A Gen Z’s Love Hate Relationship With Social Media

This post is brought to you by me impulsively archiving all my past Instagram posts as well as deleting my story highlights. In this digital era it’s never been easier to find out all sorts of things about a person if they’re online. It’s gradually made me want to run away to a cottage in some forest, living out my life in harmony with nature. Numerous times the urge to delete my online presence has flickered through my brain. Each time the main things that have prevented me, is I treasure the friends and connections I’ve made online. I also treasure this purple space of mine, where I get to ramble and share my thoughts about all sorts of things.

Growing up I was lost to my own imagination, to books and I let my creative mind go wild. I am forever thankful and grateful to my parents who made that choice to limit my access to the online world. At 13 I was able to access the internet on a separate device, instead of having to use my mum’s desktop computer. I discovered Wattpad, Goodreads and slowly I navigated my way through this online world.

The thing I love most about social media is it allows us to connect with people, who have similar interests, yet we’re miles apart.

The friendships I’ve forged through various avenues, whether it be from my time on Wattpad, through blogging are all precious to me and have shaped me in different ways. Friends don’t always have to understand every part of us, for them to change our lives in a multitude of ways, this goes for online and offline friends. We all view this world, both online and offline differently. Yet the paths that intersect between friends, between other relationships allow us all to grow and change as we learn new things from others.

On the other hand the oversaturation of content online can quickly become overwhelming.

Instead of making us feel seen and understood we feel as if we’re not doing enough. We’re not fast enough and are already falling behind, even though we have no recollection of entering a competition. Like many in this big wide world, I am on social media and more often than not am scrolling, forgetting what I was originally going to do. It’s an excellent distraction and an equally excellent learning tool.

You should also make it a priority to curate your online spaces. There is no rulebook dictating you must follow back everyone who follows you. Or that you have to follow every single person. You are allowed and you should set boundaries online for yourself and your mental health. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of following back everyone who follows you because it seems like the nice thing to do. To stay subscribed to the same YouTube channels you have been since you were ‘xyz’ years old because well you feel bad for unsubscribing. Just like our physical spaces can and do affect our mental health, so do our online spaces. The content you are seeing and consuming does impact you and it is so important to curate it.

I make the effort every few times in a year to go through who I follow on my accounts and unfollow/unsubscribe from any that no longer resonate with me. Do I feel bad? Yes. However if I am no longer resonating with a person’s content or I can’t remember why I followed them in the first place, I likely won’t miss seeing them in my feeds.

Social media is a highlight reel. It’s not a bad thing but it is important to remember. The people you follow on Instagram are sharing the highlights of their lives. The videos we typically consume on YouTube are people’s highlights of their lives or an aesthetically edited montage of moments. There’s nothing wrong with consuming highlight reels as long as you are self aware that it is mostly highlights. You should not be comparing your own life to their highlight reel.

I took a year hiatus in 2021 from blogging.

Numerous reasons factored into that choice, however it gave me a lot of time to think and really question my identity as a blogger, the content I consume as well as the content I put out online. It was the first time since I got online, where I really let myself do the things I wanted to do. I didn’t force myself to go on social media if I didn’t feel like it. Didn’t make myself read or blog – I just let myself breathe.

It felt like I could breathe slowly but surely I felt less guilty for pursuing other interests. For spending less time worrying about my blog and online presence. The feeling of constantly needing to check online to stay up to date so I’m not out of loop eventually faded. You can still be relevant without being up to date on everything. People will still care about your thoughts, opinions and experiences even if you’re less present online. Perhaps because the vast majority of people I know and talk to all understand that we do have our own lives to live. If we aren’t living them, they’ll only pass us by.

I hate a great many things about social media too. Being beholden to algorithms, how toxic spaces can get and people’s seemingly incessant need for drama or ‘tea’.

I wish people would stop looking for ‘tea’ not everything needs to have drama. Trying to start drama or spread rumours is fairly easy online as can be seen, pretty much everywhere. I have zero time or energy for this nowadays, I’m not here to absorb all of that energy. Trying to make real people’s lives a sit-com or pulling things out of context is not funny or cool. At the end of the day the vast majority of content we consume, is likely being created by other real living beings (wow wild concept I know). People have feelings and our words do have the power to hurt.

Algorithms are the bane of my existence. Unless it’s when they actually listen and curate my Instagram explore page to be just how I like it. I appreciate the work they do for being able to recommend content to us that we are likely to enjoy based on our past consumerism. I don’t appreciate the amount of work they expect every day people to do to try and grow their small businesses or account.

Does being authentic mean compromising certain aspects of your privacy?

I’ve been thinking about this question recently, through being a viewer of YouTubers, a consumer of blogs and a blogger myself. Everyone seeks authenticity, however it feels like in order to be authentic, you have to share so many parts of yourself for people to be able to relate to you. I feel like you can be authentic without telling the online world everything, you are allowed to have boundaries. From a creator’s perspective, we don’t owe people our life stories or our experiences.

From a viewer perspective, respect boundaries. I understand that when we find someone we feel connected to in some way, whether that’s a celebrity, an Idol, a content creator etc we sometimes feel the desire to learn more about. That’s fine. What’s not fine is feeling like you’re entitled to this knowledge, in most cases we are not friends with these people, it’s unlikely we ever will be. Respect their boundaries, you aren’t owed anyone’s life story and social media has really done a good job at blurring these boundaries.

