We live in a time, where we feel the absolute need to display our lives, from generalities, to our tiny little secrets, for everyone to see online. I for one, as a ’90s kid, was fortunate enough to grow up in an era where the internet was easily accessible for me. I believe I started using the internet before I was even six. By the time social networking sites were ‘all the rage’, I had an account on each and every one and for years, I spent my life sharing personal things from big life updates, to my current mood with an ever-growing circle of “friends”. Some I knew, many I didn’t.

I’ve made lots of friends thanks to social media sites, I’ve met lots of people, near and far. And I’ve learned a lot of life lessons and gained a lot of experience. But one day, as I was checking my social media accounts, I realized that this person that people are seeing, this side of me that I portray on the internet, is only a fraction of who I am as person.  I realized that, no matter how hard I, or anyone else tried, we could never fully be ourselves on the internet. There’s a constant scrutiny and a watchful eye, observing our every post and picture. And we unknowingly feel the urge to portray ourselves in the best image possible. To only show the side that we believe people want to see from us. Subconsciously, we shut down this huge part of our personalities and who we are as people, because we feel the need to keep up the image of us that people see online, in real life. The truth is, no matter how hard we try, we can never fully display ourselves to the fullest extent on social media. People and their personalities are way more complex and intricate than any tweet, post, snap or blog could display. So, in that moment, I decided that I didn’t want to live my life like that, and I permanently deleted all of my social media accounts; Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter and even Pinterest. The minute all of my accounts were shut down, I felt a sudden sense of relief wash over me. Like these chains that were holding me back were all of a sudden loosened, and I could breathe again.

It’s been almost eleven months since that day, and I’m not exaggerating when I say, I didn’t miss it one bit. I didn’t miss the constant need to update my profile picture, the need to have an interesting story on Snapchat, or have the most aesthetically pleasing pictures on Instagram… None of that. All that weight on my shoulders was lifted, and despite being “disconnected” from the world in a sense, I never felt more connected to it. I found myself enjoying my friends’ company more without the urge to pick up my phone and check my notifications. I found myself having so much free time on my hands that I used to kill on social media, all the work and assignments I procrastinated just so I can continue scrolling through an endless stream of click-bait articles and nonsensical images. It was a cathartic experience, and for the first time in my short life, I felt like I was fully, and unapologetically myself.

Anas Abdulhak