Who are you?
Do you know what you have done?
What do you want to be remembered for?
Sometimes those questions swirl in my head. Over and over, until I obsessively think about my past, future, and what I’m doing in the present on an endless repeat that drives me slightly insane. But they’re valid questions, aren’t they?
Those questions are part of the reason why I deleted Facebook and Instagram from my life. In my contribution to the tapestry of the world, I don’t want all my accomplishments laid out on social media and have that be the extent in which I impact it.
Social Media, to a point, is poison. There’s been studies that have shown it’s a link to depression and anxiety. Imagine every day, you scroll through the news feed of the various platforms you have an account for, only to see only photos or posts of people traveling, getting new jobs, getting married, having the time of their lives and you think to yourself–why don’t I live that life? Why can’t I have that much fun or be that happy?
But that kind of comparison is ridiculous and futile. No one is going to post about the time they were crying in the library because they were studying for their finals and thinking they were going to fail, or that time they were rejected by the university or job that they applied for. Who in their right mind would do that? Everyone’s putting their best face forward, always–whether it’s because they want to craft an image for the world to see and believe about them or they are pointedly seeing this all as some kind of competition that they have to win.
Who are you?
Your social media presence and image does not define who you are. Nor does it even explain to the world who you are because they got this doctored, constructed image of you that is most likely only a very small part of you or likely not even true. You could be posting about going out into the city and traveling all the time, when in reality your working and a homebody but the rest of the world will think you’re an avid traveler and it’ll become part of who people think you are. And trying to bring those two images together, to remedy that paradox, will tear you a part and drive you insane. Imposter syndrome, is a thing after all.
The amount of time I used to take, crafting an Instagram post was ridiculous. It was soul-sucking. And the fact that I thought I needed to do it sometimes makes me think I was crazy. But it was all part of shaping that image of me online, wasn’t it? Four weeks of planning a photo, the location, the clothes, the makeup, the hair, the pose, the caption (oh my god don’t get me started on the caption), the people who would be in it, the lighting, the filter, the editing…the list goes on and on but at the center point of it all was that I was wasting my time for one photo that would go up and be replaced by another one, and another one, on and on because that’s how it all worked and each time I would waste a month of my life obsessing. Just to get it right. Follow the flow of my feed. Create an aesthetic. Craft an image.
I had a friend that all they thought I did all day was party and go out, because of what they saw on Instagram and SnapChat when that could have been furthest from the truth. Yes, that was the only times I would post on Instagram and Snapchat, but what she didn’t see were all those times I was studying, working, interning, volunteering. My day to day isn’t privy to the larger world and yet they think they know me based upon 10 second videos they see on my story.
And everyone is conscious of this, at least on some level, and yet they choose to believe what they see because no one really takes a genuine interest in what people are doing and how they are doing–at least, I don’t feel like they are. I feel like people see things that their acquaintances are doing on the internet, and think to themselves, “why aren’t I doing that?” when in reality it should be like “oh, I haven’t talked to so and so in a long time, I should catch up with them and see how they’re doing.”
Everyone might be busy, and everyone is busy to an extent, but it takes time and effort to build genuine relationships and it doesn’t seem like anyone is all too invested in doing that anymore–if favor of going to whats the most fun and trendiest, and what will get them the most likes on the internet.
Do you know what you have done?
How will your actions impact the world, impact another person’s world, impact yours? I often wonder if people look back on their old posts, what do they remember beyond taking that photo? Why did you even go? Did you have fun? Who were you with? What did you talk about? Do you even remember anything beyond that one moment in time? I guess you could say that about any photo that’s taken but the thing with social media is that those photos were done specifically for the purpose of that photo, as opposed to preserving the memory.
And of course, I’m speaking to a very select population of people. Not every single person who posts on Instagram or Facebook isn’t doing it to preserve memories–but the amount of people in that select population I’m talking about is a little concerning, just a little too much to seem appropriate–doesn’t it?
What Do You Want to Be Remembered For?
This one, above all else, haunts me sometimes. I think because death is always on the back of my mind–which sounds morbid in and of itself. But death is always there, always a possibility–and that’s why you need to live life to its fullest, right? Because if you were to die, what would people remember you for? The pictures you posted? The amounts of likes you got per photo? Your YouTube videos?
Or would they remember the memories they had with you? The laughs and the tears? The late at night, deep heart to hearts? The copious amounts of studying and cramming and crying in the library as you both tried to pass your midterms and finals?
Will you even be remembered? Will I? What legacy will I leave behind when I die, and everyone around me is either dead or dying, alive or not. Will there be a statue or building with my name on it? Will I have a book? A wikipedia page? A small sentence in a history book saying this is what this woman has done to make the world better than what it was before.
Or will I be another disabled and deactivated account on an obsolete platform of social media that people sometimes go back to in order to revisit the old days until one day the company goes bankrupt and it all gets taken down anyway? Erased, as if I was never there to begin with.
Sometimes, I think, people get their priorities misaligned. Would rather do the “fun” thing or what they think is cooler, than hang out with friends who have been there for them, to build genuine relationships that aren’t based on money, social climbing, Instagram.
Don’t get me wrong, I played into that for the longest time. Of course I did, why wouldn’t I when it was what everyone around me was doing? But then I took a second to think about who I am, what I want, and what I would be remembered for–if I wanted my life to just amount to this, just a few images and words on the internet that might not be even there in a few years, and in a fit of clarity-I deleted Instagram and Facebook, took a brea from SnapChat and Twitter, and I think I’ve been all the better for it.