Between Potential and a Hard Place

I am struggling to understand what my intention with social media truly is. While it’s nice to have a convenient way to keep up with people’s lives (and memes), I can’t honestly say that that is its primary function in my life.

For me, social media has become, first and foremost, a source of social [in]validation. Especially since the pandemic.

These platforms have become stages and my participation on them is an elaborate performance. Even my efforts at “being real” and “authentic” feel so contrived. What I think you all are going to think ALWAYS influences what I share. That influence may be small, or even subconscious, but it is always present.

(That influence might stop me from posting this at all.)

Much like that ex who could have been so perfect if they had just changed [insert perceived character flaw here], social media has so much potential. 

Potential for community and connection. Potential for education and entertainment. 

Potential for growth. Potential for good.

If you’re wondering why I’m still here, it’s precisely for that potential. But, as we all learned from dating that ex, staying for potential means living in disappointment.

And disappointment is exactly what social media brings me. I am disappointed with how much time I spend on it. I am disappointed with how much of its negativity I internalize. And I am constantly disappointed with my own life and achievements because everyone else seems happier, hotter, and in Hawaii (seriously, did I miss an airline coupon or something?).

While we all know that’s never the full story, how can we not become disillusioned when it’s the only part we get to read?

Social media decorum states that I need to end my message positively, citing this realization as an ✨opportunity for growth✨ or having some sort of inspiring call to action. But I neither feel optimistic nor do I currently know of a better path forward. The obvious answer is to ditch all these platforms for good—and it’s a tempting one. But I’ve seldom found the extreme answer to be the most productive one.

And, so, I remain stuck—both acutely aware of the problem and inexcusably perpetuating it.

Caught between potential and a hard place.

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