Instant Gratification

After taking a break from social media (which seems to happen about once a year for me: see 2014 and 2015), and with that break coinciding with the (initially) disappointing response to my annual shindig, I reflected on my relationships with others — friends, acquaintances, online peeps — as defined by my interactions with them.

I also thought about what I’m trying to get out of social media — and am I actually getting that?

Some people have described Twitter as a party where you can hear everyone’s conversations, whether they’re directed toward you or not. I feel like I’m the person at the party who will talk to everyone and no one until someone acknowledges them. (None of us know anyone like that, right…?)

It’s like I’m seeking validation or feedback for everything I’m experiencing: a jerk cut me off in traffic; I’m losing weight; I’m not losing weight; I’m having a boring day; I’m having an awesome day; I had sushi for lunch.

Who needs to know this? Nobody. 

What do I need feedback about? Sounds yummy? Sorry about your day? You look great? This shit is narcissistic and I don’t need to be throwing these ill-considered tidbits out there for everyone to blow past. I’m not making the world a better place by Instagramming more pictures of my plants or tweeting about how much my life sucks at any given moment. I’m no one’s bodhisattva at this point, and no one is stepping up to be mine by virtue of me posting these scraps of my life.

You know what I like — or used to, anyway — about writing in my blog? I used to really enjoy sitting with my own thoughts. I used to enjoy painstakingly editing photos before I posted them. I think I need to make a return to that slower way of creating.

One day a few weeks ago, I sat on a park bench and wrote in my old Piccadilly notebook that’s been floating around in my purse for some four years now. It felt good to take time to slow down and think about what I was writing. It felt different than typing, where my fingers can go nearly as fast as my brain, and where I can go back and edit as I go. It was meditative. I let go of a lot of the things I had thought I needed to write down, and instead only wrote the things that bubbled up to the top of my brain and made sense in the moment.

I’m going to work on carving out some time to do some real blogging. Journaling. Writing. Creating. Even just taking some time to edit some photos on my iPhone and upload them to Flickr the other night was quite satisfying — much more so than blasting them out to Instagram and throwing some quick edits on them would have been.

Nearly one week after starting my Twitter hiatus, I loaded up Twitter on my phone, just to take a peek. Without even scrolling down in my timeline, I realized that I prefer not to jump back into that cacophony. I closed the app and didn’t look back.

A couple weeks after that, I realized that there actually were some people on Twitter who I missed. So, I loaded them up in my Newsblur feed and trained their feeds to hide replies. Now I can find out what’s up with @relysh and @snowdeal without having to launch up an app or wade through a bunch of noise. Interestingly enough, I find I’m able to interact more effectively with those few people who merit interaction. I suppose I could have achieved that same end by mass-unfollowing my entire Twittersheet, now that I think about it. It was just too hard to pare things down without just quitting cold-turkey. Plus, now I have one fewer app to distract me.

After nearly a month away from Twitter, I did post a couple of things: one was a picture of a children’s book that reminded me of one of my college co-workers, and one was a #schnuthsalonselfie from before and after my haircut (mainly for me to look back on later). I got “likes” on both of those tweets, so I didn’t feel so much like I was shouting into the void. After that, I posted a thank-you to @TerritorialSeed for their stellar customer service, and got a Quote Tweet in response.

My social media strategy for the foreseeable future involves posting sparingly to Instagram, even more rarely to Twitter (when actual interpersonal interaction is involved), and cross-posting the occasional blog entry to Facebook to keep my long-distance IRL friends up-to-date. I feel like focusing on longer-form writing and more deliberate photography will serve me better than all these tiny pinpricks of media.

If you want to reach me, you know where you can find me.

4 thoughts on Instant Gratification

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