I’ve been using Facebook since 2007 and I did a lot of growing up during the past 11-ish years. I never really did much social media posting with specifics to my life, but I sure did plenty of whining. And posting song lyrics. There are also the broken links to blogs I’ve run in the past that I ended years ago. Worst of all, at least to my mind, is that I did tons of “vague-booking.” For those of you who are not familiar with the term, it is what you call a post on Facebook that complains about something without actually indicating what is wrong or why you are upset. I’m sure urban dictionary has a better definition, but that is basically it and it annoys me these days.
It can be weird to look back on posts from the past and see myself upset about something that was clearly a big deal at the time but that I can no longer remember. Most of the big, lasting problems from my life during my later high school and college years are things I never posted about but still remember quite clearly. The break-ups, the betrayals and loss of friends, the fights between friends that shattered friend-groups, my attempts to act as a moderator to some dumb shit in college that only convinced both sides to turn against me since I wouldn’t pick a side, and more. There’s nothing on Facebook that is painful to remember mostly because I can’t remember anything I was complaining about.
These days, I maintain a bit of a “digital persona,” I guess you could call it. Maybe “Digital Identity” would be better. Either way, it isn’t an act or a fake personality. I just strictly maintain a certain self-identity across platforms. I try to use similar usernames if not my real name and be consistent in profile pictures, the things I support, and how I voice my thoughts. My blog is currently where I voice most of my thinking while Twitter tends to get more of my moment-to-moment impressions when I feel like they’re actually worth recording. Which isn’t to say I tweet everything that comes up. I try not to complain too much and don’t generally post anything that isn’t a part of my mission. I do similar things outside of the internet as well, so my online identity reflects my offline one. I just feel a little more aware of the performative aspects of being a person and constantly working toward a goal when I’m doing it online. Offline, I just want to make the world a better place however I can, so I generally try to look on the bright side, share things that are good, and generally be a positive influence. In the end, they pretty much work out to the same thing.
That being said, I’m not exactly a ray of sunshine online. I deal with my depression and anxiety a lot on twitter, posting about the weird sort of negative/positive mix of my thoughts that results from my depression and anxiety pulling me down and my attempts to avoid being ruled by them pulling me up. It is also a good exercise in making me focus on things I enjoy, setting my mindset for the day, and looking for the good that comes from everything going on in my life. My twitter isn’t happy, but it is positive and affirming. It represents what it is like to be someone who is active and creative, who refuses to stop doing anything less than literally everything he can, while struggling with depression and anxiety. At least it represents what that means to me, specifically.
My life’s goal is to leave the world a better place than I found it. To be a positive influence on the world, even if it means just making one person’s life better for me having been here. Angst-y Facebook posts from years ago don’t really support that. Plus, they’re kind of embarrassing. I thought I was so clever just sharing song lyrics instead of posting about how I felt, but the themes of the music and the specific lines I chose paint a pretty clear picture of my emotional state at the time of posting. I have to admit that the desire to get rid of these transparent references to transient, ultimately meaningless problems is a part of it.
If I’d actually posted about the real problems I was facing, if I’d shared anything like I do now, about facing life with depression and the constant struggle of managing my anxiety, I would keep it. People benefit from knowing other people out there have shared similar struggles. Something is easier to deal with when you know you’re not alone. The desire to let people know what it is like to be depressed or anxious, to have to struggle to get through every day even when you know you’ll manage just fine and aren’t a suicide risk, that is why I’ve chosen such a public forum. The few random comments I get on this blog from time-to-time make it all worth it.
I don’t really feel like it is self-censorship to remove old posts that no longe represent who I am. My social media should reflect who I am. While some of my past problems are a part of who I am today, none of the whiny little vague posts are. It feels a lot more like cleaning and maintenance to me.