Thursday 12 November 2020

My Social Media Dilemma

Many would have known that I lost my Instagram account about 2 months ago. Upset is an understatement, it's devastating! I remember vividly how I slid off my swivel chair and screamed in horror when I lost control to it. It was a day when all three kids were home, bugging for my attention while I was trying to boost an ad on Instagram. It was part of a paid collaboration agreement. I wanted to get things done that morning, so that the day and upcoming weekend would be work free for me. 
Many things swarmed up that morning when a link came through to my direct message box asking for my login details. I thought it was an part of the boosted ad seeking for some confirmation or whatsoever. First time with it, so I had no idea what comes next and I literally brisked read the content. It was all about timing when these two came together. And so, that was how I got phished without setting a two-factor authentication for that account. I belatedly do so now. I'm not sure if having Norton installed would have alerted this link that came through direct message, but I did so after that.
Instagram is still fairly fine and stable. After all, I went through it smoothly for 6 years. Only worry is how hackers get more innovative along the days, as more businesses and livelihoods depend on it. 

Photo credit: Hot For Security
The journey 

If you followed us through, I began blogging 11 years ago since the daughter was birthed. Then 6 years ago, I explored Instagram. It became a gradual migration from blogging to micro-blogging on Instagram squares. I still come back here to share when I have more than what Instagram captions can hold. So all these sharing and social media stuff were ingrained in me for a decade! 

There was an indescribable void upon losing this account. I know, it's just social media. But I had so much hard work and memories within, it was substantial enough to cause a burning ache.

Staying On Course
I was at 3800+ followers upon lost. Not a big deal to many, but definitely a big deal to this mama here. A big deal on our little red dot where population is small, and parenting demographic on Instagram is not high for my age. It was an account I lovingly and patiently build up for six years, and never once sought a quick way to get it up. Not even joining pod groups for likes, or follows exchange. Being a Mum, I'm stubbornly inclined to truth and authenticity. Sadly, that's not how most aspiring accounts are run. Likes and follows are sometimes strangely not correlated to the photos and captions shared. A terribly taken photo or account can astonishingly garner immense number of likes and followers! It dilutes the true appreciation of great content.

Here's one confession, I was tempted to inflate my new account the unorthodox manner after losing it. Just buy followers! Ok, don't try that. It's against Instagram's rules, you may be tracked. And buying of followers are usually non-local accounts, it affects the demographic distribution of your audience. I reminded myself why did this journey begin? It wasn't for income or fame, it began with just wanting to write, to inspire and be inspired. But of course, I do appreciate the streams of pocket money I get out of certain collaborations. It is a sweet pie to stay home mums, to be rewarded for the work and effort behind every post. Which of course, with little followers now, it translates to less opportunities. It's time to go slow, perhaps. 
Many collaborations sprouted throughout my journey, but I was careful to not become an outright advertising platform. No one likes subscribing to adverts. I still love bringing in spaces of my personal thoughts at times.
The Social Media Dilemma
In midst, I watched the Social Media Dilemma documentary on Netflix. I saw how social media monetises and manipulates users with algorithms, hijacking people's brains and dividing society. Social media can change a lifestyle. It didn't convince me to delete or deactivate my social media accounts, instead I turned off all my social media and whatapps notifications after watching. I've learnt to be more disciplined with its usage, and allocate scheduled or appropriate time for it. I don't want to get distracted at the wrong time and wrong place. I believe urgent matters will come through the line.  
There's more to explore in life than just social media. There are books to read, home to build, family to bond and many more! More importantly, I want to set the appropriate role model on social media usage for my kids.
I've also read 'Ten arguments for deleting your social media accounts right now' by Jaron Lanier. Interesting read, but I'm still hanging around my accounts. Simply because deleting social media accounts is not solution, it's mindset we have to work with. Undoubtedly, what many share on social media can float up various emotions in us. We can't control what the world shares, but we can control how to perceive it. We need to cultivate the mind of knowing that social media is not our judgement, it should not spike us, it should not waver our insecurity or self-esteem, and most importantly, we should not allow it to degrade our character. Which is more valuable than anything you can buy. When we are tempted to lash out or put someone down on these platforms, sift through the thoughts carefully.  

