Monday, 5 May 2014

Blogging & The Social Media Delusion


There's nothing quite like a dose of heartbreak to force you to reassess every single aspect of your life, huh?

This past fortnight has been very strange territory for me.

I shan't elude to the finer details and apologies in advance for the unnecessary melodramatics, but it feels as though in a matter of seconds, before I could even really realise what was going on, a raging house fire has torn through my home, a home full of light and loveliness and beauty, and destroyed everything in reach of it's sickeningly all-consuming reach. 

And now I am left on my knees in a black smoking mass, a tiny handful of non-charred possessions cupped in my limp hand.

In the briefest of moments my life seems to have become so dramatically different, and it's almost impossible to get my head around.

But this post is not about love and loss - there are some things better left unwritten.

This post is about those small little items in my metaphorical hand, and the one loomingly dangerous thing in the other.


*


For as long as I've been aware of it's existence and impact on my life, the internet has always been my best friend. 

Despite the dark points in my teens where I discovered the nasty side of it, the internet has been such a positive force in my life, especially so in the past two years or so, where I've been able to curate and cultivate a future out of it.

But as I mentioned, after losing not just a partner, but such a massively large and important part of my life, I've almost been forced to recollect myself and reassess what's left of my life, only to have the harrowing realisation that the next biggest thing I had in my life after him is... well, this.

And I cannot tell you how much that fucked me up to realise.

' But sure, it's your hobby! It's what you enjoy doing, that only makes sense? '

Of course, it's another important part of my life, something I want to go on to hopefully make a career out of, but that's not the problem. The problem is what this hobby in itself is comprised of - The Internet. Blogging. Social Media.

In one moment of heartbreak-fuelled revelation, I realised several terrible things at once, that all stemmed down to one main truth:

I had no idea who I was any more. 

I looked at my personal accounts on Twitter and Instagram, neither had been used for quite some time, yet my separate Scarphelia accounts were booming with activity. I'd created secondary accounts for everything blog-wise so I could make a clear distinction between my reality and my online life... But the opposite has happened.

It's as though I'd completely kissed goodbye to my personal identity and I'd become this internet-based caricature of myself. Without even realising it, I'd surrendered my real life to dedicate myself to this cyber life.

I thought about my real life, then.

With no-one at Uni who I really get on with anymore, and being surrounded by negative people who I'd given up trying to please, I realised my only friends were online, other bloggers. Admittedly I'd met the majority of them in real life too, but was that healthy? And it's all well and good strangers around the world saying they like your top on Instagram, but what happens when you shut that computer screen and walk outside and realise that you actually have no-one?

I thought about Uni, then.

I'd just so boldly declared that I was making the brash decision to take the back seat with my studies and focus all my efforts and passion into making my blog a career.... Had I really become that deluded at my own 'success'? My blog has little over 500 followers and I'm acting like I'm about to take over the world, when there are bloggers with hundreds of thousands of followers who still have to work and study...

I thought about my blog, then.

And I felt a genuine, head-in-hands sense of despair at how deluded I'd been to think that I was anything above average, a horrible realisation that this whole future I'd been so dead set on was little more than a glorious pipe dream, and I was just one among all the other thousands of better blogs out there, acting like the first and only person to have done what I do.

It was like experiencing this dazzling fall from a grace of which I'd never even had in the first place.

And as I spent those days bed-ridden in sorrow, constantly refreshing my notifications across various channels searching for some form of validation, waves of my suddenly-realised inadequacy flooding my veins and this huge sickening cloud of OH SWEET GOD WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE swirling above me, I pretty much hit breaking point.

And that's when, by chance, I saw this video:



And that's when I truly understood what social media does a person, the effect that internet success has on the mind, and the dangers it poses for bloggers in particular.

When it comes down to it, with all internet-based things, blogging deludes your sense of reality.

And there's no two ways about that.

Whether you begin to consider your life differently based on which bits you choose to give away, whether you think you're the next big thing or you consider yourself as worthless in comparison to others, or even something as small as you convince yourself you look as good in reality as you do with a Valencia filter over your hashtag selfie - social media polarises the mind in a very subtle and gradual way, until sometimes we can become completely out of touch with the offline world.

I then remembered a post from Lily Melrose which had struck a very resonate chord with me when I first read it. 

