Let me just say, that I am a lover of communication — the sharing of ideas and experiences through photographs, music, writing — I relish all of it.
I love being privy to what other people love.
And the ability to witness growth and milestones of friends and family that are so close to my heart but sometimes thousands of miles away from me? Magical.
So why, then, do I sometimes feel uninspired after spending a portion of my day scrolling through my various social media accounts? Why do I sometimes avoid returning to these platforms after absences of a few days, weeks, or even months?
Why do I sometimes want to not return to them at all?
Is it because, perhaps, I feel like my social media use is stifling my pursuit of a simplified life?
A Love/Hate Relationship
The summer before we embarked on our off-grid, Life Rustic journey a couple of years ago, I had already begun to (sorta accidentally) make changes to such interactions. I’d often forget my Instagram password and would abandon it for months at a time, Snapchat was always a bit boring and immature to me, so it was eventually scrapped, and I’ve just never really used Twitter (save for peeping dank memes that originate as tweets — I guess I’m not thaaat mature), so no major loss in regard to those platforms.
But, I did have THOUSANDS of friends on Facebook.
They are called friends, but I assure you, I didn’t even know half of them. Which really is just bonkers to me since I’m a pretty private person (besides uhh, this blog), with maybe a handful of people I interact with on the daily.
Yet every day, multiple times a day, adding up to hours a day, I’d peruse social media — made happy by some things I’d see, angry by others, and sometimes even made jealous or prideful. And from many people who I barely knew or didn’t know at all! I was made to feel one way or another about my own life — minimizing it or inflating it — by strangers.
They say sharing is caring, but in the modern world of social media, sometimes “sharing” is comparing.
So, I conducted a mass sweep of my friendlist, keeping only family and friends I was in touch with.
It felt nice. Necessary. Cathartic. But it still wasn’t enough, and sweet relief didn’t completely wash over me until I straight up deactivated my Facebook account… The first time, that is.
And it was relieving. Sorry everybody — it’s not you, it’s me.
Can you imagine how freeing it is to enjoy an experience for the sake of enjoying it yourself, rather than for the sake of sharing it with others?
And let me be clear, I am fully aware that everything I am describing here is totally within my power to remedy — that’s kind of my point. The solution to my realizing I was curating my own life in a way to display it later on social media for validation of said life, was to simply remove myself from the social media. And you may think, “well I don’t curate my social media nor am I dependent on it” — and I didn’t think so either — until the social media was no longer present.
Some outing or event would be interrupted by the revelation that I wouldn’t be able to share it later on social media. It dawned on me that many times while in the action of something, I was already thinking about how I would describe it later.
Maybe that’s a social media thing. Maybe that’s a writing thing. Maybe that’s just an inner monologue thing… I don’t know.
But I do know it made me realize how much “sharing” was on my mind, even when I wasn’t really aware of it. Has it always been like this? Was it like this before we had a camera and screen tethering ourselves to nearly every other person alive?
And to get really edgy with it — do we remember what it was like to live in the world before we shared our lives with the world?
No matter how subtly, we are constantly aware that anything we do may be shared with many people — whether shared from ourselves or from somebody else — and I’m not sure if we yet realize the implications of that awareness.
Do you think you would act differently, however slightly, if you knew for certain that whatever you said, did, or simply looked like, would be shared and compared among others?
The Double Slit Experiment
An interesting experiment exists within the world of Quantum Physics, generally referred to as The Double Slit Experiment. It basically examines this phenomenon where molecular particles react differently when observed.
Light — or at a molecular level, photons — is projected onto a background, bypassing a small wall/barrier with two slits in it. When unobserved, the photons move to the background at random, via an infinite amount of possibilities — through either/both of the two slits or around the barrier completely — creating a scattered and random arrangement of particles on the background.
However, when a camera is introduced to record the action, the particles behave differently — they filter precisely through either one of the slits in the barrier, creating a specific pattern on the background.
It’s as if the photons are aware they are being observed and change their behavior because of it.
Without getting too weird or out there like I sometimes do, I’ll just leave that to kind of float around a bit — the proposition that we too are like the photons, and that our behavior changes when we are made aware that we’re being observed.
