Unlike many of my peers, I didn’t have any social media in high school. My parents had been adamant that my brother and I stay off it and neither of us defied them. I sometimes wondered what all the fuss was about, since my classmates seemed to enjoy Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and Twitter. I felt a bit left out, but I decided it wasn’t worth upsetting my parents.
The day after I graduated from high school, I created accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. I enjoyed seeing the content that my friends posted, and enjoyed sending silly pics to them. Most of all, I loved Twitter. I connected with not only my friends but also with former teachers and people who gave me career advice. I loved being up to date on every breaking news event, seeing tweets from my favorite celebrities, and laughing at every viral meme or funny tweet.
Throughout my first year of college, Twitter was a great way to make friends. Since all of us were stuck at home encountering our classmates as black boxes with names on zoom, we were all desperate for interaction with one another. Also, as James Madison students, we all took the same 1st year classes, so it was always great to see one of my classmates complaining about a paper that I was stressing over or hating on a lecture that I thought was boring too. I felt a real sense of community, and I loved the satisfaction of seeing that little blue number in my notifications, meaning that my friends were enjoying my sarcastic tweets.
I kept up my normal social media use all through the beginning of this semester even though it was starting to take a toll on my mental health. I realized a few days ago that I was so focused on other peoples’ lives that I was neglecting my own. I was spending so much time on Twitter that I was using it as a form of validation. I deleted tweets that I thought were funny because they didn’t get enough likes. I was disappointed whenever I logged on and didn’t see any notifications or messages. I felt jealous of people with more followers and likes than I had. I was also constantly bombarded by volatile political discussions, horrific news events, and ideas of beauty and success that made me feel worthless. I thought I was desensitized to all of this, since it’s so common in the social media age, but I was actually being overwhelmed.
I don’t know exactly when my relationship with Twitter turned into a toxic obsession, but I realized that it had to change. I have so many important responsibilities for this semester, and I understood that I could not allow myself to be distracted from them. I want to learn Spanish, read several books a month, exercise, eat healthy, and take care of myself better. So I made the difficult decision to deactivate my account for the next 30 days. It seems silly to think that it was a difficult decision, but it felt like I was losing a part of myself by not having access to my account. I think that makes it pretty clear that Twitter was a bigger part of my life than it should have been.
So will I choose to reactivate my account in the next 30 days? Or will I let the deadline pass and allow my account to be deleted forever? I’m not sure yet.
But whatever choice I make, I will make it by putting what’s good for me first.