Updated: Dec 22, 2020
Hi, friends! Welcome to my blog. This space has gotten very little attention over the last few years, largely in lieu of the quick, easy, convenient, and addictive allure and influence that Facebook and Instagram have had on my shared content. In deciding to log out and stop engaging with those platforms, I will be periodically sharing long-form posts right here, on my own website, and on my own terms. This is an experiment that I am committing to for at least a few weeks, and perhaps indefinitely.
My Facebook profile has been deactivated since the summer (of 2020), and I haven’t found any compelling reasons to reactivate it. However, I currently plan to keep my Instagram account open and viewable to anyone for the time being. Several folks have voiced that they had saved some of my PT and conditioning videos from Instagram, and I would like that material to continue being accessible to anyone who has found it helpful.
On a more personal note, I admit that I am currently being confronted with what feel like some very primal fears associated with social disconnect – that, in unplugging myself from these platforms, I am leaving myself open and vulnerable to being forgotten and left behind by my clan. That said, I do not believe that these feelings are incidental – indeed, it is this innate need to connect that is so easily and readily exploited by these tech companies in the name of profit. In leaving behind a trail of breadcrumbs from my now-inert Instagram account to this space, I feel somewhat more at ease in my decision…Y’all know where to find me! On a related note – the “CONTACT” page on my website takes you to a message box that goes directly to my email inbox! I’m here, and I’m listening. So…why am I quitting social media?
I have felt disillusioned and frustrated with social media for years now, and yet I have never found the wherewithal to fully disconnect from it. I have used it extensively as a professional tool as a performing artist, movement educator, massage therapist, and even as a student PT assistant. As someone who spent my twenties traveling extensively and living in several different places, social media made it incredibly easy to stay connected with my friends all over the world. Using social media, I have found homes and housemates, connected with new clients and students, made professional contacts leading to gainful employment, found rideshares and carpools, enrolled in classes and workshops, received local news and updates from my local community, gotten invites to secret house shows and other small-scale events…and so much more. Quitting social media involves accepting that you will miss things and fall out of touch with people…and when it comes time to remove yourself from social media, it’s easy to feel like you’re snubbing your friends and family more than you’re snubbing Mark Zuckerberg.
That said, many of us are quite aware by now of the broad impacts that social media has had on our collective mental health, how we receive and process information, and the structure of our relationships (both with ourselves and each other). I don’t feel a need to reiterate what is better articulated by many books, documentaries, and articles out there right now, but would like to share some thoughts on how I feel that social media has impacted a few areas of my own life, and how I feel that disconnecting from social media will change them.
Attention Span and Instant Gratification Culture
I have definitely noticed my attention span diminish during periods of heavier social media engagement, particularly Instagram. I have made many attempts to curate my feeds with things that interest and inspire me (art and design, poetry, inspiring movement and choreography, physical therapy exercises and tips…), but I feel that the format has ultimately diluted and devalued the content. Rather than fully exploring and appreciating one thing at a time, we are encouraged to give each item mere seconds of our time before scrolling to the next shiny thing competing for our attention…and the next…and the next…and then wondering why we feel anxious and restless rather than fulfilled. We not only take in our entertainment this way, but also our news, social and political views, and social input that can profoundly influence our closest relationships.
This promotion of fast, squirrely, diffused attention feeds right into instant gratification culture, which is the antithesis of presence, process, sustained attention and effort, depth and complexity, and ultimately, satisfaction. It affects our creativity, our ability to interpret and articulate nuanced and complex information, our patience and tolerance, and how we perceive the world and each other. One of my intentions in removing myself from social media is to replace this rapid-fire blast of absorbed through scrolling with a slower and sustained intake of longer-form material and full conversations that allow more space for expansion and compassion.
Movement, Creative Process, and Body Image
This is a big one for me! I used to derive a tremendous amount of inspiration and motivation from watching videos of full circus acts on YouTube, particularly while living in smaller communities with few professional artists and coaches nearby. When I was in circus school in Vermont, I got through my early morning cardio sessions by playing a queue of trapeze, contortion, and handbalancing acts back-to-back because they passed the time and motivated me to run faster and work harder. When more artists started popping up on Instagram, sharing little 15-second snack-sized snippets of their work, I was immediately hooked. I must have hundreds of saved videos, organized by skill and apparatus, of “to-do” drills (most of which I have honestly never touched), and I regularly shared videos of my own training…carefully edited to exclude most of my fails and flaws.
