Saturday, December 24, 2016

Finding A Platform

I've been happier than I think I should be, spending a Walden-esque week alone in my apartment. It's possibly unhealthy to be as isolationist as I am, but honestly, I've been positively ecstatic to lounge around in my pajamas for a week straight and not have to interact with anyone in real life. I'm sad that it's over so soon; I feel like I could do this for at least a month straight. The apartment gets lots of sunshine and has big windows for fresh air; I can sit and listen to music uninterrupted while lost in thought; everything is so clean and quiet. I could do with more visits from friends, but living by myself is a dream come true. Woo!

But without IRL visits, the only way to stay connected to people it seems is through social media. I don't know what it is about it, but I have a strong aversion toward social media sites. I have all the accounts — Instagram, Twitter, you name it — but I don't use them. I don't post or like or tweet; I refuse to use the Facebook app or keep myself logged in on my browser. Perhaps these apps were more relevant in a small high school setting where everyone knew each other and wanted to keep up with what people are doing. In a way it's good for staying connected to those people once everyone leaves for college, but I don't want that. It's too draining to think about people I don't care about, who probably don't care about me either. When I spend time scrolling through social media catching up on irrelevant people from my past, I feel like miss out on life that is happening right now. Maybe I just don't have enough friends.

Granted, Facebook is a convenient way to access people, Instagram is a nice digital photo book, and Twitter makes it easy to engage with trends across the globe, but those aren't my priorities. I want to be directly connected with the people I care about and only see content from them. However, they don't post much on social media either, so those sites are more or less useless. But for some odd reason, I continue to feel obligated to engage with them through social media, because I should want to be social in an extrovert's world?

I'm not saying that all social media is bad. There are social media sites that I do enjoy. I like the "media" part but I don't like the "social" part, which is why I find myself most engaged on content-based sites like Tumblr and Pinterest. However, given the aggregate nature of these sites, it's difficult to keep track of my own original content. Exclusively original content based sites are also insufficient. Having a blog, which by this point in digital development is almost pathetically old-fashioned, doesn't allow me to consume content from others. iMessage and Snapchat are closest to that middle ground, but they veer more towards direct communication than social media.

At the risk of sounding like an overrated hipster, I think Polaroids and scrapbooks are great for capturing memories. Maybe it's the nostalgia of being a 90's kid, but I remember a time before social media, and I don't think it's a necessity now either. Maybe I'm not using social media correctly, or something about my personality is incongruous to the use of social media. I want to engage in social media, but so far none of the existing sites that I am aware of fit what I'm looking for from the concept of social media.

I think I'd enjoy a platform that has the right balance of original content, passive media consumption, and interpersonal engagement. But since I don't see one yet, I might as well get rid of the guilty (?) social media weight on my shoulders. For 2017, I plan on changing my profile picture and then deactivating Facebook again once and for all. The bottom line is I don't want or need that kind of social media, period. There are so many more interesting things I could be doing with my time than scrolling through my Newsfeed reading about my second grade best friend's new car hobby. For now, though they're imperfect, iMessage and Snapchat are sufficient. ◊

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