Why Timehop gives me anxiety
At first I loved Timehop. Hurrah, I thought, a way of checking back on my social media history and seeing what I was up to last year, or many moons ago. A way of calculating just how far I’d come, since my dodgy internship, or bad ex-boyfriends, or awful haircuts.
I could compare my “career movements” and think to myself: “wow a lot has happened in two years!” It was a way of remembering birthdays, too; any picture from a big family party would be mean, eek, it’s nearly [insert person]’s birthday, if not today! Quick, get them on the phone!
But then, over time, it wasn’t so fun looking back. It wasn’t as funny. Things were going well and continuing to go well in my every day life, but looking back into the past would catch me off guard on an emotional day and quickly change my mood. It was starting to get me down. That exact ranty Facebook status I would re-read from 2008 would catapult me right back to that moment, remembering exactly how awful I felt, trying to cover it up with a sarcastic joke. It was like seeing a old friend who still had the same problems, and flinching slightly when they say they’d changed, but they hadn’t. Not really.
My present tense was nicer. Timehop was just full of mistakes – some I really would have preferred to forget, or at least delete.
I would check my Timehop and I’d see a message to a friend I no longer talk to, because we fell out. Or I’d see a tweet I’d sent to someone who I admired three years ago who ignored me, or a selfie of me snogging a past flame. Or quite simply I’d see a photo of a fantastic holiday that I wish I was still on. In short: my own social media history (good and bad) was starting to haunt me and I didn’t see the point is bringing up old memories that weren’t constructive or helpful to my future.
Put simply, A-Few-Years-Ago-Me would make me cringe.
I wondered why I found it difficult to reflect back each day, and then I realised: I didn’t always like A-Few-Years-Ago-Me. Looking back my posts are full of naivety and too much people-pleasing, and I can’t bear to be reminded of it. A-Few-Years-Ago-Me was confused, she was embarrassing, she was too-much, she was relentless. I should probably not slag her off too much though. She was trying. My god she was trying.
Maybe I still am still relentless to a certain degree, maybe I still do put “too much” out there. My friends tell me that I “don’t stop”.
But now, it’s a different kind of busy. I’m in really happy middle ground of being in control, doing what I love, knowing my boundaries, and having achievable goals that keep me on my toes. I don’t need to look back. Looking back can distract you from the magic of what’s to come.
Memories are a good thing. A lovely thing. But there’s a reason we collate a book of photographic memories that we choose to save. The ones we want to print out and keep. Being reminded of what you were like on social media each day, for me, isn’t the same as keeping warm and fuzzy memories. It’s being reminded of a boring shit day at work, or a joke that flopped, or an argument, or an angry tweet to TFL or a weird news story that means nothing to us now.
So I’ve deleted Timehop. I don’t want to look at an old photo of me next to a sick bucket at a teenage party, or a period of time at University that I hated, or an awful tweet from 2008. Why would I want to dig up the past, when there is so much to look forward to in front of me? In all honesty, I love my life now too much to constantly look back on the mundane of my past and all those in-between days that didn’t make me happy. I have different ways of keeping my best memories close to me.
“In love with Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete. So funny & smart, and reminding me of some of my own cringe teen Internet exploits!”– Anna James, former literary editor of ELLE
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