My Instagram game has been pretty great recently. Well, maybe not super recently – my ratio of selfies to artsy landscape pics is a little high at the moment. However, needless to say, Semester at Sea has been providing some pretty stellar photo opps. And yet I want nothing to do with Instagram anymore.
There is a certain feeling that comes with using social media. I don’t want to speak for the entire Facebook and Instagram-using population here, but at least in my experience I often leave my interactions with both sites feeling empty and sad: They suck me in and spit me out, having wasted my time and given me nothing but a pang of jealousy, an aching sense of fomo (“fear of missing out,” for those who don’t know), and, often but not always, a paranoid reel of self-questioning thoughts around whether I should have posted what I just posted and why I’m not getting as many “likes” as I usually do. It’s a pit in my stomach and a slightly less intense version of the not-quite-exhaustion I used to feel after playing the Sims for too long.
I was walking around Singapore this morning, and I stumbled upon a French bookstore - random, but lovely. The woman at the desk immediately greeted me in French, and we began chatting. I told her about Semester at Sea, and divulged that we were only in Singapore for about two days. “Deux jours!,” she said, “Enfin, c’est assez pour voir ce que Singapour veut vous monrer.” Which translates to: “Two days! Well, that’s enough to see what Singapore wants you to see.”
Too many things in life are one-dimensional. Too many relationships in life are one-dimensional. Like the kind you have with people you only say hi to when you’re out at a bar or a party. You are the person you want to look like and act like for the night. You nap, shower, put on your makeup, do your hair, wear an outfit that speaks to the kind of attention you’re seeking, and roll out with a group of friends that looks equally (or perhaps not quite equally) as fun and enticing as you do. And you go out, and you put on your bubbly smile and you greet everyone you know, and you talk to not-quite-strangers about nothing in particular – what you’ve been up to, how your semester is going, what you’re studying (maybe – that might be getting a little too deep), if you want to take some tequila shots… And then, unless you click with the person, you move on to the next bubbly/smiley individual you greet to have the same conversation all over again. And all the while you think you’re having a grand time (maybe you are). Those people, however, have no idea who you are. They see only the done-up, ready-to-party, smile-and-nod tiny facet of your personality that really doesn’t speak to your personality at all. It’s a mask that doesn’t demand being removed (because it’s fun, and it’s easy, and they’re probably just trying to sleep with you anyway).
Facebook does the same thing. Through it, you show “friends” what you want them to see – the perfect, ever-smiling, frolicking-in-the-sun version of you that’s never sad, or ugly, or anywhere but the most incredible places on earth. Who really wants to see that? It makes people feel jealous and inadequate. I feel jealous and inadequate when I use social media, and I’m travelling the world on a boat with 600 awesome college students - I have nothing to feel jealous for or inadequate about. But I do. And of course this is two-sided – by posting pictures on Facebook and, quite frankly, obnoxious Instagrams (sorry, everyone), I encourage the people I love to feel jealous and inadequate too. I make people think that I’m smiley and lively and happy and perfect and hiking and swimming and dancing all of the time. But I’m also dealing with the struggles that I share only with my journal and my closest friends. In fact, I am one of the least perpetually bubbly-happy people I know. By sharing through social media only that very small side of myself, I perpetuate the very behavior that I hate. Ah, the vicious cycle that exists in every facet of life as a human.
Well, I’m done with it. No more “instas,” no more hours spent scrolling through Facebook when I should be enjoying my friends. What happened to living in the present moment? I actually went out of my way for about an hour this morning to get the perfect picture to post on Instagram. As in I was actively thinking about Instagram as I was walking around Singapore, which I only get to spend two days in to begin with. And that is ridiculous.
Separating myself from social media is not easy (first world problems, amiright?). It actually feels kind of like I’m breaking up with someone – I feel pulled in two directions (maybe we can work something out? Like just one Instagram per Semester at Sea port?). However, I need to learn to cut ties with the things that bring negativity into my life, and I need to trust that that is the right decision for me. Plus, I’m not actually deleting Facebook – people can still send me messages (which I will receive on my conveniently separated-out Facebook message app on my phone). I’m just not logging in for a while.
I hope some of you can relate to how I feel. If not, well, I don’t know why you’ve read up until now, but I’m sorry if you were bored by my rant.
Sending love, as always. Xo
P.S Sorry the formatting on these posts is so weird. I email them in from the ship, and for some reason the font always changes after the first paragraph…. Oh, well.