Like most people, I like to think of myself as a fairly normal person. Sure I’ve got some quirks, but who doesn’t? The important thing is that I have a strong network of family and friends whom I care deeply about, and most of them would say I’m a nice, easygoing individual. But as you may have already guessed from the title of this article, their assessments may not be entirely accurate. There’s no way to sugarcoat it— part of me is just a straight up, judgmental, pejorative, Bitch with a capital “B”.
I blame social media.
Now, before you lecture me on lack of personal responsibility or worse, side with me immediately and start singing “Blame Canada Facebook”, please hear me out. I’m not here to give myself excuses, but I will go so far as to say that if I’m experiencing this problem, it’s possible others in modern society are as well.
This “problem” I’m referring to came to my attention somewhat abruptly this past year, though it had undoubtedly been a long time in the making. So, I suppose it’s best to start from the beginning. Though I was briefly a member of MySpace in my late teens and chatted with friends back in the day on AIM (under a hilariously embarrassing username, I might add), it was in 2008 that I began my Facebook page. I was headed to college that fall, and everyone was suggesting I get one because “that’s what everyone in college uses now”. As most of us know, however, it wasn’t long before Facebook grew much bigger and became a platform for people of all ages.
I graduated from college in 2012 and moved to Colorado two years later. Until that moment, I lived my entire life in the New York metro area and as a result I still consider it home despite having lived away for nearly four years. Social media— particularly Facebook— has since become something of a crutch for me to ease the homesickness. I love seeing what my friends and family back east are up to, sharing my own adventures with them in return. With social media, sometimes it really doesn’t feel like there’s that much distance between us.
But social media also permits an easy glimpse into the lives of a slew of people we’re only acquaintances with and barely know in reality. And one evening, not too long ago, I found myself browsing both Instagram and Facebook, checking out posts from a slew of people I have not seen nor spoken to personally in years. Suddenly, it hit me that most of my thoughts were, well, just plain nasty:
"Ugh, so many grammatical errors. What a dumbass!"
"Of course he’s posting pro-Trump stuff. He always seemed like an idiot back in high school."
"Oh man, she’s pregnant again? Who’s the dad this time? Glad that’s not my life!"
"Damn, she got fat!"
"Gross. Of course they’d freak out over pumpkin spice lattes at Disney. Basic bitches."
And then, finally:
"Oh my God, Brianna! It’s you! YOU’RE the real bitch!"
After several panicky minutes of trying to justify myself to myself, I realized it just wasn’t gonna happen. Sure, it wasn’t like I actually typed any mean responses or comments, and I definitely never said these things in real life. And yes, I’m sure most of these people (again, many of them just acquaintances I haven’t seen in years) never even suspected that I of all randos was even looking at their posts. But none of that mattered. I felt ugly inside, and I recognized those thoughts as having become somewhat routine for way longer than I care to admit.
It was then that I decided the best solution was to just cut myself off, and I quietly stopped accessing all my social media accounts. Sure enough, it was like quitting a drug. It was harder than anticipated, and I discovered just how addicted to it I had become over the years. But it also felt like I lifted a weight off myself. It was actually quite surprising how clearheaded I felt, and my thoughts in general became much more positive than negative. Through this, I also recognized that my judgmental way of going through others’ posts was a means of coping with my own insecurities. Yes, I really was that cliché.
But having said that, I knew I didn’t want to quit social media for good. Being over halfway across the country from so many of the people I love, I just couldn’t. I started using my accounts again, but gradually. But as expected, once I got back into my usual frequency the inner bitch started rearing her head.
So, I’ve since had to work out a new solution. It’s not perfect, but it’s a compromise. Whenever I started thinking terrible things about people on social media, I log out as soon after. I’ve slimmed down my hours of usage instead of cutting it out entirely, instead trying to do more productive things online (like writing painfully self-aware articles). Most importantly of all, I make myself think something positive to counter every negative thought:
"But you know what? They really do look happy. I hope life is going as well for them as it looks."
The bitch inside me isn’t totally gone. In fact, she’ll probably always be there. But I’m doing my best to deal with her and keep my thoughts about others as fair as possible. We’re all just trying to stumble through life, and nobody needs someone secretly judging or criticizing them from a distance— especially when they barely know them in the first place.