Zoe Denton is an English sophomore and the views expressed in this piece don’t necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.

Social media is exhausting and deleting it was like stepping off a conveyor belt I didn’t even know I was on. 

I got Snapchat in middle school, Instagram not shortly after and, like everyone else, I downloaded Tik Tok as a joke in highschool, which quickly turned into an obsession. I opened Twitter and Facebook accounts at some point too, but to be honest I have definitely forgotten their passwords by now.

I understand the power and positivity that social media has brought into many of our lives. For example, through Instagram, people can access communities that allow them to connect to different aspects of themselves. It has been very influential in my own life and was where I was able to find most, if not all, of the queer role models my 16-year-old self needed. However, eventually social media ceased to serve me in a positive way –– so I deleted it. 

We are all accustomed to the more prominent, negative aspects of social media: stalking exes, wasting time and comparing yourself to a countless number of random people. Yet, I’ve realized that through apps such as Instagram, we not only compare ourselves to the unattainable lives of people on our feed, but we also end up comparing our true selves, filled with imperfections, to how polished and happy we appear on our personal feed.

It is not difficult to get sucked into the mindset that you can tell almost everything about a person through their presence on social media. By reducing ourselves to a collection of pictures and kitschy captions, we are tricking ourselves into thinking that our identity and social media presence are one. 

Using social media is so second nature now that many people refuse to acknowledge the impact it has on all of our lives. As someone who is now looking in from the outside, I can attest that this impact is vast and not necessarily for the better.

Yes, I lost contact with some people, but I offered up my email, number and even my address for people to get in contact with me. I realized that if a relationship is solely based on your connection through social media, it is not a sustainable relationship. I can see now that connections kept primarily through an app like Snapchat ended up causing more confusion and stress (even in small amounts) than they were worth. 

Honestly, it doesn’t feel like I’m missing out on anyone or anything. If somebody wants to be in your life then they will put in the effort, and honestly, how much more of an effort is it to text someone “hey” versus sending them a picture of your face? The authenticity of the action does differ in my opinion, and having a real conversation with someone is much more fulfilling than seeing half of their face. 

Relationships that heavily rely on social media to exist, friendships or otherwise, are non substantive. All of us deserve more than to pretend that we have a connection worth holding onto because of a few breadcrumbs a day.

I was talking to my friend about general New Years Eve stuff –– goals and things I want to spend time on –– and I had an epiphany. Depending on how much you use social media, it becomes a goal. In the tiniest way, posting pictures becomes a goal you can accomplish, communicating with people through pictures of your face or getting your news through a Twitter feed are goals that you can check off your list. 

The question is — are they goals that you ever even wanted? Are you satisfied with the goals and the habits you are fulfilling? The answer for you may be yes, and all the power to you, but I think that many people are just enjoying the ride on the conveyor belt because they are used to it, not because it’s serving them any purpose.

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