The thing about social media…

Social media.

I have a love/hate relationship with you. We broke up in 2017, and it wasn’t you, it was me. I had to get my shit together, and we needed some time apart.

I deleted the twitter, instagram, and snapchat apps off of my phone for about six months. Now I’m making an effort to get back on the grid. And I’m back with different intentions.

You see, I don’t think social media is either “good” or “bad.” I think it’s what you make it. You can use it to follow models and obsess over their bodies and make yourself feel like shit (what I did) or you can use it to keep in touch with your friends. Like most things in life, social media is neutral and our motivations are either positive or negative.

So let’s take a look at our motivations.

1. Addiction

I wrote a blog post on dopamine addiction where I broke down the dangerous the cycle that prevents us from feeling fulfilled in our lives. I was inspired by this amazing article on the Guardian that explains how social media apps are designed to trigger psychological desires that keep you addicted to your phone. Everyone should read this article, but I have to mention that one of the tech engineers who created social media actually banned himself from using social media and doesn’t let his children use it either!!!

Needless to say, if you’re using social media make sure you aren’t addicted. How do you know if you’re addicted? I’m a fan of fasting!! Delete the app off of your phone for a day. If you can do it, try to stay away for a week. I know a lot of people who like to take breaks from social media, depending on how they’re feeling. So if you aren’t already, stay aware of how it is affecting you.

Here are the warning signs that social media is ruining your mental health:

  • If you find yourself only posting photos when you feel down
  • If you delete photos that don’t get your desired amount of likes
  • If you procrastinate more important things and spend hours on your feed
  • If you are nervous every time you post a photo or a tweet

So what do you do in your free time without social media? I used to find myself laying on my bed, staring at the ceiling. So, I started to use that time to self-reflect. Allowed myself to listen to my thoughts and fears and worries. I used that time to feel what I had been bottling up, and without judgment. I didn’t have to worry what anyone else thought about me. I could just be. And that felt great.

B. Validation

Because most of our parents were raising us unconsciously, we didn’t get the proper understanding of self-love. And on top of that, they and our teachers and our friends taught us this unhealthy need of approval from them. We were busy trying to make our parents proud or impress our friends, that we didn’t learn the person whose opinion should matter most to you is you.

Seeking validation from others is something I’m still unlearning. Until a few years ago, I was the most insecure person I knew. I would cringe over my snapchat story, for example, and delete it as soon as I posted it. I always worried about what people would think of me- if I was too loud, not funny enough, too weird. I never felt confident enough to share my writing or opinions, either, but look at me now y’all.

A lot had to change for me to finally be able to express Banan truthfully to the world. I grew up with my family’s reputation over my head (literally in a hijab), and I was never taught to “be yourself.” I was miserable. I know it sounds corny, but living in your truth is critical for your mental health. Simply put, ya girl has been on a journey! Now I’ve been posting whatever the fuck I want to post whenever the fuck I feel like posting. The only filter that I live by is my own self-validation. Is this who I am? Is this aligned with how I define myself? If yes, then I owe it to myself to express myself. 

There are too many side-effects of suppressing your true self, and take it from a girl who stopped wearing the hijab in spite of believing her parents would chop her head off. Be liberated. Everyone else can eat a dick. And I can say that if I want.

C. Permanence

For some reason, we have this idea that everything we say or do in life and on social media will be there forever. This forces us to pretend we’re the “final versions” of ourselves and not the “rough drafts” we actually are. Because if you’re in your twenties or younger, chances are you’re still trying to figure out how you want to introduce yourself to the world, and social media doesn’t make it easy when everyone takes everything you post seriously. People digging up celebrities old tweets from 2004 needs to stop.

What most people don’t admit is that we’re constantly evolving and we’re going to change our minds over and over again. We’re still so young!!!! I’ve learned not to take myself seriously, and not to take social media seriously either. Our social media should be a truthful representation of who we are, at this moment in our lives. We can always delete posts and restart our profiles over to reflect a more accurate representation of our lives as we grow, but there is no shame in the truth.

This extends beyond social media and it’s a realization that was foreign to me at first. As a perfectionist, I wanted everything to be perfectly aligned with the vision in my mind. But as I grow older, I’m learning the importance of trusting in the process. I’m thinking less and feeling more, paradoxically reverting back to my child self as I grow. And I’ve never been happier. I guess that’s why they call it the circle of life.

Accepting my writing skills as they are now will only help me get better at writing. If I continued to judge myself and be afraid of others judging me, I would never improve. Trusting the process means showing up as you are and having faith that life will take you where you want to be (for more info, check out my blog post on the Law of Attraction and the faith/fear dichotomy). 

D. Comparison

As I mentioned earlier, I had a terrible habit of comparing myself to other people. I read this quote by Pastor Steve Furtick that said, “Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes with someone else’s highlight reel.” We all know that who we are on social media is not the most accurate representation of who we are in real life. With all the editing, we don’t even look like ourselves. So it’s not fair to yourself to compare someone else’s airbrushed selfie with what you see in the mirror.

Social media is just a vehicle for connection and self-expression. Your habits can serve you or harm you. The beautiful thing about social media is that it can help you reinvent yourself at every stage of your life. You are different than who you were a moment ago. Accept it, cherish it, act like it.

Once again, good luck on your journey! And a personal thank you to those people in my life who have always accepted me and who continue to support my journey. I love y’all so damn much. That’s the ultimate reason why I’m back on social media. I’m here to support my friends on their journeys and to share the lessons I’ve learned on mine.

And social media, I have to apologize to you. I am indeed thankful for you. I am more connected to people than ever before.

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