makes me feel suffocated by social media isn’t all that. It is the hype that is in the content that’s posted there. There are those days that you feel broody, drained, uninspired and unsettled and you want to interact with people (and content) that will give a true reflection of how life really is and reassure you that what you’re feeling is normal. However, social media creates an illusion of what life really is, so much so you can feel like your life is not progressive. Forgetting that social media is a medium that enables you to capture moments, moments that mostly showcase the best version of you and your life. And truly, there’s nothing wrong with that, it is just what it is.
Since Social Media is here to stay and I am a part of it, I keep reminding myself of what I should never lose track of when scrolling down my feeds and even when participating in the developing and sharing of content.
Everyone is living their Life
Just the way they should, and so are you. When people go online and post what they post, it’s just a teeny-weeny fraction of their lives that they’re exposing you to. The one they want to let you in on. The rest is them doing what they need to do every other day – to survive, to ensure that they have roof over them and they have bread and butter on the table, to see that they are able to live a good life whether by themselves or with their loved ones.
I keep reminding myself this because sometimes we can be so tough on ourselves, especially in a time where people constantly use social media to share the events happening in their lives. Everyone else seems to have things going on for them except you. You are on the other end of the screen feeling like your life has stagnated even when in reality it hasn’t. You have that feeling that what you’re doing is not enough. Like you need to do more and be able to live a little more like the people on your feed. And when you have your down days, and you head over to your social media platforms, you beat yourself over it, because how you’re living your life in that moment is different. It doesn’t look as exciting as someone who’s on vacation, at a concert, in a party or on a business trip. You might be on your couch like I am now. And since I’m on leave, it’s golden.
Comparison is the thief of Joy
Theodore Roosevelt said it and I’m sure many of you us experienced it too and have probably said it in our own words. But the moment you start comparing yourself with your neighbor, or your friend or someone you follow and whom you think has it better than you or who generally seems to have it together, is the point you start digging yourself a hole. A hole that when you enter, you see nothing else but the darkness it engulfs you with. You lose sight of yourself, of your focus and of the happiness that those two things would bring you.
With social media, you’re exposed to great people, who have done and continue to do great works and who possess such special and laudable skills. You’re also exposed to people who seem to have achieved a lot in their lifetime – people who are in the same career path as you are; people who are in the same age group as you are, some even younger; people who are in the same social circles that you are in. And it’s very easy to ask yourself, “why not me?” or “why haven’t I?” But why is not the right question, because everyone has their break, so it’s just a matter of what and when. I am sure you don’t seat around and do absolutely nothing. Let the people you look up to challenge you to do and be better, to put that extra effort in your work and to be proud of yourself – not in a narcissistic way, but in a way that appreciates the little and big sacrifices you make in order to do and to be.
Celebrate your tiny victories, because they eventually add up. Click To Tweet Don't wait up on external validations, validate yourself first, because that's what matters most. Click To Tweet
Don’t buy into the Hype
You know yourself; you know what you’re about. Then, be true to yourself. Only you know the real situation in your life. You know how your bank account is set up, you know how your home is set up, you know how your work is set up, you know how your family and relationships are set up and you are aware of your tastes and preferences – then just stick by that and use that to guide you in the decisions you make every waking day.
When you buy into the hype, you lose yourself. Hype is like the wind and when you’re not true to yourself, like a dandelion, you will go where the wind blows. And that’s what hype leverages on, the fact that majority of us are easily influenced by illusions, by popularity and by false promises like the “good life”. Social media has a lot of hype, because that’s what sells and at the end of the day, everyone wants to sell. And because you’re the main target, you need to be choosy, you need to separate the wheat from the chaff. You need to see hype for what it is, because most of the time, hype is worthless. Go for what is useful and valuable to you (and your family) – it might not be popular or cool, but if it works for you and it accommodates your real situation or positively challenges you, then go for it.
Take a break, it’s Okay
The one thing that I’ve learnt about Social Media is that it will always be there. It’s not going anywhere, at least not anytime soon. If anything, they’re just creating more and more platforms and it’s for you to choose what works for you and let go of what doesn’t. For instance, I never caught on the Snapchat bug and being the social media junkie I am, it was a bit strange. Then one day, I decided to give it a try because I wanted to understand the value it can bring to brand. I signed up and published my first story and that was it for me. I felt that there were too many platforms and I just couldn’t keep up with being on each one of them. So I decided that my main Social Media platforms are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn for different reasons.
At this point, I think of Social Media as that good friend who I haven’t met in a long time, but when we do meet, we pick up where we left off. There’s no, ‘oh, why have you been so lost?’ or ‘why didn’t you keep in touch?’ We just jump into where our lives are currently and go with the flow. If we need to reminisce on the good ol’ days or how we each got to where we are today, then that’s great, but no guilt trips.
I tend to feel that we are the ones who pressure ourselves and feel that in our absence we’re at a loss or that we will lose our relevance in the social media space. This is especially if you’re a creative or someone who uses social media as a platform to showcase your skills and capabilities. Well, the true story is that people are busy living their lives, in your presence and in your absence online. It’s good to be consistent as a creator, but when you’re worn out or need to reinvent yourself, take that break and know that it’s okay to do so. If people love your work, they do and when you come back, they will still love it.Do you ever get suffocated by Social Media? What do you do when you feel that way? Click To Tweet