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 Sarah Callen.
Name/Age: Sarah Callen, 27
How long have you been using social media?
"I loved MySpace back when that was still a thing; I was all over it in middle and high school. Facebook started to emerge when I was in high school and I was reluctant to hop onto that bandwagon, but I eventually did. Then, at the behest of friends I’ve added other social media platforms over the years."
How has social media benefitted you, and how has it negatively affected you?
"Social media has been an avenue I’ve used to share my blogs, my brand, and my ideas with those outside my inner circle. I’ve been able to connect with amazing photographers and writers from around the world that I would be unable to interact with if we didn’t have social media at our fingertips."
"The downside of social media is the ever-present opportunity for distraction and the opportunity for isolation. I can easily convince myself that I don’t need to go out and experience the world because I have all I need in the palm of my hands: people to talk to, opinions to read, beautiful photos to look at, and hilarious videos to watch."
Have you experienced insecurity in your life? If so, in what ways? Has
social media helped heal those insecurities, or has it enabled them?
"I think that insecurity is part of the human existence — we all experience it to some degree. I have a tendency to compare myself to others and focus on the areas that I’m lacking in. I’m not as pretty as her, I’m not as successful as him, I can never have that house/life/business/career that they have. Those thoughts eventually lead to 'I’m a failure; I’ll never be enough'."
"Social media, Facebook in particular, has really shined a light on those insecurities in my life. Sometimes looking at profiles of influencers make me feel insecure about the size of my platform that is quite small in comparison. But, I have to choose not to stay in that frame of mind. After I allow myself to wallow for a bit, I challenge myself to reach out to some blogs that are more influential to see how we can partner."
"Because I know social media shines a light on my insecurities, I’m actively trying to use the medium to overcome instead of allowing myself to get stuck."
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 get that. I have found a correlation in my own life with depression and my time spent on social media, particularly Facebook. Whenever I spend a large amount of time scrolling through feeds of other people’s lives I begin to grow very conscious of how my life just doesn’t seem to match up. I have a great life, but it just doesn’t compare to the picture-perfect, filtered life of others."
"More than that, social media is typically an isolating experience where we feel like we have community with others without having a real physical community. There’s something precious about interacting with the physical world—experiencing the sun shining on your face, hearing the laugh of a friend, getting a hug from a loved one, tasting a scrumptious dish—that we can’t get digitally. When I remove myself from the rest of the world for too long, depression comes over me like a wave."
"Because I know how unhealthy excessive social media consumption is for my mental health, I’ve set up rules for myself in regards to its use. I monitor myself throughout the day and do my best to ensure that I’m fully engaged in my life instead of getting drawn into the world of social media."
Why do people love social media so much?
"It’s really fun. It’s awesome to be able to connect with old friends, talk with people who live far away, read opinions that are contrary to your own, consume entertaining videos, and look at gorgeous pictures. There’s something exhilarating about the likes and the comments and knowing that someone is validating what you’re doing."
"It’s also an important way to document life: we’re able to share who we are, what we’re doing, and what we care about with so many people. With social media we’re given a voice and influence right in the palm of our hands."
"Social media says 'You and your opinion matter, please tell us more'."
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?
"If social media suddenly stopped existing people would lose their minds. I remember, a few months ago, Facebook was down for a little while and people freaked out about it. It made a big enough dent in people’s days that I had friends texting me asking if I could log in."
"I would hope that people, over time, would eventually readjust to not having social media and we would see an increase in people connecting with the world around them and daydreaming. I think that creativity and innovation would explode because we would have the free time to create and come up with inventive solutions to problems of the world. But the realist in me knows that if someone wants to disconnect from people, escape from their circumstances, or start a fight (or seventeen), they’re going to do it with or without social media."
"Communicating with others around the world would be harder without social media and bloggers, photographers, influencers, and others who rely heavily on the various platforms. This group of people would have to come up with some creative solutions to promote their businesses. And that could be a fun mental exercise to do now: if you’re a business owner/creative how else could you spread your brand outside of social media?"