1.26.2017

on quitting social media

a picture of my friends list


I've never been the social media type.

I resisted Facebook to the point that two of my friends made me a profile one night the week before I left for college. It's time, they said. I was peer-pressured into creating a Twitter account my second year of college. I dabbled around in it for a few weeks and then deleted it. It was dumb. (Though I did sign up again years later when I was peer-pressured by fellow bloggers. Different year, same story.) I didn't actually realize Instagram was a social media platform until a few people started following me. I thought it was just a fun collection of photos you could filter and play around with, and I had a nice album of aerial photos of Miami I had taken before our plane landed, and a smattering of pictures from our Jamaican honeymoon.

A Luddite, they call us. Anti-technology, or something like that. It's true to an extent. I often think the internet complicates things more than it helps, but I did just order my groceries online so I don't have to traipse around my local Kroger while recovering from a virus. I'm a fair-weather internet fan.

But social media is a special kind of beast. You know the proverbial family dinner table where people are arguing about politics and religion and demanding answers and leveling expectations and throwing shade and judgment? That's what social media has become to me. Except it's not just on holidays; it's everyday. It became exhausting. My brain felt clogged with everyone else's thoughts and not enough of my own. I would try to set it aside for a day, but a habit is a habit and I've never been particularly stellar at breaking them. There was a certain muscle memory to sipping my coffee with one hand and scrolling with the other.

So much damned scrolling!

What am I even looking at? Why do I care? Do I care? Do I need to know what my friend's brother's ex-girlfriend's sister's aunt's next door neighbor thinks about the dead gorilla at the zoo? I totally do not. And yet, I know. It took up precious brain space that could've been filled with re-memorizing the Napoleon Dynamite dance moves, and instead I find myself in a make believe argument in my head over someone's post about the blasted Women's March (THE DRAMA). The election nearly killed social media for me, but I do believe the Women's March buried it six feet under.

My body was living in reality, but my mind was living on the internet. I felt divided. And don't even get me started on Instagram and the effort people put into it. There was a time I thought Instagram was so fun. And I still do, to an extent. I love the idea, the concept, the interacting with other people and seeing their lives. But it's exhausting. Pictures are cropped and filtered and adjusted so we can see the brilliantly decorated, all-white interior of their living room that somehow is free of cracker crumbs even though they have five kids, all of them dressed in organic hand-dyed linen outfits from Etsy. I mean, I don't want to see a stack of dirty diapers, but a few toys on the floor is not going to make anyone clutch their pearls. Why is is such a rat race? It's a rat race! I didn't feel this sort of pressure in the corporate world, and I worked with some intense people. I'm not innocent here, please hear me. I love a pretty picture, but at the same time I was never going to stress about it. And it's not just an endless onslaught of unrealistic photos. Oh no. It's now blog posts longer than this typed in a tiny font under a picture that is completely irrelevant to the diatribe on The Next Big Thing I'm supposed to be getting enraged about or that I should be buying. Remember when it used to be pictures of everyone's lunch, and that was something to get annoyed about?

Gah.

I'm an introvert to the extreme. I know the introvert/extrovert conversation has been beat with a dead horse, but go with it. The Myers-Brigg test told me I'm a 100% introvert more than once. My parents said they could tell since I was an infant when I would scream if they took me into a room with more than a handful of people. There's just no denying that people drain the lifeblood out of me. Even my most favorite people in the world (though they refresh me at the same time, it's confusing, I know). Social media is like being stuck in a room full of opinionated extroverts. Everyone is shouting about something and my head starts buzzing and everyone is demanding my attention. I unfollow, I hide, I mute. Still, I'm tired. Sometimes I love it. I love to follow the hashtags while watching The Bachelor. The commentary is better than the actual show. I love to retweet someone who says something I'm thinking but words it perfectly. But then I think--is this weird? To fill a profile with the words of someone else? Is this disingenuous? Does anyone care? Do I care? DOES ANYTHING MATTER?

Welcome to my daily existential crisis.

