Updated: Mar 3
30 August 2021
I deleted my #Facebook today. Not the account itself. I’m not so disillusioned that I think I can completely walk away without having some constant nagging feeling of missing out on social all the time, it’s so engrained at this point it is damn near a part of my identity. I merely deleted the application from my phone. I also jettisoned Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr but if I’m being honest, I still barely understand the point of those.
Let’s call this a test of my willpower; a spiritual cleanse if you will. As with most people who have social media accounts, I often find myself, like a fuckin zombie, periodically scrolling through Facebook at random times during the day, not doing anything productive, mind you, just braindead scrolling. Wasting time both revolting and chuckling at the digital flotsam that reaches my shores. Yet, even while scrolling, I’m absorbing. I’m absorbing the comment sections as a cultural shit show unfolds in real time. I’m absorbing the anonymous anger and hatred from people as they fire live rounds of animosity through a keyboard at people they will never meet, not once thinking that these are actual people whom they are wishing would “die in a fire” or hoping they would “kill themselves to spare humanity their stupidity”. It fuckin hurts to see people actually say this stuff to other people, in plain sight of a live audience of literally millions of people while addressing trivialities. Where is the remorse? What is happening? Has this always BEEN happening? Did #Zuckerberg just give all of this aggressive white noise a megaphone and a James Bond-esque license to kill? People, when online, seem to forget that words have meaning, and often that meaning holds some degree of power. My heart is breaking at an alarming speed. So i'm trying my level best to cleanse first, then delete.
All that to say this: I have to unplug man, for the sake of my sanity I need to step back. But I have to try to do it in a way which will ultimately hold. I feel it is more effective and meaningful to attempt to disengage from social media in a conscious effort without going through all the grandstanding. I’ve done that before:
“Tired of all the negative vibes on this platform.
Leaving Facebook y’all, hit me up for my digits 😉😘 #blessed #LiveLaughLove”
You know, that kind of shit.
So I am going to make an attempt in metered steps. Because I AM, in fact, tired of the negative vibes. This hatefulness and negativity is killing me; figuratively and quite possibly literally as well. It might even be a little worse because I am actively choosing to engage. I sometimes openly weep for the future of humanity (cheesy right? It’s fuckin true though. It actually hurts to see all of these people so angry when most of them quite likely don’t even know why they’re upset in the first place). They just feel a general sense of unease in their lives and the best thing they can think of to do with those feelings is to go online and blast the shit out of some unsuspecting person. I know most of the negativity out there is coming from a fraction of crazies screaming from their own rooftops, but they’re screaming loud as fuck man, and the ones that try to take a logical stand against the tide of nightmarish atrocities and engage in logical discourse are just labeled as “Dumbocrats”, “libtards”, or “Trumpers” and immediately dismissed as “pussies”, even when the initial discussion has literally nothing to do with politics, but that’s what it all boils down to right now. What’s the answer? How does it stop? If it doesn’t stop, where does it go from here? Honestly, as far as social channels are concerned, I don’t give a shit anymore. I’m physically tired of habitually forcing myself to see all of this.
Not many people are willing to recognize or admit that this is, indeed, cyberbullying. Most think they're just blowing off steam because they too are frustrated and want to vent. But what happens when that venting ends up directed at a child, a younger teenager, or an adult with lower self-esteem? These kinds of communications, when unwittingly aimed at these targeted demographics have the possibility of causing depression, misdirected anger, or even worse, suicide attempts or successful suicides. If you are a parent/grandparent/brother/sister/aunt/uncle/what the hell ever who is related to someone struggling with social media, or (god forbid) has hurt themselves because of their social media use, I would love for you to check out a resource I found. There is a group of three lawyers in Seattle who call themselves the Social Media Victims Law Center. From what I can tell, they are driven to ensure that the dangers of Social Media are widely publicized and they truly want to help educate people on what can happen if these resources are not used responsibly.
I don't necessarily think social media, as a whole should (or at this point even could) be destroyed. I just think most of us owe ourselves, and the rest of society, the favor of researching some of the ramifications of using it. While there are good things which spring from the use of these global platforms, I still there moderation could be emplaced.
There are many different variations of a saying, apparently attributed to however many people can make a small enough change to attribute it to themselves without infringing on some copyright, which holds its origin in one form of spirituality or another (hell, they probably all have some similar concept). For me it comes from Buddhism. The quote goes something like this:
“The object of your attention often becomes you” – Kenny Anton (look I’m doing it too. 😜)
What does that mean? It means the stuff you ingest: the music, the television, news, social media channels, books, magazines, you get the point, whatever graces your attention through those mediums has a hand in shaping your world-view, molding your emotional and mental landscapes. Whatever information or stimuli comes in, often shapes what lives inside and what comes out: perceptions, habits, viewpoints. If those channels are chronically sending out negative or agitating information/signals, you will eventually become negative and agitated because that’s what you’re always seeing and therefore thinking about. Its conditioning. From my personal point of view, unfortunately, it’s all garbage.