"Honestly, I did genuinely enjoy all the things I've done this year. But I could never shake the feeling that I didn't deserve it, and I wasn't good enough to be in that position. I blindly went into blogging 4 years ago and never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine living the life I do now. What I'm trying to say that its you can still be really insecure or unhappy with yourself despite being successful. I've always felt like one day people would realise how much of a phony I was and it'd all come crashing down around me. In my head, I see that person I used to be. That awkward country teenager, who didn't really have any friends and certainly wasn't looked up to or cared about, not the person I've grown into since starting this journey as a blogger."

And she totally hit the nail on the head.

Blogging, for all the wonderful opportunities it can create - in essence, it's a dehumanising thing. 

Suddenly caring about your follower count or hit count, getting annoyed and upset if you don't get enough comments or #Foodstagramming your dinner at the table while your date sits there awkwardly waiting for you to be done picking a filter - that's just not what life is fucking about man.

And at that moment, I saw all of which I'd become so desensitized to.

The effect of over-immersion in social media causes people to think that if something is not worth posting about, then it's not worth anything.

And with tears in my eyes I began to make a list of all the things I had to look forward to in the future, and I found myself filling the page, almost in shock. How could I have possibly overlooked all these wonderful things with wonderful people I had coming up? Of course I had friends, I had Flossie, Sophie, Harry, TWC, the band - so many amazing people that my mind was just forgetting.

There is so much good in my life outside of the internet, but the selective-story process of blogging forces me to consider my offline life irrelevant if it's not to do with my online life.

I went back onto my old instagram and genuinely shed a tear at  how much things had changed. How much lonelier I felt now, when I was surrounded by more people than ever. I made the decision then that I was going to re-use that instagram, and keep it for myself. No hashtags, no selfies, not caring if anyone even sees them. Just a montage of pictures of my real life, my real friends, a collage of all the things which make me happy.

And overall I guess I felt lucky to have had this breakdown/lesson/realisation now.

I can only imagine that this feeling gets progressively worse the more successful you become, and I only hope that this blog will grow into something bigger, so it's more important than ever to have constant reality checks.

And as a new resolution to myself, I'm going to take a step back. Every time I feel the need to take my phone out I'm going to stop, really think about what I was about to do on there, if I really needed to do it, and what I could do or say instead.

I think this whole ordeal has put my future into perspective too.

I don't want to be a top blogger. 

I don't think I could ever be happy like that, knowing how the dark wanderings of my mind would always taunt me with comparisons, jibes of inadequacy and the alienating effect it would have on my perception of reality.

Writing and creating are the most important things in my life. Not blogging. I want to be a writer, a traveler, an adventurer and a liver of life, who happens to showcase this and tell their story via a blog.

And I can't help but think, perhaps if I'd have had this realisation a little sooner, if I hadn't let this all get to me, if I'd stopped constantly thinking and viewing the world in blog posts... then maybe I could've held onto him too. 

But hey, the universe has a funny way of working things out, and I am a firm believer in what will be will be. All I can do in the meantime is unplug once in a while, feel the cool breeze of reality and vitality on my cheeks, keep a firm watch over what goes on in this messed up head of mine, and one day time will be kind to us all.

                    

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25 comments :

  1. I love how this blog is literally like a journal of your realisations, and many are contradictory but that's life isn't it?

    I've always thought that I wouldn't like to be a blogger full time (not that I ever would be able to be), because it could so easily isolate you day in and day out from real life people, and real life situations. It's great that you wrote this post because you and others can look back on it and remind ourselves about what it really, really important in this world. Take comfort in knowing that your posts are helping others. I'm really going to try to take all that you've said on board, along with the video (which I'm so glad has gone viral)!



    So thank you for writing this post! :)
    Imogen x

    ReplyDelete
  2. Totally relate to this, 100%
    You've made me realise a lot, thank you!

    I hope you're genuinely happy, you do deserve it.
    Steph X

    ReplyDelete
  3. I can so relate to this. It's a shame that as an online generation and group of people we feel that if we don't live a moment through Instagram or Twitter then it's not a moment worth talking about. I really commend you for writing this as this whole blogging world can sometime take an odd and not very nice turn towards what is seen as being the 'right thing to do' as a blogger, when really we should just be talking about things we love and not conform to anything. Great post my lovely!

    Roxy x

    ReplyDelete
  4. For all it's worth, I think you genuinely blog for the best reasons there are - to make people's lives better.


