I’ve been wanting to do this discussion post since late March when I took a week off social media. I know a week isn’t a long time, however, it gave me a lot to think about. Furthermore, thinking more and more about it even after the break.
The past few months I find myself wanting to disconnect from social media. Being a self-published writer/poet who’s audience is via internet means it’s pretty hard to not stay connected. Especially if you want to keep growing/do well. There’s this ongoing pressure of always needing to stay on top, needing to know how to constantly win over the Instagram algorithm, figuring out how to use the hashtags, what time and day to post, feeling like I have to always prove something, cross-posting on all social media platforms, always showing that “I’m doing something”, on and on and on and it’s gotten exhausting. Do I ever look up from my phone at this point in my life?
Have we started measuring our success through likes? Are we constantly comparing ourselves to other people’s followings and likes? There are days when I feel like the answers to those questions are yes. And comparing isn’t always a bad thing because we can draw inspiration from others. However, when do we stop and say “hey it’s okay” “I’m okay with what I got” “take a break”?
I have found myself to not really care about social media anymore and like I said on twitter a few weeks ago, I’m probably self-sabotaging my writing career, however I’m not enjoying my life because I’m always on my phone. And I would much rather experience my real life than live it through other people’s accounts “wishing” that was me.
The algorithm olympics are tiring and I am no longer running in it. My mental health has also taken a toll. Because I was always on that thought pattern of needing to post daily and be on the move (online), I was ignoring my mental health and not taking care of myself as I should’ve. There came a point during this week off break when I sat and was thinking of all I was doing and got overwhelmed with so much sadness because it was during the time off that I noticed how time consuming it is. It was as if I have been robbed from time. And guess what? Time can’t ever be given back. I got so much done throughout that week and I really got to spend time with myself with no interruptions. I enjoyed that time.
This is not to say that social media is bad. That’s not what I’m saying at all. Because of social media, I have met some of my closest friends and have gotten to connect with people all over the world. I understand that people (such as myself) have built a platform online and therefore we feel the responsibility to let you all know when we need a break. And I’m totally fine with that (I hate worrying people). What I’m trying to say is that there should be balance and not feel guilty at all when we want to shut off from the online world. There shouldn’t be any bad feelings when wanting and/or needing to unplug.
Lastly, I’m also frustrated with how much we have to do in order to be seen. For example, if I want to get a publishing deal, I have to meet a certain criteria. That criteria means how much traffic I’m getting on all my platforms (numbers on followers, likes, comments, etc.). On top of that, I have to work so much harder because I’m marginalized. I am a Latina from the Bronx, I don’t write pretty shit, I have a language barrier therefore I’m not eloquent, I don’t have the following to even get glanced at, etc. etc. So yeah it’s pretty frustrating when people don’t even look at your content, they look at your numbers first and if those numbers aren’t up to their standards, then forget the work. And also, seeing people with bigger followings just blatantly steal work/copy from smaller influencers is disheartening. I’ve seen this happen way too many times to my friends and I.
Thanks to therapy, I’ve learned to let go because there came a point where I was letting the frustration of social media consume me. I tried it all: posting daily, getting in chats so we can like our content immediately, always commenting, always sharing, etc. etc. Slowly I pulled back and asked myself when is enough, enough?