I was evaluating many things about this decade, the 2010s. A lot happened, but when it comes to my personal life there’s one thing that was born and has been developing in these last ten years: social media.
In 2010 I had no idea what social media was. As a typical-nerdy Italian middle school student, I was very much involved in three passions: Italian literature, History of Art, and English. I wanted to fit in, but I also was very much enjoying my own bubble. In retrospective, I can say that it was nice to have focused those years of my life in being such a nerd because I could’ve taken other paths that could’ve slowed me down in school – bad gangs and drugs mostly. However, my vision of life was too rarified, because I was being in contact with solely one version of whatever I was learning – for example, given the environment I grew up in, when I was studying American culture and English all I knew was white America. Basically, I was learning on my own, but a lot was filtered.
Filters came across in my learning process and acknowledgment through social media. For the first time ever I was able to get in touch with realities in other parts of the world, exchanging news from people of my age range, and finally seeing the representation that I was lacking during my first – and most delicate – part of adolescence. Thanks to social media I could witness and live the many filters that life has, the bad and the good ones. I shaped my own style, I was able to be part of many communities, I have been gaining more conscience of my heritage, and I got to know myself more and more as a woman.
At first, I thought that social media was bad. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter were the scam of the world. It all started with my dad. He thought and warned me heavily about the danger of social media when everybody in my class was on Facebook and some of them on Instagram. However, my friend made me a Facebook account for a school project. It was my second year of high school. The year was 2012.
Then it was the turn for Instagram. I downloaded Instagram for the first time ever in 2014, with two older friends of mine. I remember making it because my friend at the time had a fashionista account, where she posted her latest purchases and her accessories. So I started following a bunch of accounts. It was also the time when I was already making plans to go studying abroad, so Instagram’s algorithms made their magic and with a couple of searches, I came across a couple of models in the New York City area. I used to follow artists and models who look like me at first because I wanted to see someone with my same hair, but also because I wanted to see NYC through their lenses. And with Instagram that was possible. In four years I came across so many accounts that inspired me, pushed out of my control zone, and educated me in many disciplines – from English to art, from science to music, etc.
However, my approach to social media – especially Instagram – shifted many times from a healthy and unhealthy tool with which I was able to connect with the world 24/7. When I first started using it I spent little time and it was mostly an artistic platform for me. It was also a bit like Youtube too because I would watch and read curly hair tutorials, lifestyle blogs in New York, and my friends’ posts. From 2017, my account started to take a new direction. I had become more popular because of my interest in fashion, poetry, and my expanded circle of connections – on campus, off-campus, in Italy, Brazil, and mostly in the US. That’s when the “problems” started, I guess. I wouldn’t call them problems, but definitely, those habits were not good at all. I’m glad I recognized them and I know how to avoid them.
- Spending long minutes on someone’s page – especially in high school lmaooo (much less in college, I don’t know why lol)
The reasons why I would do that? Sometimes it would be my friend’s crush I had to see and of course wonder if he/she is good enough for her/him. Other times it would be to see every single picture of the guy I liked, or broke my heart, or had a crush on me. I stopped doing spending my time staring at other people’s pictures because I don’t learn much from such activity. If they’re good people, I’ll eventually meet them in real life. If they’re not in my life anymore, a reason is there in the air and I must remember to catch it.
2. Wondering if I’ll ever become like them – cause I won’t be that tall and skinny lol
This toxic trait of mine arose during my first love-interest and peaked during my first heartbreak. I used to compare myself to models who my friends said I looked like. I used to see other girls’ pages to see what was trendy and try to imitate them lowkey. During these last six months, my silence and isolation told me that nobody is gonna be like you, ergo you’re never gonna be like them. Those are facts. Might as well look like you are. You don’t like who you are? You change it by being yourself on your terms. If you’re not liked or you’re not an object of interest it’s perfectly fine. You can be inspired by them, but you’ll never be like them. Be you, cause shit’s cool.
3. Taking notes and news only from Instagram and Twitter – read print more than you do
This is pretty much basic, but as a Journalism major, I must say it. Fake news are real on social media, don’t be fooled by those headlines. Most of the time, the goal of spreading news becomes more important than the news itself. Media companies pay tons of money to get attention, hence a slippery-slope in delivering news can occur, especially on the web. The span of attention on Twitter is a little bit heavier than on Instagram, which is more visual rather than wordy, like Twitter. Throughout my college career, I got skilled in the art of skimming news on both social media and on print. Now I’m confident in relying on social media news because I know their management, purpose, and business. That’s the reason I believe print is still important and fundamental. Specifically, I firmly believe in fashion journalism, which can combine social media and print news delivery in an interesting and appealing way.
In response to these bad behaviours, here following are my 3 keys to a new approach to social media. I wanna embrace them on every level of my life, for real. The bad approaches would come and go, but they were annoying. These last four months have been good to me and I’ve benefited from these behaviours:
- Using Instagram as a business tool – especially as a creative person
Instagram nowadays is your digital business card. It has become the new Linkedin, the visual Twitter for media members, and the best platform to display your creativity. I’ve become way less emotional on social media, where I used to post lots of feelings. Listen sis (sis is me, me is sis): nobody does actually care about how you feel. You can share it, but the right amount cause you to become soppy. People are nosy and will judge you. They are happy if you are too much transparent, because vulnerability makes you glow, yes, but also easy to be trapped. Don’t let them take your genuine words twisted or caught in wrong hands. You never know who’s watching you, in the bad and good terms.
2. Less is better – no more visual pollution in 2020: the vision must be clear as the year suggests
I used to post a lot about my travels and fashion plans, ideas, suggestions. It was cool. But a lot of people don’t credit you enough for your own work and claim your outcome theirs. It’s wrong. So if I show less now, I can show them more later, when everything is really solid. I can be vulnerable, sure, but again: everything’s business out there. Treat your passions like it’s an economic hustle. You invest your image out there.
3. Use it for your side hobbies and make it profitable – cause time is money and you don’t waste it, right?
When I say hobbies, I mean fashion and music for me. I follow all designers, models, artists, and writers who truly speak to me, not only because they are trendy or beautiful. They need to nurture me on every level, so that when I open Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or TikTok I don’t waste time in being comfortable in seeing good content, that I know will empower me.
Social media has been more of a blessing for me than a curse because it was my second school. It was literally the medium between my academic and street life. It was the bridge that connected me to all my passions. But like in school and in the streets, sometimes you get distracted and hurt. Schools and streets change during your life. So does your point of view. For this reason, my new approach to social media will be a good one for the next decade. It will fit more my personality. I intend it to be more useful on a practical and networking level. I made the best and most useful mistakes during the first decade. Now I’ll be smarter and more professional on those.
But of course, I’ll still be neat, blunt, and fun AF on my platforms.
You know, a curly flower.