Shared Luck & Misery
Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about what to share and what not to share online. Some big plans of mine have changed and there have also been some changes in my personal life. But a lot of that has not been reflected on my social media or also on this blog. For me, sharing more personal things is sometimes difficult because even though I am a content creator, I am also a very private person. Before starting to create content on social media, I hardly used social media privately. Now I am at a point where I have a few hundred thousand followers on TikTok and over a hundred thousand on YouTube, but my personal accounts for friends and family sit at about 11 followers. But even though I sometimes struggle to share some personal things, I think I have shared so many quite personal things with you guys over the years and I never regretted sharing those things.
The most important of these things for me is the sharing of the fact that I was clinically depressed in my first year at university, resulting in my intermission. I made that video months after the decision to intermit was taken and I think that the fact that I waited to make it until I felt ready to do it is why it was a positive step for me. I still remember going to my therapy session two days after posting the video (this session turned out to be my second last session) and I told my therapist how your reaction to the video gave me such a confidence boost and it also showed in how I reacted to my therapist’s questions and the amount of confidence I had when returning for my second year.
I had internalised this idea that taking a break for mental health reasons would carry a massive stigma among my peers and that I would be regarded as someone who was actually not good enough to be at Cambridge. As someone who has massive imposter syndrome, these thoughts came to me quite easily and reading all the supportive comments from you guys under the video and seeing how many people were actually proud of me for putting my health first and believed in me showed me that I might have gotten the situation quite wrong.
You guys have seen some very low points of my life (me being clinically depressed definitely being one of the lowest) and you have also seen my successes - for example when I ended up getting awesome grades in my second semester at my exchange university.
I have always been happy to share these things and I am not going to lie, there is also a lot you do not see - both good and negative things. Some things are simply too personal to me and I would not feel comfortable sharing them, some things involve other people and I consider these things ‘not my story to tell’ and other things I just do not feel ready yet to share. But whenever I did share things, you guys have given me a lot of positivity and I always enjoyed (and still do enjoy) sharing aspects of my life with you guys. There have, of course, also always been negative comments, but I am very fortunate to have a largely supportive audience.
But recently, I reflected a lot more on this idea of sharing personal things: Why do I share it? Why does the reaction of other people to it matter? Does the reaction of others define how much value I attach to the relevant event? ‘Sharing is caring’ - is it though? Let’s unpack these things a little:
Why do I share the event and why does the reaction of other people to it matter? Does others’ reaction define how much value I’m attaching to the relevant event?
I am not proud of it, but I feel like last year was a year where a lot of the worth I attached to my own achievements as well as to myself depended largely on the online validation I received for it. I was not posting simply to share, but rather because I wanted positive reactions to the posts. I did not like how I ended up almost defining myself by how many likes something got, whether a video performed well, etc. I guess a lot of this came through the growth of my social media pages over the past year - I had never seen such growth on my accounts before and while it was amazing to suddenly have such growth, it was difficult for me to deal with the sudden influx of hate comments (as a smaller creator, you tend not to be exposed to hate comments to such a large extent, at least in my experience) and the suddenly awesome looking statistics of my pages made me want to sustain that growth. But those numbers should not become too important.
And I suppose we all want to be liked on some basic level - both in real life and online. The past year especially was an incredibly lonely year for me since I did a year abroad that ended up being a year in online classes without getting to know anyone at my exchange university. I lacked real-life social interaction with friends and social media was pretty much my social place.
I took a quite distanced approach to social media over the past few months and only slowly got back into posting and my approach now is to only post things for fun. Whether anyone applauds me for it and whether anyone actually likes my content is not really a consideration as long as I enjoy making it. I am, of course, still open to feedback on how to improve my content and I definitely want to learn more about editing and other behind-the-scenes stuff, but I think I lost that point of creating content because I like it sometime last year and it feels like I have finally found it again.
‘Sharing is Caring’ - Is it Though?
Sharing that you are in love and who is your beloved can be cute and endearing, but something that I have always wondered when looking at family vloggers and more generally influencers who share a lot about their family and home life is whether that potentially reduces the relationship to something that has to look perfect and that ends up existing for the camera lens to capture it, rather than for your own happiness. I am not saying that this is how it actually is for family vloggers - that is definitely not (and will never be) my content niche, but I wonder whether keeping things like your family and love life away from the pressure of ‘having to look good for the gram’ may actually keep these relationships more healthy.
At the same time, I do not think that hiding some things is great either - I doubt that you can hide big changes in your life for long and I also think that some honesty with your audience is good. But you can decide on the dose of that honesty: The options are broad: you can mention things in a sentence in a story or you can end up producing a three-hour video about the changes. The choice is yours as a content creator and I do not think that there is a right or wrong - for some people, one approach will work better and for others, another approach is the right way to go.
I am still looking for what works for me and for the people around me and these thoughts about these topics have been circling around in my head over the past few months, but I am not at a point of having come to a conclusion. But since some sharing definitely is effective, I thought I would leave these thoughts here. And if you guys have any input or would like to share your thoughts on this topic, please feel free to get in touch!
Lots of Love,
P.S.: The title picture of this post was taken by Simon Hinger.