In film, there’s a wide shot, a medium wide shot and a tight shot. The wide shot establishes where the person is in the movie or video. The medium shot moves the story along and the tight shot brings you deeper into what the character might be feeling and is often one of the most intimate shots. In social media, we are often getting a very curated tight shot of people’s lives. Hardly do we ever get the wide shot. And even when we do, more often than not, it is too curated. And because of the way that social media often functions in our lives, it can sometimes play mind games with us.
Have you ever been going through your day, reading an actual book, working in your garden, cooking a meal and at some point, something comes over you—boredom, sadness, or just an empty moment you want to fill up and you’ve decided to go onto social media? Or maybe it’s not one of those emotions, but you go to social media to impulsively share something you’ve experienced, rather than call up a friend or family member to do the same? Then you’re down the rabbit hole of staring at thumbnails or “tight shots” of someone else’s life and inevitably get caught up in this cycle of thinking something is missing from your life? I have.
And the truth is, it isn’t useful to do that but we do it. I think it’s potentially dangerous to compare the richness and complexity of your life (or another’s) based on a thumbnail-a curated one at that. I know that many people don’t mean to compare themselves, but some research suggests that the very way social media operates and functions is to make you do just that.
I wonder, if it’s possible to engage with social media in a way that is less harmful? Some of my friends think so. I’m still not sure yet. I am taking this time to see the difference in how I feel without it? I consider myself a very creative and ambitious person. Could I be undermining my ability to complete things and to be totally present with my creative pursuits as a result of engaging too much on social media? Some ask me why not cut back? I’m not really a “cut back” kind of person. If I know something is harming me in some way, I eliminate it for a while and then gradually bring it back into my life. Kind of like an elimination diet.
The comparison game on social media is real. The triggering is real. And the aftermath of low productivity and focus is also real. Again, my whole 30 days will not be talking about the bad things about social media. Because for some, I believe it is useful. And who knows, maybe one day, I’ll be able to figure out what ways it could be useful for me. In the meantime, I will be focusing on the wide, medium and tight shots of my own life and the life around me, in real time.