June 25, 2020

If I Deleted my Social Media, would I still “Exist?” ~ Paige Oxley

Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that not long ago, the only way you’d meet someone was if you were standing in front of them.

People lived their whole lives without ever “posting” anything. People took pictures, not so others could see, but so they could have them—stills of moments in time they would never forget.

Today, most of us take pictures to show other people. We fall into the category of either posting a lot, or talking about how we’re against it—maybe a combination of the two.

It’s weird to think about, but there’s a serious argument to be made that many of us are living for the purpose of showing others. We get a new job and immediately post it on LinkedIn and wait for the influx of congratulations. We go on a gorgeous vacation and cannot wait until people who made you feel small see how stunning you look on the beach in Mykonos.

What’s more interesting is that most people would not admit that they do this; it feels embarrassing. If we are embarrassed to admit it, there must be a part of us that knows it isn’t “right” or a good way to live.

I’ve struggled with social media since I first heard of its existence. I was one of those people who didn’t like it out of the gate. Creating my Myspace page and AOL bio made me anxious, not excited. I’ve gone through many phases where I don’t use any social media at all; you couldn’t find the apps on my phone and there was nothing in my browser history.

A couple of years ago, my career called for me to be active on social—and it was scary AF. I had to do a lot of healing and soul-searching because honestly, I did feel bad about myself when I didn’t get a lot of likes. I was able to change that though, and I felt good about it for a while. I was able to separate my worthiness and happiness from how many people engaged with something I posted and what they had to say about it.

Now I’m back in a place where I realize I’ve been devoting a lot of my time and energy to what people think of me. I think a lot about who is watching, if they care, or if I’m just another picture they scroll by. Since moderation is not my strong suit and my only switch is deep, I find myself wondering if I should just swing the pendulum and delete every social media account I have.

Can you imagine? Could you do it?

I’ve deleted the apps before, for months even, before eventually downloading again. Sometimes I go days without checking. But deleting completely? Forever?

Would I be deleted too? Would I become irrelevant? Where are we drawing the line here?

Here’s the thing, social media is incredible. It is so beautiful and so powerful in so many ways. But I am a wild child. I am as free spirited as they come, and I’m going to be honest: I do not like feeling obligated to take part in something that is not aligned with my soul. And as I sit here on my bed staring at half a piece of peanut butter toast, my stomach is in knots at the mere thought of erasing my presence on social media.

If you erase your presence on social media, are you erased too? Of course, we immediately and instinctively respond “no.” But then put yourself in my shoes and ask yourself this: what if you deleted your accounts with no intention of ever returning?

Do you feel that? The knot in your stomach?

My more immature self used to say that I wish I lived in a time when social media wasn’t a thing, but honestly, I’m glad it’s a thing. In times like these when we need information and we need activism, social media has been one of the greatest gifts we could ask for.

If I am an activist, but don’t post about activism, am I still an activist? If I look beautiful, but nobody comments on a picture telling me I look beautiful, do I still look beautiful?

I really don’t know the answers to these questions, but I want to.

See, I’m a writer. My mission in life is to share the messages my soul shares with me. If you have a message, but you’re not posting it on social media, will anyone listen? Will they even hear it? Are we bound to this platform? Are we just accepting that? Does that idea bother anyone else like it does me?

What determines relevance? Is it validity? Is it importance? Or is it just how many people see it?

I’m asking you not because I’m hoping to catch your fleeting attention for a moment before it’s stolen away again. I’m asking because I really want to know.

If I deleted my social media and instead stood on a literal soap box, or published paperback books, or talked to actual humans in real life, or if I took pictures for scrapbooks, or my dating options were in front of me and not in my phone—if I never shared on social media again, would I become irrelevant? Is that just irresponsible? Irreverent?

What do you think, friend?

My head is telling me no, but there’s a feeling in my belly that would beg to differ. It’s hard to believe that I could exist in a world where I never posted anything.

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