Vashtie Kola, a DJ, director, artist, and designer, released her own music video this week for Drake’s “Hotline Bling." Inspired by Drake’s lyrics about coping with a breakup in a digital age, Vashtie created a character based off of her own experiences late night scrolling through an ex’s Instagram and the challenges of meeting new people. Here, she opens up about social media rules, from un-following your ex to sliding into DMs.
How would you describe your relationship with social media?
I’m single now for the first time since I was fifteen. I’ve been in four back-to-back long-term relationships. So, on top of feeling like an orphan teenager in this adult world, I’m also trying to understand the rules of texting and social media. Now, when you talk about someone else with your friends, you pull up their Instagram. People get a sense of who you are before you even meet them. I’m wondering if you can still meet people in 2015 and have a physical, emotional, and spiritual bond, besides the digital. In life, we all wear social masks and a costume to a certain degree, and I think with social media, it’s heightened so much more. People look like they’re having the time of their lives. There’s this false sense of identity. I meet people on the street now that say, “Oh, I know you! I follow you!” but it’s like, do these people really know me?
How do you cope with a breakup in the age of social media?
Oh my gosh, it’s so hard. None of us can avoid it, no matter how famous you are. You never know who is going to pop up on your popular page. My ex boyfriend pops up on my popular page all the time. It’s the last thing you need during your lowest moments, maybe when you’ve been drinking and you’re really bummed and you’re scrolling and you don’t want to accidentally like something…The way that I cope with it is trying to make amends on my own. For me, meditation has been helping. You have to make amends with it internally before you can interact with social media.
Would you recommend un-following your ex? It seems trivial, but the un-follow can really hurt.
It’s literally like in the Wild Wild West when cowboys would walk three steps and turn to draw and then shoot. It’s a limbo. But it’s part of the process, especially if it didn’t end well. Sometimes one person will un-follow and then the other person will just to prove that they don’t care either. I actually haven’t had that happen yet because I’m still friends with my ex. We still follow each other, but we don’t like each other’s photos. I’m still a shadow, but I’m not going to make a peep. You have to find a balance.
Do you have any social media pet peeves?
I will absolutely un-follow anyone who posts food. It really irritates me. I don’t even watch cooking shows because it’s too frustrating that I can’t taste it. I don’t want to see a delicious plate of food and have to be like, “I can’t eat that and now I’m hungry.”
I have a lot of friends who post way too many photos at once. Like, more than three in ten minutes. If it’s clogging up my feed, I’ll do a temporary un-follow. And I’ll let them know. I’ll be like, “Look, I’m temporarily un-following you because it’s just too much.”
I also used to follow a lot of couples and they would post the same thing, especially if they have children. So now, I don’t follow both. I just follow the strongest out of the two.
How do you disconnect?
I have periods where I literally do go on airplane mode. I know this is such a rare thing, but I have a landline, so sometimes I tell people for a weekend, “Hey, if you need to get in touch with me, call me on my landline because I’m turning my phone off.” I also try to do 20 minutes a day of transcendental meditation. I have a hard time sleeping at night, so now I also turn my phone off and don’t keep it in my bedroom. That’s actually really helpful.
Would you ever use a dating app?
I don’t think I could ever do that. My best friend is like, “You can’t do a dating app, but you can slide into DMs.”
Have you ever slid into a DM?
I have not, but who knows, maybe I will on a night that I feel courageous.