We’ve all been there.
There are times when social media can feel so infuriating, when it feels like all everyone does is look for an excuse to feel outraged, and sometimes you might even find yourself the target of that outrage.
There are times when it feels like other people are so popular, so happy, and you’re struck by your own imperfections.
There are times when you feel like you put so much work into just staying above water, doing the bare minimum, to check off a box of “Things Writers Are Supposed to Be Doing,” but like the Red Queen in Alice and Wonderland you’re just running to stay in the same place.
There are times when it feels tempting to shut it all down, to just retreat into the real world, to let the next fad come and pass and not invest so much time into something so temporal.
It’s tempting to want to shut down your social media accounts and not even bother with the difficulties that come with putting yourself out there on the Internet, especially those times when someone out there in cyberland takes time out of their day to try to cut you down to size. The Chinese government invented a chilling term for the practice of seeking out people to shame on the Internet. They call it the Human Flesh Search Engine.
I’ve felt all of those things at various times over the last seven+ years of blogging (gahh!!!! Seven years WHERE DOES THE TIME GO). But I’ve never decided to shut it all down. I still have my social accounts, and I still blog.
For one thing, to shut it down feels like a false retreat. Yes, maybe you would feel a short term gain to disappear into virtual darkness and just let the Twitterverse spin on. You may win a temporary reprieve, but as people like Satoshi Nakamoto go to show, the Internet can still find you even (or especially) when you don’t want to be found.
It seems like this is the way the world is going whether we like it or not. The future is going to be a confusing mix of public and private, with a heavy emphasis on the public. Even if you have warts out there on the Internet, at least you’re out there. At least you have a trail that people can examine and consider the whole, people who know you and can come to your defense. It gives you a voice, even if it can feel at times like there’s no escape.
As tempting as it can be to want to hunker down and let the world pass over you, it still seems like you lose still more by retreating into the wilderness. I don’t know where this is all going, but I’m excited enough about the future to stay in public on the Internet, even as I wonder sometimes what in the world we’re all doing.
Have you ever thought about shutting down your accounts and retreating? What did you decide?
Art: The Red Queen’s Race by John Tenniel