I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while, but I wanted to formulate everything in my head first. Writing this was also a matter of overcoming some fear, as I want to talke about mistakes I’ve made in the past.
Humans will inevitably always make mistakes. What’s important in moving forward is acknowledging and learning from those mistakes rather than denying them, becoming defensive, and/or portraying a fake persona or life.
I’m a few months out from breaking my instagram addiction. In every single spare moment I would, by muscle memory, scroll through my feed as a means of distraction and to know what was going on in everyones’ lives and to, inevitably, compare myself to those who looked like they were living more fulfilling lives than I was. Getting caught in this loop almost meant I continually felt the pressure to share everything via stories or posts. When I uninstalled instagram cold turkey I went through a few days where I would pick up my phone, about to press the icon, only to realize it wasn’t there. In these moments I began to take up other, more productive activities–things I’m still doing today. I began to focus even more on reading, on “being present” even though that sounds like a cliche, and to take up things long forgotten like the guitar. I played from ages 12 -17/18ish, and picked it up again a few months ago. It’s just somethign I do for fun now. No pressure or strings. I’m very slowly learning, with the help of being in therapy for the past year, that I need to just enjoy creative pursuits rather than doing them as a means to an end with all this expectation and pressure (like what I did with writing. PS. I’m still not at the point where I can write creatively again, but I’m getting there.) Now I’m playing guitar or drawing just because I feel like it, just because I want to. Not because I’m necessarily going to do anything with it as an end goal.
I’m going off on a tangent when what I really wanted to focus on was the fact that in the age of social media, it’s hard for one to escape the mistakes of the past when they, in some form, still exist digitally (unless you’ve deleted things.)
While it sounds cliche, since I’ve broken my instagram habit I’ve focused more on self-reflection and really asking myself WHY I felt the need to share as much as I did. Whenever I got the urge to take a picture of something and share it, I really started to ask myself WHY. What did I hope to achieve or gain? I wasn’t the worst social media over-sharer, and I was never really about collecting online “friends” and “likes,” but I guess for some reason it made me feel good to show people like I had a fun life (when I really didn’t and was most of the time depressed)? I don’t know…that sounds embarassing, but I guess it was subsonscious. I legitimately did use it to communicate with friends and family who don’t live close to me, though.
So, back to mistakes.
Looking back on the last ten years or so, I absolutely CRINGE thinking of some of the uneducated and ignorant things I said either on social media or in real life. I’ve since heard, read, or absorbed information over the years to know that these things were bullshit and not right. I recognize that I made mistakes in the things I have previously said, and I’m sorry for that and if I ever offended anyone or ever made someone feel shitty or belittled. These moments haunt me, even if the people involved don’t remember. I’m sorry I told my cousin who was getting married that I was “probably too feminist to ever get married” when she herself is also a feminist. I am so embarrassed by that. Feminists can get married or not, it doesn’t matter, it is the woman’s choice and agency that ultimately matter. I’m sorry I asked my friend from grad school if a trans person she knew was post-op or pre-op. Wow I’m so ashamed of that one. Yes, it was years and years ago, but whatever posessed me to think that was any of my fucking business? I’m sorry that when I was in undergrad I wrote a post of facebook basically victim blaming girls who wore skimpy or “slutty” halloween costumes and got cat called because of it. It was before the term victim blaming was even discussed or before I even ever discovered it or what it meant. I understand now that victim-blaming is utter bullshit. And side note, I’m SO the happy I got rid of facebook years ago, because I remember posting some pretty cringy shit. I’m sorry if I ever posted anything about writing in a way that came off as self-indulgent or self-absorbed or not humble. I don’t know why I felt need to update people about my writing–like they gave a shit? Maybe it was to hold myself accountible if I posted updates in a public forum? I guess because I was in grad school at the time and was surrounded by people also in the MFA program who were talking about it. The truth now is that after pouring years of my heart, soul, and time into novels and screenplays only to face rejection after rejection that I haven’t creatively written in over a year. I tied my self-worth and professional goals so tightly up in getting an agent and publishing that all those rejections really broke me and did a hell of a number on my mental health. Coupled with getting laid off from my job–yes, just a “job” for me, but still a much needed paycheck (and then a string of odd jobs because I had no luck getting another FT job, not even one in writing), 2018 was a dark time. I’m only just now starting to come out of all that, but I still have my bad days. New medication added to the old medication, plus therapy, has helped, but the process has been slow.
The bottom line is, please question what you publicize online, because you will likely end up regretting it. Who might it hurt? What is the true end result you hope to achieve?
Again, I’m truly sorry if I ever offended anyone or inadvertently belitted someone with my ignorance. I’ve learned from my mistakes and I am still learning. We should always be learning and evolving. Please focus on your mental health first and really think about what you say before you say it, or why do you want people to think a certain thing about you because you post XYZ on social media.
That said, while insteagram is no longer installed on my phone, I do log in via the browser ever once and a while to see what family members or real life friends have posted. But I no longer feel that urge to share everything or to mindlessly scroll. And no, the irony that I’m posting this piece on a type of social media platform is not lost on me, but I really wanted to clear the air for my peace of mind.
(let me just also clarify that I did not start going to therapy because of instagram! I’ve always struggled with anxiety and recently struggled more with depression due to all the shitty circumstances of my life.)