This new year has unveiled something in my mind that I realised had been weighing me down for a long time. Throughout my high-school and undergrad years, I’d been obsessed with the concept of having to be a part of an “exclusive group” and being liked by everyone around me. As I travelled and moved, friendships distanced as we changed and slowly grew up to be different to the people we were when we first met. Some grew with me, and some grew apart from me. Something stayed the same though; my dependancy on social media and need to obtain a certain amount of likes on a post to be content and happy with myself.
So this year, I deleted everyone off Facebook.
Yup, you heard me right.
Now, there were exceptions to this drastic event. I kept people related to my work-life, degree, family and close friends that I consistently message and keep in contact with. Part of the work I do relies on being on Facebook, so that was unavoidable. But, this meant anyone that was on there…was for necessity.
I was done with being constrained in this box that was my online persona. This, was my own personal revolution to the dependancy and reliance we all have nowadays to social media. I realised sometimes I didn’t post a photo because I wanted to, I did it because I was competing with everyone else’s online lives that they were displaying. I’d see massive group photos and instinctively itch to post a “casual friend photo.” I’d see complementary selfies that my friends would post and spend the next 20 minutes trying to get the ideal angle to look just right. Then I’d stare at my phone, counting each like under my breath, devastated if it didn’t do well, and ecstatic if it did. My feeling of self-worth and friendships were dependant on those digital notifications, filling my phone. If a friend didn’t like a post, they either didn’t like me, thought it was horrible or were laughing at it. All just thoughts in my head.
I only told a few people what I had decided to do because, to be honest, it was my right to do it. Facebook has become a place were you store thousands of people that you either have known very-well personally or saw-at-some-point-across-the-bar-one-night-and-drunkenly-traded-profile-info. Rarely do any of the hundreds of people I had on my profile, actually keep in touch, and that was okay. I realised I felt a lot healthier distancing myself from the toxicity of Facebook and taking a step back this year.
Now, instead of scrolling through hundreds of Facebook posts of drunk nights outs and engagement/pregnancy posts, I see work-related posts and opportunities I never focused on before. Instead of spending hours of my days looking through my Instagram feed and wondering why my life isn’t like a H&M model, I’m thinking of blog posts I want to write about and what I should be planning to do for my dissertation. The friends that I reach out and talk to (and vice versa), are friends that are in my life to stay.
I turned off notifications related to Instagram, Whatsapp and Messenger, not swamping my phone screen with notifications of people sending casual messages, instead choosing when I go online to view the conversations I have, when I want to. This, it turns out, improved my mental health immensely. When I’m out, I don’t reach to my mobile to take a photo and immediately spend ages choosing a filter to post online, ignoring the people I’m actually spending time with. When I’m at home, with my boyfriend, I choose to sit with him, reading or watching a TV show together, not checking any social media or having the feeling I need to show people I’m content in my relationship. My love for photography and taking photos has come back as I don’t feel pressure to be displaying it for other people to critique and like, I’m just taking them for myself.
It’s been an interesting journey so far and I’m excited to see how this step will help improve both my mental health, as well as this year in 2019.
A Heart of Thoughts is a new series I’ll be posting every Sunday evening with personal reflections and responses to the world around me. Follow my blog if you’d like to keep involved and comment below your own personal revolution you’ve had in response to the new year!