I Feel a Sea Change with Social Media

Christine Baird

Christine Baird

My intuition knows something my brain hasn’t figured out yet

This is how I make big decisions: I subconsciously percolate on them for months, and then when it’s time to take action, I make seemingly bold moves without much thought because I’ve actually been processing it under the surface for a while. This happens with purchases, moves, career changes — pretty much anything.

So I knew something was up when I started feeling a kind of existential crisis a couple of weeks ago about how I was using social media. I realized that I had been feeling a sea change for months about what social media has become, specifically for micropreneurs who use it for marketing their brands (that’s me and my clients). I know a little more than the average user about how these platforms were built, their revenue model, and their algorithm just because it’s my job to understand that kind of thing. And it had never really bothered me before. I just accepted them as for-profit, private companies built on an ad-revenue model that must be run by algorithms to bring in maximum money. It is what it is.

But recently, as I’ve been building out the plans for my own business and where I want to invest in my connection to my audience and customers, I’ve felt at a loss to see how staying active on social media will really make those plans a reality. I know, crazy right? Stick with me.

I first knew something was up when I noticed that every time I heard about someone in my industry who had left social media completely, I was fascinated and delighted. I would immediately subscribe to their email list and binge read their blog posts about the decision and what the results have been. They all seemed to be happier, healthier, and thriving as a result.

Then I noticed that even though I was making more content for social media than ever before, and interacting with people more on those platforms than ever, I was feeling like I was having less and less fun and it was feeling more and more like a chore that doesn’t really pay off. I started making stuff I knew the algorithm would like, and if it still didn’t get the views I knew were possible, I’d feel like I’d messed up. I know that’s normal for lots of creators, so I just assumed it was a phase. But my intuition told me something deeper was going on.

I polled my Instagram friends and asked if anyone else was thinking about leaving social media. Lots of people responded yes. Then I thought about all of the really great stuff I’d miss if I wasn’t on Instagram. Friends’ photos of their kids, big life updates, super creative content, big trends, etc. Then I thought about how we used to keep up with all of that without social media. Then I was on a call with the leadership team at the video chat app Marco Polo (do you use it? I do, it’s lovely), and they talked about the idea that they founded their company on of “good for you tech.” That really resonated.

So here I am. I’m having an extended existential crisis about my future on social media. It feels like the time for using those apps to connect to people we have real relationships with has passed and the time to use those apps to sell each other stuff and ideas is here. But the big downside is that we really don’t own or have control over how that process works, so it’s a lot of effort with little guarantee. I’m not saying it’s all bad, far from it. But I know when my intuition says a big change is coming, and that’s what’s been happening.

When it comes to worth and our experiences of ourselves on social media, I don’t think I need to explain much. I think 99% of us struggle to reconcile how the digital version of ourselves and our true selves appear. I thought I’d been doing an okay job of it up to now, but maybe it’s time for a new chapter of aligning these identities. The good news is, regardless of what we decide to do with social media, we are always, already full of worth.

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