I used to be obsessed with social media. I had three Instagram accounts — one was my public account, one was a fan account for the ’90s girl group TLC and one was a satirical account where I created a “frat boy” personality as a comedic take on Greek life at USC. On Snapchat, I had over 500 “friends,” and I would send out daily videos narrating my life for all of them to see.
The podcast DELETE THIS takes a closer look at how we use social media. Host Hank Green is a popular YouTuber, with over 795,000 followers on Twitter. Green tweets regularly, and on DELETE THIS, he goes back and reviews every tweet he posted with the help of his wife, Katherine Green.
The nature of social media, especially on platforms like Twitter and Snapchat, is that posts exist for a relatively short amount of time before they disappear from your feed. It makes it hard to look back and reconsider what you’re putting out in a very public setting — but as DELETE THIS reveals, when you’re a few days removed from your old posts and you look back on them, you gain a new perspective.
Green often realizes how his passion for a topic in the moment can cause him to tweet something he regrets later, and his wife makes him delete at least one tweet each week. Because of the nature of Twitter, deleting a week-old, or even day-old tweet doesn’t mean much, but it holds value in suggesting that Green shouldn’t have tweeted it in the first place, and in helping him think critically about posting similar tweets in the future.
Toward the end of my first semester at USC, I began to think more critically about my use of social media, in the same way Green does on his podcast. I realized that most of the 500 people with whom I was connected on Snapchat weren’t my friends at all, and the endless hours I spent on social media were mentally draining.
During winter break, I conducted a complete reversal of my social media presence. I deleted my satirical “frat boy” Instagram account, and deleted all of the posts from my main account, which I rarely use, and turned the TLC fan account into a personal account with less than 25 followers.
I also deleted my Snapchat account, and created a new one limited to just my close friends — currently, I only have 11 added. At first, this removal from social media caused me to feel left out. I didn’t get to be part of Snapchat group conversations with colleagues and acquaintances, and I would see the same posts again and again when I opened my social media apps because there were so few people on my feeds.
But more recently, my social media scourge has been a blessing. I no longer have the urge to open my social media apps every chance I get because there are no longer constant updates for me to see, and I’m no longer constantly worried about what I post because I rarely post at all.
DELETE THIS offers a critical look at how we can tailor social media to our own needs, rather than succumbing to algorithms designed to keep us using them as often as possible. Social media isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s important to know how to use it well to ensure it doesn’t consume our lives.
Karan Nevatia is a freshman majoring in journalism. He is also the news editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Honest to Pod,” runs every other Friday.