What Netflix's 'The Chair' has to do with my quitting social media

Yes, I'm quitting social media. But this time, it's for reasons I can actually articulate, for real, and for good.

In an attempt to distract myself from the chaos of long lists and inescapable responsibilities that is my life right now, I watched a series on Netflix called 'The Chair'. No one had recommended it to me. There were a bunch of other shows I was meant to continue but never found myself in the mood for. Plus, I like Sandra Oh, the episodes were a reasonable length, and it was about her becoming the first woman of colour chair for the English department. It sounded fun, so I gave it a go.

With only six episodes, it was barely a commitment. At first, I laughed a lot, and screamed at my computer screen because… Well, I don’t want to spoil it for you. When it came to the point in any show when the tension climaxes, I started to well up. Then, when she cried, I cried. I’ve always been the type that cries in movies, but this time, I wasn’t necessarily crying for the character, I was crying because I was overwhelmed.

There is a lot on my shoulders right now, and between preparing for my new job and moving into my new apartment, I haven’t had the time to process that I am leaving behind a life that I spent two years curating, to enter one that is going to be a complete overhaul of my current existence, for the next couple of years. Of course I was going to cry! Everyday in my life is always interesting, but this time, big things are happening. Things that require me to put on my big girl pants for far longer than I am used to. I mean, I went to the tax office! Me!! Tax office!!!

Anyway, under the guise of “I don’t have time for a mental breakdown right now,” I’ve been ignoring every emotion that crops up that isn’t going to help me cross something off my list. But when she cried, I let go. I let go of the fact that I will not be a freelance writer for the time being. I let go of the fact that I won’t be doing my MFA any time soon, and that reading poetry and the classics is probably going to become a pastime of the past.

Can you believe that the book that they were reading in class was Moby Dick? How uncanny is that?! The Universe is obviously telling me something here, and I think that it’s really okay to just let go and cry sometimes. Or it could be telling me to finish reading Moby Dick. Who can tell, really?

Speaking of letting go, there is one more thing: I am also going to let go of social media. Specifically, my dilapidated, inactive Facebook account, my bipolar Instagram account, and the Twitter account that no one even knows of. I know I don’t need to explain myself, but given this is a “public” affair that I will share across all the aforementioned platforms, I feel like I should.

Three reasons I am leaving social media

  1. Connect | If Facebook was meant to “connect people”, then why don’t I know anything about all the friends I made when I traveled to the U.S. and Egypt for international conferences ten years ago? Why don’t I catch up with people from debate competitions, boarding school, or national service? Why have the strangers that I made such beautiful memories with when backpacking become strangers once more? Because every time I log on, there is just too much going on to catch up with, and humans are not built for this level of connectivity. So I am acknowledging that, accepting my human limitations, and just leaving.  
  2. Compare | Despite my best efforts, I cannot help but compare my life and self to everyone else’s when I am on Instagram. Yes, it is ultimately a tool which we learn to use to get what we want from it, and I got what I could. I owe Instagram so much. Without it, it would have been too difficult to run the spoken word poetry community in Jogja, and I never would have met my writing coach, both of which tremendously impacted me. But it stopped serving its purpose for quite some time now, and since deleting the app from my phone four months ago, I don’t miss it at all. So it's time to let go of this too.
  3. Conscious | That means to be aware of, and responding to one's surroundings. The thing is, social media is designed to distract, and what happens when some unnamable figure capitalises on our attention going to our gadgets? We miss out on life. I’m talking about the real one that’s taking place before our very eyes, should our pupils not be fixated on those screens. Funny, this is exactly what my first spoken word piece with Unveiled was all about.
All I’m saying is, I’ve lost sight of what I’m doing on social media. I’m not keeping in touch with anyone, I’m not creating art, I’m not doing anything worth mentioning, and that is as good a reason as any to let go right?

Three ways you can know what’s up with me

I hope you know how much I value you. You that said hello and warmed me with a smile, you that have lifted me every time you gave me a hug, you that engaged in wildly interesting and/or inappropriate conversation with me on that bridge/ in the plastic house on that playground/ outside that party, you that held my hand when I was afraid, you that made me feel at home when I was far from. Whoever and wherever you are, I guarantee the memories we made together are safe.

Dunbar’s number posits that the limit of how many people we can maintain stable social relationships with is 150, and that is enough justification for me to believe that I am not cut out for social media anymore. But what if you want to catch up? What if you’re in Malaysia and need a place to crash? What if you want to send me roasted hazelnuts or profess your undying (insert relevant emotion here) for me? I won’t say no to a friend, and here’s how you can still find me:

  1. Ask me here.
  2. Sign up to my mailing list to get updates in your inbox.
  3. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to know how work has been.

So yeah, give yourself a weekend to binge 'The Chair'. It's hilarious, relevant, and maybe it's just what you need to let go too. I wish you a good rest of week, and I look forward to hearing from you, you know who you are!

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