I recently reached out to those following The Intentionality Project on Instagram asking if anyone would like to volunteer to participate in an email interview to continue this segment on the topic of social media. I was blown away at the response. The next several entries are going to be interviews with people I have never met before, this is my interview with Naseem Khalili.
Naseem Khalili // 28
How long have you been using social media?
"Fun fact, I actually downloaded Instagram the WEEK it came out back in 2010. But before that, I was on Myspace all through high school and of course AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) which I think is now the ancient social media of our time."
How has social media benefitted you, and how has it negatively affected you?
"Social media has benefitted me greatly when it comes to sharing my mind. I know that sounds simple but if you think about it, we're truly so lucky to have a platform that reaches our entire social spheres and beyond. Even ten years ago this was not a reality. I love that in the click of a button I can bring awareness to a cause I feel passionate about (or even something as trivial as being excited about a TV reboot for instance). Point being, social media has allowed me to become more creative in sharing my heart. In addition to that, with me being a wedding planner, I have seen so many benefits when it comes to finding other creatives to collaborate with. For someone planning a wedding now in 2018, things like hashtags and location tags make it SO easy to immediately find what you're looking for, get creative, and make it happen."
"As far as the negative sides go, unfortunately I think there are more negatives than positives. I have found that social media is one of the biggest causes of comparison that ultimately leads to joylessness, depression, and inferiority. I've experienced firsthand a lot of catty-ness and competitiveness that were completely unwarranted. It's strange to me to see how much entitlement certain people feel. I remember asking someone once for a tip when it came to Instagram marketing and they were so stand-offish and hesitant to share with me that I was stunned. I feel like social media has created a hierarchy of sorts where everyone is seeking to achieve "fame" and recognition. And then the fear comes in because everyone wants to be on top so no one wants to reveal how they got there. When in fact this level of competition negates things like genuine community and empowerment (especially among females)."
Have you experienced insecurity in your life? If so, in what ways? Has social media helped heal those insecurities, or has it enabled them?
"100%. To be totally transparent, I have struggled with insecurity throughout my entire life. I never felt pretty enough since I grew up in a sea of gorgeous friends and I wasn't necessarily the one who got a lot of male attention; I was always the best friend."
"On a deeper scale, I have felt a lot of insecurity when it comes to my career path because the last ten years have been a complete roller coaster. My life hasn't followed a typical trajectory by any means. For a long time, I was fearful of what people thought, what they'd say behind my back, and fearful of what would be next since I feel like I'm always wanting to try new things and change it up!"
"In some ways, social media has helped me a lot. Platforms like Instagram or Facebook have been such an amazing outlet for me to showcase my work; both personal and professional. I love hearing others' feedback when I share a personal post about what I am struggling with and just seeing how many people it also resonates with. One of my biggest goals in life is to present my life in the most vulnerable and raw way possible in efforts to empower and encourage others. I feel like too many people portray such a filtered/perfect life on social media which couldn't be further from the truth. So when I share something deep and personal, just seeing the reaction and support makes me feel accomplished."
"In other ways, social media has definitely enabled those fears and insecurities. I don't think the whole comparison game will ever be something we're all truly free from. I had a few tough seasons that were hard to walk through when I'd see the level of success others in my industry have. I always felt less than, mediocre, or like I'd never live up to them. Then I realized, wow I am REALLY harming my self esteem through this."
Some studies have been released recently showing that depression and anxiety in teens has been linked to social media use. What is your perspective on why that might be the case?
"I couldn't agree more with this. When I think about how I've struggled with this in my mid-20's I can't even imagine what a teenager deals with on a daily basis. I've spoken to so many young girls about the prevalence of cyber-bullying as young as middle school. It's almost like the "celebrities" we look to on social media are the ones who "set the bar" on what pretty, popular, and perfect look like and so these kids are just striving to achieve that. That becomes the goal. And that's why I think there's so many carbon-copy accounts online of people who just want to fit the mold and achieve that fame. How would you NOT feel depressed or anxious when dealing with that on a daily basis?"
"For me, I've started implementing practices that have been so beneficial when it comes to tangibly fighting the anxiety and depression. Things like choosing to actively NOT log onto social media first thing. Instead I pray, read my Bible, meditate. I know the way I start my morning will set the tone for the rest of my day, so with that I want the tone to set on a foundation of peace, confidence, and faith (constructs that actively negate anxiety, fear, and people-pleasing). In general, limiting my time on it has helped me immensely and really just not giving it the "weight" I used to. I could honestly delete it today and not feel anything."
Why do people love social media so much?
"I think the simple answer is we're human and we love ourselves -- but we want others to share in our lives! We want people to see what we're up to. We want that connectivity. I think it comes from a good place. I just get disappointed when that [falsely] replaces actual, genuine connection."
What would life look like if social media didn't exist? How do you think people would react if it suddenly crashed and ceased to exist today?
"Honestly (and I hope people don't hate me for saying this) but I think it would be hilarious. And I wouldn't mind one bit. I think we as a society idolize social media to an extreme level. I think back to how I grew up; not having social media in jr high and barely in high school... life was so simple. More than that, people were genuinely more intentional with one another. For instance, I had to remember it was my friend's birthday. I would do something more personal than just a "social media shoutout" online, etc."
"We had to be more intentional with being present in one another's lives. It wasn't just a "given" that I could look at someone's Instagram Story and know what they did that day. I think that's what makes me the most sad. Is the fact that so many human interactions cease to exist because we falsely think that we're in the know with others' lives simply because of the highlights we see on social media."
"The few friends in my life presently who actually walk through the good and bad seasons with me (and those who care to ask before something is posted online) are the ones who hold the pieces of my heart and truly know me. I think that's why this project is so dear to me is because I've always strived to promote intentionality in my relationships. That's just been who I am. I want to see more of that!"