How Social Media Can Affect Highly Sensitive People

Daily Thoughts

What once was a momentary distraction from our daily lives has become a common escape for many. Many people use their phones during their lunch break or check them throughout their day. The effort to unwind has become a source of overstimulation and a dependency on technology. Social media has many positives including enabling us to maintain connections with friends and family overseas. However, it can also have negative effects from lowered self-esteem, unrealistic perceptions, information overload, and a false sense of connection. Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) are particularly vulnerable to being exposed and impacted by the digital world. What is seen as a form of escapism and relaxation can be stressful and overwhelming for many HSPs. 

After removing several social media apps including Instagram and Facebook, I felt more peaceful and relaxed and I had time to focus on what was important. As HSPs we tend to be highly sensitive in any of the five senses: sound, light, touch, taste, and smell.  For people with sensory processing sensitivity, the information and forms of entertainment that we choose to watch, read, and listen to can have an impact on our physical and mental health. HSPs have much higher sensory processing, which means there are stronger reactions when seeing others’ emotions or watching a film with violent or dramatic scenes. 

We can experience overstimulation / HSPs notice the small details and being overstimulated can cause feelings of anxiety and a lack of focus. Information overload can lead to cognitive overload, which can be debilitating for HSPs. The ability to focus on a particular task carefully can be experienced when we switch off or put our phone on airplane mode and prioritize what is most present.

When we reduce the apps, news, and time spent on social media and remove non-essential notifications, we can rest our brain and minimize the feeling of being drained. This reduces the sensory input that we are engaging in. The constant interruptions and flows of notifications are a guaranteed way to make you unproductive. During many of our working hours, many jobs require hours of screen-time. A way that HSPs can feel less stimulated is by minimizing their phone use during their private time. 

It triggers our empath side / Imagine watching a film with a violent scene or reading about a tragedy on a news site. The intensity is heightened as the news can bring us down far deeper as there is a sense of helplessness that we can’t solve all these problems. As an HSP, I tend to limit my news consumption as it can be overwhelming at times and I can be brought to tears by an emotional story online. These all impact our mental state during the day and our general state of mind.

Highly Sensitive People have the great power of putting themselves in others’ shoes and truly feeling what they are feeling. This can be a blessing when being there for a loved one, but it can be draining for one’s mental health if there is an overload of problems from the exposure we have to the news and social media. As an HSP I find I intensely pick up on other’s feelings and what they are going through. I feel those emotions profoundly and deeply, and at times it can be all too much. It can be overwhelming. In these moments we need to set boundaries and limit/priorities where we place our attention and who we give it to. 

Comparison is the thief of joy / Most people on platforms such as Instagram often show the highlight reel of their lives. Many Highly Sensitive People are sensitive to other’s feelings. Finding balance in our social media use is important as Social media can often cause us to place focus on other’s lives rather than simply living our own. Adopting the “Joy of Missing Out” can be a great relief to enjoy the activities we normally find stimulating. Highly Sensitive People are wired differently, but the comparison on social media can make it temporarily easy to forget that.

Many HSPs are confident and happy within themselves, and they share and use their sensitivity as a gift in the world. However, there is a potential for self-esteem to lower in someone whose trait is not understood or nurtured. Sensitivity is often associated with weakness in our society when really it is our greatest strength. It’s okay to be sensitive to the content you are viewing online and to act accordingly to minimize the impact.  

Social media can impact our sleep / The first hour of the morning sets the tone for the day and the last hour before sleep is critical for good sleep. By starting the morning off technology-free, you can create a ritual that is relaxing and puts your mind at ease. Checking emails and social media can cause the mind to wander and go into overdrive. With so much going on in the world today on the news, the news can have a negative impact on a highly sensitive person. I found a helpful practice to start or end the day is to meditate. It sets a positive tone for the day, relaxes all the muscles in your body, it slows your breathing, and allows your mind to start fresh and clear.

