April 17, 2018

What Social Media Has Taught Me Recently

As a blogger, I’m constantly online. To be honest, I’m more than a bit addicted to checking Instagram, scrolling through Twitter and generally logging online to see what’s going on…even when I don’t a.) actually care or b.) have the time. It’s as much of an addiction as anything else and it can suck the joy out of life in an instant – or fill you with satisfaction just as quickly. When you’re so invested in something, no matter what it is, your moods and emotions bounce off it. By this I should be even more brutally honest and say, your moods will often actually be dictated and commanded by it.

The truth is that in my addiction to social media and my love for blogging, I’ve found some really pure moments of happiness…when a blog post of mine went ‘viral’ last year. Or when one of my favourite brands regrammed me for the first time…the hard work pays off in a second when your eyes fall on that online notification. But just as easily, our moods can swing to the negative in the same split second. The shady sub-tweet you just know is about you. The dream PR package you missed out on that gets you wondering ‘what’s wrong with me and my work, am I not as good?’ You see, in social media we have wonderful tools that can open up amazing opportunities – for me the online world has opened the biggest door of all – it’s allowed me to earn a living from my passion of creating content, and I get to stay at home with my children too. But it’s also done a lot of damage, my mental health is quite frankly at the lowest it’s been in years, and I can categorically say it’s because of everything that happens online…You know when you’re a teenager and you read those quotes through a broken-heart moment? The ones that say something like ‘its so sad when the only one who can dry your tears is the one who made you cry’ well for me, that’s how social media had begun to define me. And I didn’t and I don’t like or accept that. 

I am far from perfect. I need to say that.

I’ve said things that I wish I hadn’t. I’ve been too quick to sub-tweet about something that didn’t involve me, and throw shade on others. And quite frankly, who can honestly say they haven’t done this once in a while? As human beings we’re all guilty of this because no-one is perfect. Despite how pretty an Instagram feed may look, or how amazingly sassy their tweets may always appear, not one single person is perfect. I myself realised that I was guilty of things I found incredibly joy-sucking for me. And that is something I’m working on. I’m a feisty one, I’ve always spoken quickly, when I should take the time to think first. It’s one of my biggest flaws and I think I’ll spend my life working on improving this. But hey, as my partner tells me – at least I recognise that and am working on a positive change. 

In recent months though I’ve found myself to be the centre of, if not, indirectly involved in, one too many situations that has not made me happy. Drama, as we all refer to it. I’ve spent weeks feeling sorry for myself at how much negative attention has been thrown on me as a result of various situations – some of which were my own fault, and some which weren’t. Let’s be serious for a moment, tweeting the wrong Disney castle in my wedding announcement hardly deserved me being told I didn’t deserve to get married and I deserved my fiance to leave me, did it? Another situation recently arose where I made a comment, along with many, but mine was picked up and an onslaught of nastiness insued. It was in the midst of personal crisis too and I didn’t handle it with the level of ‘rise above it’ as I usually try to. 

I used to love Twitter. The interaction with others has always given me a life-line. Being stuck at home all day, I don’t always get a lot of chat that’s past Peppa Pig. I love being a Mummy, but I need adult conversation and Twitter has always given me that, and allowed me to feel connected to the world even when I’m stuck indoors…But more and more it’s becoming a hole. A big black, negative hole in my life. I never understood people who would say the same, or say they had taken a step back from it. In fact I think in one exchange last year, one girl said that the negativity she found on Twitter is the reason she spent most of her time on Instagram. I laughed to myself at the time. Yeh right. But guess what, she IS right.

Twitter is the place where those nasty, soul-sucking sub-tweets occur and suddenly I’m down, I feel low and I feel like everyone is against me. I recently hit 10k on Instagarm through a heavily invested in competition. I spent a LOT of my own money on the prizes, including all my Christmas money from family. I planned this giveaway months ago. I spent a small amount of money promoting it on Instgarm as an advert and overall I gained well over 2,000 new followers in 10 days. As a result I finally hit 10k. Which was my aim with the competition. I’m a business woman, and as much as I hosted the competition to thank everyone for their continued support on my blog’s birthday, I also hosted it to encourage growth. After all, that’s what everyone hosts a competition for. Naturally 2,000 likers (and growing) in just over a week saw an onslaught of people sub-tweet (and actually name me) as someone who was buying followers. I felt crushed that anyone would think that of me and the whole legitimate success of finally hitting that 10k milestone has been completely overshadowed. I have never and would never buy followers. I now don’t feel I can celebrate something that I’ve worked so hard for because I’ll likely get more drama from those people who just can’t accept that I’ve done well off my own back. Jealousy is a bitch.

The same group of people who jump on bandwagons will always be there. The ones who simply do not like you and can’t bear to see you succeed will always be there. The way social media allows our green-eyed monsters to appear is quite honestly never going to change. Give someone with unkind thoughts a platform to express them with very little throwback, and they’ll use it. It’s why trolling is such a problem. Keyboard warriors hide behind screens and project their own unhappiness onto others because it’s the only way they can express anything. It’s quite sad actually, and I genuinely pity people who are so sucked in by it. I am SO thankful that I can recognise this and disassociate from this as much as possible going forward.

What social media has taught me recently is that I can’t go back and change the way I’ve behaved online. But it’s also taught me not to dwell on this. As people we are always growing, and that includes our online persona is too. I won’t waste any more energy wishing I’d said this, or not said that, but I’ll learn to handle things differently for the future. I’m honest, I always have been blunt and upfront. That’s unlikely to change if I’m honest because it’s just me, but I really am going to address any tweet or comment that could cause upset. I’m sure I’ll get it wrong from time to time. But for my own mental health, I can’t cope with the constant negativity. I’ll defend myself and my friends fiercely, but there’s a huge difference between that and content that starts with setting out to hurt people. And while I can’t remember doing this myself (I’m sure I probably have) many have done it to me, and hide between a sub-tweet and say “I never named anyone.” If you set out to hurt someone, named or not, then that says far more of you than it does of them. Remember that.

I’ve started spending far more time on Instagram and my blog. I reinvented my whole Instagram theme and spend hours creating graphics and content I adore for it. It takes my previous Twitter time away and reinvests it as something more productive – and more of a positive piece of my online world. I’ll go where I fancy when it comes to logging online, but it’s the old cliche – I’m stepping back from the emotional investment I have with the online world. It’s broken me down and my heart is sad that something I relied on as a lifeline has to be ruined by the negativity of others. But I can’t change that. And if you’re going through a difficult time online too, you can’t change it either. You can not change other people or the way they behave. What you can do is focus on yourself, practice self care – whatever it may look like, and remind yourself that the online world isn’t the whole world.

I’m trying to go back to my roots – I started blogging because I love content creation. I’m spending more time perfecting my content – investing in photography, working on reading a lot more marketing and communication content to help me improve and grow my brand. I’m having fun again. Creating my little Instagram posts is fun for me, so when I want a breather now, I do that. Rather than scrolling through Twitter and stumbling on sub-tweets about myself or others, and sinking lower into my current depression. 

Here’s what I’ve learnt: Online is a world full of possibilities. I can’t change other people. Jealousy is rife and people are bitter. Your success won’t be celebrated by anyone other than the genuine ones. Social media sucks joy as much as it creates it. It’s all about what you make of it.

Ultimately knowing these things and learning them recently is what I’m hoping will be the key to releasing me from the chains of my mood being dictated to, by whatever content I see on my streams. 

It’s time for me to love social media, but not enough to live by it.

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