I've been culling. A version of it anyway. I've been Marie Kondo'ing my house. Not my physical, bricks and mortar dwelling. But the house in which my thoughts, moods, and emotions reside. And a big source of that, the room where so much of how I feel, is in that virtual space that houses my social media. So I've been doing a cleaning. Unfollowing people, places, and things on Instagram and Twitter. What's the criteria when deciding who or what I will keep you may ask? Well, I am choosing to engage with those that add to my energy, not deplete it.
Sounds obvious right? Yet if you were to do a digital audit of your feeds, the countless pictures and texts we read, absorb, consume, some consciously but mostly unconsciously as we scroll away, what you may notice is this feeling in your head. For me, it is my forehead, that space right between my eyebrows which are almost always (when I'm on social media) furrowed. It's a feeling where you feel like you're drowning in a rabbit hole of information, most of which is irrelevant to your daily existence. Yet we do it. I do it. We all do it. Every day. In fact,some research has shown that we spend, on average, 4 hours a day on our phone perusing social media. 4 hours, "a quarter of our waking lives." We know the physiological affect it has on us. We know it is addictive because social media is literally designed to be that way. The question I have been asking myself is, why do I keep using this drug?
The three main social media tools I use are Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Facebook I'm not as active on. Instagram I use to post photos of my life, amusing anecdotes. It's an extension of my personality if you will. I also use it (through the accounts I follow) as inspiration for physical/mental health and wellness, cooking, and design (I particularly love interior and architectural design), . Twitter is for news. That's how I find out what is happening in the world through the reliable sources I have compiled over the years. When being active on social media, I am extremely conscious of what I am putting out there. I think about whether this adding to our lives or depleting it. Now I know a photograph of my cat may not add to your life but I know it won't deplete your energy (at least I hope it doesn't). A tweet, if it is in response to a story, I want to add value not noise. And no, it doesn't mean I'm super serious all the time. I just think very carefully about the words I use and the intention behind it. If it makes you think or smile then great! Job done.
Social media experts will tell us that in order to "grow your following" one needs to engage with the followers we already have. I agree with that to an extent. I want to engage in a meaningful way. I have an insta account for The Citrine Room, where I post quotes and stories that I have found interesting. I would love to engage about what is important to us in life, what our struggles are, what we are proud of. Let's talk about that. Let's discuss things that would help us feel good about ourselves. Maybe get that dopamine working to benefit us rather than the short term satisfaction similar to that of a class A drug. If the social media system is rigged to keep us online, then lets use that time to help us feel mentally healthier and connected rather than angry, sad, envious, and depleted. I don't need to have thousands of followers who frankly don't care about what I have to say or post. I would rather be engaged with those who genuinely are happy to hear from me. I may be signing my digital death certificate as it may not be the all important metrics or algorithms that help quantify an account's worthiness and by extent my worthiness, but at least I know that I am having an impact in my own way to those who are interested.
Perhaps all of this is an indication of the fact that at this moment in my life I don't have a void that needs to be filled. I used to. I had a void, an emotional space so large that I tried to fill it with buying clothes that I never even wore. I tried to fill it with people who weren't really there or good for me. Social media is the same. We add accounts and friends in the hopes that it translates to us being part of something, anything; those likes and followers will fill that void in our lives. So many of us are lonely and feel so disconnected from others and ourselves. And I was the same. But I found that after that momentary pleasure of purchasing something new or being around people who didn't treat me well, I was back to feeling that emptiness I tried so hard to avoid. Until that is, I realised where that emptiness came from and why I felt that way. It was after much therapy, self reflection and being honest with myself was I then able to start to release that fear of the void, that fear of being alone, and to appreciate the space as an opportunity to fill it with what I actually needed--which was a healthier relationship with myself and an enjoyment of my own company. In fact, that's what I am teaching my son now. To enjoy his own company, to not "need" someone or something. To instead, choose those things and people that bring him (as Marie Kondo would say) "joy".
So that has been my criteria for the cull. I have unfollowed the accounts that don't mean anything to me. The endless brands and people who are sharing a viewpoint that I don't subscribe to. It doesn't mean they're bad. It just means they don't add to my existence and desire to live a mentally stronger and healthier life. I am keeping those accounts that make me laugh, that make me feel understood and seen, that help me feel more connected to the people I care about, and more connected to the person I am working to be. I am streamlining, if you will. Streamlining my consciousness to ensure that what I expose myself to is helping me, lifting me, inspiring me. That's it. No frills and images of things that I just don't need, or frankly want (I'm sorry, Aquazzura and Chloe, I can't afford you and really, when and where am I ever going to wear high heels and fancy clothes in the near future out here in the countryside??). Again, it's not not wanting "stuff". It's about what kind of stuff do I want? What I want right now is simple goodness. And yes, that includes photos/videos of cats.