social media detox + letting go of people offline + chinese new year day 1

On Wednesday I went through a major bout of social media cleansing. I went to Facebook and deleted from my list, a whole bunch of people whom I no longer speak to; friends whom I made whilst I was in primary school and no longer keep in touch with. These are people who:

  • Appear on my Facebook Wall in flashes as they post blurbs about the comings and goings of their lives that I find no interest, especially if we weren’t in the same class then. I did the same on my own personal Instagram account. I’ve blocked followers so they can no longer keep track of my posts. Most are complete strangers from various parts of the world whom some way or another found and just decided to follow me – and this was way before I found out about the privacy settings on Instagram and made my account private – and who at the same time are following thousands and thousands of other people (so really you’re not that special anyway).
  • People whom I no longer wish to keep in touch with and whom I don’t want knowing anything about what’s happening in my life.

I think there comes a time when it suddenly hits you in the face and you’re wondering why you’re letting so many strange people seeing the snippets of your life, especially ghost followers who follow thousands of people but post virtually nothing on their own profiles. Who are you and why are you following me? Why am I letting you see pictures of my dog or of what I did yesterday?

I think for some individuals having a huge number of followers( by this I mean thousands and thousands) gives them this strange false sense of superiority. Not all of us, but a small handful, especially those who have thousands of followers, have a public Instagram profile and post nothing but selfies. Unless you’re a fashion blogger, a celebrity or someone endorsing something then its understandable that you’ll need a large base to inspire others with your style and/or promote your product. I think some people equate social media followers and the number of likes with a sense of importance. Of course I do feel good when people double tap my pictures but I tell myself to not let it get to my head because for a handful people, it extends beyond that in which they begin to derive their sense of esteem and confidence from the number of likes they get from complete strangers, and I don’t wish to fall into that pitfall because its a very unhealthy and disempowering situation to be in. That’s another reason my personal Instagram account is private. After all, we are in the age of digital narcism, and Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & even this blog where I post pictures are but platforms in which we can we can manipulate and create a carefully constructed profile and present a desirable self to others. The person you’re looking in pictures probably doesn’t look like what he/she looks in real life. Hell I don’t look like myself in pictures all the time too! I don’t wear makeup and contact lenses and fancy outfits all day. I love dressing up and putting on makeup like many other girls, but at the end of the day, I love me a pair of comfortable shorts and a tee shirt with the telly on in front of me. I

So lessons here is to not be so consumed by what you see in social media and not fall in the trap of only being able to feel good about yourself only when you receive likes on Instagram. Esteem doesn’t come from strangers but from within! Is perfectly okay if you want to put pictures of yourself up on social media because you feel and look good because hey I do that too (hehe and let’s be honest we all want the likes and awesome comments) but I think we need to monitor ourselves every now and then and ask if we’re putting pictures up too frequently to feel good about ourselves and if we’ll feel awful if we don’t get comments or likes we want. I don’t want to keep posting only pictures of myself where I think I’m good-looking just so I can get approval from others. My happiness doesn’t like in strangers.

But anyway, I’ve also stopped following some people whom I met in Buffalo in 2013 (wow time really flies) on both of Instagram and Facebook whom I no longer wish to have contact with. Ex-classmates whom I only spoke to a few times and whom I know absolutely nothing about; random people I met at orientation gatherings or through student groups and whom I never speak to again. Delete. Gone. Poof.  I used to follow the Latin American Student Association (LASA) because I was a member in that student group while on exchange. I would avidly keep up with their postings and happenings, especially with regards to dance. I always remember eagarly awaiting posts, videos and pictures of the dance performances that they had after I left for home because I had so badly wanted to join in their annual dance competition but couldn’t due to the fact that I was only there for a short semester. In some storage way, looking at the pictures and the people whom I used to rehearse made me feel as though I belonged there.

However ever since I took Latin dance more seriously by taking proper dance lessons, going for workshops, proper social dancing and dance congresses and even performing on stage, I found that I’ve been slipping away a lot more from LASA. I no longer find any interest in keeping up with them (except the Kardashains) because I no longer belong there. LASA served as a wonderful head start in Latin dance but now that I’m progressing further in it, I am no longer interested in what they are doing. I can see how much I’ve improved ever since I ever started dancing salsa with them and I find less of an interest in hearing about their activities because to be brutally honest, it doesn’t parallel the type of dance I wish to achieve. I want to achieve greater and better things and LASA isn’t providing me that kind of inspiration anymore. I can’t relate to LASA as much as I did before. Its the same for some people I met too.  Some people just aren’t meant to be in your future and as hard as it is for some people, that that is all right. Maybe you find yourself having nothing in common with a person and no longer interested in keeping up with him, maybe you want to maintain relations with only certain people you met at certain points in your life, maybe you want to cut off ties with people who aren’t making you happy, bringing back only unhappy memories and holding you back. Some circumstances just no longer promote mental, emotional and spiritual growth and its time to let them go and move on. Eventually, you realize that you only want to surround yourself with people who help you move forward in life, bring out the best in you and make you feel happy.

