By Heidi Raine
I recently friended my best friend’s mother on Facebook. The interaction went like this:“Heidie, you have a Facebook? I thought it was for old people.”“Haha yeah, I guess…do you have one?”“Yes! Friend me!”Kimber is now one of my 738 friends, a number that feels ob-scene but also doesn’t begin to capture all of my family, high school classmates, coworkers, old teachers, church friends, college friends, camp friends, sis-ter’s-church’s friends and obscure half-step aunts that I think I’ll have to invite to my wedding someday in the name of politeness.
That 738 is far from being a com-prehensive list of the people in my life, and still, it feels overwhelming, too many faces to keep track of and report to. It feels both insincere and intimate, like I’m sharing my life’s milestones via voicemail or to a room of people not looking at me or on a poster in the cafeteria. It’s one of the many issues I have with social media.
At 14, I had accounts on Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr and Facebook. I killed Tumblr first, then Snapchat, then Instagram. I still have a Face-book, but for how long? Only time will tell.
Things I remember from Snapchat: If you leave somebody on “read,” it’s rude, but it can also be a means of letting someone know that you’re mad with them. If you save mes-sages, people might get suspicious of you, but if you delete messages, you won’t have receipts if you need them. Snapchat tells people when you screenshot, so you’re only safe if you take pictures of messages on another device. Oh, and the pictures disappear.
From Tumblr: Bad black-and-white gifs as well as some peak humor and measurable moral degeneracy. Tumblr was the wild west of the internet, and I’ll al-ways speak of it slightly fondly — like your old cat that would pee on the carpet and, though cuddly, did everyone a favor by dying.
From Instagram: Something about curat-ing an aesthetic? Your posts needed to match like outfits for family pictures. The danger of “lik-ing” something from years ago while stalking somebody’s profile. There’s an “explore” page, which houses endless posts curated to your inter-ests. Instagram also has stories, which is where people post things they’re not ready to have permanent: new relationships, that day’s outfit, the quintessential sunset picture.
These are the “rules” that I wearied to have energy for. I’d go through seasons of deleting and re-down-loading apps, going private, acciden-tally liking posts and scrutinizing filters until one day, I broke.
This came after a FaceTime call with my sister in which I asked, “but how will people know if I get engaged or graduate or get a new job?” Confident and unbothered, she replied: “They won’t.” And it was liberating.
I deleted my Instagram shortly thereafter (which was unnecessarily difficult and only further convinced me that Zuckerburg is out for souls), and it has been a seamless transition. I’ve moved social media rules to the trash bin in my mind, and I have so much more space.
Now, over a year later, virtually devoid of a social media presence and halfway there to pulling the plug on my inactive Facebook, I’ve tried to ask myself — why did I care so much for these platforms? And why do the majority of my peers love them?
A collection of possible answers: Professional presence; access to cute nephew pictures; a career in mar-keting; a small business; a love for photography; social mores; social pressures; personal pressures; pride; the surplus of resources; vanity; con-nectedness; something to kill time; a way to hold onto people far away; a way of stalking an ex; a storehouse for memories; a living, breathing yellow pages; and a means of “checking out” after mentally-taxing days.
I’m sure my reasons were a collec-tion of the above, And yet, as much as I tried to hide behind the answer that social media let me “view uplifting content,” that was a lie. At best, social media was a morally neutral force in my life — and we are rarely at our best. At worst, it stirred up jealously, pride, lust, insecurity, greed, consum-erism and other gunk in my heart.
If you’ve found a way around social media’s vices, I want to talk because you’ve scaled a mountain that I chose not to climb. Feel free to reach out with a call or text — there aren’t many other ways to contact me.
Heidie Raine is a junior English major at Cedarville with concentrations in creative and journalistic writing. In addition to working at the writing center, Heidie loves perusing her local Goodwill, drinking iced cortados, watching videos of sea otters, and caring for her small forest of plants.