Social media platforms have helped enhance interaction and social communication between people worldwide! Some people have used it to profit and earn money. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and others are the most famous networking sites. Also, not forgetting the most recent platforms, TikTok and ClubHouse. Everything can be both positive and negative, including social media usage.
I began to use the internet and especially social media platforms a long time ago, but I would like to think that my activity was relatively low. However, my usage span changed when I became a blogger. I have always felt that I could still manage it while blogging. What happened was the opposite! I became overly active, especially on Twitter. So I started to see and live the negative aspect of social media, for which I take full responsibility.
The Downfall of High Social Media Presence
As I began to publish more articles, I began to interact with people openly and actively, and the majority were total strangers. From sharing my opinion on many events, be it political, social, to even public events. Throughout that experience, I realize now that part of that intensive activity was more from seeking acceptance in the online community. I looked back on it and realized that I shared too much of almost everything, primarily upon my relocation to France. I shared pictures from my life here, visits, and even how I felt during hard times. Of course, I won’t ignore the kindness I received from some people, from encouraging messages, reaching out, support, and many more, but the negativity took its toll on me, literally!
The blog posts received feedback and comments from various people, including a high interaction rate that was overwhelming at times. Of course, with positive feedback came a negative one. I was open to negative feedback and took it as a way to improve my blogging experience. Nonetheless, much of that feedback was toxic or meant to cause harm. It wasn’t necessarily about blogging but about other things, I shared, from pictures to opinions and feelings-related tweets.
I felt the responsibility to share my opinion and be active on social media, especially on Twitter, which I use openly and not privately as on other social media platforms. With increasing activity came an increase in the number of followers, which went hand in hand with Facebook. I started to see an increase in the number of ”friends” I have on Facebook, reaching almost 1K. Over half of them are people I have mutual friends with, but I don’t know most of them. Some I knew by name, but that was it.
The Social Media Wake-Up Call – Thanks to COVID-19!
I was already drained in the second half of 2020 and within another lockdown here in France. I went through challenging circumstances, and they all happened in less than a year. They added to the main event of a breaking pandemic that completely changed human reality. In the second half, I had a different view of my life, and I used that time to reflect on my habits and feelings. It didn’t happen overnight, though!
It is ongoing throughout that reflection journey, and I realized that my social media intake was not healthy. I got somehow carried away, and I let it take most of my time, energy, and health. You know it is not normal when a post by a random stranger on something you wrote would make you cry like crazy. It was a post, not even a confrontation, and it triggered my anxiety, which social media amplified through the years of my increased activity. Unfortunately, I interacted and got to know the wrong people. I let those circles gauge my credibility. It was as if my online existence relied on their approval of my work here, blogging. Although I don’t think it was clear to anyone as I focused on my craft.
The Steps I Took to Make Change Possible
So I took a massive step in the summer of 2021, and I removed all the unnecessary people from my social media accounts. I decided to leave only the people I knew and trusted the most, keeping close friends and family mainly on Facebook and other private social media platforms. For Twitter, I did the same even though my account is public. I turned Twitter more linked to sharing articles, retweeting exciting tweets and links, removed followers, and stopped following people I believe I don’t have to keep within my loop. I only kept people I am interested in their content, nonetheless. Now, I watch my followers/following list closely and reduce the number of followers I have from almost 8K to 5K, and I still think I can reduce it more.
I began to teach myself that my work matters. Regardless of how many followers, friends I have, or interactions I get. I don’t have anything against many people; I cut my connection. However, I realized that I should moderate my online existence better. I don’t have to leave certain people in my friends or followers list just because we have many people in common. Or that they are locally ”popular” or have even known them for a long time.
We Call it ”A Process.”
It was a process, and it took time. I realized that I cherished my privacy more, and I somehow stopped sharing much of my thoughts, feelings, and comments. Thus, I started to choose what to share. I learned that I shouldn’t comment on everything or even give my opinion on unnecessary things. I don’t need acceptance on social media platforms. Or remain active in the Libyan online circles to stay connected to my community back home. It was okay not to be involved or even connected. The reason behind it is that I am part of that community. Whether I am active or not, it won’t add or even take away anything from me. I can still be active in sharing articles but I can still remain private in my social media usage and presence. In addition, I don’t have to connect blogging and social media activity.
The credibility of my work should and must be gauged first by me, focusing on blogging since I connect my social media presence to it, as I am the blogger behind my articles, and then by active readers who share sincere feedback. Of course, my social media detoxing journey is not over yet! I am grateful I realized it and took the necessary measures soon enough. As I mentioned above, it is a process that must take time. I made the right decisions and steps earlier, now I see the results.
If I were to describe my online activity and intake now, I would call it friendly, healthy, and neutral. Yet, I am more of an observer of local and global events. I don’t have the same connection with online spaces as I used to. I see social media platforms as means to follow up with news and share articles and memes. That is when I can and want to, but not due to pressure. The disconnection is working, and even though I am still online, it is about and on specific aspects, but I am more focused on my offline and professional life. With time, I might consider restricting my activity on social media platforms more, but thus far, I think that what I have been doing for the last two years has helped me feel better.