Social Media Part 1: Adolescence

This blog post is a long-time coming. It’s been something that I feel has been bothering me for a while now and getting it down on paper, figuratively at least here, has felt like a monumentous effort in detailing the history of my relationship with social media. But, as my recently-changed title of my blog will show, I’m trying to live my life “post-perfect”. So, here goes.

I think, to talk about my relationship with social media is to address a few things about myself:

  1. Adolescence

  2. College

  3. Photography & “Hustle”

  4. Online Dating & Romance

  5. Fitness & Health

I don’t want to go too into detail about all of these points but I do think it’s important to get the ball rolling somehow, so to that end I’m starting with point 1: Adolescence & College.

Like many mid-20’s millennials, I first flirted with social media in middle school. I had computer class while in the 5th or 6th grade and, while it was a great platform for me to learn to use hotmail and play stupid computer games, nothing really sank in for me until I made my very own Myspace.

Myspace, what a place. It remains in my memory both a microcosm of the known social media universe as well as the launching pad for what I can only imagine were the lives of future programmers and coders who hailed from humble beginnings of html editing adjusting the wallpaper, scrolling text, music selection, and general a e s t h e t i c of their small, suburban NJ lives. Oh wait, that’s just me.

But yes, Myspace was my first real foray into the world of social media. For the record, I don’t count AOL Instant Messenger because 1. I didn’t use it as often as some of my friends did and 2. it’s not really social media, nah mean? But anyways, yes, Myspace.

From Tom, who proverbially set the tone for all future “friends” that i would have in my digital life, to the infamous Top 8 friends list, Myspace was the first real place that I felt was “Mine” with a capital “M”. Between ownership and control of what my page looked like, to the psychologically-damning scoring system of your top 8 friends, Myspace challenged me to think about what it meant to “exist” in the 21st century in much the same way that high schoolers are asked to think about who they want to be for the rest of their lives when only a year prior, they were asking to use their parents’ car to go to Ray’s house.

But I digress.

I cut my teeth on the subtle intricacies of social media life by building upon posts on others page and their posts on mine with the unusual idea of inside jokes that exist only on the internet (though these are want to progress outside, adding an extra degree of two of their “inside-ness”). Friendships in person were reforged and remade in the fire of social media interaction, to come out steaming and glistening from the bowels of poorly backlit LCD computer screens, emerging as some new amalgamation of relationship memories from hangouts both digital and personal.

All this time, though, the seed of something more sinister would be planted. Something that wordlessly existed in millennial zeitgeist: that talking about social media interactions was somehow a faux pas in the real world.

Flash forward a few years. I’m a bit older and now in high school. I have a different set of friends, a different social responsibility, and generally a different mindset about life.

Enter: Facebook.

Facebook was the new and exclusive thing that, from what I can remember, was college-specific and invite-only and was relegated to talk about friends who had college-aged siblings who could add them. This generated a flu-like epidemic of everyone wanting their own Facebook. I, being a part of the crowd, also wanted in.

Facebook brought in a whole other set of specific ideas about what it meant to be on social media: a dedicated page that was uniform for all others meant that content thereon mattered more. There were college- and school-specific networks that you could be a part of which meant you knew essentially all of the other people from your school who also had facebooks. Short bios, more refined photo albums, and even relationship statuses meant that there was now a dichotomy between the two worlds I now inhabited: be on Myspace and be a child-teen-person, or be on Facebook and be catapult into maturity.

Yes, Facebook was a step up in terms of maturity and for fledgling young high schoolers, we grasped at the straws of whatever made us seem “cool”. From Facebook, I learned what it was to make and accept, however tactically, the multitude of friend requests. I learned what it was to have a good profile photo that wasn’t childishly ironic or of your favorite alternative-indie-rock band. Also, I learned what it was to develop my personal “brand” of myself.

At its core for me, Facebook was the place that I learned to truly cultivate who I was for the immediate group of people that I chose to allow in my page. Like Myspace before it, inside jokes became more and more rampant. Commenting and liking on posts meant that worth could be attached to arbitrary amounts of people who happened to see those posts. A triple digit friend count would directly translate into intangible and unspoken popularity contests.

More than this, Facebook provided an opportunity for people to truly “show face”. I remember a periods of time where I would be interacting with one or two people in a tongue-in-cheek post and reply battle. Other times, the significant others of mine at the time would shower my wall with questionably-deserved praise over our relationship, and I would reciprocate (think of the precursor to saying “couple-goals” but without the understanding that it was largely in jest). Also, the system of uploading photos and tagging others would somehow mean more imaginary internet points, or even just plain old brownie points, between you and those you would tag.

