In today’s time social media is inescapable. If you tell someone that you are not a user of this medium there are high chances that you’ll be looked at as someone who is odd. It is not just a matter of choice anymore to have a presence on these platforms as now they’re the first source of information for most of us, what with the breaking news, the networking and movements forming base there. To top that, if one is a regular and active users of social media and has built an identity in the virtual world with people from all around the world following them for their work, they tend to feel that they owe it to their followers and readers to be aspirational, inspirational and of course, regular. In this virtual world of constant and immediate gratification we lose ourselves and before we know it we are on a downward spiral and getting out from the “web” isn’t easy!
“You are on top of your social media game”, is something I hear way too often from people around me and yet most of them are oblivious to the storm that is brewing in my mind and how slowly slowly I find myself crumbling under the pressure of that same statement. No one day is like the other. There are days when I am on a happy high and then there are days when I am at my absolute lowest, and it is in those moments that you find yourself alone and helpless. But because you feel that you owe those around you a happy being, you treat yourself like a clown and mask your emotions and put on the pretence for those who you do not even know. You do not allow yourself the space to feel human and face your most real emotions. Just to stay relevant and not lose out on work and people, you continue to put on masks after masks and keep crumbling inside. “There’s no space for real emotions here, we don’t follow them to read their sob story”, I heard someone saying recently while discussing someone’s Instagram updates and I have to be honest, I felt that maybe that was hint for me to not be too me or too real on that platform. The same people who follow us at our best, leave us the moment they feel that we don’t serve them what they came for.
The last couple of months have been hard for me and I have no qualms in accepting that I thought of leaving the platform where I have a presence because unintentionally they had become a source of stress for me, where I was constantly wondering what content to create next, how to stay relevant and how to ensure that I don’t lose out. The stress of it all coupled with anxiety and self doubt start getting to me and I began posting lesser than usual. In times like these you find it hardest to believe in those motivational quotes and what your loved ones have to say to you. I recently asked some of my followers if they find it hard to keep it up with social media and to my surprise, most of them said that they feel a pressure to live up to their followers and find it tough to cope with the prying eyes. Isn’t it amusing that a space that we created to display our creativity has turned into a space that is slowly killing us. It is safe to say that social media is a virtual monster which is out to get us.
While talking to my friend Natasha, of The Gutless Foodie, who I’ve become quite close to over the time, I felt this strange sense of jealousy when she mentioned how clueless she is about certain tech that goes behind these platforms and how she continues to use it as a space to put up her work, oblivious to any trends, algorithms and follower counts. Here’s a woman who is all over media with people gushing over her story and her food, who is able to go around happily doing the same thing again and again, because she never cared about any of those elements. Her innocent questions and the gasp worthy reactions are a reality check for me and the long conversations with her always come as breath of fresh air followed with lots of laughter. Being ignorant is better than knowing too much, at times, I feel.
This is a space I refuse to dwell in and to ensure that I don’t , I am now taking those extra efforts of doing something new, revisiting my passion again, and making impromptu plans. From making a friend dance to my “tunes” on the beach, to cooking up a storm in the kitchen, to breakfast plans with friends to explore new places, to getting back to writing what I loved and ironically, conducting a workshop on social media and blogging; I am doing it all. I still do have days where I am just lying on the bed and feel that I do not have it in me to continue doing this. I am far from the self doubt and anxiety leaving me, but I plan to fight it head on. One day at a time.
So, if you are someone who is caught in the web that social media has spun for you and wish to come out of it, then the first step is to acknowledge the source of the problem and try to stay away from it for a while. Go on a social media detox, if you must and remember that you owe no one an explanation for doing so. Staying relevant is important, but none of that comes before your mental wellness. Trends will come and go, algorithms will change every day, but the moment you lose your real passion and focus only on the number of followers you have, that’ll be the day you begin to lose yourself. Make the out of the box content that you do and continue finding the happiness in that, but do not lose yourself to it.
Here’s my friend Fatema dancing to my vocals:
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