Maybe I'm overthinking it. Probably. But it plays such a big role in our lives and society that I think it's worth thinking about. The words we take in during the day affect us more than we realize. And I think it truly affects my blood pressure. It's a wonder I didn't have a heart attack during the election. My political views are certainly in the minority, but people on both sides of the spectrum can just get downright nasty. I tell myself I'm not going to say anything. I'm going to stay quiet. But then I see people saying different versions of the same thing across every platform, and it gets to be too much, so I say something. I want to show the other side. Especially when it comes to abortion. I have zero chill when it comes to abortion and I will fight it until my dying day. Everyone is just so angry all the time, and I felt like I was becoming the same way. Everyone has an agenda, something to sell, something to brag about.

I read something during the election that said something about how we never used to know someone's political leaning until we sat down with them in person and had a conversation. That can certainly get heated as well, but at least you can read tone and body language. It's so much easier to understand each other that way and to have love and compassion. Instead, we get 140-character sound bites on Twitter and memes on Facebook, and it gets real easy to lose respect for people you once thought highly of. We should never judge each other based on memes and quips, but on the internet, what else is there?

I'm just weary of the whole thing.

No one is their best self on the internet. If you get involved in the political discussions, people hate you. If you stay quiet or just post pictures of your coffee, people think you're not "being real." If you don't post anything anywhere ever...well...are you Amish?

So back to the whole karate-chopping Twitter thing. I've been dancing around the deactivate button for months. The Women's March bickering pushed me over the edge, and I did the darn thing. There was instant relief. I deleted the Instagram app on my phone while I was at it. Another weight lifted. I haven't done anything with Facebook yet except try to ignore it. I deactivated it 5 or so years ago, and I didn't look back for years. I finally dusted it off when Gracie was a few months old since family members out west wanted a way to see pictures. The first thing I did was whittle my friends list down from hundreds to 75. Suddenly, Facebook didn't bother me much anymore. I need to cut some more people loose, but it bores me in general so I tend to stay way from it more than the other social media monsters.

Anyway, I laid in bed the night I cut Twitter and Instagram from the team. I thought about getting rid of Facebook too--but, no I can't get rid of all my social media accounts...

...can I? Is that even allowed in 2017?

I'm not even kidding, the thought made me feel giddy. NO MORE SOCIAL MEDIA? (and let me be clear--the blog is not included in this). The thought still makes me giddy with a twirly sort of glee. No more long-winded rants about the new President (I didn't vote for him so go ahead and chill)? No more passive-agressive hashtags? No more "like and share if you agree!" posts? It's practically heaven!

I'm not there yet, and I'm not sure if I ever will be. I mean yes, I am reading the Little House on the Prairie series and borderline lusting after the way they make their own food and feed the horses and the cows every evening and knit by the wood stove on snowy nights. But I also like seeing what's going on in my friends' lives. I've never exactly had FOMO in real life (don't invite me to the party--that way I don't have to make an excuse for why I'll be home in my pajamas instead), but I get a smidge of it online. I've met some of my best friends online! But the ones I would want to keep up with email me or text me every day anyway.

Long story very long, I got rid of some social media apps and my brain calmed down. Honestly, it doesn't feel like it's running a million miles a minute anymore (or maybe that's the virus slowly killing it). My brain is no longer so full of other people's thoughts that I can't hear my own. I'm sure I'll still post a picture on Instagram here and there (my kid IS cute, after all) and I still use Facebook to keep in touch with a few people, but this is such a huge improvement. I don't want to scroll mindlessly anymore. I don't ever want my daughter or my husband to have to compete with the scrolling. I don't want to ever give a thought to likes, comments, and followers. I want to use my hands to do more important things, like read a book, cook dinner, knit a blanket, and turn on Netflix (jokes...but really). James is staunchly anti-social media, so I guess we'll be writing letters by beeswax candlelight if you need us.

