I have learned to free myself from the need to follow someone because they followed me even if the person is more socially relevant than I am. I refuse to follow people on social media simply because I am obligated to them in one way or another in real life. I free myself of feeling guilty for not supporting someone on social media if I don't feel up to it. I free myself from following people on social media simply because they are my family, church members, old school friends, etc.
Recently, I have experienced numerous personal dilemmas in managing my social media accounts and profiles. I have struggled with deciding my consistency on social media, the type of content I want to put out and promote, and my goals for even being on social media in the first place. Like many have suggested to me I have "played around" and "played with it" severely, trying multiple things to see what will work and, most importantly, what will stick. Unfortunately, I am yet to figure it out or figure myself out with social media.
Experiencing these dilemmas has forced me also to take a step back and observe myself, other people and the trends on social media. Most importantly, it has forced me to ask several important questions. This post will address my observations, not with the aim of condemning other people's approach or teaching you anything significant about social media or its trends. As usual, I am just here to rant.
Speaking of trends, I observed that nowadays, "almost everybody is selling something" on social media. Some people are trying to sell "the brand of a product" or "a band of themselves" or "a product" etc. I find this need to always sell or promote something on social media, tiring, and exhausting. For the writers and authors in the house reading this, although I am great at giving tips on social media, I am failing as a conventional author because I don't know how to be a constant seller or promoter on social media. Lately, I have been forced to admit that it is just not my thing. Additionally, the need to always sell something on social media has been a guide to choose my followers especially on Instagram. Most times, I follow for engagement and entertainment but if you are always constantly selling something on social media, either I unfollow or mute your posts. Not that it is a bad thing always to be selling something on social media; it is just not my thing.
Now to the captions. Oh captions! I am not a fan of quotes or inspirational shenanigans on social media. Many times, with captions, especially the inspirational ones, I feel like people are always trying to teach other people what they should be learning. I also think that you can tell the status of someone's life or someone's struggles through the advice they try to give other people with their captions, and I don't find that appealing. Again, it may work for other people, but it's just not my thing, and I have unfollowed people who feel the need to constantly teach others some life lessons with quotes and captions on social media.
While reading this post, some of you may feel the need to think I have some "social media maturity." Thank you very much. I have heard that a lot, but it is not something I aspire to. Me, myself, and I between God, the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit know that I am not excluded from social media immaturity and foolishness. Just because you or I follow very few people on social media or have a particular way of controlling my social media content doesn't make me better or more mature than other people. In fact, for some, following a large number of people on social media is a sign of maturity because, through it, they gain productive network, content, etc. So, you and I are not better off because we are different.
On this matter of following or unfollowing people on social media, I have some mantras that I am living by. Here is one: I refuse to follow people out of obligation, the feeling of guilt or affiliation.
I have learned to free myself from the need to follow someone because they followed me even if the person is more socially relevant than I am. I refuse to follow people on social media simply because I am obligated to them in one way or another in real life. I free myself of feeling guilty for not supporting someone on social media if I don't feel up to it. I free myself from following people on social media simply because they are my family, church members, old school friends, etc. There are many reasons for the latter; sometimes, it is because I am not interested in knowing people beyond their physical function. Other times, it is because I don't care for their content, or their content doesn't add value to me.
Speaking of content, I unfollow people if their content doesn't align with my values or if I feel a sense of jealousy or hatred every time I see their post. Recently, my friendship with someone fell apart. While in-person, I wished her well; every time I saw her posts or stories, I felt a rush of hatred towards her. I eventually had to unfollow her, and other people I knew were affiliated with her because I didn't want to invest or solidify that negative energy. Although I highlight my reasons for unfollowing other people, I have learned to not take offense at people who do the same to me.
Some people see social media as an investment. Me? Sometimes, sometimes not. (If you are my friend and you do what I am about to write about, I promise, I am not throwing shade at you.) I have friends who write poetry for example, and promote it to increase their audience or followers. I have also done that in the past, and I still do it sometimes; however, when I do, I question the importance of my financial investment in running those adverts and the outcomes. This practice may be useful to some people and be financially lucrative, but I don't necessarily agree with it. When I run adverts, and it has tons of likes, comments, and saves, I think of the last picture I liked which I can barely remember or the previous comment I posted on social media which I didn't deeply mean or the last picture I saved that I will never look at again. I think of these things and say to myself that running an advert, although increases product visibility, may not mean much to those who engaged in it if my engagement on other people's content doesn't mean so much either. It has also led me to question and try understand why people want this lifestyle of tons of likes and comments and heavily invest financially in it. It is suitable for some people and could be productive sometimes, but when I participate it, I have the latter thoughts.
Other times, I question the future of social media and how it will affect our current investments. I am sure our parents can remember when "MySpace" was still a thing. I am sure our aunties or older siblings thought "2go" was the way to go in high school. The same way these social media platforms that were the best thing in the world were swept by Facebook, Instagram, etc. is the same way that something else will take over our current social media. So, I am always curiously asking "What is the future of social media?" "What will all these followers and likes I have on my Instagram or LinkedIn mean 10 or 20 years from now?" "What will be the future relevance of my current social media life?" I do not have any answers or moral lessons out of this part; these are just questions I ask myself.
This next part is just typical social media advice: "Just because your life or achievement doesn’t come with a good camera or photographer doesn’t mean you are not good enough." While it is easy to buy into the perfect lives of other people, you should be conscious of the fact that some have an excellent social media manager or PR or better camera to capture their experiences. Again, just because you aren't equipped to have the perfect life some people show on social media or because you don't feel up to sharing certain things about your life doesn't make you a better or worse person. You are not a better person for not always posting perfect pictures or your achievements, and they are not worse people for choosing to publish a certain lifestyle on social media. Most significantly, no one is responsible for your intellectual ability to accept or believe what someone else is posting on social media. You are responsible for your own choices and beliefs, and it's no one's responsibility to be a good example of how life is supposed to be like especially on social media.
Recently, I have felt that social media isn't for me, and despite knowing how to use it like everyone else to sell myself or products, I am intentionally unwilling to use social media that way because I find it unsettling. I am using social media minimally because I have so many thoughts and questions about it, and sometimes, I overthink social media beyond what it is. I have considered getting off it, but many other parts of my life and works that are important to me are entangled to it. If you find yourself relating to this paragraph, don't be afraid to admit that social media isn't working for you, even if you are an author and have to sell a brand of yourself or content. Don't be afraid to become unwilling to make social media work for you, even if you know how to. Also, don’t be scared to get off social media and engage more in the life outside it. Like I have said before, choosing this route doesn't make you a better person than those doing otherwise, and not accepting this route doesn't make you better or worse off either. Your choices only make you different.
There are moral standards and expectations that we should use social media in a way which isn’t intentionally harmful to others. So, I won’t declare that there is or isn’t the right way to use social media. However, I think it’s essential that you at least educate yourself with the awareness of who you’re choosing to be or display on social media and what you are absorbing from it.
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© Oyindamola Shoola 2020