My personal relationship with social media is complex. There’s a piece of me that loves the idea of exploring vlogging or creating short reels filled with moments of my life. Then there’s the other piece of me that is like ‘no this is a horrible idea because we want to just disappear from the interwebs’.

I impulsively archived my posts on Instagram in May. I’d long since decided that bookstagram wasn’t really my space and I would just sporadically post. Yet in May I just felt so uninspired to share posts. I do enjoy sharing stories on that platform. I mostly posted on my feed for myself because it made me happy to stare at my feed.

I feel like most people my age are online and feel this pressure to be online. There’s certain slang and terms that you won’t know without being online too. However, I can’t help but wonder if some of us are watching our lives pass us by whilst we do the latest trend? You just missed a sunset because you were scrolling on Instagram. You missed part of a conversation because you were watching notifications flood your phone. I’m not saying you have to give up social media, I’m merely inviting you to reflect on your own relationship with social media. I hope we can remember to be present in our own lives because no one else is going to be present for us. Not everything can be captured through a lens. The moon is stunning in real life but through most cameras she’s just a shiny blob.

Thank you for reading this post my friends, feel free to share your thoughts on social media in the comments! Do you like social media? Are there platforms your prefer to frequent? What’s your relationship with social media like overall?

Advertisement

13 thoughts on “A Gen Z’s Love Hate Relationship With Social Media

  1. Social media is a blessing that must be used with care. I’m a highschool teacher (English foreign language) and we discuss social media alot in class and how to use it responsibly. I have taken my class to an eco-friendly site in the alps, and we confiscated the cells in the bus on the way up there. There was no network coverage anyway, but in two days there was a change in attitude – they listened more carefully and seemed less stressed. So even if I’m totally addicted to my computer, I think it’s a good thing to take a break once in a while – and not feel guilty about it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Definitely agree that is should be used with care. Aw I’m glad you’re able to have those discussions with the kids and it’s amazing how a bit of time off social media can affect us!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So many great thoughts and reminders here, Clo! Social Media is definitely a mixed bag. I’ve found myself stepping back from it, as well. Most of the time I feel like when I post on Instagram, I’m shouting into the void. I enjoy posting pictures of my books, but mostly it’s just a way for me to visually document my reading nowadays. Our mental health is most important, though, and that means taking breaks whenever we need them. And for however long. Even if it’s permanent. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awh thank you! Yep social media is a mixed bag and it’s a learning process of knowing how to filter and curate our feeds online, so we don’t feel overwhelmed with all the bad.

      Yep I definitely felt like that with instagram, which is why I mostly posted on my feed for myself since I liked seeing it look aesthetic and full of nature. Thank you so much for reading! 💜

      Like

  3. although i’m not actively thinking about my relationship with social media, i do curate my spaces often, take breaks whenever i want, and don’t work on always being active on social media. as long as we’re getting something good out of it, it is fine. nowadays that is pretty rare as well with all the world events and bad days. i find myself not opening social media apps much. my blog and books are my safe space.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed, I should keep on top of curating my spaces but I do try and do it every change in season at least. I’ve definitely found myself in the past few months opening social media apps less, most noticeably is twitter since I used to constantly be on twitter. Nowadays I mostly linger on Discord or Instagram but my blog is my safe space as well a very purple one hehe.

      Like

  4. Great post! Social media is definitely not just black and white, it can be used for good, but can quickly become toxic, as you pointed it out. People like to create mess, well, it’s easier to see the faults in people we only know from online, than working on our own faults. I actually deleted myself from Instagram in January (that was the only social media platform I used), and I’m so happy about my decision, don’t miss it at all. It took a lot of time from my life, and it didn’t make me happy in the end. I’m grateful for it though, because I still have some friend I met there, we just chat elsewhere. 😄
    I find that blogs are the best, they don’t feed into aimlessly scrolling, wasting time, as it requires active attention paying.

    Like

  5. “Numerous times the urge to delete my online presence has flickered through my brain. Each time the main things that have prevented me, is I treasure the friends and connections I’ve made online. I also treasure this purple space of mine, where I get to ramble and share my thoughts about all sorts of things.” Honestly that’s such a huge mood – I feel like I’d be a lot more lonely without blogging and without the connections from blogging that I’ve made. A cottage in a forest is nice and I probably wouldn’t experience that loneliness for awhile since I don’t mind being alone but I think at some point it’ll happen… it’s just a matter of how long.

    I absolute hate algorithms honestly – I think that’s why I’ve crawled back into my blogging hole and made it my priority in the long run because as much as social media has been very helpful in having my content reach a new audience, it’s just not enough of a dent to truly care about? If that makes sense? I’ve found that overall though, retreating to just blogging and pretty much ignoring social media has been helpful and I think I’ve been enjoying my life a lot more, even if I’m on Discord a lot (but in a way, Discord I can kind of curate in terms of what servers I join versus Instagram).

    I definitely agree with feeling like sharing so many parts of yourself for others to relate to you, and I think as someone who started blogging under a pen name and continue to do so now, that question has probably popped up in my head so many times.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.