Let me be clear, I don't count blogs as social media. Blogs feel more like having a virtual conversation than on social media, which is more hearing someone yell at you out the window of a passing car. I love blogging. It feels more old-fashioned, more writing-a-letter-during-the-days-of-Jane-Austen sort of old-fashioned compared to social media and the culture of instant gratification. And we all know my dream is to be Amish.

Don't be concerned until you see me wearing a plain blue dress and a black Amish bonnet to the grocery store. And don't think I won't do it. You can tweet the pictures and I'll never even know.




17 comments:

  1. Can I copy this and share it on all my social media platforms?! I love your instagram! The Gracie pics make my day!

    I deactivated my facebook in November and have not looked back for one second. I was so tired of all the opinions, hatred, self-righteousness, etc. I found myself feeling differently about people at work, etc., because of what they'd put on facebook. How ridiculous is that? I also disliked how my newsfeed was filled with posts of PEOPLE THAT I DON'T EVEN KNOW that my "friends" had liked or commented or shared. I also thought it was weird that I could know what someone got for her birthday, ate for lunch, etc, but if I ran into them in the grocery store I wouldn't even say hello to them. So, all that to say, I deactivated and I haven't missed out on anything and I feel SO MUCH CALMER. Also I spend a ton less time on my phone.

    I like instagram so I think I will keep that for now. I love the pretty pictures and honestly if someone's written paragraph upon paragraph under a photo, I just scroll past it. If I want to read a blog post, I'll come to your blog.

    I have a love/hate with twitter. I feel like I've found some great articles and websites from things other people have tweeted. However, this weekend especially I found myself becoming enraged about some things people were saying and retweeted some things that I probably wouldn't have, had I thought long and hard about it. They weren't bad, but does this whole conversation really need a retweet from me? Not really.

    Yesterday my mom and I went for a walk in the afternoon and had an IN-PERSON conversation about our thoughts on the election, the women's march, the pro-life march, etc. And even though my mom and I share the same (unpopular) viewpoints, it was so much nicer to have an actual conversation about these issues instead of tweeting about them.

    Matt doesn't have facebook or instagram, and he only logs on twitter about once a month, and he survives just fine. I would miss instagram I think, but twitter might be next on my list of deactivation.

    Might be time to dust off my Little House on the Prairie books!

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  2. Whew. Over the course of time (and this post, lol) I think I've come to the conclusion that we have different opinions on some things (which is absolutely ok), but I agree that social media feels like a chore/punishment/pressure/bullying/nagging/annoying/irritating. Over the last few days I've clicked away from SO many conversations or pushed "post" only to push "delete" five minutes later. Like- my identity is NOT tied to a blue and white internet page. I feel very drawn to just walking away from all of it. UGH.
    (I'm still ok with IG and Twitter- mainly because I don't waste much time on there. I deactivated my FB right after the election for a few weeks, but then got sucked back in.)

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  3. If Facebook wasn't programmed the way it is, I would enjoy it so much more. Let me control what I want to see, for goodness' sake! I have already blocked certain sites from showing up, but how amazing would it be to be able to block key words? I enjoy Facebook for the personal stuff: asking for recommendations, sharing info with groups from church, having secret family groups to share little things that go on in our lives. I don't think I could ever give Facebook the boot.

    When I had twitter years ago, I was just a passive user. Never use it anymore. It's my husband's favlurite though. It is super useful for his writing job.

    Instagram. My favourite. If I find I am following somebody who makes me feel jealous or inadequate, I quit them. I love following my friends and I love being inspired by certain people. Other times it's a good place to "shop" or find new businesses to support.

    There is definitely good and bad in all these things. And finding the right balance can be hard. I'm so glad you are finding what works for you!

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  5. I'm starting over with my comment because I don't want there to be confusion about what I mean about Instagram causing me sadness and jealousy. I know we've talked about this already, but I 100% do not regret deleting Twitter. My life is full of so much less anger. Seriously! I support you. We can become pen pals :) Loved this.

