the paradox of parasocial relationships
the illusion of friendships + self-isolation.
me and Instagram (and Twitter for that matter) are done.
… at least until further notice.
which only means one thing: I’ve taken the infamous “social media break.”
*duh duh dummm*
over the years, I’ve gotten away from the urge to announce my departures from social media, because 1.) it feels a little too “main character” for me style and 2.) I just don’t think that many people care.
but while I’m away, I figured that now would be the best time to continue to share my check-ins and random streams of consciousness with you all in my newsletter. (I mean, that’s what it’s for, right? LOL)
but allow me to catch you up a bit.
back in August, I was experiencing this strange feeling in the pit of my stomach about my presence on social media that was pretty unsettling.
without getting too “woo-woo” about the unction, it just felt like people were observing/lurking while trying to ignore my existence at the same time — if that’s even possible… (i just know what I felt, okay 😭)
now, I don’t want you to read this as me being paranoid or insecure, because I honestly could live my life offline and be very happy while doing so, but I choose to share my musings, perspectives, and insights with my online peeps because it’s always been about one thing: forming connection.
however, in the last couple of months, it’s felt like the algorithm created this unseen distance between me and my followers which it’s created a disconnect that I couldn’t ignore.
strangely enough, I think that sorta speaks to the frameworks that the internet has formed: to feel connected with strangers and yet so disconnected from “your people.” this, in my eyes, is the paradox of parasocial relationships.
by definition, a parasocial relationship is "the illusion of friendship" with a media user.
in short, it’s that feeling you get that makes you feel like you could be friends with the people you follow because of a common interest or just being drawn by their personality.
we may never meet these people in real life, but because we’ve spent hours and even years immersed in their day-to-day routines, career changes, births, breakups, and wins, it’s hard not to feel like you have a little bit of stake invested in their existence.
but those outward projections are just a small facet, one splinter of a percentage of who that person actually is… still, due to the highly curated and well-manicured virtual grass that we’ve created on our corners of the internet, many of us are hardly ever seen for the full, complex, and layered humans that we truly are.
the human with family issues.
the human that’s lonely or lethargic.
the human that’s healing or hiding or hoping.
the human that’s just tired and tapped out.
as deep and vast as the internet is, there’s rarely any space for *THAT* person — even though it makes up such a huge portion of who you actually are.
this paradox further deepens when you have to maneuver people’s intentions behind our phone screens. are your intentions pure? are you “checking in” just to be nosy and keep tabs on me? or… in the words of Kendrick Lamar, “really, are you happy for me?”
while these intentions are often innocent, the ambiguity of this matter has turned me into more of a private person than I already am. after all, it’s up to us how much or how little we desire to share.
still, it’s this fabricated sense of connection that has resulted in my hiatus and retreat to self-isolation — in other words, it’s “me season” (words to Issa Rae).
as I honor this season, I’ve come to see that I’m just not in a place to share too much anymore. i feel like I’ve given a lot of myself to the internet, so it’s within my right to take a step back and really tend to myself, in totality.
with the current temperature of social media being flex-adjacent, I don’t seek to be seen right now. as much as I’ve enjoyed being a beacon of light to others, there’s a balance between feeling connected with people without risking the feeling of being overexposed.
self-preservation is my self-care tool of choice right now. what’s yours?
Thanks for reading [Creative Girl Check-In]! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.