Let’s talk social media.
When studying abroad, apps like Instagram or Snapchat can instantly quell your homesickness for a second and make you feel connected back to all of your friends at home. It’s an instant catch up of what everyone’s been up to and doing. It’s also a way for you to show everyone all of the things you’ve been doing and your #studyabroadlife.
However I want to talk about the pitfalls that come with social media, particularly instagram and our growing relationship and dependency on it.
I think for the past year or two I’ve grown very conscious of my Instagram use and my presence. It sounds a bit silly when I type it out, my “presence”, but seriously, I think I began to notice the downsides of Instagram starting from a few vacations. As great as those aforementioned things are, Instagram can become a marker of self-worth, a marker that I think truly doesn’t have to mean anything if you don’t allow it to. We use it to share our lives but we only show a small, very very very small percentage of it. That percentage is highly curated and manicured to fit the persona we want to project. I recall being on a family trip and feeling so anxious in the first couple of days because I knew I wanted to get the “perfect shots for the gram”. For the most part, it ruined my time because I wasn’t ever truly enjoying what was going on and was preoccupied with looking like I was having a good time instead of having it lol.
So the same goes with study abroad. I find myself naturally taking photos of everything anything, everything in Osaka is genuinely fascinating and noteworthy. However I think the danger starts when I fall into the same pitfalls of trying to find the “coolest” things to capture so I can post later. It’s a mindset that I constantly check myself on but am grateful that I can at least acknowledge it and put my phone down. Its nice to capture moments to look back on later but its seriously even better to be present as the moment is happening.
I also find myself spending an obscene amount on Instagram, on what I like to call “the hole”. You know exactly what I mean, aside from scrolling through your feed and tapping through people’ stories, but also finding yourself like seven layers deep on a profile of a person that you’re like twelve degrees removed from. I honestly think its a sort of coping mechanism to feel like I’m in the loop with whats going on in the states with my friends AND pop culture things. The FOMO (fear of missing out) is real too, like there are so many things going on back home that I’m missing out on, BUT I need to remind myself that the grass is always greener on the other side or rather the life looks a lot more enticing than it really is on the social media side (not as catchy/witty).
I often delete my IG app off my phone to let myself unplug. I think its helpful because even noticing how much I instinctually try to click on the app is a wake up call for me. I’ve realized that most of the time it doesn’t really make me feel any better after spending a chunk of my day on IG. Sometimes it just makes me feel plain weird and sad. I reground myself and remind myself that I’m in an entirely new country and making new life experiences every day.