Social media rest promotes needed reflection

By Lillian Small

A few weeks ago, we published a wonderful Opinions article about social media from our very own Ella Dunn. As Copy Chief, I read a lot of articles, and this one really stuck with me. I thought this might just have been because it was a great piece, but that was only part of it.

Ella wrote a lot of things I agree with. Social media does suck you in, profiting off of deteriorating your mental health with prescriptions of aesthetic unworthiness and bleedsing you dry with microtrends that encourage rampant consumerism out of an ’80s capitalist’s wet dream. 

Those are things I believe. I even wrote a paper about these topics in high school, but that is not why her piece stuck with me.

It stuck with me because it is something I might have written myself a year ago, but the me of today could not. I am not on social media anymore, but I would like to be. I know it is bad for me; we all have that passive understanding that it is a waste of time and is an evil conglomerate echo chamber, but we use it. I used to use it. 

During the pandemic, I got really into skin care. I learned a lot — mostly from social media. I have been a creative writer my whole life, and social media has always been a huge source of prompts, inspiration and motivation for me. A lot of my sense of humor has been shaped on the internet, as has my generational identity therein. While I would not dream of claiming myself an expert in Gen-Z comedy, I will proudly declare my appreciation of the form.

Also during the pandemic, social media was a fantastic way to stay in contact with my high school friends. I developed a lot of my humor on my Close Friends story during those years, jesting for my theater friends and starting a domino effect that in a very real way led to this Monday’s April Fools’ issue. For all its faults, social media is a tool that I loved to use, and I feel that I learned to use it very well.

“If you love social media so much,” you may be asking, “why do you use the past tense?”

Your keen eye for verb conjugations brings us to the core of the reason I pitched this piece. I could spin a thread about my mental health or the time I was wasting, which are both true, but are also not the answer to your question. The answer is actually very frustrating in its simplicity. I stopped using social media because of the war.

A lot changed for me after October 7, the details of which I will not regale you with. I have seen my fair share of ill-informed Israel content throughout my life; not only recently but also in April of 2021 and the summer of 2022, the list goes on. One of the many things my community dealt with was taking a collective break from Instagram, because it was that or stick around and have words put in our mouths. It is something we are used to, and is so familiar that it is mechanized. We post whatever it is we care about, we argue in our DM’s because we can not help ourselves, and it affects us. Rinse and repeat. We write off people who post things that we disagree with because we are just as guilty as anyone else of digging our heels in. 

One of my favorite things about humans beings is our ability to discuss. This is why I chose to go to college, specifically of the small liberal arts variety. This is also why I am a journalist. When people talk to each other, really talk and exchange ideas and perspectives, magic happens. I see it in classes, I see it at The Mossy Log and I have not seen it on social media for a long time. 

I have watched social media tear people apart, watched how it impacts the real world and skews our understanding of it. I have always loved using social media, but it became too much of an antithesis to everything else I believe in. As a lover of talk, as a journalist and as a Jew (and a person increasingly aware of how these identities overlap), what I was seeing was affecting me too severely, cutting too often and too deep. So enough had to be enough.

Some weeks into October, I installed an app on my phone that locks me out of social media after a few minutes and gives me a few uses a day. It is called ScreenZen and it is free and I can not recommend it enough. Very quickly, I stopped using social media unless I was looking up something specific, usually for my Mossy Log responsibilities because I am nothing if not on-brand. I never thought of myself as needing to control or limit my time online, and I have always been hesitant to employ any kind of “strategy.” But push came to dramatic shove, I tried it and it has worked for me.

The past six months have been transformative. I have learned about myself, my various communities, my own values and the world around me. I have changed immensely in some ways, and in others I have steadfastly held to who I have always been. I understand more deeply what it means to be grieving, relieved, alone, supported, visible, ignored, privileged, marginalized, vocal and silenced. I have feigned neutrality and held my tongue or harnessed courage and spoken out. But for the most part, for lack of any sustainable alternative, I have observed, and it affects me.

I think this is why Ella’s article stuck with me: because I no longer relate to it. I think I would like to one day get back into social media, older and wiser, and kill time looking at inspo pics and skin care trends and stupid things that make me laugh. Because I miss feeling in the loop and connected. I miss using that tool for everything it had to offer me.

Social media, at its best, is an equalizer. For better or worse, everyone gets a voice, and though algorithms and advertising money interfere, this is what separates socials from their pop media counterparts. At its worst, it is polarizing, anonymizing and paralyzing, and I have seen some of its very worst in the past few months. But I also know things change. And that I have changed. And that I really miss Twitter.

Subscribe to the Mossy Log Newsletter

Stay up to date with the goings-on at Lewis & Clark! Get the top stories or your favorite section delivered to your inbox whenever we release a new issue. 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

AlphaOmega Captcha Classica  –  Enter Security Code