When HSPs experience good sleep they are able to function at their best. The presence of phones in the bedroom can have a greater effect on our sleep and wellbeing. The blue light emitted by screens can restrict the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle. Scrolling and information processing can cause our brains to stay awake. By limiting your digital consumption during the start and end of the day, you can create a quiet routine to unwind at the end of the day and have a higher sleep quality. 

It can increase stress and anxiety / There is more information flowing into our lives more than ever before. There are interruptions, distractions, and forms of escapism during our day. It seems the days where we wrote letters to each other or talked on the phone have changed into instant messaging and other immediate forms of communication. There is more social pressure to share personal information about our private lives. There is a lack of privacy and pressure from social stress.

The increased awareness of stressful events in other lives may contribute to the increasing stress people have in their own lives. The use of social networking sites can make mental health issues potentially worse. There are ways to minimize the increase of stress and anxiety by limiting the use of social media. Being self-aware of the behaviors and habits we may have, can decrease the chance of becoming addicted or investing too much time into social media. 

Lack of presence and boundaries / It’s in those quiet moments when we’re sitting on the bus or waiting for a friend that we want to have a form of immediate distraction. When we’re scrolling on social media, we’re taken away from the presence. Taking those small moments to stare out the window, read a book or breathe slowly can allow us to stay centered. Social media inserts itself into our daily lives blurring the lines between public and private. The lack of boundaries between work and private life is more prominent.

Many Highly Sensitive People need boundaries to feel safe in any given environment. Social media means that we are accessible at any time of the day, and this can create an added pressure to respond to people in a shorter period. The focus of being online can draw us away from being present in the moment. When we actively seek out activities during the day that bring us back to our presence, we can feel more grounded. Give yourself permission to make clear boundaries and know that it’s okay to attend to things later or say no to an invitation. 

How Can HSPs Manage Social Media Use?
  •  Remove social media apps from your phone
  •  Limit your use of technology each day
  •  Make sure to unplug throughout the day and be conscious of your social media use
  •  Unfollow accounts that don’t align with your values
  • Spend time when on your phone to talk to family and close connections
  • Find media and platforms that work for your individual needs
  • Stay in touch with nature and spend time outdoors
  • Turn your notifications off from apps
  • Taking a digital detox to take a break from your screens
  •  Set a time for how much social media you use
  •  Use apps that help you, such as mindfulness apps or gratitude diaries
  • Focus on the tasks and activities that you enjoy that don’t require a phone
  • Use your smartphone for learning or relaxing, such as reading, listening to a podcast, listening to music, or a guided meditation

For many of us, social media is active in our day-to-day lives. It can enable us to maintain connections with our loved ones and stay up-to-date with the news. With anything, it requires balance and moderation to maintain our sense of wellbeing. Its addictive nature and information overload can be especially overwhelming. For HSP, social media in moderate to high dosages can be overstimulating, energy draining, and even cause stress and anxiety. By incorporating more self-care practices and daily activities offline, it can make you feel calmer and more present to experience the day ahead.

What’s your experience with Social Media like as an HSP?

Photography by Leslie Zhang

A World Without SmartPhones And Social Media

Daily Thoughts

The earliest memories of the phone that I remember were the corded phones we used to call our neighbourhood friends. When I flash back to moments in my childhood, the nights were filled with bedtime stories, listening to cassette tapes and humming myself to sleep. The room was pitch black except for the straight line of light seeping through from underneath the door. Through the curtain, you can see the stars shining in the night sky, and you can hear the occasional morepork sound. Lying there on the bed, listening quietly to my thoughts, breathing slowly and then falling asleep. The night’s for many are now technology filled with online noise and blue screen lights.

Where we put our attention towards is what we prioritise. No matter where we are in the world, there has become an increase of people becoming slaves to their phones. We have become a generation with a huge phone-addiction. Our phones, when used in excess, has become a device that has caused a disconnected society. We crave connection, but how deep are the connections that we have? It seems common now that you can be friends with anyone online. I truly think that to have one true friend in this life time is one of the greatest blessing.

