Sometimes when I’m writing for this blog, it feels like there is a conspiracy going on to make me think about, and write about, a particular topic. So with that in mind I will happily concede that this post was inspired by Lipstick Lori (who is writing some great stuff at the moment!) writing about How I Quit Facebook, Sort Of, my own ponderings around the question of Which Tech Giant Would You Drop?, and this piece by Jason Kottke (uber-blogger) My Social Media Fast.
It’s a slow pull, a subtle trick. It starts with a brief desire and is soon a constant drain. They know what they are doing, they’ve spent a long time designing it to be this way, to game you, to manipulate you, and as it gets larger and larger so it becomes harder and harder to fight.
My Facebook account currently gets the most usage of all my social media accounts. Granted a lot of the things I post are pushed from Instagram, but more and more I will share things into my timeline from elsewhere on Facebook, trapped in the bubble. I find myself idlly scrolling through post after post after post, hardly pausing to digest, a stream of stuff that amuses, annoys, adds to the FOMO, or makes me smile.
I do not like the amount of time I spend using Facebook.
I have books I want to read, TV shows I want to watch, and on sunny days I want to disconnect and enjoying being alive and being present with myself.
I did manage to wean myself off Facebook pretty well a while ago, right up until my niece was born; my sister posts pictures and videos of her almost every day, and oh my heavens she is as cute as a button and fills my heart with joy and love and that gorgeous little thing was the gateway, the lure back into the Facebook universe. I tried to tell myself I was only gonna check it to see if there was anything about her, you know just a little bit now and then, and then I could totally give it up later. Yes, that’s right, I’m blaming my Facebook addiction on my 1 year old niece, what of it!
I have tried to maintain some level of discipline. I had previously uninstalled the app but it’s snuck back on to my phone now BUT – and this is an important BUT – it sits deliberately in a folder on the second screen, right next to its time-sucking sister Twitterific. The thinking was that would remove the urge to ‘just have a quick look’ and for the most part it’s starting to work, which is just as well.
I know what some of you might be thinking, social media is fun! So say the adverts at least, but as always there is a deeper, unadvertised, cost.
There are many meme-able acronyms that surround Facebook; but it is the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) being the one I most associate with it, after all it’s so obvious that everyone ELSE is leading lives far richer than mine and whilst seeing people I care about having a good time is totally awesome and happy making, it can be not to compare and contrast; my lonely sofa to the photos of an afternoon out, all laughter and spilled drinks. And there’s the rub, the mixture of joy and sadness, happiness and melancholy.
And yes, I am well aware that social media is a but a filter, and the most people post the best of themselves, not the worst, but having that knowledge and sensibly processing that knowledge are two very different things. And that’s before you consider that I do this as well, contributing to the very problem I’m trying to avoid. Ironic, isn’t it? (shut up Alanis).
I honestly do love reading, seeing, and hearing, the wonderful things my friends and acquaintances get up to. You lot (I’m presuming, dear reader, that we are connected on some platform or another) are wonderful, quirky, funny, thought provoking, attractive, heart warming, caring and just down right good peoples. But, as Lori points out, that comes at an emotional cost. It’s not always a negative sum game, but emotions need to be processed regardless and it can be tiring.
I’m not completely away from Facebook or Twitter, but it feels more manageable. Instagram remains front and centre though, as I find it so much easier to scroll photos than dodge the diatribes, crap adverts, and all the other noise that Facebook adds.
The flipside to all of this, for there is always a flipside, is that I will have fewer chances to see things that others post. Fewer chances to like or comment on their achievements, fewer chances to laugh with them (or at them if the moment warrants). And to all those people I wanted to echo the sentiment of a wonderful message I recently received (the irony (again!) of having received this message on yet another social platform is not lost on me).
I enjoy seeing what you post, and I see you around on various social media channels. I may not like or comment as often but I see you, and I care about you.*
There is joy to be found in social media, and for me that joy and delight has been found in the connections it has allowed me to make, I have met people I genuinely call friends (for they are not acquaintances) thanks to social media, and there is no doubt that it’s very useful for keeping in touch, however remotely, with many people.
For those connections, those new friendships that I wouldn’t have made any other way, I will always be grateful to social media (ht: this blog of mine which started it all for me) and I can’t see a time when some form of social media or another won’t have a place in my life. It’s just not on my homescreen.
* the person who sent this knows, but wanted to call this out again, it was a simple message that had a big impact on me, and gave me something to strive for in my interactions with others, to make them meaningful, not just another LIKE.
Also published on Medium.