Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Why I stopped writing | My love hate relationship with social media and the world that comes with it

stock image courtesy of Over

I have a strange relationship with the internet. It simultaneously elicits joy and angst and yet, I can't step away. With the introduction of Apple's new screen time function, I've learned I spend an average of 4hrs and 16 minutes on social media A DAY. A statistic that is quite frankly...embarrassing.

Lets throw it back for a sec...

My first taste of social media began back in 2008 - when I installed Twitter, shortly followed by Tumblr. Back then, both platforms were a bustling hub for teen fangirls, and a way for us early adopters to get a close and personal look into the lives of our favourite celebrities. 

Making internet friends with like-minded superfans was the norm - Monday nights were reserved for group running commentaries following the latest episode of Glee, while the rest of the week was dedicated to deciphering Taylor Swift's latest album, gushing over how much we loved the Jonas Brothers and tweeting song lyrics from our favourite artists. For me, those early days of social media were a much needed escape from reality - I was dealing with my demons (which I've spoken about at length in previous posts), was a 10 on the introvert scale and was still incredibly young minded in comparison to my peers, who were all, at 14, exploring sex and alcohol - two areas which, back then, I had no interest in.

Next came Instagram, which I joined a year after it’s launch in 2010. A few years older and wiser from the early days of twitter, my 2011 Instagram profile documented my life as a fresh faced first year at university, and all the hilarity (and carnage) that came with it! It was during this time that I started my blog. A place that was once a diary of my personal style and wish lists, has now transformed into my little nook of the internet where I share, and often overshare, the authentic parts of my life - the trials and tribulations of a young millennial trying to navigate adulthood.

Fast forward to 2018 and social media is an entirely different place. We are now surrounded by perfectly curated feeds, the rise of the "influencer" and the idea that everyone's living their best life. What was once a realtime reflection of your day has turned into a pre-planned, carefully posed and expertly filtered snapshot of what probably was a relatively mundane moment in your week. Now don't get me wrong, I am 100% guilty of the above but I'm not ashamed or saying it's wrong. Creating an aesthetic, setting up shots and editing photo's is something I find enjoyable, but on the other hand, I do wonder if I'm part of the problem. I have no issues with admitting that my Instagram is deceptive, and a completely inaccurate portrayal of my life, but by buying into the Instagram facade, am I contributing to, albeit on a smaller scale, this false and unattainable reality that has been proven to have a negative effect on our mental health and self esteem?

But back to my blog....

Back in the day, writing was also used as an escape for me, and it still is! Being able to channel all my excess nervous energy into being creative has always helped calm my mind, and I guess, give me some sort of purpose. I always liked the idea that someone out there could relate to or even be helped by my writing, much like I was inspired and helped by some of my favourite bloggers. But with the blogosphere becoming ever more saturated, the standard of content becoming increasingly high and the fact that we are now defined by numbers and likes has, to be frank, dampened my spirits.

Even when I've been lucky enough to be invited along to events, or work with brands as an "influencer" (super appreciative of that btw) I've always felt a little bit like dead weight. I've often stood shoulder to shoulder with girls, some with 10 times my following, and wondered why on earth I was on the guest list! These events may look glamorous on the outside, and generally everyone I've met has been nothing but nice, but, as with everything in life, there's always hierarchy, and I never quite knew where I fit in.

Although I could chat for Scotland, I'm really not a confident person - fear and self-doubt always follow me around and with the ever changing world of social media, and my compulsive need to compare myself to others, I guess I lost faith in myself and my ability to create content people would want to engage with.

BUT, it's not all doom and gloom. I've been having a hard time at the moment in a lot of areas in my life, and by forcing myself to get out of bed, get dressed and log in to my blogger account, I've completely rediscovered my love for writing and how much it helps my mental health, even if it's just for an hour or two.

That being said, I want to develop a more positive attitude towards blogging and social media in general. I want to start writing for fun again and creating content I'm proud of - instead of producing what I think will get the most likes. My next chapter online will be about finding my place on the internet, and trying to establish a balance between who I am and who I want to be. 

Whoever that is, there’s one thing for certain, behind every #OOTD is still a girl who trips over her own feet and is probably posing to carefully hide the remnants of her fajitas she dribbled down her at lunch...