Some days, I kind of envy Essena O’Neill.
Imagine logging off and that’s it. Ballzy. You’re no longer a social media identity and tethered to platforms. I’m sure your phone battery would last much longer.
A large part of my job over the past (almost) decade has been about being available and sharing my life online, but as more time passes- the less enticing that becomes. The internet changed and I don’t know if I like it (or fit in) – but it’s all I know.
It’s a conundrum.
I really debated posting this, because I don’t want to come across as ungrateful, or hard done by or whatever. I’m good. I’m just getting some thoughts down. I’m grateful every day for my life, blessings and experiences that have brought me where I am today. Aside from that, the truth is, I’m not totally fulfilled by what I’m doing online. I feel like I am very detached because I dread spending my entire day on the internet. I find a lot of the online world to be mentally draining and I often question what it is I’m doing and if anyone actually cares.
**Tell us how u really feel kP** lolz
When I started posting content publicly, it was a place to escape the noise of the world. I got to discover a community that was away from catty high school girls, where your real life problems didn’t live. Away from any work drama or heaviness of daily life. It was an escape. It was somewhere that we just posted shit we liked or were interested in and found others who were in to the same thing. I was 19 at the time and continued making videos because it was fun to meet people who had similar interests and being totally honest, it stroked my ego that people seemed to like what I was posting and it encouraged me to post more.
In the years since, I’ve explored becoming an adult alongside strangers. I’ve learned about myself, people and the world we live in, all the while creating content that reflected where I was at that time. My once hobby, became a lucrative job. It was amazing being a part of an up and coming industry- it truly felt like we had the opportunity to shape it in our own way. The added fact that it was one of the few women dominated industries made it even more special. The movers and shakers of 2012-2014 youtube will always be some of my favourite content to watch because it was just so genuine. Nobody looked the same, everyone had a different flare and uniqueness to them and there wasn’t any scandalous drama. Just people making videos about shit they liked and being proud about sharing it.
As time passed & algorithms changed, it effected how creators made content. People were encouraged to post more of their lives online and were rewarded with views ($). It became a neverending push for more content and oversharing as often as possible on as many platforms as possible. It became unsustainable.
Somewhere around my first psychedelic trip in my mid 20s, I came to the revelation that my relationship with social media needed to change for my greater wellbeing. I was losing myself and I needed to break the cycle.
I felt like I had gotten caught up in posting my life to entertain people, rather than enjoying what I was doing and posting because I enjoyed doing it for myself. I knew that having constant feedback (good and bad) on every aspect of my life wasn’t healthy, or something I was interested in any longer. There is no other job (or hobby) where a person would constantly receive THAT much direct input from strangers on the daily about every facet of life- it’s a mental burdon no matter how strong you are. My job had infiltrated into my every waking moment and it was effecting everything in my life from my relationship, to stunting my own personal growth. I realized in that one trip that I could step back- and everything would still be ok. I would be ok. NONE of this shit mattered in the greater complexity. Dissolution of ego is a funny thing.
So the next thing became how do you stop once you’re on the wheel? Is going cold turkey like Essena the only way to create distance or boundaries with your online relationship or is it ok to just interact when you feel like sharing something with the world? Do I owe my viewers my accessibility? Is it moral of me to still be doing sponsorships if I am posting less content? Should I just disappear? Is my content of value and making an actual difference to anyone? What if I just enjoy creating casually?
There was a lot of questions and self reflection and ultimately, I concluded it’s JUST social media. It’s not as serious as we’re all making it out to be- so strip it back to basics. I enjoy creating sometimes. When I share what I create, I want it to reflect positivity, self love and self betterment. I give myself the space to share only when I choose to, because I know that content will be the most authentic and true, which is the most valuable content to view as a viewer. I refuse to create extra stress and pressure for myself to make content for the sake of ‘keeping up’ on a platform where you view my content for free as entertainment. It has to be fun for both of us. I want to learn, grow and change and capture it along the way. I will serve where and when I can out of joy and kindness and I won’t feel guilt for not sharing how someone else may want me to. People have, and will continue to follow me if they have a connection with me in some way- and that’s pretty special. But it doesn’t define me.
I curated my social media feed to reflect better values. I unfollowed people who thrived off drama. I unfollowed people who made me feel gloomy or bad vibes. I even cut ties with a few friends publicly because their morals and values were drastically different and it was all so negative. I started following more educational accounts, Plant care accounts, FOOD accounts or accounts that helped & encouraged others to do and be better.
Youtube (and the online world) in the years since I made this conscious shift have further fallen in the hole of scandal, clickbait, shock value, cancel culture and tea spilling content. Larger Influencers have squads and editing teams and 6 figure contracts. It also became the norm for people to aspire to have similar features, wear the same popular clothing item and sell tea that makes you shit your pants. It’s also become totally normal to interrupt your day multiple times a day to follow all of this frenzy. Strangers ruthlessly dissect and judge every move under such an intense scrutiny that growth is seemingly impossible; because people don’t really want you to grow- they’d rather see you fall because it’s more entertaining. *
The age of the influencer has encouraged some wild stuff.
These days, scandals are getting blown up so large it’s impossible to not notice it on your news feeds- even if you are not following the involved parties. Even with boundaries, I feel like sometimes I get lost in the chaos and need to check myself for a second. I don’t want to spend my time being a part of that community any longer. I’m constantly editing who I follow and how I participate, but every time I go online, I’m still outraged about something (be it politics, human rights, animal rights, the earth literally dying, the pettiness of youtube drama – u know. 2019 stuff)
It’s just weird. So weird. And I don’t want to spend my entire day thinking about this kind of stuff. It’s draining. What a weird thing to do for a job. There is a tangible outside world with human beings that are pleasant to interact with, I’m sitting in a room by myself being critiqued by people who will never know or meet me- wtf am I doing here. (welcome to my brain loop)
(*This is NOT to say that this is the only type of content/ people online. It’s just what seems to be in vogue and what’s promoted/ loudest. There are many valuable content creators who share wonderful stuff)
I obviously started to loose views & interaction when I stopped going online and posting as often. Consistency matters in this numbers game and I used to get a little sad with less views or interaction than ‘normal’ until I reminded myself again- it’s just a number. It’s not my value.
This is a part of my choice, so snap the fuck out of it. My choice was to pull back and change how I share. To place my mental health and happiness over chasing views. To keep some privacy in a public world. My viewers choice is to spend their time how they want to spend their time watching whatever content they choose. They don’t owe me the view and I don’t owe them the 24/7 content. It’s all good 🙂 We can just enjoy each others company when our paths cross. We can go back to how the internet used to be- sharing parts of our lives that we want to and hopefully connecting or learning from each other in the process. Without unrealistic expectations, without drama, without judgement. (there was always a little judgment- it’s ok haha)
Nowadays, when I post, I hope you think of me as your long distance buddy. The one you don’t always get to catch up with, but when you do it’s like coming home. The friend that grows and changes alongside you as we uncover who we are. The one that reminds you to not listen to the noise of the world and instead listen to your gut feeling and do what’s best for you. You’re a limited edition- take care of that. More than ever in our online world.
It’s ok to take a step back from your internet self and to keep re evaluating how you’re participating online. It can be overwhelming and a little soul sucking at times. Take a moment. Have a break. You have final say over how you interact. Share what you feel comfortable with sharing and don’t for one second allow your online world to take precedence over your real world. You don’t need to keep up with anybody.
When you do choose to share – bring your joy. Share your knowlege, have patience and show kindness. The world needs more of it.
I’m still finding a balance of what that looks like for me. One thing I do know… quality over quantity 🙂