This week I attended another large in person gathering (my third one to be exact) since my full vaccination status and the reopening of life at this stage of the Covid 19 pandemic.
At an after hours work celebration, I was greeted by huge warm hugs and fully unmasked smiles. The reintroduction to the world via happy hour was a milestone for 2021. With my trusty slim can of coconut water in hand, I proceeded to mingle and catch up with friends and colleagues.
My new way of talking with people for the most part these days is fueled by non-alcoholic beverages. After nearly a decade of powering through social situations with “liquid courage”, I decided to see what what kind of experience I could have without it. Apparently it was also pretty obvious to others that something else was different too.
“I miss your Facebook posts!”, a friend expressed to me at the party. They continued, “I tried looking for you on Instagram too, but it said you don’t exist”.
My heart enjoyed a silent celebration and a victory dance after I heard those three words, you don’t exist.
Not in that world anymore, not right now at least.
My brief explanation of taking a social media break was almost instantly understood along with small doses of affirmation. Nods of agreement by those who were wondering where I’ve been, accompanied by the good kind of eye rolls and sighs, they agreed that the content on social media platforms are generally getting “pretty ridiculous” nowadays anyway.
Two significant mental dependencies came into my life and hung out with me throughout my late 20’s and most of my 30’s. Downtime interrupters. Self-care and confidence fakers. Time wasters.
They go by the names of booze and Instagram. They have always been in hand and on hand to give me a twisted sense of security and self, making me feel good and validated for short bursts of time, but ultimately making me feel incredibly crappy and fake afterward.
The alcohol would cause focus and attention issues, big, unnecessary emotions, and hangovers.
The ‘Gram would supply the fomo factor of life and different versions of me that I didn’t ever necessarily need to document through a curated collection of my iPhone photos.
When I started my sober curious journey, I shared it on Instagram for the first 90 days or so. I received words of encouragement. I tagged a canned water company and they sent me free cases of their product plus a bunch of other merch. That was fun. I did one last post to say thank you and few days later, I deactivated my account.
It took a couple of tries though. I had deactivated, reactivated, and had to wait a whole week to officially temporarily deactivate per Instagram’s terms. But also per their policy, I could log back in and reactivate whenever I want to.
That’s when I got really freaked out. Social media platforms are built to feed into the mental dependency that many of us have. The sharing of my personal life and my goals and accomplishments via my Instastories and Instagram grid had come to a head. It was personally causing me more harm than good.
Cocktails and social media. It has been a challenge to cut back on both but the benefits have truly outweighed the loss at this point.
I have never felt more alive since I updated my status to sober ghost.
■ Elementary Educator for Equity & Cultural Responsibility
■ Collector of Small Moments & Thrifty Finds
■ Wife & Mother
■ Bay Area, CA