As someone who holds a marketing degree, you’d think that social media and I would be BFFs. For the most part, you’d be right. I’ve been on nearly every form of social media for almost a decade and have even recently succumbed to the lures of TikTok. I don’t usually allow myself to feel the negative effects of these platforms: last year I unfollowed dozens of celebrities and influencers that I only followed because I envied their looks/lifestyle/etc. I genuinely don’t feel bad about myself when I use Instagram (for the most part, anyway).
What I’m really curious about is, well, me. Growing up surrounded by other people’s personalities and profiles, I feel a sense of lacking when I think about my own. Is my curated, Lightroom-filtered feed really who I am?
When I look back at my posts from high school (which have since been archived, of course), I see someone who exudes individuality, someone who doesn’t care what other people think of her profile, someone who will post a bunch of pictures of leaves because she feels like it and not because she thinks it fits in her feed. I’m not sure when this switch happened — perhaps in the midst of marketing classes where I’ve been told that I need to market myself on socials for prospective employers — but I definitely feel the loss of who I used to be.
Lingering on this subject for too long leaves me wondering if I’m just being nostalgic for a person I’ve grown out of or if that was really the real me. It’s hard to tell these days what the real me even is. I’m inundated with aesthetics and traits that people brand themselves with. Am I more cottagecore or do I want to be dark academia? Which aesthetic should I try on this month? I’m tired of trying on personality traits like they’re clothes. I want to discover who I am outside of these labels, and I feel like I can only do that if I fully separate myself from the source.
Will I actually quit social media? Who knows. I do know that this soul searching has motivated me to become more introspective and less performative. Instead of retweeting an article, I will read it, sit with it, and perhaps do my own research. I’ve begun journaling (not consistently, though — that’s something I need to work on) as a way of getting in touch with my emotions and thoughts. Rather than projecting this image of who I want to be, I want to self-assuredly be one with who I am. To do that, I have to define myself outside of other people’s expectations. I want to be able to look at someone’s social media and not feel this strange sense of longing to change up everything about myself just to match the vibe. I want to be so secure in my identity that no one can take it away from me. I want to figure out what makes me, me.