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  6. I really believe in keeping social media a safe place for myself - so I have no qualms unfollowing someone or blocking their posts if I find myself feeling annoyed. That's how a keep sane amidst everything! If a certain feed starts to give me stress, or make me feel inferior, or make me think less of someone...I just unfollow (and stay friends), or unfollow period. I actually need to go through and shape Facebook up again a bit. I don't mind reading articles if one of my friends thought enough of it to share it, but I am so tired of seeing "so-and-so liked this" posts. Argh!

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  7. I have mixed feelings on a day-to-day basis about social media. Facebook is one that I plan on either getting rid of soon, or deleting all my friends and pages that I like and using it simply for selling/buying things on the local For Sale board (we don't have Craigslist here so everyone uses Facebook). Matter of fact, I think I might go do that as soon as I publish this.

    Twitter...I keep it and it doesn't bother me, but I think it's because I treat it like all my other social media accounts. I follow very few people, and it helps me not to get embroiled in all the strife that goes on all the time. It's mainly so I can keep up with current events without having to read the actual news, because we all know how un-biased the news is these days.

    Instagram, I do really like, but it's the same as Twitter. I only have a small group of people I follow, and if I don't like what someone's posting all the time (like, I refuse to follow feeds full of pet or food/drink photos, I'm sorry but I just don't care...and if someone uses Boomerang all the time, they're gone) I won't follow them. If they get offended, to be perfectly honest, it's not entirely my problem. If they don't like what I'm posting, they're free to unfollow me as well, no harm/no foul.

    I think, overall, the key I've found to not being completely overwhelmed by social media is to keep friend/follow lists to a bare minimum, and not feel pressured to follow someone back just because they followed me first (or accept friend requests on Facebook, because that person who was a friend of a friend of a friend in high school doesn't REALLY care about me, I mean really).

    I will be terribly sad if you don't post much to Instagram anymore, but I will also totally understand if you don't. ;)

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  8. I do keep Facebook around for things like friend groups and keeping in touch with some family members, but lately it has been so exhausting and sad to have to scroll through so many posts that are full of arguments, disrespect, and just overall nastiness.

    I really enjoy Instagram and haven't had any issues with that. I was never into Twitter, really. I have an account but haven't used it in a very long time, and am not even sure I would be able to log into it if I tried.

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  9. AMEN!!!

    I deleted Twitter years ago because I thought it was super dumb. I don't get it. Facebook might as well be called crack cocaine. It's horrible for you but you just cant quit scrolling. I honestly want to deactivaet my account but can I do that since I run my blog and photography business on there? I'll google that after I type this comment.

    I do like Instagram (sometimes) because it's fun to see pictures people post. I do like posting pretty pictures because for me, it's a way to create art. however, I wont' ever have a picture perfect IG newsfeed, whatever that may be. I probably need to unfollow some people on IG. I have commented on some political posts and got chewed up and spit back out. So annoying.

    Is it weird that social media has felt like a massive burden lately? I don't really love it. Especially, FB. I think the women's march on social media was, in my opinion, was a disgrace (and that is putting it nicely). I know that sounds mean but it was a vulgar march. And what gets me more are my Christian friends who are supporting it but than saying nothing about the unborn. And that is why i need to get off of FB.

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  10. Amen, sister. I've unfollowed a bunch of people on Facebook over the years and deleted quite a few. My thinking is, if I wouldn't say hi to you walking down the street why call ourselves "friends"? It might be time for another cull.

    I don't know about Twitter. So much over sharing on there happens that makes me cringe, but I like the funny stuff and news. I try to be selective and minimal in my participation, but I still wonder sometimes if it's worthwhile.

    Instagram I love. I'm sad you're taking a break from it because I love those Gracie videos and pictures. Come back soon. We love you and miss you.

    Never stop blogging. Please and thank you.

