A month or so ago I posted a few paragraphs on Facebook about how I am seriously reconsidering my use of social media. Since then I have done virtually no scrolling through my feeds, and have limited myself to very occasional posts. And I think my life is much better for it – social media was eating up more of my time than I realized, time I now use out in the real world.
So much so that I am considering deleting my accounts – particularly of timeline-based “scrolling” sns (facebook, instagram, twitter). Socially/ethically I believe this is a good thing to do (do I really want to support these companies?), though this isn’t significant in my decision – rather, my motivation is selfish: much like giving up other unhealthy addictions like smoking (admittedly I never really smoked beyond a short phase of smoking-while-drinking) and drinking (which i surely did to excess), quitting social media has made my life better.
It’s important to realize why social media exists: to make the SNS companies rich (by advertising to us). Social media is addictive (just like smoking and drinking) – it was designed to be addictive by software engineers who wanted to maximize the time we spend on it by feeding off our innate need for social interaction (without ever really satisfying that need) in order to make profit (notwithstanding their publicly stated purpose: “to bring us together”).
Putting aside all “ethical consumer” motivations, do I really want to spend significant portions of my time engaged in an activity that was designed to make someone else rich? Wouldn’t I be better off enriching (in the broadest sense) my own life?
There are some practical issues I’ll need to address:
- leaving the facebook timeline is pretty easy (just don’t log in),
- as is getting news and views by visiting websites directly.
- However many of my contacts are only on messenger so I will need to make sure I find other ways to keep in contact with those people I do actually wish to stay in contact with.
- And I have made deeper friendships in Okinawa by being able to maintain conversations on FB between face-to-face meetings (especially surfers who I otherwise only see occasionally in the water). I’m not sure how to replace that, though perhaps this is just part of the challenge: I need to learn how to obtain actual (and genuinely rewarding) real-world social interaction instead of salving my need via the (ultimately unrewarding) interaction of social media. If this is difficult because everyone is so busy….then that is a problem our society needs to address, not salve with social media…
- (Also: I’m not entirely sure it is even possible to completely delete my accounts….)
So for now it is just something I am exploring. However if you’ve noticed I’ve gone very quiet on here recently – well now you know why. You’re welcome to comment on this, I value your thoughts, though please understand that it will be several days (at least…) until I next log on and see your comments, and that I am now reluctant to engage in extended conversations online (I could use that time to be playing with my children, gardening, or reading books) so you might have to feel contented with a “like”. If you’d like a longer discussion then give me a call (feel free to message to arrange a time, or just call out of the blue – remember when we used to do that? before messaging became a thing…)or (better yet) come round for a coffee!
That’s all, I’ve now used up all my internet time for the day, back to the real world….