i got my first social media accounts when i was eight years old, that being windows messenger (remember windows messenger? it was tight) and a facebook account that i added all the teenagers in my neighbourhood on. when i was nine, i relentlessly started my farmville and cityville tirades, hogging the living room computer for as long as i could before my brothers would force me off. i had one email address — firstname.lastname@example.org — may she rest in peace, that i used to on messenger and also to sign up for habbo hotel, ytv flash games, and gaia online.
life was simple in my online regard, until i discovered tumblr when i was twelve.
i was obsessed with the band marianas trench at the time, and the only place i could post fangirl things about them seemed to be this microblogging platform, as twitter didn’t have enough characters to post my excessive “omg i love MT!! so frickin much! with everything in me! the band saVED MY LIFE” ramblings and on facebook, my family members and friends would comment on my statuses quoting their lyrics with either worry, annoyance, or the intention that i, a twelve year old girl, wrote them. so, tumblr it is. i reblogged pictures of the band and told “fannys” to stop only focusing on the lead singer and “appreciate the other members unless you’re not a REAL fan” in their ask inboxes.
tumblr was innocently fun for a few months, until i started seeing posts that romanticized anti social tendencies, like how staying on tumblr until 5am was trendy, cool, and something apparently impressive. suddenly, the computer became my life, and my parents urged me to get off of it and go outside, but i plugged my headphones in and escaped to my online fantasy world instead.
i wrote fanfictions, reblogged depressing posts about being unpopular in school, and looked at the skinny emo clad girls with envy when their pictures scrolled past. i felt myself have a community where people understood what i was going through — low self esteem, a lack of friends, and early preteen bouts of depressive episodes — but in reality, i had a website that enabled my negative tendencies and habits and romanticized them, making it seem like my sadness and anxiousness was “tragically beautiful”, revered, and admired.
when i look back on it now, i realize i was using the platform as a place to escape to when my life turned to shit, which at the ages of 12–14, was all the time. i felt like i was safe on the platform, but didn’t realize being on it, while comfortable, also made me more depressed and eager to craft excuses for my negative thoughts that should have been dealt with by a professional. if i could go back and tell myself something about the platform and the mental issues that were aggravated from it, it would sound something like this:
“dear twelve to fourteen year old amanda,
hey! it’s your older self, currently at a university and not in a band like you’re currently planning for. sorry to disappoint and stomp on your scene kid daydreams, but you weren’t cut out for singing in an angsty pop punk band. you found something much, much better and more suited towards your deterministic nature, ability to be a leader, and passion for music in a way that makes you happy. you’ll thank me one day.
i know you’re sitting on your computer in the living room, annoyed by your dad’s persistent sneer at your constant need to be using tumblr at all hours of the day. but you think “he doesn’t understand; i’m having a great time with my internet friends and reblogging pictures of the men in the bands i adore with wide eyes and a beating heart laced with love. this is my life.” and sure, i get it. you have this vibrant, thriving community of strangers who are there to support you in this trying time at ross, your middle school where everyone is out to get you. you feel safe, happy, like this platform is allowing you to get by while everyone around you wants to tease and bully you into nothing.
but, i promise you, this is not what you need right now.
you’re probably looking at a picture with a depressing quote layered over it, thinking, “god, that is so me”. or, you’re messaging someone about wanting to sleep forever to rid your parents of the problem that is you. or, you’re longing to look like the scene beauty queens, wanting to starve to attain their skeletal like structure. i know you. i know what you’re doing to yourself.
you think that you’ve found this paradise where you can be yourself and speak about the things you feel, love, and live for without restraint, but you’re making yourself worse with the depression blogs you follow, the horrible influences you listen to, and the unhealthy ideals you strive to achieve. you’re told by your tumblr friends that you’re beautiful because of your struggles with your inner demons, feeling like you’re better than everyone else because you’re sad and aware of your societal hating tendencies. you simultaneously feel superior while also feeling less than — you’re confused and frustrated because you don’t understand why you feel the way you do.
you tell yourself that your online friends can cure you. that the shitty music you listen to right now is “saving your life”. that nobody in your physical life could possibly understand what you’re dealing with, like depression and anxiety is a special disorder reserved for you and you only.
but none of that is true.
your parents are willing to listen, even if they don’t fully understand. your classmates, though harsh and filled with hate now, will eventually apologize for their misdeeds towards you and explain how they knew all along. they will give you their phone numbers and offer a shoulder to cry on, one you will refuse, due to your stubborn pride. your teachers will pull you aside and refer you to guidance councillors and local therapists.
take the advice, and get off tumblr, because it’s only aggravating and pushing you towards the idea that someone needs to rescue you. you are constantly viewing stressors and triggers that only make your mentality worse and worse. i know you feel like you belong, and that you need this — but you don’t. you don’t need this. you need help.
i want you to know the only person who saved you was you. and yes, to your surprise, i made it to twenty. i know you had this romanticized idea that you would be dead by now. again, sorry to disappoint. i am not always depressed as you are, and i have spoken to therapists and psychiatrists about what’s going on, rather than blogging about it to people only wanting to wallow in the sadness with you.
you have so much ahead of you. stop wasting your time on a website that only makes you feel bad about yourself. i know you’re stubborn and have heard these exact words from your parents and friends, but maybe me telling you should allow you to get a clue.
things will be better.
amanda, six-to-eight years in the future.
P.S. no, i did not end up getting a pierce the veil or marianas trench tattoo like you wanted when i turned eighteen. you will thank me one day.