I read a great blog post by the always fabulous Charlotte Underwood last week which centred around her time on social media and her experience when she chose to cut certain platforms out of her life. It’s a great read and I recommend you check it out when you have a moment.
It certainly got me thinking about my experiences with social media and, in particular, how the various different platforms have impacted on my mental illness and affected my state of mind.
For me personally, the only social network I have any regular involvement with is Twitter. This is a deliberate decision on my part. I’ve previously had a Facebook account but I’ve always found it to be little more than a window into my muddy past. It’s like being in a room that’s full of people from a previous life that you’d really rather forget. All of them jostling for your attention, yet none of them really that interested in you as a person. They merely want to increase their “friend” count and make themselves appear more popular than they really are. Nobody ever posts anything remotely interesting or inspiring on Facebook anyway. At least, they didn’t when I used to be on there. It was just a big willy-waving contest with everyone desperately trying to appear more interesting than everybody else, and failing miserably.
I’m glad I left the platform a number of years ago.
Instagram is another one I’m not really a fan of. Yes I have an Insta account and yes I do have an absent minded scroll through my feed occassionaly. But I only follow certain people. Mostly bands and celebrities that I have an interest in and not people that I actually know in real life. In the past when I have followed people that I actually know I found that it negativly affected my mental health. I would see snapshots of peoples supposedly perfect lives and it would bring me down. So much so that I would start to feel resentment and vitriol to those individuals for daring to apparently have a more interesting existence than me. So my use of Instagram is extremely and deliberatly limited, and that suits me just fine.
So I just stick to Twitter. I’ve always found it to be a simple, predominantly friendly environment where I can connect with all sorts of different people and express myself freely without being judged. I know there are many people out there who stuggle to deal with Twitter and the fact that it’s such an open and un-restricted platform but I don’t really have that problem. I’m not interested in chasing likes and retweets, or being noticed in a large crowd. I’m happy just to exist on there in my own little world, and if anyone wants to come and join me they’re welcome to.
Social media has been both a bad and a good thing for me. Bad because it has caused my mental health to be affected in the past, and because it’s made me feel significantly worse about myself. But good because it’s enabled me to connect with some wonderful people and make some really good, supportive friends along the way.
It all comes down to how we manage our time on these platforms. We mustn’t ever let our lives online become more dominant than our lives in reality. Spend time meeting and chatting with people on Twitter by all means, just remember that life isn’t defined by a few characters and images on a computer screen.