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  11. YES!!! ALL THE AFFIRMATION!!!!!!!! Sorry, that was a lot of caps and exclamation points, but I'm just so excited that people like you exist in this world. I'm an extrovert, but I love having introverted "let's philosophize about why we do what we do" moments, so I loved reading your thought process :) It seems that so many people have talked about how we, as a society, are more disconnected the more that we use social media, but then no one ever does anything about it! So I'm excited that you're doing something about it!! The only social media I have ever used is Facebook, and I don't want to let it go since it helps me stay abreast of different events (and keep relatives updated with baby photos, and connect with some different awesome groups that I'm in). But, a few weeks ago, I deleted my newsfeed, and it's been the best thing ever. My life is so much more peaceful now! No more mindless scrolling, and way more intentionality about what I am seeing-because the only way to see stuff from pages or other people's profiles is *gasp!* actually typing in a name or page title in the search bar! I've been spending way less time on social media because I've been more intentional about it, and life has just gotten more quiet and peaceful, which I love.

    I think this is why I love blogging so much-it's just a lot more personal, and like you said, it is like writing a letter (except that I don't have to pay for postage or try to find an envelope, which is a plus!).

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  12. Yes yes yes. I think that social media HAS SO MUCH POTENTIAL to be so freaking amazing, but so many people use it for evil, to tear others down, to rip each other apart! Especially in this day and age...and I just won't be part of it. I'll totally admit, I love Instagram (I'm totally in camp #bereal and stop pretending your life is perfect because nobody is perfect. No one has an all white perfectly cleaned house, AMEN girl!), and I kind of like FB, twitter is very "meh" to me. I use it more to just read funny stuff. I've tried so hard this year not to "mindlessly scroll/thumb" through my feeds because it can just get out of hand. The only time I want to scroll is if I'm waiting in the Dr office, or home alone...but then again, I could be reading a book. Balance is everything, that's all I really mean.

    I'm so thankful for this post today! AND I'm so glad you're not quitting blogging ;)

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  13. I got Facebook in 2010, so I think I was later to the game than most. I remain pretty staunch in being a big fan of facebook--I have less than 150 friends, with literally over half of them being either my family or in Angel's family. And the rest are "my people" from all different stages of life and different places I've lived--people I hope I never totally lose track of, because even though I'm also an introvert type and don't message them much, I just love seeing photos of everybody's adventures and everybody's babies and all that. In the long-distance lifestyle we have, facebook very much has a place.
    Twitter...I've never much cared about. I just tweet my blog posts like you're 'supposed to' and occasionally write quick funny stories or quotes that are too small for the blog. Also, I've occasionally asked questions and gotten pretty good answers. I literally don't read anything on twitter.
    Instagram is pretty fun for me because I love pictures. Unfortunately, almost no one I know in real life uses it, so that one is all blog-related for me...except my sister's ex-boyfriend recently commented on one of my photos and I thought that was pretty hilarious. Most of my family is still quite friendly with her ex (I know, I know, we probably shouldn't be, but we feel so sorry for the poor guy) so it's not as odd as it sounds.

    The only social media my real-life people use is Facebook and I think that's why I love it the most. I love all my little Facebook people so much and wish I could see their real faces more often.

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  14. So glad you don't count blogging as social media!

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  15. I prefer the term "technophobe" to describe myself. I only just got my very first smartphone in March 2016. I love all your thoughts in this post, seriously all of them. I wrote an entire post about why I like not having a personal FB account (just one for my blog), one of the reasons being that I don't desire to know every thought of every acquaintance I've ever had on every topic, and I don't really want them to know mine, either!

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  16. I haven't been on Facebook for a month and I wasn't really sure why. I just felt like I didn't care about it at the moment, or didn't want to give it time. However, I just went on it now because I thought I'd share a video I took of Avalon playing the harmonica. Then it occurred to me immediately: I've been off Facebook because of the politics. I don't know how that wasn't more obvious, but you can't get through one scroll on the thing without "overhearing" a fight. I didn't even post the video. It honestly didn't feel safe, as dramatic as that sounds. I totally understand why you would want a break. Thankfully my Instagram is more filtered through than my Facebook and I can still see the pretty pictures. xo

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