While not at the time yet of being able to truly share other things on the internet, the high school pool of characters I knew and had access to meant that content was king and how you interacted with your friends dictated how you were seen, both on and off the social media platform. It would lay the groundwork for me as I entered into a different phase of my life: college.

On the need for scheduling

I’ve really been neglecting this page, again. Need to seriously start documenting my life here better. I always have a dozen or so thoughts swimming around in my head that I never seem to get a chance to write down so I’d really like to schedule time each day to take a look at my random scribbles and get something concrete on paper.

Anyways, that’s it for now. Just want to flex my website blogging muscles a bit before they atrophy beyond recognition.

DC

Bullets and Squares

Random thought but it’s occurring to me that I have two potential life-tracking tools at my disposal: my bullet journal and this square space blog.

The BuJo I guess is more relevant for day-to-day personal activities and thoughts, which I will admit I occasionally forget to use and update. On the other hand, this Squarespace blog is my place for longer-form, more in-depth ideas and thoughts.

It feels kind of strange using these two systems in parallel since the kind of things that I would want to try and post in my BuJo are now being logged in this blog. At the same time, this blog allows for some more stream-of-consciousness that my handwriting simply can’t compete with in capacity and speed.

Just a thought about these two personal repositories.

Calorie Tracking and Consistency

I’ve been using MyFitnessPal for the past 6 weeks straight tracking and logging calories. I’ve been trying to keep a log of what I eat from a calorie perspective in order to lose weight but I’m noticing an usual trend with my tracking in that I use my calorie limit per day to inform whether or not I eat as a opposed to a system where I sets a goal for me.

My magic number is 1800kcal a day so I often will eat up to that limit, naturally trying not to go over. The corollary is that I also look to fill up those extra calories if, after logging a day of food, I find that I still have some left over.

I don’t think that this is a good process, though, because it sets me up to always meet that goal, rather than listen to my body and work within those limits, even if it means fewer calories per day.

Not sure what I’ll do about this, I like the consistency of using the MFP app and I’d sooner keep to this habit than try to break it. At the same time, I feel like a “flexible diet” approach is probably the best bet.

Will look to do more research into this.

DC

Validation, Social Crutches

Am noticing that in my never-ending pursuit of the best running and weight lifting routine to suit my goals, I always go back to the same few Reddit posts. Specifically, this one has a thread whose second comment spells out basically my exact approach to lifting while running (two workouts a week with an “A” day and “B” day).

I don’t need to go to this page to tell me stuff that I know already, but I find myself seeking out this page and thread, specifically to validate what I already know.

It’s weird but I don’t find this bad in the way that a person who only speaks to others with similar views and opinions may be detrimental, i.e. a bubble, but I do recognize that my insistence on this form of validation is a kind of social crutch.

I know what I need to do and yet I still seek out sources of information that validate me and my choices. I like to think of myself as someone who doesn’t need this validation or social crutch, and yet I find myself relying more and more on these kinds of things.

What does this say about me?

DC

Try, and Try Again

The longer you go without using your voice, the sooner you forget you have one.

It’s been a while since I’ve last posted, and that’s something that saddens me. I’ve gone back and forth between using this site, keeping it in the background, cancelling my Squarespace account, and all iterations in between. I’ve made countless (read: a handful) purchases of $16 for this site.

I don’t want to say that I’ll stick to this now, and in perpetuity. I just think that I should go with the flow and listen to my heart. God, that sounds really cheesy, but it’s what I feel.

Maybe writing these smaller, bite-sized chunks will make me feel less apprehensive to use the site? Ultimately, I want it to be a place that I don’t feel pressured to use. To achieve that means removing the standards that I’ve tried to hold to myself for this blog and just use it however I want.

/shrug/

5-1-30 and Goal Setting

Learned of this method called 5-1-30, which is a goal setting process. You begin by doubling your age (if you’re 60+, think of your age at 90) and from there think about the things you want to have accomplished by then. At the same time, think about the things that you want to avoid doing at that age. 

From there, the focus here is to consider some shorter term goals to get to that point. Taking from the title, you imagine the things you need to accomplish in 5 years to set you on the pathway to your longer term goals in the first part. Make suer to be specific and measurable goals (for more detail look up SMART goals).

From the 5 year standpoint, look next to plan out what to do over to reach those long term goals in 1 year. Once again, look to plan out attainable and measurable goals. 

The last piece to this plan is to consider what you need to do over the next 30 days to put you on track for your 1 year goals. The focus for this goal setting process is to identify measurable and attainable goals that you set out for yourself over time.

I really like this method because it forces you to consider lofty, ambitious goals far in the future, and seeks to make that pathway more and more realistic by changing and shortening the time period to attain smaller goals as they relate to your current self now. 

I’ll definitely be using this goal setting process for my longer term goals; look out for those post(s?) in the coming days/weeks. 

DC