Why Michaela Coel’s advice on ‘disappearing’ is so important
28 Sep 2021
Gulf Today Report
I sometimes question if social media is affecting my ability to form a genuine opinion. Am I tweeting about a news event because I have a point to make or because I want to say something – anything – to prove my finger is on the pulse of the zeitgeist? Do I even like that Rixo dress or is buying one and sharing a selfie in it a way of showing that I know they’re “so hot right now”? Why am I so concerned with sharing my work, as if to say, “Hello world – look at me, I’m doing things”? Is everything I say and think actually just a reflection of the echo chamber of feeds I’ve cultivated?
Michaela Coel called out this need to be constantly “visible” online during her speech at last week’s Emmys. Her words hit me like a bucket of ice cold water: “In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves and to in turn feel the need to be constantly visible – for visibility, these days, seems to somehow equate to success – do not be afraid to disappear. From it, from us, for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence."
It’s almost embarrassing how much I needed to hear this. But beyond facing the truth bomb that is this cycle of performance-and-validation, Coel also dared me to do something about it. Something big. “Disappear.” Considering how many people shared her speech on social media over the following days – somewhat ironic, given its message – it’s clear that a lot of other millennials also felt what Coel was saying.
“It really resonated with me because I have gone from chasing prominent bylines to spending long stretches of time working on quieter, deeper projects that are behind the scenes,” Kate Leaver, a 33-year-old journalist in London, tells The Independent. “It’s really helping me to feel prouder of the work I do, to be honest, and I’m a bit more at peace in my personal life.
We are happier when we’re not in an addictive mode. We know this. Yet, the thought of switching off can fill us with fear, which is why Coel made the point of telling us to not be afraid of sitting in the silence.
There is, of course, a positive space for social media in all of our lives, but it shouldn’t ever make someone question their identity. And that’s why I’m excited to rediscover my true reflection in the quiet again.