I Am Deleting All Of My Social Media Accounts, And I Want To Tell You Why
Cue the dramatic music
Yes my friends, the rumors (and by rumors I mean constant mentions on my Instagram story) are true- I will be deleting all of my social media accounts on February 8th. That means my Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook pages are all going to the place where deleted accounts go, which I can only assume is some sort of social media graveyard complete with tombstones bearing my embarrassing Facebook status updates from 8th grade.
In all seriousness, this decision has been a long time coming. When I started posting about my discontent with social media I was surprised at the number of reactions and responses I received. Half of the messages were from people saying that they were considering doing the same thing, and the other half were from people asking if I had straight up lost my mind. With all of the questions, reactions, and comments that came my way, I decided to write this post to share a little more about my experiences and how I came to the conclusion that deleting all of these accounts was the best decision for me.
That last line is really crucial, so please re read it before you delve into this post any further. This was the best option for me. I am not here to make anyone else feel bad about being a social media maniac, so if you leave a comment about all of the reasons why I am wrong about social media and blah blah then you have entirely missed the point.
Okay that had to be said. Now, let’s dive in shall we?
Like a lot of people, I have had a nagging feeling for a while now that social media isn’t actually very good for me. I would post a picture of myself, watch the likes and comments roll in, and wonder why it didn’t make me feel better. The Tesni that everyone saw online felt like she was drifting further and further away from the real Tesni, and so I made the decision to take a step back and take a hard look at my social media usage. I dove head first into two fantastic books, How To Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price and Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jarod Lainer, and spent an obnoxious yet necessary amount of time reflecting on myself and my habits. I decided that social media is no longer a healthy part of my life and needs to be cut out just like any other detrimental habits, and below are the reasons why.
I no longer liked the way I looked
The way I feel about myself and my appearance has evolved greatly over the years. I was made fun of as a child for my full lips; Fish Lips is the one nickname that will always stick with me. I am so fortunate to have a kick-ass mother who printed out pictures of Angelina Jolie and Julia Roberts and showed them to her then-8 year old daughter, explaining that these gorgeous celebrities were known for having beautiful full lips, and that people actually paid for lips like theirs and mine. Thanks to my mum I grew in confidence and came to love the way I looked, ultimately accepting my fish lips and using them to smile every chance I got.
When I turned 13 I first dipped my toe in the social media pool by signing up for a Facebook account. Everyone in my middle school was raving about it and I was eager to fit in, so I signed up and took my first selfie using my dads old school Canon PowerShot digital camera.
Social media evolved significantly over the next few years, and by the time I was 20 we had Snapchat filters that could make you look like anything you wanted. A puppy dog, a unicorn puking rainbows, and yes- just a prettier version of yourself (we all know that filter don’t lie). It wasn’t until recently when I stepped back that I realized I wasn’t able to take a photo without a filter or some artificial lighting. If I was taking a photo with friends, I would take it on Snapchat using the “pretty filter” and then save it to my camera roll. I couldn’t share a photo on Instagram where I hadn’t edited the lighting to make myself look more tan or over exposed the image so that the imperfections in my skin were no longer visible, and the photo had to be taken a million times so I could find the one with the perfect angle. While I never used any of the Facetune apps, I will admit that the Afterlight app, the Snapchat pretty filter, and my $80 ring light became my best friends. In the back of my head I knew this was a problem, but I felt like everyone else was doing it too so what was the big deal? It wasn’t until the 2018 Stamford Santacon that I took a step back and really realized how bad it had gotten.
My friends and I had all dressed up as snowflakes and were excited to get drunk together wearing tiny leotards in 30 degree weather (sorry parents). We set up a little photobooth in the house to take some pics before going out, and we must have taken 60+ photos on my phone before we went out. We eagerly climbed into our Uber and I felt the excitement slowly drain out of me as I deleted almost every single photo.
Nope, I look fat in this
Ew why does my chin look like that
Oh my god am I actually this out of shape
This one would be okay if I changed the lighting and cropped it
My skin looks awful here
Why do I look like that
And on, and on, and on.
I hated every photo, and I realized I hated them because they actually looked like me and not the overly edited version of me that I had been hiding behind on social media for months. I had come to believe I actually looked like that artificial person, not the round faced smiling girl I saw in these photos. I had come to hate the way I looked in my natural state and compared myself to every single pretty person I saw on social media. My mum had spent years building me up and teaching me to love the way I looked, only for me to destroy that confidence in a matter of months. I owe it to my mother and to the 8 year old me to stop feeding into something that makes me feel so badly about myself and the way I look.
