ISSUE ONE: An Introduction /On Social Media
Welcome to the first issue of my new newsletter, The Middle Part. As some of you may know, I have worked across lots of different writing platforms in the past such as blogs and online magazines. It felt right to start a newsletter as the content comes to you, the reader. I also know it is time to start writing again when I start narrating my thoughts like some deranged Ferris Bueller. Without the endless optimism or guts to do any of the things he did.
The name The Middle Part is something I thought up at some point during the second lockdown when I was gripped by the idea to start a fashion blog. This is not the first time I have had this thought. I hold a long pre-occupation with clothes and truly believed that if I had followed a whimsy during my time at university I would have some ad hoc corner of the internet filled with pictures of me in boot-cut jeans, ‘profound’ realisations pertaining to pop culture and rambling essays about the role of Harry Potter in my life.
Fast-forward just under a decade and the obsessions are still the same but the perspective on them has shifted. The need to write is still with me, as is the curiosity as to the role of pop culture, however that now encompasses the role of the media as a whole.
As a name, The Middle Part represents a few things, and as the internet encourages, they’re all mainly to do with me. I am a middle child and prefer my hair in a middle part. Please don’t be intimated by the sheer genius of such a literal name. On a broader scale however, this represents the grey area aka where all the conversations exist. In an increasingly binary world of black/white, yes/no, right and wrong etc. the grey area is where the tension lies that rouses curiosity, confusion, out-of-our comfort zone experiences and of course, the aforementioned conversation.
With that in mind, the first topic The Middle Part is going to explore is social media, and more specifically the absence of.
ON SOCIAL MEDIA
There are many things I have given up on deliberately. Alcohol for example, or caffeine and things I have stopped without even thinking about it such as wearing perfume. Recently however, I did something in between the two, I disabled my Instagram account(s). A soft launch into quitting completely it is as if my accounts don’t exist on the platform until I login (via desktop) again.
As I write this there are 1 billion users, who on average, spend 28 minutes on the site. Amongst these 1/5 of them are business sites. Which means the majority of them are people like you and me, connecting.
At the beginning of Covid, I leaned into Instagram big time. I was on a connection high; creating stories and commenting emphatically. Almost constantly aware of the bonds I was reiterating and vulnerability I was showing via my activity on the app. A few weeks ago however, I disabled my account and am however many weeks into my unintentional sabbatical.
Time and time again I find myself spouting the merits of social media aka the reasons I assume I stay. All whilst aware of the draining effect the app has on my entire person. There is also a sense of delusion on my behalf; I am more a part of IT or it is necessary for my non-existent writing career etc. etc.
And perhaps the term delusion is quite harsh because in a way I did feel more a part of IT. More aware of what was happening in everyone’s lives, more readily available to take part. It is also worth mentioning that I can be quite all or nothing, so I probably burnt myself by overuse with Instagram occupying way more of my headspace than it deserved.
Instagram also increases the intensity of many aspects of my life. But not all of them. So we become narrow magnified versions of ourselves. ‘I watch Buffy! I eat food!’ I would say over and over. In addition to this, we relive these snippets over and over as we watch our own stories and scroll through our own feeds. Reels was the final step for me. Instagram was enough of a performance prior to the expectation that I will create highly edited vignettes. Again, Instagram creating something labour intensive to appear effortless.
I was also using the app in a way which does not ensure longevity. For the purpose of myself and myself only. I was trying to see what I could get out of it, opportunities to participate thwarted as I tried to see if my input made any dint at all. Before exiting the app I swapped numbers with two people, even though there are more I miss. I wasn’t sure if our relationships would translate.
I’ve no doubt there are people reading this wondering what the big deal is. Perhaps it is a case of goodbye for now, not forever or perhaps, just like alcohol or wearing perfume some people are just more into it than others.
This past weekend I devoured Pandora Sykes’ book, How Do We Know We're Doing It Right? Which is relevant and comforting and what we need from writing right now. I watched numerous ‘What’s In My Bag’ videos on British Vogue’s YouTube channel which led to the 30 minute delight that is the Emma Watson interview (worth a search). I finished the Season 6 finale of Buffy and the Season 5 finale of Shetland. I am already missing Jimmy and Tosh. And finally, I have been stuck on listening to George Michael, someone I get bouts of intermittent sadness over once I realise, I will never see them live.