    We do turn to social media for validation. But I'd argue we also do the same with university degrees, college certificate, sports medals, scout's badges, family holiday photographs... the list goes on and on. "Regular" media is how society essentialy validates itself - innocent rom-coms sometimes reinforce damaging social norms ("The Other Woman", for example, manages to squeeze in misoginy and transphobia in a 2-minute trailer alone), the success of a single white male author in a genre that's 99% women authors is seen as normal, rather than a proof of some kind of marketing bias, and people hesitate to call themselves "feminist" because every piece of mainstream media does its darndest to demonize the movement.


    Promoting positive attitudes, creating a sense of community, is something the Internet is very good at. Don't underestimate your place in that. You say there's just 500 of us (followers) but I'm confident in saying, the Internet would be a poorer place for us without you.


    That said, I understand your decision to step back and focus on the people in your life. Just remember that whatever you do, it matters to someone. Always.


    Foncie x

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Life Wardrobe5 May 2014 at 07:13

    I love this post and your blog Katie. You're so honest and I appreciate and resonate with the fact that you acknowledge that life isn't all rosy moments with the right filter applied. Keep remembering your truth and you'll find the success with your writing that you seek. I think you're a lot closer than you think.

    x

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is so true, it's an extremely scary thing but thankfully the internet also does so many people so much good that it's hard to ever completely turn our backs on it.
    You have genuinely got an amazing talent, and i don't doubt that in the very near future you can make a lucrative and exciting career both on & offline for yourself. I guess it's important all people take a minute or two to step back & see their situations from the outside in. I'm sorry about what happened, but sometimes it takes really intense moments in our lives to make us see the big picture. You'll only grow from it & learn.
    I also don't think this post is hypocritical in the least. It's the most honest heartfelt way calling blogging out for what it is. It is all a delusion, and it's refreshing and sometimes easier to love once you've become honest enough with yourself to see it that way.
    Your blog is amazing, and doing tons of great in the world. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Mandy 'itsamandything' Hynes5 May 2014 at 12:04

    I went through the same thing last year. The break up and I had just gone freelance with my internet life and skills.

    In the last year I have learnt what I wanted to do and what I wanted to focus on. I am a small YouTuber, but I don't want to be just a YouTuber. I want to be successful, Presenter etc. I always wanted to do that, but lost sight of it.

    Worse still I almost gave everything up for that man who left me. I was going to give up MY career to follow his - someone I never thought I would do. Our relationship had become one-sided and had consumed me. I am not happy with this realisation.

    A little bit over year later, we both have new partners, and he is destroying his career for his new girl. I think when he broke up with me he did the biggest favour of my life. I have bloomed, met someone so supportive of who I am and what I do, and I have been doing really well and moving forward and towards the goals I want in life. I have learnt to keep being and always be myself, as well as remember a person isn't my be all and end all. That nearly destroyed me, it's not healthy.

    I also learnt who my friends were that year and became strong enough to cut people who were bad for me out of my life. And focus in general. Focus on my goal and build myself back up again. And that was HARD.

    The internet isn't my life anymore, but it is a huge part of it and helping me achieve what I want outside it. Truthfully, I think we both have the similar goals in that respect. But this realisation will just make you an incredibly stronger and determined person.

    And, if I may say, as for this boy and if it's anything like my situation, he's probably done you a favour too. Honest. :D

    In a year, I hope you will look back and realise how far you've come.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Your post has made a huge impression me Katie. I guess starting my blog only this February hasn't made me realise such a thing but you're so right, now that I give it a little more thought. It's scary how much social media can take over our lives and give us the feeling that there's nothing outside it. Thank you for this blogpost/manifest, it has opened my eyes to treat this blog/media thing in a healthier way ! x

    ReplyDelete
  9. kateelclark-formphantasm9 May 2014 at 11:35

    this is truly an amazing post, and something every blogger and online personality has faced at some point in their career (whether they like to admit it or not), but I also think it comes down to your core motivation. To avoid disillusionment you have to remember why you are blogging, whether it be a creative outlet, to inspire yourself and others, etc, and not so much about your number of followers. I also think it is important to make your blog YOU and not try to separate the two. You can blog and be yourself, and people are going to love you for it.

    this truly was a very honest and admirable post and it is great to see something online with more of a human-side. hope you are doing well with your new founded insight!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Michelle Louise Love21 May 2014 at 13:01

    Awww Katie, I'm sorry you feel so alone at times, but I get why that is. We all know that technology, social media in particular are destroying our ability to converse properly and really live in the moment. I guess all bloggers need to be able to find a happy medium in order to live a fulfilled life. I hope you manage to find that now you are aware of it, I hope the same for myself and all the other bloggers out there.
    Much love!

    ReplyDelete
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