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 Levina Robin.
Name/Age/Where you are from:
Levina Robin, 25, Made in India. Raised in California. Living in Washington.
How long have you been using social media?
"I have been using social media since I was in 8th grade."
How has social media benefited you, and how has it negatively affected you?
"Social Media is beautiful when we use it for connection and sharing creation. It allows us to share common experiences, feelings, and creations across the world. For example, I connected with someone that I had only met once and that social media connection actually led us both to being inspired by each other and publishing poetry books. That was absolutely life changing in some ways."
"However, it also becomes a dystopia of distorted life where the wrong stories about us as human souls are emphasized (beauty, wealth, ability to stage our life) or the wrong people have influence over others (people not trying to make the world a better place but just making their own egos stronger)."
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 can't imagine a human being that hasn't experienced insecurity in their life. My insecurities are always based in fear and they usually stem from what I see on facebook or Instagram. When I was younger, those insecurities were always based on appearance. Why can't I have clothes like that? Why can't I have that body? Why isn't my skin as light and beautiful as hers?"
"Now, that I am older, my social media insecurities stem in the form of life events. Why am I not engaged yet? Will I ever fall in love again? Have I not been traveling enough? Why am I not backpacking too? Am I unhappy compared to this person? Have I done enough in the world at 24 compared to these people?"
"There are so many accounts now on instagram that choose to show reality and those help heal my insecurities in many ways. These accounts include body positive accounts, poetry accounts, and accounts based on inspiration instead of a highlight reel."
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?
"A lot of depression and anxiety happens when we can't fully accept ourselves and the present moment as the most important moment. Social media allows us to see people's lives which takes us away from our own if we let it. This means we are not fully living in the present moment of our own beautiful lives. Then, we get into a phase of wishing our past or future be better according to what we see online and that isn't healthy either. Instead of a sharing life platform, it becomes a purely materialistic way of categorizing our lives into specific moments put on social media."
Why do people love social media so much?
"For reasons why I think depression and anxiety exist because of social media is the exact reason why I think people love social media. It allows us to not have to face our own lives and our own goals on social media because we are so busy distracting our minds with others' lives. OR we are trying to come up with ways to portray our lives in a way that we want others to see us. It allows us to not have to fully be present with ourselves and the people around us which is scary for a lot of people."
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 every single social media outlet was taken out in the right way, I think the benefits would outweigh the negatives. I can imagine a world where eye to eye human connection takes precedence over us having to know what is happening in the life of a human across the world. It would allow us to fully focus on the people around us. We would still need to have some sort of channel into understanding current world events, of course."
"At the same time, because of the digital disruption that is happening in the world, I think mass media is super important. Before, only companies and corporations were creating content and broadcasting it. Now, we allow every single person to create content and share their voice which I believe is super important especially for marginalized communities of people who might not have had a voice before this. It allows different shades, opinions, and types of people to connect and share their experiences."
"As with most things in life, balance is fully key with social media and us as an older generation of social media have a responsibility to teach the younger generation how to use social media safely and sanely in a way that does not deteriorate their mental health."
"And one last thing for people to remember:
You are in full control of how you use social media, so remember to use it to create and connect instead of using it to compare and cyberbully."