It stopped me from being social
Whenever someone points out the disadvantages of social media, the first rebuttal is typically something like “but how would we stay connected to all of these people without it?!”
The truth is, being “connected” to 4,000 people is not all its cracked up to be. The picture of me snowboarding in Colorado probably means nothing to the girl who was in my freshman year earth science class, and I can assure you that I have no interest in what the boy from my elementary school in Wales had for breakfast yesterday. We act like social media is this fantastic tool for staying connected, and yet it actually does the total opposite.
I hated college my freshman year and would go home crying to my mum saying I wanted to transfer to one of the big state schools in Connecticut. The main reason I hated it at my university was because I felt so alone. I would sit down in class and look for someone to introduce myself to or start up a conversation with before the class started, but everyone was always silently glued to their phone. I ended up looking like a crazy person for just wanting some basic human interaction, god forbid I interrupt someone while they are 346 weeks deep in their frenemies’ Instagram account. Eventually I gave up trying and conformed to the thing that frustrated me the most; I became the antisocial girl constantly staring at her phone.
The funny thing is that two of my high school friends and I met up during winter break of that first year and we came onto the topic of college, and I blurted out that I hated it. They both nodded their heads and said they hated it too. We were all so confused because we were under the impression that everyone else loved college due to all of the fun photos they were sharing and this awesome life they were projecting, only to realize we were all guilty of posting those same exact photos to fit in and hide the fact that we weren’t actually happy either. We all thought we were so alone while everyone else was happy, and yet we were all feeding into this same monster that made us feel that way.
I’m done with using the “staying connected” argument as a reason to keep my accounts around. True friends aren’t going to evaporate into thin air as soon as the @tesnialys handle becomes inactive, and the ones that do are not worth keeping around in the first place.
It’s a colossal waste of time
I love so many things.
I love crafting. I love exercising. I love playing with my bunny rabbit. I love hanging out with my friends. I love my job. I love long baths. I love a lot of things.
What I don’t love is getting to the end of my day and feeling like I have no time to do any of the things I like to do. I would have so many fun things planned for my day off, and be lying on the couch at the end of it wondering how I didn’t have time to do any of them.
I’m sure we are all guilty of falling into the social media black hole, where a quick scan of our Instagram feed turns into an hour long event. I would come home from work with a list of things to do, and immediately get sucked into my phone and end the day without having accomplished a single one of them. Even if I was focused on a task, I felt the urge to check my phone every few minutes in case there was something on there I desperately needed to see (spoiler alert- there never was). This constant shifting of focus destroyed my already pretty poor attention span, making me useless at completing any simple tasks. I took time away from doing the activities and things that made me feel good just to feed into something that consistently made me feel bad. When you look at it that way, it really puts it into perspective. I need to draw again, I need to go for a long bike ride, I need to write more letters to my grandmas, I don’t need to see why Kylie Jenner had for breakfast.
To be honest with you, I could add about a million other reasons to this list.
I could talk to you about the insane advertising that Facebook uses to target you at your weakest point and sell you shit you don’t need, I could tell you about the moments I missed because I was too focused on curating my online existence and not my actual-human-life-existence, I could calculate the crazy number of hours that I should have spent catching up on much needed sleep and was instead kept awake by the bright screen begging for my attention and the Snapchat stories of fun events I was missing out on.
The thing is, I don’t need to tell you about those things. If you have gotten this far in the blog post, it’s probably because deep down you feel the same way. You’ve maybe realized that every time you use social media you feel kind of shitty afterwards, or perhaps you’ve also found that the thought of posting a non-filtered photo of yourself makes you feel far too vulnerable and exposed. Maybe you’ve noticed yourself spending less and less time doing the things you love, or perhaps you’ve found yourself getting mad at your boyfriend for liking a harmless photo on Instagram.
So, I’m not gonna say anything else. You know where I stand, and if my hunch is correct I think you may be standing in the same spot too. If you want to continue the conversation, ask me for my digits before these social media accounts are gone forever and I would be more than happy to continue the conversation with you. In person. At Starbucks. With a cake pop.