I was in college when twitter and Facebook started. I joined twitter in January of 2009, before I had a smartphone. I sent tweets by sending a text message to 40404. There was no twitter app. You had to go online (with a computer) and adjust your settings or you would get a text message every time anyone you followed sent out a tweet. Looking at old twitter stats on Wikipedia it says that by February of 2010 twitter users were sending 50 million tweets per day. Today if you Google “How many tweets per day”, Google will tell you that users now send 500 million tweets per day.
I joined Facebook in October 2005. You had to have an .edu email address to even sign up. Also, somehow your college had to request a network (some colleges were allowed to join before others, its all pretty well covered in the movie).
A Wikipedia search for “list of social media networks” produces a list of social media sites that someone considers “major and active” (ie. not an exhaustive list). There are 210 (if i counted right – they are not numbered . . . its a table with rows and columns, for the love of God, why wouldn’t you number them??!!).
The lines separating the offline world from the online world are blurred more and more everyday. So why am I walking away? I always wondered when I would feel too old for Facebook, I mean, I’m pushing 30. I think I have been too old for a while now. But its more than that. I challenged myself to come up with a list of good reasons I should quit social media. Honestly, I thought I would struggle to list five good reasons. I didn’t. In fact, my reasons were so good that I have completely convinced myself that its the right move for me. In the past I justified my heavy social media use to myself by saying things like, “its really harmless as long and you don’t take it too serious and don’t put too much of your personal business out there.” I am not willing to go so far as to say that social media is inherently harmful, but the reasons I came up with are enough to cause me to walk away. I don’t think that I will abstain for ever and ever, amen. But for right now, for a season at least, I am quitting*.
the reasons They are my personal reasons, I don’t think you should feel any pressure to adopt them as your own. If you do want to quit social media, you should come up with your own reasons.
1 I’m starting to hate people I used to like
This has way more to do with me than with those people. Over the past eight to ten years I have experienced a lot of personal growth. Everyone does in the time that passes between high school graduation and their 30th birthday. As a result, there are a lot of people on my list friends who have been there for years, who did not grow in the same direction I have. Now, scrolling through my news feed (which is a terrible name, there is hardly anything that should be considered “news” on it), when I read their opinions on current events or about how they choose to spend their time (none of my business, but they posted it on the internet and I read it), I hate them for it. I don’t need any hate. I don’t need to be irritated by their views. I don’t need to irritate people with mine.
2 it gives companies I don’t like power over me.
The reason that any social media site ever becomes a profitable, successful business is by generating enough user data to sell to anyone willing to pay for it. The data is used for all kinds of things, but mostly in efforts to figure out the best ways to separate us from our income. Targeted advertising, predicting trends etc etc. I don’t want to contribute to or participate in that anymore.
3 I’m compulsive about it
I often find myself pulling my phone out of my pocket and opening up Instagram or Facebook without even thinking about it or realizing what I am doing. I do it just to do it. I do it 37 seconds after I did it the last time. I get annoyed when there are no new posts to see since the last time I refreshed the app. I have lost control. I am taking it back.
4 it doesn’t add real value to my life
Honestly, do I really need to explain this one? Besides, the time that I spend aimlessly scrolling through mindless internet junk could be put to much better use. My girlfriend pointed out that the kitchen needs to be cleaned. Maybe I will start there.
5 social media makes me lazy about maintaining the relationships I care about the most
I am much less likely to call and check in with my mom if she has commented one one of my posts recently or if I have shared a picture she posted of my siblings. The same goes for a couple dozen people who I genuinely care about and with whom I want to maintain a meaningful relationship.
6 I use it for validation and affirmation
Okay, so as my girlfriend and proof reader/editor quickly pointed out, this blog completely flies in the face of reason number 6. She is right. This blog is a form of social media I am not quitting. I am sure that I will check to see how many people click on this post to check it out and in doing so, hope to find just how many of you are interested enough in me to read a silly blog post. A blog post about quitting social media, I will post on social media. I’m human. Hence the reason for the asterisk in the title.
7 it’s the most distorted version of reality
People only post the things they want people to know on social media. Some people post complete lies. A person’s online profile is an expression of the person they want you to see, at least to a large extent. More often than not, when someone does get honest and posts something really personal – the majority of their followers feel uncomfortable and wish they hadn’t. You all have that one friend of Facebook who’s posts read like a journal you never wanted to read. If can’t think of one . . . it might be you.
What I plan to do instead to stay connected to much smaller number of people, people who care enough to pursue a non-social media relationship, I am going to offer my e-mail address and post here from time to time.