Our sense of self comes from our character and our heart. It can only come from within. The connection we have with nature, music, art or our loved ones can only come from the heart. If we had a look at the hours we spend on our technological devices during a lifetime, it may shock many of us how long we spend our time staring at screens. There is so much precious time that we have in a day. Imagine a world without smart phones or social media. What would be the same and what would be different?

The pros of smart phones and social media

Family and Friends / For those who have long-distance relationships with their family and friends, our devices enable us to connect with our loved ones.

Living with convenience / We are able to research, read and find information from the touch of our phones. We can shop online, search for a phone number or use Google maps.

A sense of community and connection / Social media can be great for establishing groups that can help each other out. The online forums at university were really great for messaging other classmates and discussing ideas and group projects.

Sharing our creative work / Social media can be a great platform for those who want to share their creativity. I wonder if pre-social media created a more authentic space for creativity. The curiosity we have is often found in the quiet moments.

The rise of online communication / The ease of communication has also been prevalent since Covid as many companies are now incorporating flexible arrangements, such as remote working.

Using Wellbeing apps / Regular use of apps that can help with your mental health can be beneficial. I find listening to meditation podcasts everyday really help.

The cons of smart phones and social media

Escapism and distraction / Many people want to avoid the discomfort of sitting in silence or appearing to do nothing. The phone has become a safety net to take us away from the present.

Mental health problems / Our phones have influenced the rise of mental health problems. This is why balance is so important as the connections we have in person can contribute greatly to our wellbeing.

Spread of false information / Social media can be highly unrealistic and the spread of misinformation is prevalent. There is rise in fake news and the spread of opinions as facts within news outlets.

Lack of privacy / I think we’d all be shocked if we knew how much the online world knew about each and every one of us. Perhaps it would encourage us to limit our phone usage.

Having bad manners / When we use our phones at the dinner table or when catching up with a friend; it is bad manners. Eye contact and being present is one of the important aspects of communication.

The rise of consumerism / Targeted advertising is a huge market for businesses to earn money right from the use of our phones. Every click and every view we make is all recorded into an algorithmic database to keep track of our interests.

The increase of superficial comparisons / The reality is that what we see on social media is a curated image. It is designed to look a certain way. The most human part of interacting with one another is communicating in person.

Social media is designed to be addictive / The more time we spend on it, the more money corporations can make. Social media hinders our ability to focus and creates short-term attention.

Children using social media / There are more children growing up with technology and social media. Children should be playing outdoors, interacting with their parents and watching the world around them. The implication for us to also use our phones less rings very true.

Tips for using your phone less

  • Using an alarm clock to wake up in the morning and wearing a watch for checking the time
  • Removing inactive or time-consuming apps and disabling notifications
  • Having purpose for when you use your phone eg. talking to someone, using a meditation app
  • Creating a daily habit of not looking at your phone in the early morning and before bed time
  • Spend more time doing the things you love eg. reading, playing an instrument, going for a run
  • Remove or deactivate social media accounts that you aren’t engaged with
  • Reading, people-watching or day dreaming during your lunch breaks
  • Taking time to journal and reflect during quiet times during the day
  • Go outdoors for a walk and surround yourself in nature
  • Be conscious of when you do use your phone and what you are using it for

What are the main reasons you use your phone for?

Art by Maggie Stephenson

The Life We Lived Before Social Media

Culture

If you grew up before social media escalated and became increasingly popular, you’ll remember how interactions were far different to how they are now. We used the telephone at home to talk to friends, we mailed letters to our families overseas and we would go next door to play with the neighbours kids. Communication now has a sense of urgency, but the value in a conversation is the most important thing, no matter how convenient it is to reach someone. Social media has enabled us to connect with anyone online but there is a rarity in truly establishing an authentic conversation. Below are several observations of how social media has impacted our lives.

sharing / Sharing is a natural part of our daily conversations and interactions with friends and family. However, it’s increasingly common to share with strangers about intimate details of our lives. It’s good to share what you like, but it’s important to have moderation, because most of the simple memories are the ones we keep to ourselves.

