I started writing this blog post a long time ago. Its original title was ‘break the mirror’. I was fed up with social media at the time because all I could see was narcissism. I withdrew myself from it, and this blog has now become is a story of what’s been happening in my head over the past 6 months or so and how that affected my use social media.
So I haven’t posted a blog in over a year. It’s not because I forgot, or that I was too busy (although my schedule doesn’t help). It’s because I didn’t want to talk about myself. I didn’t want to become a narcissist.
I stopped using Twitter for a long time too. Every time I looked at my feed, it seemed to be full of people aggressively asserting their opinions or posting selfies, which I found odd as I never followed or liked this kind of content. Then I realised I was seeing these posts because people I follow had liked it – thanks people! So Twitter just seemed like a sea of self-importance with a good helping of bragging. I didn’t want to be part of that.
Of course I’ve still been active on Instagram, but I stopped creating personal Instagram stories and talking about myself. Because, there too, I became increasingly aware of people talking about themselves and I didn’t want to become a narcissist.
So I banished myself from stories because thought I didn’t want to fall into a narcissism trap. Before this phase I used to share all sorts of things. Some of it useful, like places to visit; Some of it frivolous, like things I found funny; and some of it just self-indulgent like visits to the gym or a fresh haircut. Who cares about that life stuff? When I started this blog post I though the answer was nobody. And when I stopped sharing life stuff, nobody got in touch to say they missed seeing what I was doing. So that’s one question answered. I thought. Let’s be honest, it is dull!
So I stopped posting and looking at stories. Unless I was somewhere or doing something that I thought people would find interesting or useful. So good places to visit, local events and new cakes to bake were in. But my exile from stories coincided with successive illnesses and bad weather, so I wasn’t even out exploring like I used to.
While this self-imposed ‘exile’ was in force, I was losing confidence. Months later a couple of friends said they missed my stories. And I was getting nice feedback from what I considered to be the ‘useful’ stories. So 2020 started and I decided to get back on the horse. But I’m struggling. Some days I create content for stories and delete it. I guess I’m trying to free myself to some extent.
I still think that social media is creating narcissism, even among the most normal and pleasant folk. Just flicking through stories and I can see there’s increasing self-obsession and modesty now seems like a rare quality. But it’s not as bad as I thought. I follow people with good intentions. And I have good intentions too.
However I’m sure that true fulfilment and happiness come when we to stop looking at ourselves. But I now see that sharing doesn’t have to come from a place of introspection. And I know there’s a huge irony about this blog where I’m just talking about myself! But I’m writing it to help my brain and maybe it will resonate elsewhere too. Hopefully you’ll agree it’s not the same as, say, the politicos on Twitter forcing their opinions onto others, whether they want to hear it or not. In his book ‘The 7 Secrets of Happiness’ Gyles Brandreth writes that ‘self-awareness is good. Self-regard is fatal. Break the mirror. Introspection is a killer.’ A useful tip for us all.
So, what happens next? The ‘useful’ stuff on Instagram stories continues, there’s no problem with that. But can I share more about myself? Should I? I’ll try, when it feels right to. As for Twitter, well I don’t tweet very often anyway. Again, I’ll use the useful barometer. Most days I now open the app. I still don’t like what I see and quickly close it again. But it’s an achievement to look. And here is my first blog post for a while. I hope that by posting this, I am breaking an invisible barrier that will enable me to blog more frequently about things and places that interest me.
Of course I will put my wellbeing ahead of social media. And I hope you will, too. I understand that running a business needs a social media presence and importantly a strategy with planned content. But if, like me, you’re an individual keeping an active social media profile, why not chill for a bit? Allow yourself a day off. Nothing bad will happen if we don’t post a story or miss posting a photo for a day or 2. Don’t let social media become an obsession that leads to damaging introspection.
If you’re reading this sentence, thanks for sticking through this rather self-indulgent blog. It’s been a bit of a ‘brain dump’ (what an awful expression). Feel free to share your thoughts below.