The Scrolling

Another 100 word essay about about my life. This time I describe my experiences with Social Media, its impact and influence on my life and emotions. Hope you enjoy!

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1. The Scrolling

    Social Media was a big part of my life, once; back when I was ten or eleven, attending a local private school. On it conversations were had, meetups organised, friendships made, broken. You could also find accounts for art, football players, celebrities, comedy clips. When I first joined the school, I had not a profile on anything, nor needed one. but when I realised how much happened on these virtual spaces, I begged and begged my parents to create me an account on this, a page on that. ‘We’re not sure,’ they’d said to me, ‘a lot of bad things happen on the internet, Jack, where there are no teachers and no rules.’

    I remember rolling my eyes: ‘I’ll be fine, don’t worry.’

    A few months later, I was checking my feeds for half an hour a day; I chatted to my friends, saw pictures from someone’s birthday party, caught up on everything that had happened since the day before. I believed all this to be a good thing, a way to get pleasure, to touch-base with mates. I felt secure in my position on the school’s social ladder and that my large online presence was vital for maintaining that. And for those reasons, I kept on scrolling, day in and day out.

    Parallel to all this happening, another problem was surfacing. You see, this school was a prep for a top-tier Christian private secondary, one of the best and most expensive in the country. All day long it was this is how to pass this test, this is how to act in a proper school, these are the grades you must have. Unlike the other kids and their mums and dads, my parents and I neither wanted this end result, nor could afford it. This ultimately resulted in me leaving the school, a year and a term after I had joined it.

    Despite me no longer physically attending the school, I was still a member virtually. This connection emotionally tied me to the school: I was unable to move on, make new friends, start another chapter in my life. I was stuck in a rut, scrolling despairingly through pictures of parties I couldn’t attend, of people I no longer new. Of could I didn’t realise that then, I thought I was still part of it, that I was still friends with these people, them with me; but In reality, they’d all moved on like I couldn’t. When I sent messages, replies never came; when I posted something, people never looked. I quickly found out that a new boy had joined the class just after I’d left, who’d filled my place in their lives.

    One year after I left the school, me and my family went on a long trip around Asia, and suddenly I didn’t have access to my accounts for three months. My brain wanted to miss it, but deep down I was relieved. By taking away the cause, I realised what a negative influence the scrolling had been, and how taxing it was on my emotions. During the trip, I became happier, freer, than I had been for a very long time. I felt like I’d started that new chapter in my life and had been released from the cage of the scrolling. I realised that I didn’t want to hold on to this past life, like I had been. I realised that I was addicted in every sense of the word: whilst online, I felt pleasure, but not the moment after; I felt like I needed to update myself everyday; I believing that it was all a good thing. And of course, like any addiction, it wasn’t. Having realised all this, father and I decided to terminate the accounts, everything, the day after we got back. Gone from my life was the false joy, the emotional taxation, the hanging onto the past. But like any addiction, I suffered the consequences; maybe I still do today. Three years after leaving the school, seeing those faces for the last time, I dreamt of them every night; I felt close to crying every time I thought of a person I didn’t know anymore, a stranger. All those years after, I feel sadder than I did on my last day at the school. The addiction of the scrolling had amplified my sadness, thwarted my happiness, dripped blackness into my life.

    Now a-days, I still use Social Media; the very same sites, in fact. Yet I have learnt. If I’ve got a free five minute break, I’ll have a quick check. But because I only follow people I see often, not public pages or friends from past times, my scrolling only takes that five minutes. I see if anything is being organised, and if so, see if I can go. I see if anyone is online, and if so, have a quick catch-up. I use Social Media for what it is designed to do: clean communication, easy conversation, efficient organisation.

 
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