Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Google+. I had them all and was very active. I had hundreds of Facebook friends from many places I’ve lived or other interactions. I built Facebook pages, one with over 1,000 followers and growing.
Last spring I quit all but Twitter and over the summer I dumped it as well. It started in January when I started logging in less, took the apps off of my iPhone, and drifted away. In the spring, I just deleted the accounts. They said my accounts would be inactive but I went nuclear and immediately and irrevocably killed them.
Want to have fun with your friends? Casually mention at a gathering that you have quit social media. Log the answers. I didn’t make a big deal about it, post a set of theses on a church door, clink dinner glasses, or any type of announcement. When someone would ask if I saw something on Facebook I’d have to confess.
Was I making a statement? What made me mad? Did I know I could use filters and lists to manage the flow? Was it consuming my time to the point I had health and hygiene issues? Did I not care what was going on in other people’s lives? Was I going off the grid? Did I need a psychiatrist? Was I depressed? I had many questions about my digicide.
Yes I knew (and wrote about) lists, used tools to manage Twitter, and didn’t feel overwhelmed or that I was wasting time. My mental state is a completely different matter for another post. I just quit. I had other ways to stay in touch with close friends and family and was content with learning the events of other people’s lives in less than real time. I did not fear missing out and still managed to catch the big news. It was similar to how I used to enjoy playing golf, until I didn’t. I didn’t dislike social media (or golf), and I might get back in. I just don’t do it anymore. But I’ve learned some things in the process.
- People become very apologetic and start justifying their social media use when you say you’ve quit. By far the funniest thing is to tell someone you’ve quit Facebook and hear them sheepishly say that they really don’t care much for it either and, were it not for distant friends or family on it, they’d quit too. Or they might defend that there is a lot of foolish mess and drama but some good on it. On one occasion I had to stop someone, telling them that I didn’t say I disliked it, I just wasn’t on it anymore. Had I known this would happen I might have quit earlier for pure entertainment purposes.
- You have funny or profound thoughts that you can only share with people physically around you, or the dog. Twitter and Facebook were great outlets for sharing thoughts with the world. Quit them, have a funny observation, then realize you have few people to share it with (our Yorkie has a great sense of humor). You know this thought would be liked and probably shared but you have to enjoy it yourself or share it with a small audience, some who groan and roll their eyes. It’s almost not worth thinking anymore. Yet, less than 10 years ago we had thoughts and opinions we could not share with our audience because we didn’t have one. And we were ok with that.
- You can’t humblebrag effectively without social media. I was asked to speak at a prestigious event, received recognition at work, participated in a charitable event, and otherwise honored. Can I fully enjoy the moment if I can’t post about it? I’ve missed the opportunity to say things like “I’m honored and humbled to be asked to introduce this year’s award winner”, “I can’t believe I’m going to lead this new project” or “It was a privilege to work with the People Who Don’t Read So Good fund drive today.” When you say such things in person it sounds more like, well, bragging. People begin to think you’re ordinary when you can’t tell them how great, I mean humbly blessed, you are.
- You have to enjoy experiences alone or share them with friends and family using archaic technology like conversations and texting. You had dinner at that popular place or one that would demonstrate what a taste maker you are. You went on vacation, to a sporting event, out with friends, or on a business trip to a cool city and stayed in an upscale hotel. But you quit social media and have no way to share the experience, that is, throw it in the face of the poor suckers back home in their cubicle farms and boring cramped apartments. Without social media you must enjoy the meal or experience yourself, soak it in, and let the time go by without chronicling, selfies, or shares. I might take pictures for my own fading memory or to share with my family. Sadly, acquaintances and friends will be denied an enchanting vicarious trip on this adventurous journey I call my life.
- It limits the ways I can tell my wife I love her. With social media, on my wife’s birthday, our anniversary, Mother’s Day, and Valentines Day, from my bed I could type a thoughtful message about how much I love my wife, how great she is, list her achievements, and praise her love for me, include a mushy picture, tag her, then post the message. The post would leave my phone via wifi to the router, travel to the ISP, go to Facebook servers, post, send a notification back through the worldwide internet, to my ISP, to my router, then via wifi to my wife’s phone on her side of the bed so she could read of my love and admiration. In the old days I would have to look over from my pillow to hers and express my love but our friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers, church family, band boosters, kids friends parents, kids teachers, and stalkers wouldn’t have the privilege of hearing it. Her self esteem is holding up well despite my inability to tell others I love her and compare the “I love my wife”post like totals to other husband’s posts about their wives.
I may rejoin personal social media tomorrow or never go back. I do miss some things. I don’t recommend anyone leave social media nor would I discourage anyone from pulling the plug. If you are wrestling with the choice remember, we can live with it and lived most of our lives without it.
Update: As of December I have opened Facebook to stay connected to so many friends and family, especially those far away, for business, and to connect with to some services without having to create an account. I can’t wait to see what everyone is having for dinner!
If you liked this, please share it on Facebook or Twitter!**
*I am on LinkedIn but it is a professional social media site though some fail to get the professional part when posting. Do I seriously need another math problem on my wall?!?
**That’s a joke, called irony. Couldn’t resist.