Social Media Ruined My Life
Social media has ruined my life. I want that to be hyperbole, but there’s some real truth to it. It’s a slow, insidious process. Like a frog in a frying pan, the influence slowly creeps into you and before you know it you’re burning alive.
You’re not consciously aware that you’re constantly comparing your life to everyone else's. Even if you are, you don’t realize just how deep that influence goes.
I didn’t realize I was waking up every morning thinking about what everyone else in my social media world was doing and how they were accomplishing more than me, getting gigs I wanted and didn’t know how to get, publishing articles I didn’t know how to start writing with companies I didn’t know how to get in with, living lives I couldn’t afford, enjoying relationships I was yearning to have, and that instead of inspiring me, it only made me feel like, “What’s the use in even trying?” and giving up before I ever even started. Or shit all over the things I HAVE accomplished or have BEEN working on.
The take-away has always been: what you’re doing isn’t good enough, who you are isn’t good enough. You don’t make enough of a difference, you’re wasting your life and your time.
That’s some kind of shit, right there.
And all these articles on the internet promising you the answers. All the listicles telling you “Do these X amount of things to have a perfect life”, “The most successful, creative people do these X things”, “the one thing you need to feel ultimate freedom”… all that bullshit. I have so many of those articles bookmarked that I am too overwhelmed to spend the time to read them and try to absorb all of their potential gold.
Cuz everyone knows better then me, right? Someone else has the answers for me, right? Because what I’m doing is wrong, right? Because that’s the feeling I get from all of these helpful articles. “You’re not perfect enough. Be more perfect.”
Like all the bullshit about being “on brand”. If you are your brand, then anything you do will be your brand. If you have to stop and think about whether or not something you’re doing is “on brand”, then it’s not, and you’re trying to pretend that you’re something and someone you’re not.
The notion that’s being sold that you have to be constantly aware of every minute thing you do or say or post is paralyzing. We are not celebrities. And if we stopped to really think about what being a celebrity entails, we wouldn’t want to be one. Fuck that. I want money, not fame.
I wake up ready to berate myself for not being better, not living up to my potential, being 40 and back living with my parents, not living the jet-setting life I see sold on Instagram.
It’s not enough to remind yourself that social media is people’s highlight reels and not their behind the scenes.
It’s not enough to remind yourself that most of these people are living beyond their means, are actually miserable, and their lives aren’t as full, as amazing, and thrilling as they’re selling.
It’s not enough to tell my brain these things as I keep obsessively scrolling through it all.
Because my eyes don’t care about the truth, and my emotions don’t care about logic. My heart only cares about what it can see and feel and it all makes me feel like shit.
So why can’t I stop?
Terror of missing out.
Not fear, outright terror that the second I look away the most wonderful thing the world has ever seen will happen and I will be the one person who missed it.
And in focusing on all the things I’m terrified to miss, I’m missing out on absolutely everything else. It’s asinine.
It was much easier to live and breathe and create and feel and exist when I wasn’t constantly concerned about what everyone else in the world was doing. I never thought about what everyone else in the world was doing, I was naturally doing my own thing, going my own places, writing my own pieces, creating my own life. And then it all stopped once I could see what everyone else was doing with theirs.
That seems so backwards. I truly wish I was inspired by others, but I’m mostly discouraged about my own efforts. Even here on Medium, I see insanely popular writers post fantastic pieces with thousands of claps and immediately get discouraged to write a word.
How can what I write be any good? How can it be as popular as theirs? How would anyone care about what I have to say?
I didn’t use to feel that way. But some long, slow process has taken over my brain and I have felt trapped and sunk and stuck for years because of it. Only surfacing here and there in brief bouts of clarity.
I know the only way to live a truly authentic life is to do your own thing and put it out there, and then move on to creating the next thing, to share what you want, WHEN you want, without a scheduling app or analytics or algorithms, without the fear-monger tactics of companies and people trying to sell you success and power and freedom and a sense of peace.
