I took a major step away from social media last year.
I deactivated my Facebook account. It was my preferred platform because I am verbose. I love to write and comment on everything. The brevity that Twitter demands is the reason why I never really used it.
So, I am still active on Twitter. But I could go months without checking it or posting.
However, I kept my instagram page because it is private and it is easier to be an observer. I refuse to join TikTok for the singular reason that one must stop somewhere. I can’t have that much distraction in my life.
The major reason why I stepped back was because social media is crazy. I had a reasonable following and a few stans that were always there; egging me on and making me feel like I had to give a ‘take’ on everything. The undue assumption of self importance crept in. I would subconsciously be drafting posts in my head every single day. Rather than have an interesting conversation with my kids in which I was present; I would immediately begin to see the post-worthiness of the things they were saying and in so doing; I would not be fully present in the conversation.
There is also the tendency to over-share.
My husband is not that active and we seemed fine with it as he never had a problem with how much I post. But I found myself skirting the edges of opening my life to strangers every single day. I was starting to say things that strangers had no business knowing. Why was this happening? Well, social media can be very alluring. A responsive audience is a subtle pressure to always produce content. The more it is drawn from your personal life, the more people relate to you. Why would anyone speak about their sex life? Or their finances?
Social media has a pull that keeps demanding that you become more daring in the things that you say or do.
When I used to write a lot about the killings in Plateau State by herdsmen; I had various groups of people egging me on. People were even trying to push me in the direction and angles to take. While I am the first to claim to be impervious to influence, I turned out not to be ‘unbreachable’. I found myself playing to the gallery on a lot of subjects.
Now recall I said something about my husband seeming okay with my very visible social media presence. Well, I had cause to re-examine things. We had a number of arguments in which he would reference a post I had made (which I can say was taken too personally or out of context). I was shocked at that as I always thought that he understood.
Well, it turned out he is human. And when I am just providing content, he would sometimes internalize what I was saying.
I remember when Korra Obidi was so pleased about the fact that her husband seemed fine with her twerking and being extra on her social media platform. When the shit hit the fan, it was clear that he was never okay with it.
A lot of people centre their lives on social media, especially if they consider themselves influencers. If one person is the main person and likes to include a partner that is not too keen; then problems are on the horizon. Sometimes, all parties are for it. But the public scrutiny can be hard on relationships that are on their own a lot of work. A private couple will face many challenges in a relationship. Imagine having to deal with all sorts of things with a ring light and a phone projecting your life to strangers.
It is twice as hard.
I don’t envy the generations after mine. I am speaking about Millennials and Gen Z. Admittedly, I don’t know what the etiquette is for navigating relations in an era where everyone has a pseudo virtual life. How long do you date before posting up a person? If a person refuses to post anyone; does that mean privacy or is he/she still trying to project singleness to the general public? Do you keep up pictures of ex on your feed or do you delete and block? What does it mean if your partner is an avid follower or someone you suspect they have a crush on?
I am so glad I am married and that social media was a zero factor in our courtship. In fact, I created a Facebook account after we had gotten married. What am I saying sef! All my social media accounts were created after getting married.
So where am I headed to with all this talk?
Social media is weird. It can consume your life and give very little back. We are getting to a point that we have to be very deliberate about how we use social media.
I will go back to Facebook or Meta eventually but I must decide the role I want it to play in my life. And I think everyone should do this. Learn to use the switch off button. If there is anything we should learn, it is that a free platform doesn’t mean we must always speak (somebody tell Kanye West and Kyrie Irving). We must not be deceived by the lie that is the freedom of speech. We must be careful with how we express ourselves and take time off social media so we don’t lose the true taste of life.
Have a great week, folks.