The idea behind 'Likes' on Facebook began with wanting to spread positive vibes in the social media realm. Along the years, it became one that determines the self worth, and to some self-esteem. It should not be a standard of excellence that determines personal value. We have bigger goals and visions out of social media.
These are the essential values of social media usage that I want to ingrain in the kids as it grows to become a bigger part of this world. It's not reasonable to get our kids avoid social media totally, instead we can teach them what lies within, what to share and what not to share, what to read and how to flea when you are wrongly influenced by content.
It involves much thoughts about an intention before hitting the 'share/post' tab. Do we want to share something purely for bragging? Do we want to share something to intentionally upset a friend? Or do we want to share based on bad underlying intentions? Privacy and lashes once given away are not retractable. What's shared has to be extremely well thought of. It's not too soon before the kids become teenagers, wanting their social media accounts. Teenagers are the most vulnerable group when it comes to social media.

Let me share a story that ached me years ago at a beauty salon. I was trimming my eyebrows at a hipster beauty salon where I was sat next to 3 young girls. Secondary school girls I believed. Not that I'm hip, it's just more affordable at these places and stay home mums are frugal. For sitting next to them, I became an accidental eavesdropper. One of the girls was telling her friend, "She saw my IG story!" Another went, "She did! She knows we're hanging out without her." My motherly heart sank. I've thoughts of how my children may one day become a social media bully or victim! If you know a friend will get upset over that, don't even bother to post in the first place!

Yes, it's the social media dilemma. The love and the hate out of it.

After hacked
Days after losing my account, I thought, finally a good break! I paused all collaborations that allowed me to hold back, while I sorted behind the scene on trying to get my account back. Obviously, there was no successful outcome connecting with Instagram. It was a bigger pain dealing with them. I reckoned it would better off starting a new account.

What sign was this? I was constantly running the thought of its significance. I prayed hard and sought God for directions. I was also getting weary. I would have halted if there were not any outstanding commitments. I'm ageing and my kids are growing. They have traded innocence and adorableness for 'publicity' since birthed. And each time we work with a brand, it's not just getting myself into frame, but the kids who are helping with the photo styling. Parents, you know how tough it is when it comes to photography! So yes, it's an onerous journey.
I went on a 10 days social media detox. Quite unintentionally, because I had no idea how to pick up the pieces. To move on, or to end. I had campaigns and products on hand that wasn't fair to the brand if I continued posting. I felt really sorry for that. On a hindsight, my Facebook and blog are still in tact. There will always be things to thank for. Yet, it's nice how the world isn't that bad after all, with brands still encouraging me to proceed working with them.
Whatever decision ahead, I created a new account on that very same day. Secured an account name first. Having to start all over again is arduous! Which means more time and heaps of hard work if I want to grow this account. I do love photo styling, writing and content creation, but I'm not sure if I've what it takes to rebuild again. Akin to a newborn, I keep reminding myself that I should not despise small beginnings. I'm back on social media, but perhaps with a less eager mindset in advancing.

The empathy
I hope my foolishness is one living story to prevent a repeat. I thought that I would cry big time over this, but I didn't. Instead, I teared when I saw how the people I got to know through the social media realm readily shared my new account on their Instagram story. In hope to garner some previous and new followers to my new account. And I've only met most of them virtually. This is one that really warms the cockles of my heart. *wink* Very thankful and grateful for them.
The older kids were really comforting, Jazz went round asking our extended family and friends to follow my new account. Jare eased my ache by telling me that good things lie ahead after something bad happens. The roles reversed! My kids became my counsellors. And of course, I made it back into good shape after a few days. It's an intangible lost after all.

It's a lengthy post. Words just flood when I've so much to say. Thanks for hanging around! But maybe, the key message is this > follow my new account on Instagram, @mumscallingblog. Thanks Thanks!

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