By Isabelle Laureta
Hi there. I’m 17 years old and soon to be in college. I’m just another Millennial like most kids on Facebook. Unlike most, however, I’m not really a fan of social media. Call me bitter (maybe it’s just my case of social media envy) or cliché (it’s one of them “born in the wrong generation” kids) and even old fashioned, but putting my life under the public eye just isn’t my cup of tea.
These days, I see everyone else’s lives and accomplishments published on their walls and though I don’t really feel mine is any less, I still feel bad that I don’t put up my vacation photos online or show everyone pictures of my food. I have nothing against the frequent posters and I think showing positive moments can be inspiring and be a way to shape one’s life. Even so, I feel I’m heavily obligated to show people my good times every single time I have some. My problem is that I don’t feel comfortable putting it up online. I kind of feel that posting my recent family dinner cheapens the memory.
I don’t want to be an outsider or anything since having Facebook really does entail telling people what you like, about the ideologies you support, and which beach you’re at. I wonder if this makes me look like I’m distancing myself from society, even though I’m pretty social in real life or if it makes me a bad person because it looks like I’m shutting people out. Does it make my life any less if it isn’t on social media, especially in this “if it wasn’t on Instagram it never happened” day and age?
I sit here in front of my laptop wondering if I should upload yesterday’s beach photos. Or maybe I should just skip it, log off for the day, keep the special photos to myself, then maybe finish that book I’ve put on hiatus for two weeks.
What do you think? Is it worth my time to answer Facebook’s “What’s on your mind”?
When I was younger, I hated the idea of drinking alcohol. My dad would come home from a night out and I would hate it. Not that he’s a drunkard or anything. He’s the perfect dad and I now understand that he was just doing what adults do—having a beer after a long day. But as a child, I thought it was absurd. When I got well into college, everyone else was doing it so I thought, “Fine, I guess I’ll have a sip.” My friends weren’t pressuring me. I didn’t have to drink. But because everyone else was, I felt obligated to do it. That was the worst beer I’ve had in my life.
What I’m saying is, you don’t have to do anything you’re uncomfortable doing just because everyone around you is doing it. I understand how social media has become a huge part of our generation’s life. Companionship and belongingness can be easily disguised in the form of likes and views, but do not be fooled. You’re a smart kid. I know you know that social media isn’t what all life is. If anything, it’s a dump site of heavily filtered, highly curated depiction of what people choose what other people can see and give “Love” or “Haha” reacts on even when in reality, their reactions are nothing but straight faces. I hate to sound like a baby boomer but sometimes I wish we could go back to the days social media was all about connecting with people and not about, I don’t know, bragging a communist hat one bought at Tiananmen Square in China and feeling proud about it.
I get it. I feel a distinct type of euphoria whenever I get likes on Instagram. But that euphoria is so fleeting! After checking my notifications, I’m back in the trenches, back to working hard and feeling like garbage about what I come up with, back to feeling kind of okay with it after much editing and beating myself up to it. In short, I’m back to reality—back to the thing that matters more. But even though reality is harsher and harder to accept sometimes, I still choose it over something that can get superficial sometimes. Because reality is where I get to be myself—no filters, no frills. And I’ve come to learn that if I like myself enough the way I am, I don’t need other people to see it to know it’s true.
I never really took it seriously when people say, “if it’s not on Instagram it never happened.” The trick is to realize that your life and what you choose to do with it isn’t confined inside a smartphone app, and therefore shouldn’t be an indicator of how more or less your life is compared to others. It’s like determining a woman’s worth by the length of her skirt. You know what gets to decide if your life is more or less? YOU! Only you can tell if you’re living the life you want by your own choices, standards, and reasoning may it be in or out of sight of your friends and followers on social media.
That beer I had back in college was the best brand in town. It was cold—the way it should be. But the fizzle I felt on my tongue down to my throat wasn’t what I was supposed to feel when drinking a good beer. I almost spat it out. It wasn’t the beer’s fault. It wasn’t the company’s, either. What made the experience bad was how I felt inside. Because no matter how much I wanted to fit in, I didn’t really feel like I did. I’ve been drinking alcohol since. You can chalk it up to acquired taste but I’d like to believe it’s more than that. Because every time I drink now, I do it for no other reason but because I want to. Somehow, that makes it more meaningful and worthwhile.
So you do you, buddy. Some people enjoy posting their stuff online. That’s all right. You go read that book, keep the photos, do whatever it is that makes you feel like yourself. That’s all right, too. You’re fine. Because the only “Like” that matters is the one that comes from yourself. And that applies to all the choices you make in this life. Get your own cup of tea and drink it. Enjoy it.
Ask me your deepest, weirdest, darkest questions! I’m no expert at anything and I don’t have it all figured out either (because, honestly, who does?), but let me at least try. Send them over to midnight.meowsings@gmail. com and let’s make sense of this crazy Millennial life together! <3