Also, I’m a Hypocrite
“But Kacie, I’m reading this blog post right now because you shared it on social media.”
My Facebook hiatus lasted only a few months before we set out on the road with our little vintage camper, and I had big plans for writing about and sharing the journey.
I mean, of course I had to create an accompanying Facebook and Instagram account JUST for the Life Rustic blog, right?! All of the vanlifers, full-time RVers, and other digital nomads that we looked to for information and guidance had accounts solely for highlighting their journeys, and many of them were even monetizing their lifestyle through sponsorship and advertisements on social media. Amazing! And I wanted that for us and the Jellybean Shasta, too.
We had traded in the apartment for the little Jellybean in pursuit of freedom, so what better way to be even more self-sufficient than by supplementing our own lifestyle via daily photos of the journey, paired with a few trendy hashtags?
As the saying goes, I was back on my bull$hit.
Still am, actually. And in fact, I’ll be sharing this blog post with more hashtags than you can shake a stick at.
But not without a healthy dose of reality, too.
I realized soon after embarking on the Life Rustic journey that many of the beautiful images on social media portraying this lifestyle weren’t actually true to the lifestyle at all.
I used to think, “What a beautiful and colorful picnic! I too enjoy being a barefooted forest nymph!” But now I’m mostly just wondering how some of these ‘lifers are having their little bohemian wine and cheese parties that look like full-blown editorial photo shoots — styled with Raquel Welch wardrobes, wicker furniture, and probably even a full fondue set — when these trendy little vans don’t even have the space to stand up inside. And just whoooo is taking these photos?! There seems to be quite a bit of effort and maintenance applied to the “natural” lifestyle.
But hey, no love lost here. I know we’re all just trying to make it in this crazy world.
And I also know that we’re encouraged — as another saying goes — to fake it ’til we make it.
The Social Media Currency
It’s just hard to keep up with sometimes — the trading of “likes” and “follows” like some sort of currency in a social media economy. And it always feels a bit dystopian to witness the celebration that accompanies a “milestone” of gaining a certain amount of said likes or followers.
“Hey guys, we finally surpassed our goal of 5,000 followers! Thanks so much, everybody, it feels great! #milestones #blessed #humble.”
Wait, you mean you didn’t just want to be my friend? I’m shocked.
So I found myself with like, four dang accounts and just wasn’t very good at any of them.
Along with a newly created Life Rustic Instagram account, was it totally necessary to create a brand new Life Rustic Facebook page? No.
Did I just want to see the words “Life Rustic” every time I shared a photograph from the gosh dang Instagram to the gosh darn Facebook? Maybe.
But did I need the extra fanfare and sweet internet karma simply to share my blog? No.
We also didn’t need the biggest, loudest, highest watted generator Home Depot had in stock when we first bought our Shasta, but hindsight is always clearer.
But after being voluntarily forced (that’s quite an oxymoron, isn’t it?) into simplifying my life on this Life Rustic journey (the decision to dive headfirst into off-gridding in the little Jellybean being the voluntary part, the minimalism that is required of this lifestyle being the forced part), it’s clear that social media can be just as overwhelming and consuming as the tangible “things” that drive many to practice minimalism and simplification in the first place.
I mean, is navigating a million different sharing platforms that all do the same thing and all have the same people really being very simplified?
So, I’ll keep up with my meager accounts until I simply can’t anymore — though, I guess that’s not exactly true. I’ve already kind of abandoned one (I just NEVER can remember my dang passwords!) and as of this time of writing, have deleted my Facebook account once again — this time, permanently. More on that to come…
Like I said, I’m just not very good at it.
And that’s beginning to be ok with me. The whole Life Rustic thing is focused on decreasing unhealthy attachments, not increasing them. And the way that social media can sometimes make us feel — that minimizing or inflating of ourselves? That can’t be very healthy.
So even though I might be back on some bs — of course I want people to read my writing — that bs requires its own simplifying, and even the deletion of an unnecessary account or two.
And until the day comes when I finally decide to chuck all my devices except for maybe a typewriter and a circa 2000’s Nokia (and am yelling at folks to get off my lawn) — I guess my love/hate relationship with social media will continue.
So, I’ll offer one more saying that we all hear every day: Be sure to like, share, and subscribe!