What if you don’t like social media very much?

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It’s everywhere.

Pictures, updates, tweets. From people you know, people you follow, people you like, heck, even people you don’t know.

Social media isn’t going away, so why not just embrace it right? If you can’t beat them, why not join them?

Scars and selfies

I’m not particularly keen on having my pictures taken.

When I was a teenager I had horrendous cystic acne that could have scarred me for life. That whenever I walk to class, I might be ambushed by some well-meaning (yet tactless) folk who would look at me and ask “why is your face like that?” I couldn’t look in a mirror for a year or more because when I look at myself I would cry. Or that when I got up in the morning my pillowcase would be spotted with blood and pus from the night before.

The scars and pimples have mostly gone away. The ones you could see anyway. The ones deep down – those are hard to shake off.

So I cringe when I think about having to take a photo. My mind goes into a bit of a tailspin.

“Dang it, I have an oil slick on my face.”
“I’m not pretty, why am I in this picture?”
“No, I’m not ready!”

It used to be that when pictures were taken, they wouldn’t see the light of day. I’d rest easy because who would go through those pictures anyway? I would nervously laugh and think that it’s okay. I was mostly right. Like old photographs that belong in photo albums, your audience would be your Uncle Marvin or Aunty Yvonne – mostly family, and rarely shown to anyone else.

These days, however, whenever I hear a shutter click (or a phone click), I freeze up. Those photos aren’t just going to sit in a soon-to-be-forgotten album. They’re going out to the whole wide world. Before you know it, that picture with my face on it will be uploaded, tagged and bandied about, dangled in public waiting to get some likes and shares. My thoughts at this point: I feel like an animal who was an unwilling participant in a photo-op at the zoo, trying to claw its way out of the frame.

I’m self-conscious, with a side of self-loathing going on. Throw in some jealousy plus envy, and there’s that: the reason for my lack of updates, photos or selfies on social media. I don’t have a strong reaction to those who do post them, however – my motto is and has always been to do whatever you like.

If you ask me to take a selfie together with you though (effectively making it a wefie), I hesitate a bit before my brain tells me to snap out of it: by golly, smile and make sure you look at the right place so you won’t look like a dork when it’s plastered on Instagram or Facebook. OK? Here we go!

What I do instead

Seeing as I’m not brave enough to have my face on the screen most of the time (these people are brave, in my book!) or that I don’t share a lot of stuff online, you can bet that my social media feed isn’t the best place to hang out. If it were a room, you’d see cobwebs and the occasional visitor saying “is that it?” and then leave to find where the party’s at.

But that’s fine with me. I’ve always been a private person anyway. Even Mr. T still thinks I’m mysterious – and this is after 15 years together. And that’s how I like things. I don’t clutch at memories, going all possessive and hissing “MINE, ALL MINE” – it’s just that I’m not inclined to share them with anyone else, because while they mean a lot to me, I’m acutely aware that they might not mean much to other people.

You still can share them anyway – I can hear you say. True, I can. But I choose not to. Well if you’re a more private person like me, what should you share? For me, it’s not just about what I’m sharing, it also has to do with how much I share. I share the things I’ve seen (sometimes). The places I’ve been (maybe). And some of the things I hope that others might find useful (not often enough).

Should I worry that I’m not keeping up on social media? Maybe.
Would it affect how others look at me? Maybe.
Would I be forgotten? Maybe.
And that’s okay.

You see, if I did force myself to post on social media more than I’d like, it’s akin to feeding an imaginary monster because you’re scared that it might just eat you up. So you throw everything you have at it in the hopes that you’ve fed it enough for the day. Until tomorrow. And the day after. It’s very, very tiring. That’s not what I want, so I chose to opt out of keeping up with the rigorous schedule needed to sustain a social media presence.

Of course, some people actually do like the monster (in which case they’re no longer known as one). They’re real good friends with it and they have a beautiful relationship that’s based on mutual trust and respect. That’s perfectly fine too. I’m envious – jealous even.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to toss the monster a bone.

You know where to find me.

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I’d like for you to share with me – am I the only feeling this? What’s your relationship with social media like?

Illustration by Manjit Thapp
  advice, inspiration


17 thoughts on “What if you don’t like social media very much?

  1. Hi Amy!

    I’m also not comfortable posting too much of my face and personal life online – also a private person here. But I’m pretty much a nobody, so I don’t think it’s important for me to, like you said, sustain a media presence.

    Although, my Instagram account is my main online platform for the time being so I hold on to it just in case I need to “express myself” publicly.

