Full disclosure: I’m one of those cynical New Year’s Resolutions haters. I’m the person who scrolls down her Facebook newsfeed and makes bets about who’s actually going to back to school or commit to veganism for more than a month in 2015. It’s not nice, and I shouldn’t shade all over someone’s new calendar shine, but I can’t help it. To me, New Year’s resolutions have always seemed like a really laissez-faire way to set goals and start making changes in your life. But, in an effort to be a more open-minded hater (and because in my heart of hearts I truly believe that if the start of a brand new year is what it takes to get someone motivated to do great things, I should live and let procrastinate), I’ve been thinking about all the things I want to improve about myself in 2015. Embarrassingly, the social media aspect of my life is in need of a major overhaul. Maybe it’s because it’s an odd-numbered year (even-numbered years make me feel uncomfortable) or perhaps my goals are clearer than they’ve ever been in New Year’s past, but I’m feeling optimistic about doing awesome things this year. Assuming, of course, that I can stop doing these three bad social media habits first.
1. Social media idolatry
The other day I was at my boyfriend’s best friend’s house, and he had one of those books on his coffee table that tells you what your birthday says about you. “Read yours,” Mike urged, “It’s really accurate.” In my experience, these things are either vague enough to be true about anyone, way off, or eerily precise. This book fell in the eerily precise category. As I was reading along, one entire paragraph was dedicated to idolatry. Before giving it any thought, I immediately became internally defensive thinking, “Hang on, now, I don’t worship any false gods!” and then held that thought for a second while I went on Twitter to read the latest tweets from this semi-famous Internet person whose life must be better than mine because she writes for a living, resides in NYC, and has 15.2K Twitter followers.
Sure, most of her tweets are clever and ~cool~, but I’m not reading them for enjoyment. I’m reading them to see 150 characters worth of reasons why I should give up on all my pathetic social media efforts and stop writing. I look at her page to be jealous and give legitimacy to all my Internet self-doubts. It’s creepy, and it needs to stop.
Think about the people you’re peeping on Instagram. I’m sure I’m not the only one engaging in the destructive type of social media idolatry.
(By the way, if you want to see if your birthday analysis is accurate, you can find it online here.)
2. Getting emotionally invested in garbage
We’re overexposed to opinions, and every time someone gets hacked or Kim Kardashian sneezes, we feel this intense pressure to figure out where we stand and why. We let every ludicrous, shocking, or heartbreaking thing worm its under our skin, and why? Because we’re obligated to react to every single headline we read on BuzzFeed?
We live in a crazy world that needs our help, and I’m not advocating apathy, but maybe it’s okay to pick and choose what you care about sometimes. You don’t have to feel feelings about the all the things. Something I started doing in 2014 (and want to continue doing in 2015) is distancing myself from other people’s opinions when necessary, because sometimes they make me irrationally angry. Or sad. Or confused. Sometimes it can be inspiring, but sometimes it can be a burden. It can make you heavy. With an endless stream of content coming at us from all directions (but most often, from the palm of our hand) each day, we need to filter.
Repeat after me: I am not obligated to read and/or react to everything I come across on Tumblr.
3. Wasting time doing background checks on people I haven’t talked to in 5+ years
Sometimes I do this really weird thing where I get sucked into discovering every detail about a former acquaintance/peer/colleague’s life for about 15 minutes to an hour. It usually starts with one of their Facebook posts about some minor accomplishment. Then I’m on trolling on his or her page for people that I recognize, and I see that he or she is still friends with so-and-so from high school. PLUS they’re dating someone who works at such-and-such company, and hang on a second. THEY HAVE A KID? When did that happen? His name is Kane. He’s three. Oh look, there he is in the pool. What do we have here? Is that a backhanded comment about child support? Uh oh.
I have no personal stake in any of this information, and it doesn’t enrich my life in any way other than giving me something to talk about with people who also used to know that person around the same timeframe that I knew him or her. Yeah, it’s oddly entertaining and makes me feel omnipotent for a while, but it’s also distracting and time-consuming, and my time would probably be better spent watching TV or doing something productive with my life.