Hannah-LYZE This: The Skeletons in Our Social Media Closets

As the Halloween holiday is getting scarily close with each passing day, ‘tis the season for spooky articles. Reading that sentence may have triggered you to think about killer clowns, faceless demons or overdue student tuition bills. But for me, I shudder at the thought of something else: my ever-growing digital footprint from my last 7+ years spent growing up on the Internet. 


In this article, I want to reflect on my time growing these Internet personas (and potentially get spooked by my super cringey status updates), but I also want to delve deeply into the very real possibility that my posts and profiles will always be lingering over my shoulder.



I distinctly remember going to an old friend’s house one afternoon and illicitly making a Facebook when I was 11 or 12. We used her webcam to take a wickedly pixelated profile photo—too grainy to share here (oh darn)— and I felt like the coolest kid ever. I probably had about 20 friends at first, which were mainly family members, but I secretly logged on to our family’s desktop and sat for hours waiting for people to accept my friend requests and engage in poke wars. Side note, why was that considered the pinnacle of entertainment way back when?



Even just writing this, it feels unreal that I’ve amassed a digital Facebook record of 8 years’ worth of details—the monumental moments and the otherwise monumentally cringey ones— of my life. Although I never encountered the creepos that can be on Facebook, it was still a real possibility that I luckily never faced. It wasn’t a huge obsession of mine, but I did use it to post status updates like this which may haunt me more than ghosts this season.



So for me, the scariest part of Facebook is the “On this Day” reminders that show me how cringe I used to be.



Tumblr felt like my own secret way to create a name for myself on the Internet. I used it to blog about my feelings (and the occasional One Direction GIF). When I think back to the first time I made a blog, it’s less scary and more of a trick-or-treat to think I was passionate about sharing my story from such a young age, even if only 5 people read them. And no, I will not give you the link to read my innermost 6th-grader thoughts.


However, I will tell you that I called it My Life As a Misfit. Can you say d-r-a-m-a-t-i-c?



It is a bit spooky to think of my blog as a ghost of who I used to be, seeing as I haven’t used it consistently in 4 years.



I made my Instagram account on August 6, 2014. In five years, I have amassed 878 posts. When I first started, I was very unbothered by the number of likes I got because I was only a sophomore in high school. It was just something I did for fun. 



But now, even though it kinda sucks to admit it, if I have a post get less than 200 likes, I do stop and wonder, “Hmmm, what was wrong with it? Should I have chosen a different filter? New emojis? A hashtag? Let me rewrite the caption to be wittier. I’m known for my captions.”


I used to love just seeing the creative ways people, like myself, tried to display the honest parts of their life. But now, it’s become a huge game of who can make their life out to be the most awesome depiction of fleeting moments. People attend events just for pictures and don’t stop to take a mental snapshot, myself included. When I think about the next time I have some serious reflection about my Instagram profile, I’ll probably be spooked about by how time-consuming it was to make sure everyone believed I had the most postable life ever. And maybe, I won’t even remember the parts I chose to display so proudly on my page in the first place.



Twitter is another one of those outlets where there’s not too much pressure on what I put out into the world. But there are moments in the back of my head where I stop and think, should I just save this to drafts instead? I don’t need to fire off every thought that enters my head into the Twitterverse, and yet, I still do it a fair amount.



Maybe the scary part here is the sense of entitlement that everyone, whether they follow you or not, needs to hear every important thought you have. Maybe even scarier is coming to terms with the idea that not everybody’s going to agree with you, so you should be prepared for a deflation of our social-media-inflated egos. 



I think writing this article helped me figure out the ways the Internet has shaped me into who I am. As much as I want to think I project the same parts of myself across all my social media platforms, that’s just not the case.


My FB is for messages I wouldn’t mind my grandma seeing (and asking me about in phone calls). My Tumblr used to be my escape from all other pressures where I presented my truest self. My Instagram is for the overly curated photos of my life, which I am working on unlearning so I have a better emotional self-image of myself. And finally, Twitter is where I get to retweet cringey jokes and share my inner thoughts, kind of like a digital diary. 


So as a final thought, every time you post something online, you’re gaining a little social media spirit that’s always going to be with you—so let that sink in next time you want to press send post! 


Cover, 1, 5, 8

GIFs provided by Giphy.com