We’re so desperate for those things that we’ll buy the online course for hundreds of dollars, again and again, hoping that we’ll finally read that one sentence that will cure it all.
I’ve been trying to live this way. It seems to make sense. It’s a blueprint, something you can follow, a ladder to climb, and we all want directions on how to get exactly where we’re going.
Tell me exactly what I need to do, step by step, every day, in order to get what I want out of this life. And that is just not the way you get it done.
There is no ONE WAY to make it at anything you want to do. But we don’t want to risk, or fail, or look foolish, or be told we’re dumb, or not look perfectly imperfect. It’s fucking maddening.
I think if I look long enough I’ll somehow find this magical answer to all my problems that will make everything better and OK and will be soothing and I’ll never feel pain again.
I never find the answer, but I won’t stop looking for it in the same places every minute of every day. It’s like heroin, chasing the dragon. It’s desperation, it’s emptiness, it’s doubt. It’s believing that anyone in the world has the answers but you. You’re doing everything wrong and someone else outside of you knows how to do it right.
I get too concerned with whether or not I’m posting on Instagram enough, am I getting enough interaction, gaining enough followers… are my posts on Facebook getting enough likes, will people notice my comedy show posts and come to my show, how can I be doing more and doing it better, do I have enough followers and interaction with my tweets on Twitter that a publication would consider hiring me to write for them because they decided that that shit matters?
I don’t want to care about any of that shit. I see other people not care about it and I wonder how they do it. I miss not caring about this kind of shit.
When you’re an entertainer, a comedian, a writer, an artist, don’t you have to care some? Don’t you have to use these platforms to get your shit out there so… so you can get paid some day? Get opportunities to perform and to be published? I’m sure there are also a ton of entertainers, comedians and writers who DON’T use social media and still do just fine.
You have to do it from the heart, not out of fear of missing out. I’m afraid of being irrelevant. I’m afraid of wasting time, I’m afraid of missing out, I’m afraid of being a bad person.
Therapy is an amazing thing, by the way.
The truth is it’s easier to focus on marketing/posting/tweeting/curating a social media presence/persona than it is to work on making the amazing thing you’re trying to promote. It’s much easier to make it LOOK LIKE you’re killing it at the comedy game than it is to sit down and actually write good jokes. And people will book you based on your online image rather than your actual talent. Welcome to the entertainment industry.
It’s easier to worry about your website looking perfect, using the absolute best hashtags and keywords, to focus on growth numbers, interaction and influence, than it is to put that energy into creating a masterpiece.
If you make amazing things, people will find you. It’s like most people have these fake store fronts up like in an old western town, and behind them is nothing interesting.
We’ve been conditioned to believe we NEED social media in order to survive because that’s how they keep us engaged and coming back for more. It’s almost abusive with the way it’s created a dependence. Just like any other addiction. And they’ve gone to great lengths to target exactly what makes the human psyche addicted and they’re taking control. That’s why we have algorithms now instead of chronological feeds. “We’ll show you what we WANT to show you, what we think will get you to buy more.”
I even recently realized that, when taking pictures, I think in terms of sharing them online as opposed to taking them for myself. As if there’s no point in taking them if I’m not going to share them. What?! That’s some bullshit, right there.
I feel like a prisoner, and often like I’m helpless to do anything about it. There are things I enjoy about social media, but I don’t know if the pros outweigh the cons. And yet here I am, refreshing my feeds. Dicking around online feels far too much like being productive, though at the end of the day you have nothing to show for it.
“What did you do today, Niki?”
“Uhhh…I, um… shit, what DID I do today? Scroll feeds for 5+ hours and feel bad about myself, using social media as an escape/distraction from my own issues and fear of creating my own things. You?”
Is there a way to use social media responsibly or do we have to go cold turkey? I feel like most of us think, “I can quit any time I want to!” Can we have the one drink without downing the bottle? Would my life actually fall apart if I gave up all of social media?