So, I am officially on break from social media.
It’s been a long time coming.
To be honest, I think it’s part of a larger break I’ve been making from technology at large. Because I kept getting distracted, I no longer bring my cell phone to work. Because I want to have more experiential memories, I no longer try to record everything. And now, at least for the next six months, I am off of social media.
There are a few reasons for this, I think. I’ll admit most of these are in regards to Facebook in particular, which is the platform I use most, but in general, they could all still apply no matter where I am.
Also, a couple quick notes up front: This is not a “social media is evil” post. I think it can do a lot of great things and be a great tool when used correctly, and I’ll readily admit that much of my concern and frustration stems largely from me using it in ways ill-suited to how it actually can and should be used. Second, some of the problems I highlight below are complex, with deep running roots. And while I certainly don’t think social media is the main root at the bottom of any of them, I think it can feed into, profit from, or exacerbate them, all of which to say I don’t want to blame social media for them, but do want to be aware of highlight the part it can play in continuing them.
So then, on to the reasons.
First of all, it was too distracting. Something I’ve come to realize about myself is that when it comes to things like social media or phone games, I have a really addictive personality. And when I do a lot of work that requires deep focus, well, having my attention broken every five minutes to check social media, my email, or a mindless game just doesn’t work.
Secondly, I wasn’t getting anything out of it. Now, I love me a good meme, and I have some friends (one in particular) who post great ones on the regular, but when I took a step back, were they really adding anything to my life? Was I gaining anything by endless scrolling and cute videos over and above the other things I could (and should) be doing?
Honestly, no. And of course one could argue that social media is the easiest way to keep in touch with loved ones, and you could make a case for that, especially for those who are far away, but the problem was, by and large other than major life events, I wasn’t seeing any of that. Memes? Yes. Divisive posts that only made me angry or sad without fostering any real discussion or change? Yes. Ads, many of which were equally irritating, insidious, or unnecessary? Yes.
And while I do worry about missing event invitations to a certain degree, I also think (besides the fact I still have messenger, which I actually do use on a regular, productive, and healthy basis), social media isn’t the only way to contact me, and if someone really wants me to come, they’ll find a way.
But while major factors, none of those are the real reason I’m taking a break.
The real reason, or at least the most important one, is because I’m tired of listening to the lie that says I have to be there.
This is something I’ve had in mind to do on and off for months, but when it came to actually pulling the trigger, it was so hard. Even just writing this post about leaving is hard. That bothers me.
And there are a lot of other lies that tell me I made the wrong choice. For example, that I won’t stay connected to family or friends, that I’ll miss out on important events or invitations, and perhaps most relevant to my future plans, that I’ll never be able to sell any books (authors, whether or indie or traditionally published are told they need to have “platforms” to succeed).
That’s a lot of advice stacking up in social media’s favor.
But I have to admit, I question it.
I’ve been off for a little over a week, and so far I haven’t felt like I’ve missed out on almost anything (and in fact had a cousin reach out via messenger to make sure I had the info I needed not to miss something). I don’t miss the doom’s day clamor of injustice and needs (all of which need immediate attention), I don’t miss the frantic bombardment of events I shouldn’t miss, heck, I don’t even miss the memes. I can already tell my focus is better and my emotions and memory too.
And when it comes to selling books, well, I don’t even have any ready to publish, so what’s the point of fighting for followers now (to say nothing of my general distaste for the word followers)? And, if God can defeat an army with 300 men, whose to say He can’t bless my work if I don’t have a million followers (more on that in another post)?
When I think about middle-class American society today, I think of a society that thrills on the here and now, one that can’t seem to sit still long enough to do anything about its problems other than scream about them before moving on.
But when I step outside of the hustle and bustle of constant opinion shouting matches, outside of 24 hour accessibility and the sturm and drang of the screaming void, I have to question that idea. Is that really who we are? Is it who we have to be? I think, if we slow down long enough to think for a second, it’s not, or at least, it doesn’t have to be.
Social media has had an insidious grip on my life. It’s sold me a lot of stories, many of which I have been and am, frankly, opposed to, whether culturally, morally, philosophically or otherwise. I don’t want to live a life enslaved to my phone, one where I feel I can’t say no to having apps, or can’t focus long enough to do my life’s work. I’m tired of having my relationships damaged by ham-handed posts without discussion, of having voices in my head I can’t control and physical responses that I don’t like or want. I’m tired of listening to the lies.
So, for now, I’m taking a break.
In the meantime, I’ll still be on here and Goodreads (which while sort of a social media platform, I really don’t consider the same thing), and come the new year, once I’ve had enough time away to actually examine the effects on my life, I’ll take another look.
Thanks for reading.
So, how about you? Do you find social media adds or detracts from your life? In what ways? Have you found strategies to help mitigate negative side effects or to curb that strange addiction? What were they and did they help? Let me know in the comments below and feel free to follow me here or (ironically) on social media (in case I go back) using the links in the sidebar or below.