Several weeks ago, Westminster HS’s competitive field season came to an end a week shy of Championship Finals. It was a tough pill to swallow since we all felt that we were objectively performing at a level higher than previous years. Principals, teachers, and students all took notice. The members were excited that their hard work was being noticed and praised by the rest of the school. The season was going well, so when it came to an abrupt halt, there were many thoughts and feelings to unpack.
At this point, I turned to social media to reflect on the season. Wanting to start with an image, I began posting on Instagram. The trouble here is that posting to Instagram is only possible via a mobile device, and typing on a phone is hard. Instead, I drafted up my thoughts in Google Docs, then copy+pasted it into Instagram. The words transferred over, but the paragraph breaks were hit or miss.
All in all, this process took nearly 30 minutes, which was absurd. Social media simply doesn’t allow for thorough, thoughtful posts. Abbreviated and punctuated one-liners flourish on social media. Carefully crafted passages, on the other hand, become cumbersome.
I didn’t like that.
Cut down to size.
Recently, Facebook added a feature where shorter posts were rendered at a larger font size. Posts on Facebook are also much more likely to be noticed if they’re pictures. Despite having taken the time to type long excerpts to accompany my pictures, I still suspect it was futile and often went unread. There’s no way someone could have read those three paragraphs before liking the post mere seconds after I made the post.
And as you can see in the picture above, the way Instagram posts are displayed on screen, a wall of text (with paragraph breaks) quickly becomes overwhelming. This is a screencap from my desktop, but it’s essentially the same on a phone. I’m sure the tiny font size isn’t to friendly to the eyes, even on a 6″ screen. Considering how terribly the content is presented and how awkward it is to write it in the first place, even I feel inclined to just write a quick excerpt.
My problem with platforms like these is that there isn’t enough thought given to creating and consuming content. Sure there are people who study social media and do give serious thought into creating content for social media, but for the most part, I suspect that the general public hastily generates and consumes social media. This is why I stayed away from SnapChat. To me, it’s synonymous to speaking verbally. If I’m going to say something, I should have given enough thought to what I’m saying where I’d be able to accept long-lasting consequences due to what I say. I don’t like that social media works against my reflex to think carefully before I speak.
What’s my next step?
I’m stepping away from Twitter and Instagram and returning to creating content on my website. I’m actually looking forward to the transition because I very much enjoy writing. Sure, this site exists in part to scratch my ego, but I am also going to use this opportunity to refine my writing and how I speak. I’m not going to completely walk away from Facebook at this point, but I will take more care in how I curate the media I consume and how I speak there.
I find it ironic that I spend so much time on social media. Most of my favorite content, I consume on YouTube on on Feedly through all of my RSS feeds. So if this is the kind of content that I enjoy consuming, why am I not adding value to that ecosystem?
Instant gratification is inexplicably important to many of us. A couple of months ago, my freshman class had a discussion about how we are too reliant on the Internet for immediate stimuli in our lives. Over and over again, they’d cite not wanting to feel left out as the reason why they feel that pull to go on SnapChat or Facebook to check on what’s happening. If they didn’t check their phone immediately, they’d miss out on the latest post that all of their other friends reacted to.
Many of us, myself included, are stuck in this feedback loop where we demand immediate responses to emails and text messages and we train others to expect the same from us by constantly being glued to our smart phones. This renaissance of my blog will be an exercise to break that loop.
I remember that there was a day during my final year at Cal State Long Beach where I had misplaced my phone. I came to this realization right as I finished parking my car. The time was 9 AM. With my senior recital quickly approaching, there were many things I wanted to accomplish that day and decided to proceed with my day. I can’t say whether or not I was more productive that day, but I distinctly remember feeling much happier and at peace that day. I was able to much more deliberately practice. I didn’t feel rushed while eating lunch. To this day, I can’t remember a negative outcome of misplacing my phone that day.
I’d like to move back in that direction, towards being more deliberate in what I do.