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How Social Media “Likes” became lessons

By Sierra Pepin, 

Social media can be an unhealthy escape in the slow, and sometimes sad, days of post-college. In fact, as transitions can be, post-college is a quieter and difficult moment. When I scrape up peace of mind in this confusing pause, I think about what the old me can teach the new me. I remember that while social media can be a fantasy, it can also be my refuge.

Sixteen and 17-year-old me needed the safe space of the Internet. I remember laying across my queen-sized bed, in my small bedroom scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. I was in high school and in my first (and only, thank God) toxic relationship. One of my close friends had passed away. I wasn't okay. Through my Tumblr account, I found the music, the community, the blogs, that gave me escape. Through Tumblr, I found the language to recognize emotional and mental harm. My blog started as a place to fawn over One Direction and re-blog pretty pictures of Black people. However, it became my introduction to feminist language, think-pieces, and social justice. Teenagers and twenty-somethings taught me in ways the formal education system would not. I went into college more authentic because of it.


In college and after it, Tumblr faded from my life and Instagram took over. In between feeling whole, and knowing I had so much to learn, I found so many inspiring Black women on IG. In between the fun of the 'gram - vacation pics and #relationshipgoals - were people sharing stories that our society begs us to never mention. I have read captions, bits of wisdom, and testimonies about fearlessness, traumatic birthing experiences, trying to conceive, workplace racism, career risks, divorce, and loss. They shared the grown folks' business you don't get to understand until it happens to you. The ugliness and honesty of people’s lives taught me that crap gets rough. Still, there’s hope and healing. That makes me breathe a little easier.

The people who share so candidly on the Internet don’t owe me anything. And I have my limits – I can’t empathize with my entire timeline. However, those real posts that make you look at you, to think or check yourself, are worth a thumb scroll pause. It helped me navigate through my teens. It’s helping me navigate my 20’s. Through authenticity about the ugly parts of life, I found salvation in some places; and guidance and accountability in others. In some corners of the Internet, you can learn that it's in our everyday lives that we try to be perfect - not always our online ones.


Six Instagram accounts to follow for inspiration:
@halfietruths - https://www.instagram.com/halfietruths/ 
@shishi.rose - https://www.instagram.com/shishi.rose/ 
@valencia_valencia - https://www.instagram.com/valencia_valencia/ 
@ihartericka - https://www.instagram.com/ihartericka/ 
@charmsie - https://www.instagram.com/charmsie/ 

@alex_elle - https://www.instagram.com/alex_elle/


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