Social media is a thing of the present and future. I’ve been a part of it ever since Myspace hit when I was 11. I’ve been through Myspace, livejournal, Facebook, tumblr, twitter, blogging sites and many more I probably have forgotten about by now. (I’m not counting Pinterest on this list, since I’ve never seen the site as a social place but more of an individual place. And I’m writing a whole blogpost about Pinterest eventually!) I’ve grown with it as it’s gotten larger and larger and become more of a social platform than it ever started out to be. I can’t say anything about how it affects the publishing world…this is a blog post for a much more personal look on how social media has influenced me and how I use social media now, after 15 years of use.
I started slowly and quickly dove in. As I said, I started on Myspace, where I was introduced to roleplaying. No, not the kinky kind, but the kind where you write as a character with other characters, creating a story between two writers. Like interactive fanfiction. I liked it a lot, and I followed roleplaying through to numerous other Myspace-like sites once Myspace became a thing of the past. It was a positive experience for me, until more recently (in the past 4 years or so), where these sites have changed to include more interactive things. Like status posts (similar to a twitter or Facebook feed) where people could easily start drama. And boy did they do that! It became so stressful for me to even be vicariously influenced by the drama happening to my friends, that I eventually quit. I love writing, but I would prefer solitary fanfiction writing to being bogged down with school yard drama based on internet anonymity.
I never had any problems with livejournal. It was great, if not a bit clunky at times. I didn’t use it as frequently as other people, but man it was a good site. I loved mostly looking at graphics, and sometimes I’d use it as my digital diary. (I have since deleted any of the blogs that were connected to me.)
Facebook is a whomper. I don’t remember exactly when I started using it, but I was probably 14 or 15. It was great for like 8 years or so. I used to use it like a drug, but when I started college, that changed. I used it mostly just as a photo album, and to connect with new friends since it was the most universal and free way to message someone, etc. However, after I graduated and my Facebook feed started being used more and more for political debates, harmful memes, and general negativity posts (one on top of another and another and another), I had enough. I stayed off of it, I unfollowed a lot of people who were my friends, and finally, I deleted it 2 years ago now. It was the best decision I ever made in my entire life. Almost instantly, a weight was taken off my shoulders. I didn’t feel the constant nagging need to check my Facebook even though I knew the things I would find there would upset me. Only recently have I gotten a tiny bit sad over losing the connection bit of Facebook: it’s hard to meet new people and keep in touch with them via phone/text if you don’t know them very well. Facebook was a great middle ground for that, but there is NO WAY in hell I’ll ever reactivate my page. It’s just not worth it for me at all. I stand behind my decision, and I highly recommend to everyone who doesn’t use Facebook for business purposes to delete theirs if it’s starting to feel like a job or a chore to check or to even know that you have a page. Just leaving a page alone to simmer there can be almost as bad as being active on it. As someone with anxiety, I find it easier to just extinguish things that make me super anxious, instead of letting it linger. I’m in control of my own life, and you’re in control of yours. It’s okay to cut out negativity if it’s affecting your mental health and well-being!
Tumblr is an entirely different beast, one of few that I still hold onto. It’s mostly a fandom place for me. Gifs, fanart, meta posts, memes and jokes are where it’s at! I’ve been on tumblr longer than I can remember. Maybe close to 8 years now. I’ve started and deleted blogs for years, so I can’t tell you what number blog I’m on now. I started out not knowing anything, not tagging anything, reblogging everything, and posting a lot of personal writing on there. When I deleted that blog because there were too many posts without tags and I had like 20,000 liked posts, I remade immediately. I hadn’t, however, saved a lot of my original writing like I thought I did. Still to this day, I think of this intense fantasy world I created through many different graphics and posts, and I miss it dearly but I can’t go back in time so I move forward. Then I started deleting because the people I was following were starting to get toxic. Social justice warriors started popping up and throwing their negativity around. The thing about fandom is…it’s fun. It’s based off of entertainment and things someone LOVES. So to be around people bashing you for loving something wears you down and takes it’s toll. I quit tumblr for over a year once I had enough. Only recently have to come back, but I have been saving myself from the negativity by following blogs that only post about a fandom (they’re typically called “fyeahfandomname” or “fandomnamesource” or something like that) rather than personal blogs. I’ve found that I’ve encountered so little negativity that I can just enjoy the visual stimulation from the gifs and photos and completely cut out the drama. I’ve finally found a happy place for the one social media that I use on the regular!
Twitter is the last big one. I’ve had a similar experience to this as I have with tumblr. Started big and loving it, met some amazing people that I’m still friends with years and years later, but there is so much negativity there. It bogs down even when I’m super careful with who I follow. I had a fandom twitter, where I would gush and rant and post crazy thoughts. I was basically addicted to it, as I always reached for my phone the second a thought popped in my head or whenever anything of even minute interest happened to or around me. I could never go anywhere without tweeting about it. So recently (in April, in preparation of writing my newest novel), I blocked twitter from Google Chrome and I deleted the app from my phone. I kept/keep my professional twitter mostly just to keep up with agents I’m interested in querying to, and to take advantage of things like Pit-Mad and other pitch things that are really useful to me. Other than that, I rarely use that Twitter. It’s more negative than I’d like to have in my life, but I feel it’s an important place to find information for someone looking into querying and getting into the publishing agency.
So, in short, right now, all I’ve got for social media is my bookish/professional Twitter, and my fandom Tumblr blog. (Technically I use Pinterest, but as stated above, I don’t consider it social, and I do use Goodreads, though that’s mostly just for me to keep track of what I’ve read and to post reviews, so not as social as these other sites.) I don’t use Snapchat or Instagram, or any of the other sites I’ve mentioned. And I feel so much better. It’s amazing and terrible to think of how easy it is to let the internet dictate your mental health. I’ve felt so much freer and more mentally stable since leaving those other sites and limiting myself. It’s okay to not have your fingers into every little website. It’s really, really okay to take a step back, assess what you’re putting yourself through by using all of these apps and sites, and figure out what’s a good balance for your mental health!
(This is by no means a how-to guide to social media usage or a psychological explanation for effects of negativity on one’s health, this is just my personal experience, and about how I personally decided was the best way for me to juggle social media and my mental health without becoming totally disconnected.)