I also find it unnecessary to drop certain people out of my life like that without warning. Just certain. I don’t leave a disclaimer of any kind; I simply just walk away and stop communicating with them altogether, simply because there comes a time when you just can’t afford to explain and/or continue explaining to people why you no longer want them in your lives. Maybe they’re toxic friends, maybe they’re taking advantage of your friendship, maybe they’re treating you as a second option in your life and you know you deserve better, maybe they’re bringing back unhappy memories. Whatever it is. You just can’t keep teaching other people lessons that that will have to learn on their own. You don’t owe explanations to anybody. I say do whatever you think is necessary for your personal growth, health and happiness. After all, out with the negative vibes and in the good stuff will come in.

I still keep up with some of my LASA friends I made in Buffalo anyway, though I think its slightly sad that proof of our friendship can now only be acknowledged in the form of a like or comment on Facebook or Instagram. I guess that is what happens when people grow up – everyone moves away and the people you meet in life won’t always remain forever, though I find comfort in the fact that we still take interest in each other’s lives even though we’re physically far apart. There’s a difference between being a passive friend and a friend who takes an interest in wanting to find out what is happening in your life, be it a double tap, a comment or a message. It doesn’t matter if they do so once a week or once a month. I find simple comfort in knowing they are still somewhere out there and remembering me, and I, them.

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Chinese New Year has officially begun and it is now the Year of the Goat, or as my mum calls it “my year” because I was born in the year of the Goat 24 years ago. 24. Ack. I’m not one who keeps up with my Chinese traditions because my mum being from London and being a Eurasian (half European half Asian) didn’t grow up with the strict beliefs and customs entrenched in the Chinese culture . My dad though, being the conservative Chinese man that he is insists on adhering to these traditions and customs. There is the usual tradition of giving out of red envelopes filled with money to the unmarried (no complaints there), visiting relatives and paying our respects to them, not wearing black during visits because its an inauspicious color and signifies bad luck and death, wearing brand new clothes for visits and refraining from cleaning the house on the 1st day of Chinese New Year (my dad says to do so equates to “sweeping away” all the good luck CNY brings) & the Chinese New Year goodies start rolling in too and these are fabulous because you see them only once a year and some taste amazing: pineapple tarts, wafer biscuits, prawn rolls, lotus pastries with yolk etc.

My “brand new clothes” consist of clothing that I bought months before but having never worn them since their purchase. The first day of CNY (20th Feb) was spent going to my granddad’s house for lunch, though first I had to endure the usual family custom of assessing my dad’s outfit. He wears the same thing every year for the first day of Chinese New Year and every year without fail I tell him “Pop you either look like a pimp or a banana” because he just has to pair his egg yolk yellow shirt with this pair of hideous egg yolk yellow pants) I’m glad I didn’t get my fashion sense from him.

 We had Thai food (oh the irony but pineapple rice is so great) and as much as I enjoy talking to my relatives and catching up on our lives, I find it so irksome to have to keep telling them I won’t be bringing my boyfriend to their homes for visiting and then enduring their sighs of mock disappointment. My sister is getting married in July and although most of the talk is focused on her wedding details, I kept getting asked as to when it was my turn to tie the knot. Trust me, it gets annoying after the 3rd time.

After lunch I headed over to Shu’s place and we spent a fabulous day taking pictures with her sister, watching videos and playing charades. Her parents graciously invited me to stay for dinner and I felt horrible at intruding on their family time. They insisted though, and since it was Chinese New Year, I felt it would have been churlish to refuse their kind invitation & so we had a lovely steamboat dinner and cheesecake for dessert.

Feeling blessed to have a family who supports me, close true friends for wonderful companionship and a home I can go back to where the wi-fi is free and where I can take my bra off after a long day.

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Er. Shu caught me trying to take selfies before stuffing my phone back in my pouch and I could only sheepishly agree for her to take proper pictures when she offered to do so.

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