Sometimes I look at social media as a a harmless tool. It is a cure for boredom, a place to put funny videos or pictures we like of ourselves. It’s what we scroll on and instinctively turn to each time we open our eyes in the morning. It is necessary and means we can connect with our friends or even those we barely know. But, it is also draining and makes us question ourselves and those around us. The main uncertainty in my own mind recently when it comes to social media — is how much is too much?
The answer to that question is different for everyone I guess, and unlike the other posts I have written about social media (see “The Impact of Social Media”), this facet of its impact on us has more to do with the media we put out instead of what we take in. I have thought a lot about it and in my opinion, the amount of desire we have to post on social media, can tell a lot about what is going on inside our minds. I find that in the times I am constantly posting on my Snapchat story, or looking to take Instagram photos, are generally the time I am feeling the most lonely or insecure. Social media is a direct way to gain instant validation from those closest to us, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to get some attention. But, oversharing can also quickly become dangerous as it consumes your life, and you begin living for others over yourself.
That, right there, is my definition of oversharing on social media. Living for others instead of living for yourself, finding your daily life becoming performative and not restorative. It is making a “healthy” breakfast so that you can post a photo of it, it is wearing a particular outfit with the intentions of doing a “fit check”, or taking up a new hobby simply because you want others to look at you and admire what you have done. For a lot of people, posting what they do in the course of a day is normal, and is just that person’s way of documenting their life. However, for others, posting in this fashion has a lot more to do with portraying a certain image. Whether the objective is to seem happy, popular, pretty, healthy, productive, even despondent or lonely… it doesn’t matter. Nobody is one-hundred percent one thing, one- hundred percent of the time. When you notice how your hand immediately flies to your phone after completing a task, it is likely that your use of it has become performative, a way to show others how interesting your life is, instead of making it interesting for yourself.
In my daily activities, I started to notice how oversharing was becoming second nature for me. Just a week ago, I was sitting at my desk writing poetry, poetry I felt proud of for once. My first thought was that I should share it on my story. I knew, that I would probably receive messages from my friends telling me how “good” it was, and my ego would be inflated. But, slowly, I came to the conclusion that the more I write poetry to post on social media, the more catered and censored it would become. I would stop writing about sensitive, or private topics, I would start to become too aware of the quality of my poems. So I didn’t post that poem, and since then… I have written four others. I needed something just for me, and if I thought it was good, I didn’t need validation from the world.
Oversharing is a sort of grey area. It is about knowing your own intentions behind the use of social media. Since observing my experience with oversharing, I have worked to curb it and been taking time away from my online presence. This doesn’t mean that I don’t still post photos when I go out with my friends, or send my friends goofy selfies once or twice a day, yet I have made it a point to not let it consume me. I leave my phone in another room for most of the day, check it consciously, post sparingly. There is nothing wrong with showing your life on social media, I personally just do not want to rely on it. In general, relying on anything except your own nature and morals is harmful, so use social media to your advantage it — control your use of it, before it begins controlling you.
“It takes discipline to not let social media steal your time” -Alexis Ohanian
Hey you — while you’re scrolling through social media (because we all still do it), I would greatly appreciate it if you followed the Chocolate and Politics Instagram (@chocolateandpolitics) so that you don’t miss out on any future posts!