  2. Hi Mandy, I struggle so much with social media. I too am very private and am an introvert. I find this combination a detriment to my trying to get exposure for my art career. I post on F, Insta and my blog. But since my few friends are also introverts, it’s really hard to get anywhere. To top it off, I hate writing. Haha

  3. Hi Amy,
    I have been a lurker of your newsletter for a while, but this was the first time I had to post a comment! I am also a private person who doesn’t quite fit in with the new ways of communicating and sharing. I do not have a facebook or twitter and just recently got on the instagram train in order to try and promote my little etsy shop. I am quite slow to post and am not sure how to get it to work for me while still staying true to my personality. I don’t want to change in order to fit in and I am okay with that! I am so happy that you and others also feel the same way…thanks!

  4. Hi Amy, this piece resonates with me. I always enjoy your writing, and appreciate your attitude towards social media—in particular how it’s OK for others to use it as they see fit even though you don’t personally want to maintain a huge social media presence about your personal life. For myself, I also do not like to post many things because I value privacy so much. As a designer, however, I am somewhat conflicted about my tendency not to share and would like to learn to use social media more effectively to connect with others on a creative level.

  5. Hi Amy,

    Like Nurul, I don’t feel comfortable posting my face and personal life online, and like Reanna, I’ve been a Pikaland lurker up until now, and like Jeanette, I’m an artist who hates writing.

    Thanks so much for expressing your feelings about social media! Ugh, it feels like just another unwanted but required chore to me, right up there with book keeping and taxes. Your comparison of social media to an imaginary monster is so spot-on. The only reason I do it all is because I’ve gotta “feed the beast”.

    I have two separate art businesses, one as an illustrator, and one as a quick-sketch caricature/portrait artist for parties. When I open FB, I see the most successful of my caricaturist friends posting their work and travel nearly every day, and it really enhances their visibility and careers. Yup, I’m feeling that jealousy and envy, m-hmm. I’ve heard it said that jealousy helps you to know what you really want, but I guess I don’t want it bad enough to post on social media all the time.

    Because of my reluctance, the quick-sketch part of my art business has sunk like a rock, even though I’m a 30-year veteran. At this point I just do caricature sketches for repeat clients, unless another artist gives me a referral because they’re double-booked.

    On the other hand, nearly all my illustration clients are corporate, so having a low-maintenance LinkedIn profile is great for a professional online presence. It’s kind of funny that lots of my friends who just love sharing every detail of their lives on Facebook, etc. say they don’t like LinkedIn.

    So thanks again Amy for the validation, and continuing to make Pikaland one of my favorite blogs. BTW, your picture is so cute, I never would have guessed you were camera-shy.

  6. I hate social media. I really do. It’s dishonest, it feels like endless competition, a source of stress and a huge time waster. Yet, when you are trying to get anything off the ground: whether it’s your portfolio or a dog-walking business you just have to play along or nothing will happen.

    I learned this the hard way. I refused to join Facebook for years. I did a quick stint in 2010 and deleted my account 8 months later. But then, in 2015 I lost my job and I had a hard time finding another so I had to take the plunge into freelancing and obviously you need to be seen.

    I realized to my dismay that I could have had a good network of friends to whom reach out and do an initial “push” of my new freelance status. Instead I was on an island trying to build a “following” on Twitter and Instagram without much success.

    I find that the people who are able to withdraw from social media are people whose jobs are not related or simply do not need it for their income and people who already built a good audience.
    For those who are still hustling… it’s a necessary evil 🙁

  7. Hey Amy,

    I struggle with this as well. In fact I struggle with being in front of a camera at all. I was a professional photographer in a past life, and even back then being on the front side of the camera was a challenge. I think I like the idea of showing people how I see the world instead of showing the world how I look. Recently I had to have my picture taken for an article about being an illustrator and I almost turned it down because of the demand for a real picture. I even tried drawing a picture of myself, but that got rejected. I’m finding that running my own business comes with a lot of “telling my story,” which unfortunately includes the need for photos of the artist. Thanks for sharing this. Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one who is camera shy, glad to know I’m not the only one.
    <3
    -JL

  8. I’m not really a private person and I don’t mind putting my face out there BUT! I’m a busy person and keeping SM up to date is really time consuming. I know it might help my carrier if I post more everywhere but when I’m for instance spending time with friends I want to be 100% present not making photo shoot of this…
    I’m terrified how more and more people are glued to theirs mobiles and faking fun life – like those girlfriends in coffee place who are not talking to each other but instead posting about “quality time with BFFs” – seriously WTF? 🙂

