I took January entirely off Twitter and Instagram. The break was long-anticipated, long overdue, deeply needed and very healing.
A thought that kept bubbling up during my detox was how much social media can put us in a position where we feel like we constantly need to explain ourselves and our choices. Social media is overwhelming almost by design. I’ve always been a frequent poster and pretty heavy social media user, and now I’m a digital marketer by trade so I feel a lot of pressure to be a *very online* person. For those of us who post frequently, I think we often feel that we need to provide context or background about the choices we’re making or the activities we’re doing. For example, I felt weird not announcing my social media break. I just disappeared. But It also felt great to not have to announce or declare anything. I thought about unread DMs, and other missed moments, but I knew that I needed to sit in that discomfort. FOMO is a huge part of the social media addiction, and the apps are designed to keep us feeling like we’re missing out so we come back for more. I knew the only way to step away was to let all of that go.
I think influencer culture also contributes to our feeling of needing to explain ourselves, because every day we see influencers doing just that all day and every day. Posting about what they eat in a day, what workout regime they’re doing, what gear they just got for their kid, where their outfit is from. They do that because it’s their job to work with and promote the brands whose products they use, and seeing the behaviour modelled can make the average social media user feel like we need to explain ourselves as well. To be clear I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, post whatever you want and you do you do, but I also think it’s fair to need a break from it, and to remind ourselves that we don’t always need to explain or post about everything we’re doing.
So, this is a message to you (and me), that you don’t owe anyone an explanation. The new year can be a very declarative time on social media in which you see people participating in veganuary or dry January, or sharing that they will be starting a book club or podcast, only to see those projects not come to fruition. I have been this declarative person for most Januarys of my adult life. I’ve used January to announce weekly blog posts (never happened), a monthly playlist (sorta happened), a yoga challenge, and much more.
There is nothing wrong with leaning into the optimism and promise of January either. We might even need that feeling of a fresh start right now more than ever. But if you declared a *something* you would be doing in 2022 only for that something to not go as planned, I’m here to tell you you don’t need to explain that to anyone. No one is paying attention but you, we’re all wrapped up in our own sh*t. Whatever you declared, you don’t have to undelcare it. No one remembers and we can all move on. This applies to your life on and off social media. It’s ok to have a plan, announce that plan, and then change your mind. It’s ok to launch a project and not finish it.
Happy February 🙂
Further reading: Nobody Cares by Anne T. Donahue.