privacy / There is less mystery now compared to when we wouldn’t know what someone is doing or where they are. It’s common to share more of our lives to the public. Every action we take online is not truly private from everything we view to what we read.

daydreaming / The art of people watching has been replaced with spending time on our phones. The days of sitting at the bus stop watching people walk by or staring out a window looking at the cars seemed to give us a sense of feeling present. Daydreaming gives us a whole universe into our imagination that a phone can’t replicate.

relationships / My close relationships with friends and family are often those that I see in person, or even those that I might not talk to for a while, but when you reconnect in person it feels just the same. It’s easy to be online friends with many people, but in-person contact definitely solidifies a deeper friendship.

follows / Before social media was what it is now, we tend to catch up, surround ourselves and make friends with people we feel good around. The concept of following means that many people are following the lives of people they don’t really know, rather than focusing on living their own lives.

daily routine / social media is a normal, regular part of many people’s everyday routine. I remember before social media, I spent a lot more time reading the newspaper while I was having breakfast, playing with puzzles, going to the library for an afternoon and being creative with my hands.

online personality / When I think of social media apps like Instagram, there can definitely be a narrow snapshot of what the person is like. We only get a tiny glimpse from a shot snapped in a second. We can choose what we want to show and we can show ourselves a certain way.

strangers / Do you remember walking down the neighbourhood streets and greeting people or talking to random people in the store? There was more of a mystery of not knowing what goes on in other’s lives but there was also a genuine kindness and connection that we would have.

news / We have more choices than ever before and we are able to choose which platforms we receive our news from. There is more fake news online and we are consuming news that has been specifically targeted towards us from what we’re already consuming, rather than challenging us with new ideas.

childhood / One of the most heart-breaking things is seeing how young children are already using phones and tablets. I would argue that this is not healthy for a child and even for adults using their phone when the child needs their attention. Play is a powerful part of childhood, as well as interacting with people or exploring the world around us.

boredom / How we spend our free time has changed. One of the most freeing things was when I stopped using Facebook. I think that social media can often be a way of filling our moments of boredom, yet those are the very moments that can be filled with something that can support our growth. Learning a new language, going out for a long walk or talking to a loved one.

special memories / When we were younger, there would be endless photo albums of memories that were captured. The moments were precious, natural and candid. They were just snapshots of the life we were living in, rather than photos of looking a certain way. Those special memories we hold dearly.

mental health / We live in a generation where many people have a smartphone addiction. The constant use of our phones are also a form of escapism of our real-life experiences. It creates avoidance in confronting issues and it has increased the rates of anxiety and depression. Minimizing our technology use is beneficial for having a balanced lifestyle.

in person / The best form of communication is always in person, even though it’s great that we can connect with people online, especially if we’re unable to see them often. However, I find that when we use our phones in the presence of others we lose a moment to connect with them. It’s the ability to be in the present that is important.

phone addiction / We pick up our phones numerous times a day to check our messages, watch a video, write an email or read an article. Before social media, our phone usage was far less. We would predominantly use it for texting and calling. We are constantly distracted by our phones.

surveillance capitalism / After watching The Social Dilemma, it makes one question how every part of our online activity is being followed and tracked. We are living in isolation bubbles from algorithms that expose us to repeated content that we are predicted to engage with.

sense of mystery / There would be an air of mystery. Now when you meet someone you can look at their social media profile and pretty much know most things about them.  Without social media sites, there would be more mystery and you would have to form your own opinion of them from your experiences.

over consumption / Over consumption is encouraged through the never-ending flow of information available online. It can be helpful to follow a small amount of accounts. I feel that then gives an added value, rather than joining the noise and mindlessly passing through many posts. It also saves time to minimize the amount of online content you consume.

ability to focus / How present are we in our day-to-day lives? We live in an attention economy where corporations earn profit from our attention and how long they can distract us. Seeing the world around us means consciously having no screen time and having time to be in our own thoughts. The moments where we get lost in reading a book or playing an instrument.

communication / The way we communicate has changed astronomically. We don’t talk on the phone as often, and most communication is done through messaging and emailing. We tend to use the self-check out aisles and we avoid more in-person communication. The true connection we have in the world can only be felt through in-person interactions.

the art of slow / I think of how our parents would go to the library to do all their research or how our grandparents would write letters to one another. There was no shopping online or instant messaging, and reading and research were all done offline. The ability to take a step back and take your time rather than rushing through life brings us back to the present.

