Social Media: Do We Care Too Much?

Monday, 7 August 2017

Social Media: Do We Care Too Much?

I have been taking a little time away from the internet each Saturday for the past few weeks, it's not something I planned, in fact, or something I force myself to do. Each Saturday I just find myself focusing less on the internet, well except my blog when it comes to my blog I still write posts, promote and plan on Saturdays. When it comes to social media I post less, I stalk less and I care less, but it wasn't until I read Aziz Ansari's GQ interview, which showed up on one of my social media channels ironically, that I started to notice my new routine and the way in which it was affecting how I saw the internet and how I act when it comes to the internet, specifically social media. 

You can read Aziz's interview here, but unless you love him as much as I do, then I'm guessing you really don't care too much, so I'll narrow down why I'm referencing it. In the interview, Aziz talks all about how he has cut ties with the internet; he has no social media accounts, he doesn't read emails, he doesn't even have a browser app on his phone, upon reading this I was baffled 'how does he keep up with the world?', 'he must secretly check the internet, right?' These were just some of the thoughts that went through my head, but when he spoke of how he's still happy and successful despite his disconnect from the internet, it got me thinking; do we care too much? 

I have always been the first person to counter-argue the whole 'millennials are so addicted to the internet' and the 'the internet is such a terrible place' arguments that are used against us of the internet generation. I never expected myself to ever look at the internet in a negative light, but I find myself wondering recently; do I take social media way too seriously? I mean as a blogger I have to take the internet seriously, blogging is an incredible passion of mine and I like to take my blog seriously, almost as if it were my job, but in doing so am I putting unneeded pressure on myself? Am I allowing social media, following numbers and likes on a photo to engulf me and take over my life? Afterall, each time a photo of mine doesn't get over 100 likes on Instagram I question my photography, my captions and it may even affect my self-esteem. 

Not only does it affect my self-esteem, but I have actually found myself thinking about how I can strategically make people follow my social media accounts, yes I did just say 'make'. As a blogger I have always believed organic traffic is the best traffic, I don't want to trick people into following me with a new competition every week or fake a following by spending money on bots, I want my followers to follow me simply because they want to. So why has this suddenly changed? Why am I so insistent on growing my social media numbers that I am willing to strategically draw people into following me with content that I'm not passionate about or photos I'm not even proud of? It's not me and it is not how I want my social media following to grow, I would rather have few followers who love and engage with my content than loads of followers who don't really care for it and don't ever communicate with it or me. 

I completely understand that this cannot work for some people, for some, blogging and social media is their career. It is how they make a living and they do not have the freedom I do to just not tweet for a few days or take a week off blogging because they can't connect with their content. For me blogging is a passion, it is a hobby, I may like to treat it like it is my job, but it's not, I have other ways of making money and I don't have to focus as deeply on my following as they do, so why don't I use this freedom to my advantage? Instead of fretting because I can't reach 1000 followers on Instagram, why don't I focus my energy else where? On University? Or beefing up my CV? Or on spending time with the people I love? I don't need 1000 followers on Instagram, as much as I like to tell myself that I do, I will live if I don't reach the next milestone so I am not going to allow myself to be consumed by this need to gain followers and post content every single day, even when I don't like the photograph, just to reach that milestone. Instead, I want to post content I am proud of and if I gain a following from it then I gain a following from it, what does it matter? I love it either way. 

As a blogger I need to think of the numbers, if I don't then I am not being a very good blogger, but what is good numbers if your content is bland, uncreative and the same old content that's been recycled 1000 times by 1000 different bloggers? I want to grow my following across my social media channels and especially around my blog readership, but I don't want it to stress me out and make me become someone who cares only for the demographics, I am a creative person and to create is what I do best and it is how I want to be known in the blogging world, not as that boring girl with 10,000 followers. I want my following to come from people who relate to me, who want to read more of my blog posts, keep up with my tweets or see my life in pictures over on Instagram. I don't want to have followers because my life appears to be perfect and like I am living some sort of fantasy lifestyle with pink skies and pet monkies. Maybe one day I will have a perfect life with pink skies and a pet monkey, but right now, I don't and I am perfectly happy with that and with being 100% transparent and honest with those who follow me. 

In no way, shape or form am I accusing anyone of lying or contriving a fake lifestyle for social media, I mean we all want to only show the good parts of our lifestyles, don't we? I mean, trust me, I hardly ever talk about the bad moments of my life online even when I should because I hate to be pitied by people, but that doesn't mean my life is perfect, I just keep private about certain aspects. I just give up worrying about whether my Instagram feed is cohesive or whether or not my third day without an Instagram post will result in unfollowers because it is a waste of time. People are going to follow you, people are going to unfollow you and that's just how the internet works, we cannot stop these people from doing it and we cannot coax them into staying, what we can do is post engaging, creative content that we believe in and adore and hopefully our positive attitudes will encourage others to feel positive about our content too thus gaining a wonderful following that you know followed you for all the right reasons. 

Instead of worrying about how I will reach my next 1000 followers on Twitter or fretting over why my Instagram numbers won't seem to budge I am going to ride out the waves. I am going to continue to tweet, Instagram, Facebook, blog and so on, but I am going to put less pressure on myself to grow and focus more on what I put out there and how I engage because I didn't start blogging to gain popularity. I started it as a creative outlet and that's how I want to continue my journey. I completely understand a lot of people see this whole situation differently, a lot of people for a lot of different reasons believe numbers should be the main focus and I don't see anything wrong with that at all, it's just not for me. The purpose of this blog post wasn't to insult anyone or to dampen the mood on the wonderful creation of the internet but to start a discussion with others on whether we take social media too seriously. 

So sorry Aziz, who will never read my blog because he doesn't use the internet, but I will not be deleting social media or my internet browser anytime soon. The internet is a big part of me, I grew up on here and it can't get rid of me that easy, but you have made me think a lot about how I use the internet and how I let it affect me, so thank you. Thank you for showing me that I was allowing one of my favourite things in the entire world become something negative. We are so lucky to have the internet, we have the world at our fingertips, but if we don't use it right it can become a dark place and I don't want it to be one for me. I don't want to hate social media or get frustrated at my fellow bloggers because they have more followers than me, I just want to enjoy what I have and maybe I'll grow while I'm at it, who knows? 

So what do you think of Aziz Ansari's internet boycott? Could you give up the internet? How do you feel about social media, do we take it too seriously? Discuss with me in the comments. 

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