My name is Elise and I’m currently getting over my social media addiction.
The other day with my Urban Cultural Life class I visited the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. The current exhibit there, Interface, revolved around the idea of “queer artists forming communities through social media.” Before visiting this exhibit I never thought about how social media impacts art, only how it impacted myself and my friends. Each piece included a quick word by the artist on how social media has impacted their work, positively or negatively. I learned that because of social media, more queer art can circulate, reaching larger audiences from around the world. This is important for queer art, because one benefit of the internet and social media is informing and spreading awareness to areas of the world where the art (or gayness as a whole) is not accepted. The exhibit made me think a lot about my social media usage, which at all times is obnoxious.
As an avid social media user and abuser, I am often (aka always) on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, or all at the same time. It recently occurred to me how weird social media is. The whole idea behind it is so strange. The fact that some researchers say that a Facebook addiction activates the same brain areas as drugs, is quite startling. The way that Tumblr can steal hours of your life without you even realizing it, is concerning. The idea that “Do it for the Insta” is even a thing, shows me that people will literally experience things only so that others can know it. The saying: “if a white girl works out and doesn’t post about it on social media, did she really work out?” (and similar sayings) is sad. It’s sad because it’s true and I do it all the time.
My friends and family, and poor social media followers, all know that if I don’t respond to something in less than five minutes I’m probably in a coma or held captive without my cell phone. In an attempt to decrease my addiction to social media, I decided to go one week without any social media outlet. While this sounds heroic in theory, I regret to inform you that I only lasted 24 hours (and barely). After deciding to go on a cleanse, I felt empowered and freed. I started thinking about all the books I would read since I now wouldn’t be going on Facebook. What about the homework from my summer classes that I could start and finish early since there would be so much more free time? I looked down at my watch, it had only been 35 minutes without social media. I shortly after opened Instagram, and that ended the entire cleanse.
While I didn’t go one week without social media, I decided to delete my Snapchat and have my younger sister change my FB password. Although I did go one week without social media when I taught English in the Dominican Republic over Spring Break, I could never last one week without social media otherwise as that just simply seems impossible at this time. However, when I finally decided to delete Snapchat and turn off cellular so that while walking in the city nobody could bother me on my phone, I realized that my life did change. After work one day, I decided to take a scenic route home, one that took me down the Chelsea Highline. Even though I have walked the Highline multiple times, as family members always want to visit, I had never done so without my phone. I didn’t feel the need to post a snap story of the iconic murals and beautiful landscape just so that other people would know I have a ‘chic NYC life in which I do cool things like walk on rooftop parks.’ Instead, I was doing this for me, something to make me happy. Going without social media has made me realize that I was spending so much time online that I didn’t get to do the NYC summer bucket list things I’d wanted to. I’m not sure how long I’ll last without social media, to be honest probably only one more day or two. However, I do know that it’s not going to take over my life as much as it used to.