SOCIAL MEDIA CLEANSE FOR BADASS WITCHES
Something I’ve been resolving to do more is actively question what I’m bringing into my life on a daily basis and why. What am I looking at online? What am I doing? I started thinking about the idea of cleansing my online presence.
We should be questioning if there’s actual value in our scrolling, and what (if any) negative impact the little insidious things like Instagram follows and rapid email replies are having on our lives without us realizing it.
Like most positive life changes, it all started last summer, after a breakup.
“He’s still watching my Instagram story,” I remember saying to my mom.
“So, block him,” she replied matter of factly. At first the suggestion seemed harsh; I tried to explain to her how that could appear reactive and petty and make me look silly.
“Who cares?” she said. “He doesn’t deserve to see you, to have access to you every day after being such a fucking asshole.”
Trust in the power of blocking
And you know what? She was fucking right. That night I blocked him and never looked back and it felt so good. Not only did I avoid bracing for seeing some picture of him in my feed and enduring the inevitable stomach drop, I didn’t have to scroll through my Instagram story views pretending I was just seeing who watched in general, but actually looking for him.
Shortly after, I did something even more radical, I blocked all my exes on Instagram, then everyone who made me feel shitty in any way: guys who I went on one date with and then who ghosted but who still watch my stories or liked my pics; guys who slid into my DM’s even though I repeatedly ignored them; women I went to school with who judged me for whatever reason or who gossiped about me behind my back; anyone who didn’t deserve to be there.
But social media, like life, can be nuanced and complicated and sometimes blocking isn’t a viable route; sometimes it’s muting someone or ignoring a truly pointless text. So, in the spirit of spring cleaning here are some tips to detox your technology.
Block your exes
All of them. The guy you went out with once who watches all your stories. The guy you hooked up with in grad school five or six times but who didn’t acknowledge you in class. Your first love, your latest fling. Get that energy fucking outta your story views and your life. Nothing is permanent so if you really have a hankering for one of them later on, you can always unblock and proceed. But while they’re just causing you stress and costing you good vibes, cut those fuckers out.
Unfollow obnoxious celebrities
Unfollow obnoxious celebrities and brand accounts: Celebs who are still friends with problematic people, companies that post disingenuous captions, Gwyneth Paltrow. My rule is if I'm not consistently liking their content, I don't need to be following them, plain and simple. Keep a few around who make you happy in a visceral way and who you truly want good things for. My top favs are Anthony Hopkins, Rihanna's Savage Fenty line, Andy Cohen, Selma Blair, Ice T & Coco and their perfect daughter Chanel.
Fuck obligatory appeasement
You do not have to like or respond to every comment on your pictures. You don’t have to like a picture just because it’s colleague-who-you-don’-even-really-like’s engagement. You don’t have to thank everyone who wishes you a happy birthday on Facebook. You don’t have to follow back. You don’t have to reply to tweets from (even well-meaning!) strangers. Answer texts you want, when you want. No one is entitled to your time. Granted, you can do all these things when you want to, but you never have to.
Give up the idea of a social media “persona”
If you follow me on any platform you will notice that at times, I am really academic and legal about issues relating to abortion, the Supreme Court, and politics. I can be incredibly serious about my policy wonkiness. I also love a good dick joke (and good dick!), sexy and gratuitous selfies, and Rihanna’s lingerie line. None of these things are consistent, but in a world where everything is reduced to a one-dimensional aesthetic, make sure you’re checking yourself. Are you posting or not posting something because you fear it will look out of place or dissonant with your other posts? Do you want to post it for some other, genuine reason? Go for it.
Follow things that 'spark joy'
A la Marie Kondo, follow more accounts that post photography of things you like and things that make your eyes dance. For me that’s plants and gardens, New Orleans, and extravagant interiors. Follow more funny people on Twitter and less people who take themselves too seriously. There are experts and then there are “experts” — learn who’s who, look at who their mutual follows are before you RT them, and LIBERALLY block middle aged men who respond to your tweets.
Gas up your friends
Like their posts (even if you’ve already seen them in pre-production) and leave comments that remind them of the fucking treasures they are. Tell them they’re beautiful and accomplished and important. If you’re lucky enough to have a gaggle of people who love you and want the best for you and vice versa, use social media as a way to affirm that every day.
Don’t take any of it too seriously
Don’t spend six hours editing that selfie that is going to be in circulation for 48 hours and then become irrelevant. Post what feels good, troll people in your story if that’s your jam, post twice in one day if you want, go off the social media grid for a week and don’t feel obligated to tell anyone. Think about your social media accounts (and your time, frankly) like possessions and use and share them the same way you would a pair of shoes you just bought or a vacation you just paid for; it’s yours and you control it and its express purpose is to bring you fun and enjoyment and enrichment.
If all this feels like a lot just think to yourself: Unfollow, Unfriend, Block, Repeat. Do it as often as you feel is necessary. Make your social media work for YOU.
Caroline Reilly is a reproductive justice advocate and a law student based in Boston, MA. You can find her work on Teen Vogue, Bitch Media, Rewire, Scarleteen, Frontline (PBS), and Death & the Maiden, and where she writes about abortion, medical misogyny, death phobia and more. Additionally, her writing on abortion access for minors, which gained national recognition, can be found here. Find her on Twitter at @ms_creilly.
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