In elementary school, I suffered from insomnia. Whenever I couldn't sleep, I looked out my bedroom window, hoping to see someone else walking around, proof that I wasn't the only person in the world who was awake. I once walked outside at midnight because I heard a few of my neighbors talking in the street and wanted to see what they were up to.
Twitter would have made me feel so much less alone back then: I could have hopped on the social-media platform during those restless, anxiety-ridden nights and seen others composing tweets 24 hours a day, unable to get any shut-eye themselves.
My friends jokingly complained that his lack of social media presence made it harder for them to "stalk" him on the web. I said they'd have to directly ask him what they wanted to know.
Nearly two decades later, I have zero sleeping problems (except that I can't sit through a TV show without dozing off) and I love social media. My line of work demands a robust social media presence, but I thoroughly enjoy staying connected that way. I even live-tweeted a late-night E.R. visit two years ago, as all my friends and family members were asleep and I needed somebody to calm me down. Twitter may not have been around in 1998 for my fearful, 10-year-old self, but on that scary night in 2013, it was my lifeline.
Unlike me, my boyfriend doesn't use social media. He has a Facebook account, but hasn't logged on since he accepted my relationship request nine months ago — a year after we began dating. He is not on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Snapchat, either. He's not against these platforms, but he'd prefer to spend his free time reading The New Yorker or the Atlantic than succumbing to the distraction machine. When we first started dating, my friends jokingly complained that his lack of social media presence made it harder for them to "stalk" him on the web, but I said they'd have to directly ask him what they wanted to know.
Because I use social media multiple times a day for work, it's easy for me to get caught up in Twitter battles, mope about Facebook comments and so-called friends only speaking up to criticize my work, and take it personally when I figure out someone has unfollowed or defriended me. I know I shouldn't let these things bother me, but they can compound and make me question who really cares about me and who is only sticking around to mock what I'm doing. My boyfriend is the only person I've met who has never experienced online drama, so he always reassures me that, at the end of the day, none of it is important. Face-to-face exchanges matter most, and when social media becomes too much for me, he encourages me to get off the grid as he's done for years.
Most of all, I'm happy to report I'm sharing a lot less of my personal life on social media now. Though I'll take a few Instagram photos of us when we're on vacation or at a new Los Angeles restaurant we're excited to try, I keep the phone activity to a minimum these days. We both work long hours, so our one-on-one time every evening is special.
I want to treasure our experiences in the moment rather than scramble to document each and every one of them on my iPhone.
My boyfriend once described an old friend as someone who would rather have a picture of a concert than actual memories from a concert, and since we've gotten together, I've done my best to avoid falling into the former category. I want to treasure our experiences in the moment rather than scramble to document each and every one of them on my iPhone. Thanks to his outlook on social media, now I see the preciousness in creating moments that are only for us and no one else.