  9. Thank you for being transparent and sharing so much of yourself in this post. I love social media but I feel like I am more of a voyeur than participant (unless it’s about cute babies, food, and K-pop and then I’m a maniac with other fangirls). I have been loosening up a little bit to share about my art and anything else I make because of the repeated commentary on the need to tell your story and engage with your audience. Yet, there is still a struggle. I’m private for the most part and don’t like speaking to most people IRL so to taking initiative to create engagement online seems like a huge chore. Even when I do post, I feel lost and say whatever comes to mind. (Again, I say, unless it is about K-pop or some weird incident that happened to me, I feel like my life is not share-worthy). I think I’m boring so why am I even sharing with anyone? This is also why I stopped blogging a year ago. I know it is because I need sales to live and also because what I have might be just what someone needs to better their life. The exchange could also better mine. Idk. I’m a student on earth trying to make sense of the world and my part in it. I need to get over my insecurities and see what happens.

  10. Saw this post by accident and I just had to click and read when I saw the title. I am in the same boat, as I hate having my picture taken and have probably only taken 5 pics in the last 3 years. I recently started having to have a more active social media life due to starting a business. I still struggle with having to constantly post content and keep my page active. Also, I just wanted to say that I love your writing style!

  11. Ugh, this complete DIY culture is exhausting! And I say this as someone who likes to do everything herself. But creating the art, photographing and editing it, marketing it, self-promoting – it’s too much. Too many platforms to choose from, too, and wondering which is the best to promote my work. I think I need to blog, but I also need to create more. My friends say make videos – so much work to do!

  12. I thought I was the only one. I don’t enjoy social media to be honest, it’s more of a necessary evil. I try to still post only my work (not me) on certain networks, make the rounds commenting other peoples work and such. And that is exhausting not too mention time consuming. I’d rather just create art instead, but until I start rolling in the Benjamins and can afford to hire a manager, it’s one me to fight this dragon.

    I don’t like to air anything too personal, or even comment on something that’s too personal on someone else wall/feed/etc. It feels like I’m violating their trust and mine.

    Needless to say for me, social media is a chore. In fact, I don’t EVER post selfies. Or take them. I know what my face looks like and I see enough of it every day as it is. Why should I have to see it on a post? Sigh. Ok. I’ll stop now . 🙂

    But, social media is the only (free) way to create buzz for my work. An even then, I’m probably not doing it completely right. Oh well, just keep trying, keep working.

  13. Hi Amy,

    Your post resonates with me so deeply. As a traveller, a writer and a blogger (and I sometimes paint), I actually hate social media. I hate sharing every single second of my life or my travels just because they’re time-consuming, just another way to procrastinate and not to mention, of no value. Occasionally I do it just to remind readers that I exist but that’s about it. Though I do notice that recognition of your work is usually given to people who post up the most selfies/their work/etc. How does one as a freelancer, get more gigs but without spending too much time on social media?

  14. I was thinking about this subject and landed on your perspective. I am not a freelance artist and don’t have my own business but I totally agree with you!! I believe I was fine with social media but it took on a different character when someone close actually stopped communicating physically but continued posting everyday and commenting on others posts. I was very hurt by it and decided I didn’t want to be subjected to that kind of introverted rejection, so I stepped back to avoid the pain. It made me think that SM can be a cowardly way to deal with issues that should only be handled face to face. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great tool when used the right way and has been a positive source for connecting families and friends despite physical distances. I am just in a space now where mind games and innuendos are far too tiring and I don’t have to play them. I’ve finally gotten over the situation and have forgiven the lack of decorum, however I can say I’m much happier now that I’m on vacation from SM. Not sure how long I’ll stay but for now I’m at peace!

  15. I dislike social media, but over the years have tried to be part of it. Numerous defunct face books and a very out of date linked in account constitutes my social media. I have no twitter account and only occasionally take part in a few blogs. Often it is something near and dear to me and job related. I teach for a college. I hate selfies and dislike pictures of myself — very self conscious. I understand anyone’s reluctance to totally embrace social media. Too much instant me and not enough reflection for this introvert

  16. I’m so glad I found this post! I was starting to think I was the only one who doesn’t feel comfortable with social media! I own a yoga studio and teach full time I cherish my students and the relationships I’ve made. I too feel weird about selfies, never posted one! I feel when I try to express myself on SM it comes out as inauthentic. I have a FB account for my studio and spend way to much time trying to figure out something to post that truly feels like what I want express. I too am envious of the people that actually enjoy it and are good at it! I must feel passionate about it because I’ve never replied in blog before! I too like your style of writing😊!!!

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