Social Media Abstainance

When I was in the seventh grade, there was nothing I wanted more than a Facebook page.Investing my time in social media seemed the perfect way to relate to my classmates and to let them know me. On an Internet site, I would be able to pick and choose the parts of me that people see, so that only my wittiest comments, and most exotic, picturesque vacations were visible to this online utopian society. What I didn’t understand at the time, was that I wasn’t alone in approaching social media in this fashion.

On Facebook, I only saw the most impressive parts of others lives. Pictures showed one girl in my grade vacationing in Italy, after she went on to state and regional spelling bees. What a wonderful success she must have been, how incandescently happy those experiences must have made her. Supposedly their profiles told me all about who she was: a happy seventh grade girl.

Growing jealous of her Facebook profile, I sought to match her achievements to elicit the same reaction from the online community. What Facebook did not show, was that in reality, her nails were bitten to a quick, and she was an overwhelmed anxious student.

As time wore on, she continued to post pictures of all the “good times” she had, and the cute new boyfriend. My envy grew at the thought of her popularity-at the illusion of peace of mind. By all appearances, she was thriving.
My jealousy was for naught. Freshman year, despite her successful appearance, she attempted to take her own life.

Facebook doesn’t show someone’s vulnerabilities or inadequacies. It creates this artificial community where people are happy, healthy and successful. The whole social media system reeks of mendacity. Unfortunately for those living online, this makes building true lasting friendships difficult. If the only parts of us we let people see are the good things, then friends won’t know who you are when you are hurting. When my Dad had a heart attack scare several months ago, I thought that I could handle everything myself. I took charge of driving my sisters around town, lending alistening ear to my mother, and picking up household responsibilities, but there was no sense of peace in trying to make a martyr of myself. Only when I revealed my hardships to my friends and invested in an authentic community could they come around me and support me through that experience. There is no benefit to hiding myself behind an intentionally false reputation for being a happy, healthy teenage girl.

Strengthening friendships and building a strong community only comes through authenticity. Social media doesn’t strengthen community, it only creates an illusion of deeper relationships. True depth can only be achieved through honest, personal interaction.

For this reason, I completely abstain from social media. Most people don’t notice that I don’t exist in that dimension. Living my life in an authentic community is a significant part of my personal growth and is more valuable than keeping up my Facebook reputation.

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