As 21st century teenagers, our lives revolve around “second lives” — our lives online. The internet has become a vehicle to a second identity and to forget about what’s happening in one’s actual life. As a teen myself, I have experienced this first hand. Living in Las Vegas, I have lived through the experiences of taking pictures of our beautiful city and food and taking the liberty of posting whatever comes to on my social media.
But, then one day I asked myself: Why am I doing this? Why, all of the sudden, is my life to open to the public?
These questions occurred to me three years ago when my personal endeavors had become hyper-publicized.
When I was a freshmen in high school, I went through a faze of constantly being on my phone. My Snapchat stories would be up to two minutes long of my life throughout the day. No one really cared about my every second, so why did I post so much? Social media got the best of me. Soon, I saw my life deteriorating.
My grades started to suffer, and I was losing personal connections with my friends. Instead of actually talking to my friends in person, I would text them or Snapchat them.
But why? Why couldn’t I call my best friends on the phone and actually act like an adult? At the time, these questions didn’t even come across my mind. Though, I wish they had.
Social Media truly stifled me from being the real person I am inside.
That’s when I realized that bullying became a problem. People who came across my path everyday in life would kill my self esteem online. But, the next day in school, they would look at me like nothing was wrong. Soon, I believed everyone was staring at me, even though they weren’t. I made my mom drop me off in different parts of the school so I didn’t have look in the eyes of the people who I felt hated me.
My health started failing too. I was so concerned with how I looked and felt that my safety didn’t even occur to me. The worst part was no one even knew what was going on. I had no evidence of this hate. I had no alibi. I had nothing. I couldn’t confront my bullies, because they wouldn’t admit what they did. My mom started to realize how differently I was acting, but I still couldn’t come clean.
I couldn’t tell her what was going on, so I tried to hide my feelings. The world in front of me was collapsing because of this online world, yet I felt there was nothing I could do.
Finally, my mother took my phone and saw what all these people were saying: every hateful remark, text, Snapchat, and Instagram. She looked at me in the eyes, and her eyes filled with tears.
How could teenagers be so obsessed with making others feel like an actual piece of trash?
Then my mom saw fake accounts that people made to impersonate me. Impersonating me to look like a terrible person, to look like a crook, to look like a worse version of myself.
We made a decision at that point. We contacted Instagram to take down the posts and deleted all my accounts. The fact I had to change my entire life for someone else’s satisfaction really affected the way I began to view people in this society. Truthfully, it revealed the real world to me. It matured me in a way that today, I’m actually grateful for. I see this world and all its trappings for what they really are– just illusions, and I just want to be real.
I was off the grid for three years. During this time, however, I was an outcast. Taking away my social media made me so different than those around me. People thought I was “weird.” I was just the girl without social media.
I still wonder why teenagers believe it’s strange to talk on the phone, or even text message. Kids nowadays like the fact that a conversation can disappear into thin air. Being on the outside looking in, I realized how obsessive the 21st century population is. We do not care deeply about ourselves, only the superficial online world.
Three years went by, and my 17th birthday came. My mom sat me down and told me she believed I was ready to get my social media back. I was stunned. After three years I could actually enter society again. I thought about this for a week.
How would it not be the same as I used to be?
This cleanse and disappearance of social media for three years really made me understand the distraught effects it has on modern society and made me put everything into perspective. I would never go back to my addictive ways like I used to.
Being off the grid made me a new person.
I’m happy with who I am now. I am proud to be who I am– someone who is aware of myself and the real world around me. Being off the grid is the only reason I know know how to handle real, adult situations.
Even though I’m back on the grid, I now truly understand how to be myself and to not let others dictate my life.
Just by being off the grid.