POST LIKE YOU MEAN IT: The importance of balancing your social media intake
by rosie lovoi
This is a conversation I frequently have with my boyfriend, Chris:
Me: I saw this thing on Facebook today, it made me so mad.
Chris: What was it?
Me: So-and-so that I went to high school with posted this dumb thing about such-and-such, and I know it doesn’t matter, but then I got looking at the comments, and… It keeps going, until he just asks, “so wait, why did you start looking at that?”
I would say he’s anti-social media. I would say I’m pro-positive social media, and anti-negative social media. You might laugh at that, but I do mean it. There are a lot of aspects of social media that I find to be helpful and fun, but there’s also so much that makes me feel shitty about myself or the state of the world these days. Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out how to weed out the bad, and only leave myself with the good.
I use Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. I like Facebook because it’s easy to stay in touch with people, and in the know for events and daily news. I like Instagram because I love photography and art, and it’s interesting to see how people use the platform to make daily things more special. I use Snapchat with friends because it’s a silly and fun way to communicate.
It’s hard to know what the limit on social media should be. At what point is an account inspiring, and at what point does it just make you question your own life? I prefer to follow businesses and blogs on Instagram because I can better remind myself that my life doesn’t have to look exactly that picture perfect (literally). I also find business posts to be more fun, and it feels less like it was posted for the sake of competition. I so often get the feeling that there’s a constant challenge to post prettier, more exciting, (sometimes more expensive) and just generally better stuff than the people you know, and I don’t want to buy into that. I still always refresh and check, refresh and check for the number of likes, but lately I’ve really been trying to ignore that urge.
It’s not all bad. I love to see how someone can take a regular breakfast, and make eating it a better experience by turning it into a work of art. Maybe it’s silly to post a picture of avocado toast delicately dusted with chili flakes and with an aesthetically pleasing zigzag of Sriracha, but is it silly if it makes you happy? Definitely not. But it is silly if it bums you out when you don’t get as many likes on a picture as a girl you know from 2009 summer camp did. You have to remind yourself that your breakfast is still delicious and healthy, even without the likes.
I’ve taken to using Instagram stories a lot, because I like how pretty they are, and I like that they don’t have any sort of positive feedback. Sure, you can see who all has watched it, but people will watch it whether or not they think it’s good, so I post based only on my own opinion. Putting a picture up reminds me that each little thing I do – going for a run, buying a tasty cupcake, or just commuting to work – can be cool, if I take the time to see it that way. It’s bigger than approval from other people – it’s approval from myself for the things I do each day. It’s easy to like your life when you remind yourself why it’s fun and good.
Facebook is a different game. I recently deleted the Facebook app off of my phone, and it was probably the best choice I’ve made in a long time (better even than the steak nachos I got for dinner last night). Ultimately, what Facebook boils down to for me is college campus events, adults’ vacation pictures, and people’s unwarranted (and often uninformed) political opinions. Most of this is brain clutter. I find it important to have a platform to share on (I'll totally share this article on my page), but I don’t need to check Facebook everyday. I either get pissed off from someone’s angry political post, or I waste way too much time watching Tasty videos (that was a hard addiction to break). I now find that I have room in my mind to think about the things that are important to me, rather than turning someone’s comment over and over. The artificial conversations we have on Facebook can’t replace valuable face-to-face discussions that real life allows for. Facebook is a useful tool, but it also allows for barricaded anger that can go unquestioned when you seclude yourself in a like-minded bubble. Limiting my use has reminded me that not everything revolves around the articles we see online that target our raw and polarized emotions. I love to see when friends share exciting life events, or photos of someone I haven’t talked to in years, or a cool lecture that’s about to happen on campus. The rest, I can do without.
It’s important to stop thinking of social media in terms of how others see me. With that mindset, I try to curate a persona and force myself to fit a mold that isn’t really me. When we create these ill-fitting molds, forcing yourself into the shape can quickly become an obsession. I often wonder if someone’s online personality is who they really are these days. That angry comment your dad’s cousin left on your post about a political candidate? Maybe, if you’d been able to have the conversation face to face, you would be able to understand better what in her own daily life makes her feel so strongly against the person you think best fit for the job. The Internet creates nuances that hide who each of us is.
I’ve challenged myself to use social media as a tool to uncover who I am rather than to shape who I think I should be.
I’m finding new likes and dislikes, learning to be a more creative and explorative person, and developing compassionate ways of conversing online. By only posting when I mean it, not for validation, and by limiting my general use, social media has become an enjoyable and enriching part of my life, instead of something that tears me down. Try and stay conscious of your use, and maybe you’ll find ways to make it better.
Rosie LoVoi, Author
Rosie is a member of the Gold Hand Journalism Team
Hi!! My name is Rosemary - Rosie for short - and I’m one of Gold Hand Girls’ new bloggers! I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but moved to Indiana to study at the University of Notre Dame. Of all the things in the world, I love reading the most, but after that probably comes anything sweet (see picture for proof). I’m beyond excited to be writing for Gold Hand Girls. Spreading support for creative girls is so important to me, and I’m thrilled to be part of that mission. Stay tuned for posts on cool girl bands, books, and more!