Despite the amount of inspiration I have received from all of these talented artists/athletes, I have also watched the landscape of learning and innovation change drastically with the explosion of social media sharing, and I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I appreciate the culture of exchange that I have seen many movers and artists adapt: for example, “I figured this thing out – can you add onto it? What kinds of movements can this lead into?” I have also seen many forms of generosity and positive support between artists, coaches, and students alike.
On the other hand, I have also felt that my own movement practice and process becomes less creative and more (for lack of a better word) reactive when I am constantly bombarded with these loose fragments of other peoples’ work removed from any meaningful context. It’s completely different from watching a full show in person, or sharing training space with a peer, or participating in a class…and I find myself moving in the direction of trying to align my messy, experiential, and embodied process with those loose fragments, despite knowing that they’re completely different things…that some things simply don’t fit inside of a square.
As for body image – I acknowledge that I am thin-privileged, and I feel angry and frustrated when I see the Instagram algorithm (and, in turn, my own audience) spotlight videos in which my abdominal muscles are visible, while my other videos that perhaps have more substance but less abs tend to fade into the background. This gives me clear and immediate feedback that my abs are more valuable and interesting than anything else I may have to share, and invites me to lean more into that value system in order to increase engagement with my work (“yeah yeah, write whatever you want…just make sure your abs are showing!”). I do not wish to contribute to a system that praises my conformity to a narrow and harmful set of physical attributes, and I no longer wish to buy into to being constantly bombarded with a steady stream of filtered, edited, and strategically angled images selling me what I could or should look like (or, even more insidiously, how I could FEEL if I buy into ____). No, thank you.
Time Management, Social Comparison, and Experiential Enjoyment
The busier I have been with the demands of school, clinical rotations, and commuting all over the place on Philly’s notoriously unreliable public transit, the more rare and precious my free time has become. I have admittedly spent a little too much energy lately bemoaning my lack of free time to do things that relieve my stress and bring me joy, but when I look objectively at my usage of time (even during my most stressful weeks of cramming!), the cumulative minutes I would spend procrastinating or taking breaks by engaging with social media could easily add up to the amount of time spent on a walk around the neighborhood, a cup of tea on the porch, or a call to my family. Hell, I would be better off just gazing off into space and letting myself be bored for a few minutes – boredom is wonderful for creativity!
I managed to somehow stay relatively unscathed from the toxicity of social comparison on social media for a long time – or, more likely, it was just affecting me subconsciously. I have, however, recently found myself seeing my own life in a noticeably more negative light when I see updates of friends who have managed to travel, train in a studio, and develop hobbies during this moment of heightened inequities. Of course, I know logically that I am seeing an extremely distorted snapshot of what people have elected to share, and the things that may look so aspiration are, more often than not, coping mechanisms for navigating what has been an extraordinarily difficult time for just about everyone. I hope to replace this skewed and unhealthy perspective with gratitude for my own circumstances (because I truly have much to be grateful for!) and a more honest and balanced understanding of what surviving and coping and making lemonade can look like for different people.
As for my own experiences, I am looking very forward to enjoying the freedom of simply being in the moment without automatically assessing whether the moment is something that needs to be shared immediately with everyone, or whether the moment can be appealingly filtered and framed within a square worthy of someone’s millisecond of attention. I am looking forward to taking and saving pictures for my own memories and sharing them discriminately, or, when I do share them with a broader audience, giving them the space and context they deserve.
I definitely plan to keep writing and sharing long-form content right here, and will likely start putting together a video library of PT tools for friends, clients, and anyone else who could benefit from them. My romantic partner Noah has promised to save all the cute husky videos that I have been incessantly sharing with him via Instagram. I will hold him to that. Socially, I hope that the eventual reopening of public spaces and group activities will do wonders to fill the social vacuum that many of us have been filling with increased social media engagement. I am personally interested in reconnecting with the local circus community in group classes and open training spaces, perhaps even popping into some classes at other dance and movement studios that I have had my eye on since moving to the Philly area. Noah and I were just starting to take Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lessons (after talking about it for months!) right before gyms were shut down...hopefully our finances and the availability of training spaces will align to let this happen (for real this time). I miss moving with people!
In the more immediate future, Noah and I are spending New Years’ in a sweet little cabin a few hours out of the city– woods, visible stars, fireplace, no wifi – and I can’t think of a better way than that to recenter and be in the moment.
Wishing you well, and thank you so much for reading! Kaeti