Every morning I get a notification from the app Timehop to tell me what I was doing on social media one, two, or maybe three years ago. Anyone else using the app might have posts dating back six or seven years ago, but I don’t. However, I’ve been using social media since I was thirteen.
Two years ago, I made a decision that I will be thanking myself for years to come. I made the decision to delete all of my social media accounts and start again.
I used to use social media to vent very negatively. I know that some of you will disagree with me but in my opinion, social media is not the place for that. It is healthy to get things off your chest and release pent up feelings and emotions from time to time, but Facebook and Twitter are not the places to offload this negative energy. It’s not useful, it’s not constructive and nobody wants to read it. I certainly cringe when I see these types of posts and have to remind myself daily not to do the same.
I also used to use social media to indirectly tell people things that I was not brave enough to say to their faces. In one particular instance, I got myself into a lot of trouble trying to deal with my feelings towards conflict with a close friend via Facebook, and I ended up hurting her as well as myself. If you are not brave enough to deal with conflict face to face, you should not be alluding to it via social media. But I really believe that you should never write anything that has the intention to hurt somebody on social media. It is not kind and it is embarrassing.
I remember being spoken of as one of those people and it hit me very hard when a friend once asked me to think of an indirect tweet they could share so that their ex-boyfriend would see it because I was the queen of indirect tweeting. That is not the person I want to be recognised as.
Thirdly, when I was crippled by my depression and PTSD a few years ago, social media was my outlet. In particular, I used Tumblr. None of my friends or family followed me there, so I was free to write whatever I wanted as a plea for others to sympathise with me. Apart from a few very beautiful instances, it was very unfulfilling. I dared myself to write horrific things and the more I wrote, the more I couldn’t stop but the more I became ashamed. I was certain that my friends, family and boyfriend would find what I had written there and looking back now, I hope they never do.
I’m hoping to speak about my experiences with depression later on in the year, but for now, I simply want to highlight how destructive it was to use social media to vent my negativity.
Back then, social media had a strong hold on my life. The way I used it made me feel worthless and dislike who I was; it was destructive and unhealthy.
I created The Happy Journal to encourage myself to think positively and more optimistically but it would be naive of me to ignore that negativity still exists. Just because I’m trying to live with a positive outlook doesn’t mean that I don’t experience emotions that make me feel pessimistic. Of course, I do; I’m human and I have imperfections. I’m just choosing to channel my energy into those emotions that really fulfil and satisfy me. There are other ways to release pent up emotions: I can do this with a friend over coffee or journal about it in a notebook.
So at the start of 2014, I deleted my Facebook account, my Twitter account and my Tumblr account. I no longer have to see what horrific things I wrote about my friends, my depression and myself. I have a clean slate and the opportunity to be more intentional about what I post and what I share with my small circle of influence.
This topic was on my heart today and I wanted to share it with you for a number of reasons:
- to encourage you not to deal with conflict via social media
- to urge you to careful what you say via social media
- to remind you that social media can be a good thing, should you be intentional about what you share
- to show you that I am also a flawed human being and I make mistakes too
- that because I’ve taken the step to wipe the slate clean, #IAmStigmaFree