BY CAROLINA BOU
One year ago, I made a social mistake that changed my life forever.
I thought I was invincible. I thought I could say whatever I wanted to without offending others, or people seeing and realizing it’s about them. I thought there were no consequences as to what I said, regardless of how other people felt. This overpowering feeling, this feeling of superiority and pride, was the reason I was brought down.
One year ago, I applied for an officer position for a club in which I had been active member — and a previous officer of — for all of high school. I did all the work I was asked to do and knew that I would be able to handle a second term. I was passionate and charismatic and I thought those characteristics alone would take me far.
I was wrong. I ended up not getting the position and I was incredibly upset. In a rage, I took to the Twitterverse and posted unnecessary and rude comments about the club and it’s representatives. Because of this, I was removed from my officer position, effective immediately. I also was not allowed to apply for the following year, but I could still be “an active member of the club”. It was a slap in the face and something I still regret one year later.
I never really got the opportunity to apologize, because I was in denial. I refused to admit my erroneous ways, and for the past year, I thought what I did was acceptable and okay. But something I learned is that mistakes are always there and while I may not have thought it was one originally, other people might. As much as I try to skew a story, the screenshots and facts still exist. I messed up.
I finally realized this after I decided to give up my beloved Twitter for Lent. Lent is a religious holiday season where some denominations of Christians either sacrifice something or actively participate in something new in return for intrinsic or extrinsic benefit. I felt like after the tumultuous year I had on social media, giving up my Twitter would be beneficial. I would not have to the urge to tweet about my entire life or bother anyone else.
One thing I learned from giving up Twitter is that it’s especially nice not having to see the world through a series of tweets or my cell phone camera. I learned that I don’t have to limit myself to 140 characters and I can express my feelings through a series of other outlets, something more personal and not worldwide, such as a private diary.
Another thing I have learned is that not everything needs to be published online. Sure, using social media is great for uploading appropriate pictures, sending songs to friends, or even getting to know other students attending the same university as me. But at the same time, social media is not a place for me to complain and cry when I have my family or friends for the same exact reason. Not everyone who follows you on Twitter is your friend.
This experience of not using social media has really helped me to mature as well. In the past month, I have been able to use my phone less and actually have conversations with people without feeling like I have nothing to talk about or wishing I could desperately be online instead of dealing with human interaction.
Life should not be lived through tweets on a timeline or revisiting past mistakes. Life is supposed to be composed of adventures and of stories that I can tell my children when they’re my age. I don’t want to a parent who can only tell my kids that my high school years weren’t as great as they could have been because I couldn’t take my eyes off my phone.
While I made a huge mistake last year, I am grateful it happened. Without it, I would not have experienced a social media “cleanse” and I know that if I didn’t get in trouble now, I would later. Now back on Twitter, I will be – and have been – more cautious with what I post and hopefully other people will learn from my situation.
My biggest fear is that my past situation will affect the outcome of my future. I want to leave high school in high school and not bring this into college with me; hopefully giving myself –and maybe even others – closure. While I matured and realized my error, I also realized whom it impacted most: myself. One year later, I finally feel at ease and now know that social media will definitely not play as big of a role in my life as it had before.