Note: I am not writing this post to judge or shame anyone. This is just my experience and my opinion. If it makes you think a little deeper about your social media usage, great! If not, stay calm and keep posting!
I spent June, July and August 99% social media independent. I had to jump on Facebook a few times to gather information about or a response to an event or group that someone had told me about in person.
With the time I normally would have spent on social media, I read a couple of news emails I’d sent to my inbox so I was always up to date with what was going on in the world.
I took counseling to find out why I struggle so much with my mother’s guilt, neurotic housekeeping, and feeling overwhelmed. In May, I began to wonder if all of the extra voices and “highlight roles” I was seeing on social media might just add fuel to the fire.
I deleted Facebook and Instagram from my phone. Voila! Cut. I didn’t delete my accounts because I didn’t necessarily plan my break to be permanent.
I found other ways to share things. When I took a super cute picture of the kids, I wrote it to my parents and in-laws. When I came across a good quote, I wrote it to a friend who I thought would appreciate. If I wanted to tell someone about my deep love for silicone kitchen brushes, Shocker, I just kept it to myself.
Note: I see SMS as a form of personal interaction. While it is still electronic rather than face to face, it communicates with a specific person or group of people on purpose.
In the first few weeks of my social media hiatus, I missed more posts than I expected. I was still able to look at life through an Instagram lens and process thoughts related to captions or posts to add to my stories.
But I didn’t really miss seeing other people’s feeds. Indeed, not knowing what they were up to was a kind of liberation! When I saw friends in person, instead of just telling what we both already knew when we saw each other’s posts on social media, we could actually catch up.
After those first few weeks, I stopped thinking about posts and just enjoyed my life. Sometimes I took photos with my phone, but most of the time I didn’t. Instead, I noticed things. This awareness went hand in hand with my study of the Charlotte Mason Method for School. I started getting really into butterflies, moths, and dragonflies. I picked mushrooms to identify them. I watched squirrels and birds in the trees. I took mental snapshots of moments and just enjoyed them without a camera in hand. The few photos I took were mostly to commemorate moments I had already enjoyed, rather than trying to document everything in the hopes that it would turn out to be something worth posting on social media become.
I had always justified my use of social media with the idea that “it’s fun to see what people are up to”. And I still really enjoy knowing about people’s lives. But I think that this modern version of “knowledge” has taken on a natural human affinity and has distorted it. Before social media, you mainly learned about other people’s lives through actual human interaction. They meet Sally in a park and talk for 15 minutes about what the two of you were up to. Or you play a game with Mary and hear from her that Jane has just bought a house and will be closing next month. Or you’re wondering what Bridget is up to, so you just give her a call or text her to catch up with her.
I understand that the pandemic has reduced the usual amount of personal human interaction we get with people outside of our immediate family. So this seems like an argument for the value of social media. But ask yourself this: does seeing vacation photos posted by a high school friend add to your life? Does it add value to your life to see photos from the birthday party that an old friend from the state you used to live in hosted for her 5 year old? Even if you limit the people you follow on social media to those you actually know and see on a regular basis, do you really need to see what their kids are doing every day?
Some of you might say yes, and frankly, as I write this, I want to agree. Because I like to see cute pictures of children and hear people’s thoughts. And God created us with an innate desire to know and be known about others.
But here’s the problem with social media: knowing about people’s lives without interacting with them creates a vacuum. We know far too much about people and yet we spend far too little time indeed get to know them. (Don’t even let me start with the people we follow that we’ll never meet IRL.) My rule of thumb is this: if something important happens to someone I know who is important to me, it will in my face-to-face conversation with come out of him. If it doesn’t show up, I don’t really need to know.
“I don’t need to know.” That’s pretty much the opposite of social media. Social media is based on the idea, no that liethat we always need to know everything about everyone, and if we don’t we will be left behind. What will we have to offer if we haven’t seen the latest viral video or the funniest new meme or … or … or … something new that I can’t think of right now because I’m not on social media ?! ?!
I stand up against this lie in my life by coping with social media. Though I am tempted, I am Not Link to this post from FB or IG. I don’t need people who know I’m leaving. And they probably wouldn’t care about it anyway. Surprisingly, I feel better when I know less about other people and the anonymous universe knows less about me. When I’m a little offline, I can enjoy my own. real Life more.
(I say light because yes, I am still telling the universe in a blog post why I decided not to use social media anymore. If that makes me a hypocrite, so be it.)
And so I’m going to end this post with what is probably the last current social media term I’ll know …
(Full disclosure, I am not deleting my Facebook account as unfortunately it is the method of communication that several IRL groups have chosen. I plan to delete my Instagram account once I have downloaded all of my data, something in the works is and I plan to keep my blog.)
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