Reflecting on life before social media causes us to confront the behaviours that have changed over time. Research says that social media is re-writing our brains and our behaviours are heavily influenced by technology. Social media has permeated many facets of our lives; breaking the boundaries of what is public and private. By consciously taking control and action to maintain balance in our life, we reclaim the time we may spend online, and we have the freedom of not being constraint to our devices.

“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.” ― E.O. Wilson

Art by Annya Marttinen

Taking A Break From Facebook And Instagram

Culture

Connection is an important part of relationships, and having a sense of community can affect our well being. True connections are incredibly valuable. It’s been a few months since I stopped using Facebook and Instagram, and the relationships that are the closest are the ones where you are engaged and in contact regardless of your online presence. They are the ones you will message or call on the phone every day. I really value close and long-term friendships, and I found that often on social media we are viewing and sharing to people we don’t have a close connection with. The aspects of privacy, mental health, phone use and what value it has on my personal life were just some of the areas that made me remove several social media apps.

The people who care about you will make the effort to be in your life. The people that really matter will make the effort to call you and personally invite you to events or to catch up. It’s not the frequency of contact or quantity of friendships, but the time spent. A natural part of life is that people come and go in our lives. Those who are meant to be in our lives will be there.

Your productivity levels will increase. The ability to sustain focus for longer periods of time will become a habit. Social Media can be distracting and take away our attention. Phones have caused us to have shorter attention spans. I remember as a student how distracting social media can be, and how much time can go by if we spend our time on it.

Decrease in anxiety and online noise and distraction. My mental health greatly improved, and so much time will be in your hands for things that add value in your life, rather than scrolling mindlessly. There was something about Facebook and Instagram that really triggered my anxiety. Our phones can be a form of escapism. There is an overwhelming amount of information online.

Spending time doing the things you love. Time spent on your favourite activities, hobbies and time spent with the people you love. In the past few months, I love to spend the early morning going for a jog or reading a chapter of a book, whereas in the past one of the first things was to turn on my phone. Time offline means that I put more conscious time in achieving my goals.

Conformity, validation and acceptance. I think about how I really value the opinions and views of those close to me, regardless of if I agree or disagree with it. However, I find on social media there is a lot of external validation from strangers which can have an impact on ones authenticity. True validation and acceptance is through accepting yourself.

The time spent on my phone is minimised. More or less the phone is mostly used for texting, calling and replying emails. I check my phone far less, whereas when I previously had several social media apps, I’d check it more often because there would be notifications that most of the time weren’t important. Excessive screen time is unhealthy, and takes us away from the present.

The value of privacy, and realising that most people don’t truly care about you. We are essentially the products on social media platforms. It’s hard to define privacy in one definition nowadays. I am quite a private person, and would rather spend time sharing certain things with those close to me. Most people are friendly, but there really are only a handful of people in our personal lives who truly care about us.

Body image and unrealistic expectations. There is a layer of social media that can feel unrealistic. We only catch a glimpse, and even then we can’t really know someone without engaging in conversation and spending time with them. To an extent, social media can shape perceptions of body image.

Being present and focused in my own life. I’m not sure if I’ll be back on Facebook or Instagram, but it feels good to be fully focused on my own life. I do miss the days before social media where there was a sense of mystery in our lives. No one’s life is perfect, even though it can seem that way online. Spending less time on our phones can create space for us to be present in our daily lives.

Art by Lisa Perrin

Lack of Privacy

Daily Thoughts

In the digital age, the question of privacy seems to be ever changing, as large corporations have an increasing amount of information on individuals. Reading Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier, was eye opening and makes you ask a lot of questions in regards to privacy, technology and social media. However, Social media is a tool and a platform, and it comes down to how we are using it, and what we are using it for. In a sense, surveillance is not simply the cameras on the street or in the shop, but in our daily spaces.

