I know this seems to be the blog of empty promises, since I have yet to update it in over eight months after promising to post more, but I am, once again, hoping to restart with more regular posting (wishful thinking, I know).
Earlier this summer, after my time abroad and my almost two years in one of the most photogenic and exciting cities in the world, I considered myself a bit of a social media (mostly, Snapchat) addict. So, two and a half months ago, I stopped posting on my social media accounts. I’ve retweeted a handful of tweets and shared a few articles on FaceBook, but for the most part, I essentially “quit” social media, at least for it’s intended purpose (my rules were just no posting. I still watched Snap Stories and checked Instagram and such).
A few things made me realize what social media was doing to my life and the world around me: a Thanksgiving, a concert and a tragedy.
Thanksgiving is a really important holiday for my family, but my semester abroad last fall left me in Europe for the holiday I’ve spent with my family for the previous 18 years. To make due with what I had, I thought my best option would be to visit London again to be with the closest thing I had to a family in Europe (besides my homestay family): my friends that were studying there. I ended up at a Thanksgiving dinner party thrown by a girl I had never met, in a building I’d never been to, in a home full of people, only about 5 or 6 of whom I even knew and were friends with. The morning was full of sulking alone while FaceTiming my family back home, but the evening through the early morning was full of meeting awesome new people, eating amazing food and having great conversation at 5am while watching American football in the apartment of a kid I’d just met (not as dangerous as it sounds, Mom, they were friends of my friends, not strangers).
I spent the whole day without taking a single picture (except one I took in the morning as I flew into London, just because I love the view of the clouds from planes). The only photo I took. And I did post that photo on Instagram, but I made very clear my feelings about how I was happy that that was the only photo I took the entire day. It made it very obvious to me that I had had a great day, despite how it started (with sulking) and my expectations of being with my family. I Snapchatted my way through much of my semester abroad, but for one day, no one knew what I was doing with my day except the people I was sharing it with. I started questioning the point of social media. If I don’t talk to someone regularly, what right to they have to an open window into my life? I didn’t stop there, though. Months later, back in New York, the next alarm went off in my head.
I went to a concert in May that particularly bothered me. I was by myself, crushed in the middle of a crowd of people for Jack’s Mannequin (which you’ve probably never heard of), for a reunion/10th anniversary tour. It was an amazing concert, but as a barely-5’3″, petite gal, when everyone in front of you is taller, it sucks, but even worse is when everyone in front of you is taller and has their phone reached above their heads; you have to look more at their screens to see the performance than at the stage. Even when the lead singer crowd surfed, which relies on people holding him up to keep him from crashing to the ground, people still had one hand holding a phone. I’m not gonna lie and say that I didn’t have my phone out for parts of the show, but I was unable to see much of the show because of how many screens were in front of me.
I realized people were more worried about catching and sharing the right video than listening and enjoying the show. That’s what art and music is about anyway, isn’t it? This also wasn’t a one-time thing. It comes off the heels of the video of Adele scolding a concert-goer in the front row for filming the entire concert instead of being in the moment. Meanwhile, it was caught on video by someone in the nosebleed section videoing it on their phone. Oh the irony.
The final straw for me, though, was a lot heavier than a holiday without pictures or a concert full of screens. The tragedy that happened in the early morning of June 13 in Orlando, Florida hit incredibly close to home. It affected people in so many cross-sections of my life, including friends from home and members of both the LGBTQ and Latinx communities at home and at school a thousand miles away. I woke up that morning to over a dozen AP Breaking News updates in a hotel room with my sister in New Jersey, where we were for a wedding. The events of that morning, sitting in the hotel room watching CNN were overwhelming and kind of a blur. I called my brother, who was home alone, half a mile from the club, to make sure he was (at least physically) okay; he was just processing the whole thing.
In all tragedies, there is so much controversy about what’s appropriate on social media, which sometimes feels frivolous, but I was just so shocked and disgusted by the whole situation, I didn’t really know what to do. I just wanted to be able to feel without all of the analysis and commentary being thrown around on any kind of media. I wanted to unplug altogether, but working for a campaign kind of renders that impossible with every major news station on in every corner of the office. The filibuster on the Senate floor the Tuesday after was something I couldn’t ignore either, so I really couldn’t get away from it and just process my feelings.
So I posted one last photo to Instagram of my favorite spot in Orlando and haven’t posted there since. I also stopped posting to my SnapStory. It also made me reevaluate my Thanksgiving revelation. I was tired of people seeing what I was doing all the time. And people I hadn’t talked to in months, even years, and with many people, I didn’t even really have any interest in changing that. I went on a Snapchat purge and unfriended everyone who I didn’t interact with regularly or didn’t want to. It made looking at my stories a lot easier (because I didn’t give that up). And I used the same criteria for unfollowing on Instagram. I cared too much about making sure other people knew I was having fun and doing exciting things. But I’ve had an amazing summer of excitement and I’ve done some crazy and super fun things since I stopped posting, and no one knew about it but me and the people I was with, which is just how it should be.
In these last two and a half months, I got down to the root of what made me happy and seeing the beauty in life is one of those incredibly important things to me, so I’ve decided to return to posting if it speaks to just that: the beauty in life. There’s a lot of ugly going on in the world, so don’t let it stop you from seeing the beauty in life.