Beth Binkley, Guest Writer
If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’ve been told a thousand times over that social media is the devil, or that people share too many useless tidbits about their days on it, or, most likely, some combination of both. Often times, these claims are made by someone of an older generation, much to the annoyance (and eye-rolls) of a younger victim of such a lecture.
However, as an 18-year-old college student who uses social media every day and is therefore exposed to multiple forms of lamentful posts from my peers on a regular basis, I can exasperatedly argue that the old folks might be onto something with their anti-Internet attitudes.
Back in the olden days of 2016, I made my first-ever, and only, “spam” account on Instagram, which could also be referred to as a “finsta,” or a page where a user only allows a select group of followers to view an account where the user posts emotional, often personal information in diary-like format.
Obviously, this goes directly against the argument I’m making now, and there’s a great reason for that; I regret ever making the account, or at least posting such personal, detailed anecdotes on it.
To keep things brief, I used to talk about anything from relationship struggles to familial issues to an audience of about 70 of my closest acquaintances. I followed about double this number of finstas myself, and eventually felt as though I was a part of a niche, “spam community.”
However, after a couple of years of this, I realized that sharing my deepest struggles with dozens of people at a time wasn’t helping me overcome anything, and had honestly been a cry for help and attention during a time when I felt like I wasn’t receiving either, or when I simply wanted to complain to a demographic who would, for the sake of avoiding hypocrisy, never call me out on my neediness or emotional instability.
Since ceasing my complaining on the account, I have never felt more free, and my privacy is something I now relish in. Despite this, everytime I get on any app—Instagram or otherwise—I find myself reading walls of text posted by my friends or family members, detailing problems that are all too specific and questionable in their moral standings. Though, the line in the sand was crossed for me when I watched a TikTok about a week ago of a girl recording her grandfather’s casket being lowered into the ground. I thought about that video for the rest of the night after viewing it. All I could focus on was the fact that this girl, in a moment of what was likely grief, realized that her grandfather was about to be buried and thought, “Ah, yes! This is appropriate content to share with my following of complete strangers.”
And listen, I understand that some people cope differently than others. Not everyone has the privilege of a support system to fall back on in times of trouble, and I acknowledge that from a place of knowing what it feels like. But what happens when the only things that you share with your following, be it made up of family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, or strangers is
exclusively the highs and lows of your personal life? What do you have left for yourself, for your own, private grieving or celebration? Do your experiences still feel like they’re yours?
I’d be willing to bet that they don’t, or at least, not as much as they did before you posted them. And I suppose there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but I also feel that it’s important to have the emotional skills necessary to be able to process emotional extremes without needing to turn to an outlet of acquaintances to do so. After all, at the end of the day, all you have is yourself to rely on. It might be wise, therefore, to ensure that you’re not a stranger to whoever that is.