That’s rich — Tyler Scruggs, the boy who’s extremely online is taking a break from social media?
Anyone who knows me knows that my relationship with the internet & social media is a fraught, deeply intertwined one. And maybe, recently, it’s gotten weirder. It’s not particularly complicated to explain, and it’s something I truly believe; that we’re no longer offline and are perpetually and dependably digitally documented in some form, so it’s best to act in awareness of that.
I started tylerscruggs.com as an attempt to take back the reigns on my internet output and act more intentionally & thoughtfully about what I put online. Though, eleven months in, and I still find myself stuck. Stuck as a writer and uh ‘content creator,’ because there’s a certain pressure to not only speak on the things you know, but on the things that are present, current, & topical. There’s a race for writers and creators to be the first(!) and definitive opinion on whatever they’re talking about. And if you’re not delivering hot take after hot take, it’s easy to fall amongst the noise.
I find myself stuck in endless newsfeeds, comment threads, and time-sucks that challenge what I believe on what I’m beginning to think perhaps a too-frequent basis.
Earlier this year, I agreed to write an article for a southern queer publication, on Christianity and its relationship to LGBTQ-identifying Americans. This prompt, though something I'm deeply passionate and thoughtful about, petrified me. It was a massive challenge for me to write, forcing me to think critically about every sentence and ask myself if I truly believed what I was writing. I'm proud of the end result, sure, but it's led me to question myself why I was so afraid about writing how I felt when I have so many avenues to do so.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram... they're permanent ways to express fleeting thoughts, emotions, and opinions. The platforms themselves, though, don't work well enough to contextualize these things properly. They're addictive games, built on 'follower counts,' 'likes,' and the ever-abused quote tweet.
Negative emotions, hot takes, clap backs, take center stage and are rewarded accordingly. And sure, there are viral pieces of positive content aplenty, but think about it: do you go to twitter for the curated content or for the raw, unfiltered emotions? I'm much more likely to click on a Fail video than a rollerblading video gone well.
I don't do many of the things that I should. I should work out more than I do, eat better, I'm not a perfect human by any stretch of the imagination and I never want to present myself otherwise. Social Media is an addiction, and it's designed to be so. There's so much work to be done in making these spaces better and healthier for people, because they should be, but much like eating better and working out, it requires a conscious effort on my part.
I recently discovered vlogger & filmmaker Matt D'Avella and the symptoms he described personally resonated with me, so I'm giving up social media entirely for the next month or so, but one of my personal heroes John Green similarly announced his year-long departure from social media as well, all of which for reasons that resonated with me as well. The amount of time doesn’t matter really, but it’s the conscious nature in which we approach these new and frankly dangerous anthropoids.
Can I be a 'fresh' content creator if I'm not plugged into the world the way social media can simulate? Do I just post & share things socially, but eliminate the apps, the feeds, and the notifications that can distract and detract? I don't know the answer or the therapeutically healthy amount of time one should take off social media to return to a healthy, confident, thoughtful self. I do know that if social media is harming my desire and ability to create, then it's something to distance myself from and reevaluate.
Tyler Scruggs is a writer and musician living in Atlanta with his partner Mark. When he’s not churning out internet content, he’s paying too much for coffee and buying movie tickets weeks in advance. Feel free to validate him on Twitter (@TylerScruggs), Instagram (@Scruggernaut), and YouTube.
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