Direct, personalised and targeted marketing is increasing, as algorithms are able to track what we have viewed, searched, liked, shared and purchased. Someone dear to me mentioned the book 1984, which I am currently reading and find it really interesting. However, at the time it seemed unlikely that it may occur, that Big Brother would be watching a person’s every move, but it seems that it’s the reality today. On one hand, we can decide what we want to share, and on the other hand, whatever information is searched, posted and clicked online is always recorded. The sense of mystery in ones life is not as apparent.

Art by Kate Pugsley

Social Media And Seeing The World Through Filters

Daily Thoughts

friends_3

When you think back to when you were a child, what do you remember? I think of the moments where I could crouch down and stare at a snail with so much curiosity, and it would be exciting and intriguing. The trail of ants as they strongly lift food back home or the hours spent outdoors reading on the grass, lying under the trees, sinking my toes into the sand and going for bushwalks. There are days where I feel that Social Media, particularly Instagram, can be toxic rather than beneficial. I like sharing moments that made me feel happy, but I do think Instagram can be superficial at times, and I think it’s because photos tend to be more carefully taken, rather than the spontaneous childhood photos. I’ve felt the desire to delete my Instagram many times this year.

Privacy. Too much of anything is not healthy. It’s finding a sense of balance. As someone who cherishes their privacy, it’s important in finding that balance on what one chooses to share. I was reading an article from the National Geographic February 2018 Issue on surveillance. Now that we all hold a camera in the palm of our hands, and we are surrounded by cameras around us, on the street, in the store and perhaps in moments, we don’t realise. It may be a person watching us, or a camera we are not aware of. The frequency we use apps and post and share content, the more data we are giving away about ourselves.

Numbers. Our self-worth does not come from a number. This is something I struggled with for a very long time in regards to my weight. It doesn’t matter how tall, how much you earn, how many followers you have, how many likes, how many views, how many friends you have, how much you weigh… Your value in life comes from within. There is no external factor that can take over what is in your heart and mind. If we put our value and self-worth through others validation, we will never be happy. Your happiness ultimately comes from within. A person could be poor but be abundantly happy because they live a rich life through their relationships. A person could be rich in materials, but lack meaningful relationships in their life.

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Family and friends. The truth is, the majority of the time, I mostly share photos with my close friends and family. They are the ones I’ll be talking to on the phone and spending time messaging. When I think about Instagram, I think about how it’s not necessary for me to share certain aspects, but I think it’s having the ability to choose what we post. Which is why Instagram is ultimately just a snapshot, and we cannot judge a person solely from a snapshot. However, it’s interesting how with family, we don’t really need to think twice about what we send. At least I know I don’t.

Perfection, mental health, and body image. Social Media is not a reality. I think this is important to remember. I think what I want to express is that it is only a snapshot, a second of a moment, a glimpse and sometimes a filter to be perceived a certain way. Many feeds on Instagram can look perfect and I’ve found one of the most damaging aspects is the admiration of people solely for their appearances, rather than their personality and their abilities. I really want to put it bluntly, because I think Instagram has been one of the apps that often causes many people to put physical appearances more highly, rather than intelligence, abilities, talents and so forth.

friends_8

Focusing on what’s important. I read a profound sentence the other day, which said: “What you focus on is how you will feel”. These words resonated so strongly because I think about any time I start feeling those emotions of anxiety, worry, and fear, it often comes from where my focus is. It may be to do with something in the future or something out of my control. Whereas, when the focus is on what I can change and I’m present, then that’s where feelings of motivation, positivity, and creativity come. I think the sentence also relates to how you spend your time is essentially the life that you create for yourself.

