“I wish I could just quit Facebook and Twitter,” I told one of my best friends over a basket of tortilla chips at our favorite Mexican dive. “I am so tired of it.”
“Me too,” he said. “But… we can’t.”
I’m tired of that.
I’m a millennial. I watched social media start up in the early 2000s, with the evolution of websites like Xanga and LiveJournal. Next came Myspace and Facebook in the mid-2000s, and then Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Vine, as the 2000s became the 2010s. So here we are, a generation who has spent our formative years paying no mind to giving play-by-plays of our lives, to laying out step-by-step instructions on how to anticipate our every move. I’m tired of it.
I’m tired of feeling an unspoken responsibility to post about every detail of my life online, and I’m tired of that sort of heavy feeling when I get no likes or retweets on a post I worked hard to construct. I’m tired of needing approval of my day-to-day activities from old classmates, distant friends or complete strangers. But all that’s been said.
I’m tired of the passive-aggressive status updates. I’m tired of reading other people’s tweets and wondering who they’re talking about, because it really shouldn’t matter to me who they’re talking about, because I don’t actually care who they’re talking about. I’m tired of wondering if that sad tweet from a friend of mine is subtly directed at me, or at another of my friends. I’m tired of dedicating mental and emotional energy to negative feelings broadcast into the world by negative people. And I’m tired of the fact that someone, somewhere, will read this paragraph and think I’m talking about them. (I’m not. But hi.)
I’m tired of feeling unable to remove myself from, specifically, Facebook, because having one is so ingrained in our idea of what it means to be a “real person.” We’ve all done it. We’ve all gone to look up that person we just met at a conference or a party, only to discover they don’t have an account, and we judge them for it. Most employers check applicants’ social media accounts before considering them for hire. I have at least half a dozen friends who have multiple Twitter handles, to keep their private and public lives separate. Stemming from that: I’m tired of the sense of obligation we feel to keep our lives publicly private. We update our privacy settings on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, so people can’t see in, while still giving them something to see: a padlock icon or a “Request Follow” button, which still says a lot about us, even though we intend for them to say nothing at all.
I’m tired of the assumptions that acknowledging something on a social media platform (sharing or liking on Facebook/favoriting or retweeting on Twitter) automatically equals endorsement for the largest possible overarching definition of whatever slant that particular post took. (You made a funny joke about Obama? You must be a Republican. You retweeted an article from MSNBC? You must be a Democrat. You follow McDonald’s? You must hate vegetarians and chickens.)
I’m tired of being annoyed all the time. I’m tired of hating the absolutely ridiculous, incorrect crap that goes viral and gets circulated. I’m tired of game requests (here’s looking at you, Baby Boomers), and I’m tired of “Share this or the devil will force you to give up your soul in exchange for a muffin!” I’m tired of people giving less than half a thought to what they share before they share it. (Just as a note: “The Onion” is not real. “The Daily Currant” is not real. Those headlines about Obama getting impeached? Not real. That one story about the Affordable Care Act being released on floppy discs? NOT. TRUE.)
But most of all? I’m tired of knowing that, at the end of the day, I will feel like a hypocrite, because I just can’t let it all go. I can’t give up Facebook, because what if an employer needs to look at it? I’d like to think my resume would stand on its own, but I know I won’t allow it the chance. I can’t give up Twitter, because I’m a millennial, so my every thought is unendingly important! There are so many pros to having social media, like keeping me connected and providing me with quick news updates, but those pros are overshadowed by the cons, and those cons are overshadowed by my inability to detach. And I’m really tired of that.
Hate social media, too? Appreciate the irony and tweet us @litdarling.