This 2021 when the status quo is having social media, I’m all about restoring my creativity and improving my mental health. My solution? Quitting social media.
This 2021, I made the decision prioritize my well-being, more particularly paying attention to my mental health. 2020 has been a very difficult year for the whole of human race, and the end of the calendar year of 2020 does not in any way signify that a the pandemic is over and that we can all go back to business.
All of us had our own coping mechanism with how the pandemic affected us, most especially mentally. The outbreak of the pandemic was also the time when social media usage reached rocket high. Some of us developed hobbies that can be done at the comfort and safety of our own homes. Some of us were able to make use of resources at home to create different forms of social media content. Some of us took advantage of all the free time to learn something new.
At the height of the pandemic in 2020, I was one of those people who resorted to extended use of social media to get by. Sure, it was sort of helpful, but the same also served as a wake-up call for me to quit social media because I finally came to see the demons behind the entertaining facades of these social media apps.
I’ve been out of Facebook since 2017. I just no longer see the point of maintaining an account, especially when I am starting to observe that everyone was just either flexing something or putting shade on other people indirectly. Don’t get me wrong, I used to be one of these people (oooh, I used to flex a lot, big time.), but aside from getting a temporary boost in dopamine from people validating my posts by liking and commenting them, I get nothing valuable.
As a result of my love for photography and my passion to initiate discourse with other people over topics I’m passionate about, I started my travel blog (not yet this page, because I started with a free WordPress blog) and my Instagram travel account. It was the same shit. I post something, people would like and comment your posts. Eventually, more people were being reached by my posts and people started to follow my account.
I started my Instagram travel page during the time I was very depressed with my 9-5 government desk job which I got stuck with for around 4 years, so imagine how I poured my heart and soul on blogging and Instagram just to forget the frustrations I was feeling over my career. Fast forward, my Instagram account grew to more than 10,000 followers, and I became an “influencer”.
Not gonna lie. It was a total boost in my self-esteem.
Hundreds to thousands of likes on one single post, brands offering to pay you to post photos of/with their products, people recognizing you in art fairs, events, or just when you’re walking down the street, people telling you that you’re literally living the dream.
Not gonna lie. It was indeed THE dream.
For a time, my Instagram filled a lot of emptiness in me. I have a whole battalion of followers whom I could talk to whenever I need to fill my social battery. I can always scroll down my feed to comfort myself whenever I feel sad. Everything I say, there will always be people who would validate and agree. Instagram was such a happy place: travel photos all over, no political debates like the ones in Facebook, and everybody was just supporting each other. It surely sounds utopian. However, am I living in reality? I’m slowly starting to have a bad feeling about this whole thing.
I seriously love posting my travel photos, curating my feed, and writing mini-blogs on my captions because Instagram has been my major creative outlet. Until later, I realized a lot of horrible things.
I found myself starting to depend my creativity on what people would like. That’s not the whole point of creativity, am I right? Having learned the ins and outs of Instagram during the whole time I’m dedicating my time and energy in the said platform, I already have a hunch on what types of posts will get attention and what types of posts will not. Even if my creative self will be happy to exhibit specific content despite not everyone will appreciate, I will hold back from posting them. I would rather post things that people would like.
I found myself abandoning my real purpose of creating my Instagram account: writing and photography. I became slave to the vanity metrics aside from unleashing my creative juices. I’m starting to lose my creativity. I’m starting to get bored over things I once have a burning passion for.
Instagram has placed a lot of pressure on me to post something even if I seriously have nothing interesting to post, because otherwise I’m gonna be forgotten and buried six feet under. I literally did not go anywhere in 2020, so I found myself reliving all my past travels on Instagram. I felt sick doing all of it, and I’m sure my followers just got sick of it all, too.
I could go on and on with a list of reasons why I found myself quitting social media, specifically Instagram, but what I’m most lamenting is my diminishing creativity. I can’t afford to lose my passion over things I deeply love and care about. If Instagram is the culprit, then I’m more than welcome to axe it out of my life.
Not gonna lie. It was a painful process. But I’m liking it so far.
At first, I thought of maintaining my Instagram account but getting rid of all my followed accounts and all posts to start following a few accounts (perhaps my family and relatives, some creative accounts, accounts with meaningful content, and a maybe few celebrities I love lol). However, I realized, what’s the whole point? I’m still consuming content. I can just type the username of practically everyone I want to stalk in the search bar. I can still aimlessly scroll the Explore page until I can find something interesting to be shared to my Stories.
Then I started deleting all my posts. Not archive, delete. All the likes, comments, vanity metrics, poof, gone. I can never take them back. I felt like throwing away something I invested my whole life in. On the other hand, I’m more than excited to start a clean slate. Not on Instagram, but somewhere I don’t have to consume unsolicited content.
I purchased a new domain under my full name to revamp my old travel blog which I clearly abandoned in the name of Instagram fame and fortune. It felt liberating to take the anonymity out of posting anything I’m very passionate about. It felt liberating to become more mindful of what I post and to not question myself “Would people like this?” everytime I’m thinking of posting something. It felt liberating to be able to express myself again. It felt liberating to put myself first.
That’s it. I’m quitting social media.
In 2020 and the years before that, social media has been a major agent as to how I questioned a lot about myself, including my creativity, self-worth, and purpose. Social media also took away a lot of my precious time I could have used to pursue more of my creative hobbies and improve skills I need for my day job. Social media stimulated my mind in unhealthy ways. Social media lured me to irrationally arrive at major life decisions.
As they say, it’s not about social media per se, but how we utilize them (Oh come on, we all know the tech gods have a little to do with everyone’s bad outcomes with social media). Okay, given it’s the case, let’s just put it this way: I was having a very toxic and unhealthy relationship with social media.
Quitting Social Media: The Idea
Quitting social media this 2021 does not mean I’m abandoning my creative pursuits. I’m actually trying to reincarnate them.
This 2021, I am revamping this website. This still contains remnants of my early travel blogging days, but I’ll make sure to update every single one of them while adding more valuable and up-to-date content at the same time.
This 2021, I am staying in the photography community with VSCO. (Oh wait, I revived an old Instagram account but I’m not following anyone and I’m only posting stuff for creativity’s sake. After all, it’s what I use to edit my photos. More than taking the perfect shot, I am enjoying the processing aspect where I play with colors and tones to match my intended mood for the photos.
This 2021, I will be reading more. I will bond with my Kindle more and take damn notes. It’s also a form of journaling and meditation. No social media means more time for more meaningful things!
Status Quo… No? Quitting Social Media in 2021
In a world where everyone is glued to their phones and have at least one social media account, not having or quitting social media is most likely against the norm. But I’m very willing to embrace it. I believe it has a lot of benefits and it will allow me to achieve some of my goals this 2021. Forget all about the advantages social media could bring, but 2021 to me will be all about a more creative year, a better me, and a more peaceful life.
While having social media is the status quo, I now refuse to accept it. No, thanks. I think I’m good. I’m quitting social media. Peace out!