I used to be the kind of person who was very verbal about condemning social media up until very recently, when I made the decision to use social media more intentionally. This meant I had to unfollow people and pages I did not align with, seeking out content that more accurately and boldly depicted what I was holding inside, and opting to spend less time on social media overall.
However, I’ve come to realize, social media isn’t the problem—we are. We are the ones who insist on perpetuating false versions of our lives. Lives where we are flashy when we really struggle from paycheck to paycheck, where we are surrounded by large groups of people who we are not confident will really be there in the long run, where we give the appearance of everything being fine when we are crumbling inside.
We are the ones who build communities around ourselves online and in real life, only to deprive those same people of the privilege of showing up for us, being present for us, and seeing us through difficult times. We’d rather “I’m fine, all is well” ourselves to death than be vulnerable and transparent.
I grew up in the kind of household where it was encouraged to never let others know what was going on in your home. This meant if someone got sick, failed a test, or got into a fight with someone else in our family, it was expected to fully keep that within the walls of our home, and never share that with anyone outside that bubble. When I joined social media a decade ago, those ideals I held to be true clashed with the emergence of “overshare culture.” People didn’t hold in their issues, they shared them freely, sometimes to the detriment of their own wellbeing and their relationships with others. It was unthinkable, messy, even, for me to conceive the fact that some people were very comfortably vocal about how they felt about whatever was going on with them.
Then came the emergence of things like “Twitter beef” and sub-posting. A very passive aggressive, unevolved way of self-expression that exists only to peak people’s interest enough to generate conversation. People will wonder and speculate who someone has an issue with, but those two parties never come together and resolve to fix those issues.
I found myself in the middle there somehow. I would be vocal about my issues with friends and acquaintances enough to make sure I would put it in a place they would see, but I still was not verbal about what was going on in my house, with my family, or anything that mattered which would have required me to be transparent and vulnerable about my life. I was completely of the mind that no one should know my business but me—while I still believe that to an extent—I can acknowledge that is a certain kind of conditioning that sets me up to be in fight or flight mode in all relationships. Which isn’t healthy, safe, or sustainable. It is safe for me to be open with those I trust to hold space for me.
I am aware that I seem enigmatic to many people. I am a vigilant guard of my personal space and do not label a lot of people “friend,” so I limit access to myself that way by keeping it generally conversational with many—especially this year. These boundaries exist to protect myself, my space, and to help keep the space around me sacred and open.
I believe we do a service to others by allowing those who love us to see us go through life and the many ups and downs that brings. I also believe if you are intentional about creating the community around you that you wish to have, that you will feel safe to be open and freely speak your mind to those who have your best interest at heart.
You don’t have to post all your business with the world, just share with those you care about (and are confident care about you), and trust them to show up and support you through it all.
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