By: Maddie De Pree, Columnist
Those closest to me know that I’ve never been a big fan of social media. I’ve always had a Facebook, but when I arrived at Furman, I didn’t have Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter. I just wasn’t interested in keeping up with all that. A “social media presence” has always been an unappealing concept. Twitter seems self-indulgent, and Instagram smacks of narcissism and vacuity. Social media generally strikes me as a huge waste of time.
Recently, though, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that social media is increasingly essential — especially in the literary and arts communities. All of my favorite contemporary authors are on Twitter, and my favorite artists post their work on Instagram. After all, one has to self-promote in any creative field if one wants to get noticed. Unfortunately for me, social media has become a key component of modern self-promotion.
Much to my chagrin, I made myself a Twitter and an Instagram this month. This was partially out of curiosity and partly out of necessity — I submit a lot of literary writing to various journals, and a few of these journals have wanted to know my social media handles so they can tag me when they publish my piece.
So far, my social media exploration been an interesting ride. I don’t really understand the etiquette of either platform (if someone on campus follows me, is it rude to not follow back? What constitutes a good post? Have I sacrificed my self-respect for the sake of remaining current?) but I’ve been enjoying the dialogue and artwork that I’ve found on both apps. I don’t have the patience or the wherewithal to curate a specific “look” or “feed,” so I’m keeping my posts pretty simple.
This will not surprise most readers, but social apps are shockingly addictive. Once you download one, you start to question how you ever lived without it. This is the most disturbing part of social media to me: its capacity to appear in your life and eat up your time. I mean, how could it not? Social media is the epitome of inane entertainment. Twitter and Instagram are particularly guilty of providing a never-ending stream of content and stimulation. With a smartphone in hand, one hardly ever needs to feel bored.
But there’s the catch: I DO get bored. After scrolling mindlessly for a while, I always realize that I could be making better use of my time. To me, virtually any other action is more fulfilling than engaging with Instagram or Twitter. Clearly I find some purpose in these apps, though — after all, I did go out of my way to make my accounts. It’s fun to post updates about my writing and my life, but ultimately, I’m just yelling into a void. Everyone is. Nobody cares about your account but you.
This is why I’m trying to maintain a healthy distance from these apps. No good can come from obsession. Such is my conclusion regarding social media: safe in small doses. In the meantime, follow me at @maddiedepree — I’ll be posting once a month and keeping my online presence in check.