The good and the bad. Social Media is great for keeping in touch with family and friends. Messenger, Wechat, Line, and Whatsapp are the apps that I use for messaging, as well as the occasional emailing and texting. I remember when MSN chat was also popular. You can share moments, read the news, stay updated and keep in touch no matter where you are in the world. The online world can be very noisy at times, and it’s good to spend time offline with the phone switched off and out of reach. There have been many times I’ve almost shared something, and even written the caption, but then I realized, I just want to keep that special memory to myself.

Art by Eri Kamei

The Importance Of Keeping Mystery Online

Daily Thoughts

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We are known as the over-sharing society. With social media and many other platforms, people are able to share what they’re eating, wearing, seeing and doing. There are many moments that are captured and shared, which can make us feel that we are seeing inside a little part of someones life. As someone who loves to write and share my thoughts online, I feel that there is an important aspect of knowing where to draw the line in order to protect your own privacy. I recently read an article that was so absolutely true. In the post she mentioned how “It is so easy to think you know everything about a person purely because of the 5% of their life that they choose to share with you.”

Although, I cannot relate to this as I don’t film or share as many images of my life, I can really understand this from an online perspective. It’s easy for people to see images and videos and judge how someone may be. The thing with online and digital, is that the creator is able to choose what they wish to display and what they don’t. There is far more that is not displayed. I remember watching somewhere, a girl said “Don’t be fooled by a lot of images online”, she was openly talking about how she edits her images. Whether it was the lighting or adding a bit of makeup, she wanted to address that not everything you see online is real.

We know more about other people than ever, yet there is so much we don’t know as well. Most of the time, the portrayal that many of us want to share online, is to share our positive moments. Which is fair, when we want to remember the positive parts of ourselves. However, in this sense there is an over exposure of what is deemed to be perfect and perceived beautiful. There are less images that are like the ones back in the day, where the family would buy a small camera to capture holiday moments or birthday parties and print them out to place in the photo albums. There are now more pictures that are seen as picture perfect.

A lot of the times it’s nicer to enjoy something in your own mind and your own space, or simply with the ones you love. A birthday, a quiet moment, a delicious meal or a walk at the park. Without the need to capture the moments, and receive validation for it in some way. In other aspects it’s lovely to share recipes, holiday images and pictures that make one smile, but I always feel when we over share baby photos or selfies – what is the purpose of it? Don’t you ever feel that the deepest connection you have with a person is when you learn something about them that you never knew? Or perhaps, when you become close friends, it’s those parts that they choose to unfold to you.

aarontcaycedokimura23.jpgI saw this wonderful drawing from INFJoe which speaks so much truth. He wrote: Please converse with or talk to me. Not at me. Very often this happens in person, especially as someone who is mostly a listener in a conversation. However this is what the online world has become. There are so many voices, but so few that truly listen or share a conversation together. I feel that keeping mystery online, is also by talking about topics we can all relate to, rather than always talking about ourselves or talking about what is trending. No doubt that it is the selfie age, and at the same time we are all absorbed into it in some way big or small. Just remember to stay true to yourself if you ever feel you are oversharing or unsure of whether to share something or not. It’s okay to share images, stories, pictures and videos, but make sure they are true to you, rather than showing what you feel others will like.

Last year I deleted my Facebook because I didn’t see the value in it anymore. I didn’t see how seeing images of memes and videos was important. I didn’t see how seeing images of others lunch or night out partying was of value to me. And I didn’t understand why some people showed off their materials, their recent prize, their baby photos or what they recently bought so often. Call me old school, but a part of me just didn’t care too much. If they were baby photos of someone I was close to, I would love to keep updated, but many people we may be friends with online, are not necessarily very close to us and frankly, do not care for us.

I believe keeping mystery online will allow us to all cherish the deep connections we hold with our loved ones. They are the part of ourselves that make us interesting and different. If we post what we think everyone else would love, like and comment, then we’ve fallen into the trap of not being our true self. Share what you love, write about what you like and most of all, don’t sell yourself out online. Don’t feel the need to share every detail of your life. It’s okay to share images with one another, but keep those private parts of you only open for certain people you trust.

art by Monica Barengo | INFJoe