One of my bigger problems, aside from SM, is the news. The overwhelming majority of these outlets (at their core, just businesses dependent on profit and income, all gained from benefactors and sponsors who have their own agendas) have a need to generate viewership so, at the expense of simply reporting the news, they focus on sensationalism in journalism. Social media often provides just enough anonymity in information exchange that people can, for the most part, “safely” unleash the dregs of their minds on others without having to consider the ramifications. TV and Movies continue making whatever they can sell (popular shows about stalkers, movies gratifying mutilation and murder, just “whatever the fuck” perverse shit a network/studio exec thinks will bring the studio more money, regardless of how horrifying or offensive the content really is).
All the while, nobody considers the collision of all these different aspects of society and how they coalesce into a national mood, how all of these inputs work together to intensify a general feeling of discontent and anger in the populace.
Okay, let me take a second here to admit that I love me some truly messed up movies and TV shows. There was a time in my life where I couldn't watch enough "Criminal Minds". But I find myself, as of late, gravitating more toward shows like AppleTV+'s Ted Lasso. Truly uplifting and genuine shows.
For the last decade or so, I have been habitually taking that general feeling of discontent and anger, internalizing it, compounding it with the already existing maelstrom of emotions and confusion in my own head and just taking a fuckin nose-dive man. I tell myself (and others) I’m okay, and sure, some days I can even make myself believe it enough to have a bright day, but often I’m a walking hollow shell of a man, sulking under an imaginary, yet very real to me, storm cloud, emotionally wrecked and morally confused. I’m physically sick, emotionally unstable. I’m fuckin fed up.
As I firmly believe social media and the network news (two of my vices) are absolute contributors to my overall malaise (if I can allow myself to use such an emo term), I am going to spend the next 30 days trying my level best to disavow these addictions. The end goal is to brighten my perspective on life, claw my way out of the vicious cycle of depression and anger I carry with me, and overall improve my life (and if I can finally sever the umbilicus which keeps me dependent on social media, then all the better). I’m retooling the gears man. I have to. If I don’t make a change, I don’t think I’m going to make it another 10 years.
Here’s the fucked up part of this whole thing. I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that this is going to be a struggle. If you’ve read anything on my blog before, you would know I’ve tried this in the past. I think it’s similar to quitting tobacco or sometimes alcohol, you’ve got to give it a couple honest tries before you’re really ready to let it go for good, that’s the true bitch of addiction (if you're not ready to admit that Social Media is an addiction, then check out this article from the Addictioncenter.com, or maybe this article from healthline.com).
For those not yet ready to admit it, that’s all this social media game is, an addiction. What the fuck else would motivate a person to share mindless quotes, life events, happenings, pictures, you name it, with the very small, algorhithmically controlled, group of friends who ultimately see your stuff? Do you think most people sincerely care about those things, or do you know that they’re doing the same shit you are: seeing it, maybe hitting the like button (or love, care, sad, fuckin whatever), and just scrolling by with no real emotional investment. Maybe they drop a comment:
“awwwww, how cute 🥰”
But that’s all the time they waste, there’s more to scroll through. Knowing this, you can then inherently know you’re simply doing it for your own gratification. If you really needed to share some major news, would you really do it over social media anyways? Or would you be an actual thoughtful person and make a phone call, sent a text, deliver the news in person. It's time to wake up.
To be fair, I do understand that some people have wildly different experiences on Social media. It’s like a choose your own adventure in which you initially decide what comes across your screen. If you were to ask AJ, she would have a different perspective on this whole thing. Her feed is fairly relaxed, uplifting, and generally focused on yoga/spirituality. This doesn’t mean its not still a waste of time, it’s merely an uplifting waste of time. There’s almost zero benefit to having a Facebook account unless you’re a business trying to advertise to the mindless masses strapped to their phones waiting for it to notify them that someone liked their dumbass status update.
So I’m trying to wake up yet again.
15 September 2021
Wow, so salty that day huh? It is what it is though. Here I am for a two week check-in. Since deleting my social's at the beginning of the month, I haven't really looked back. I have found myself encountering little bits of resistance: I will occasionally find myself pulling my phone out of my pocket to check for notifications, I occasionally find myself internally arguing the relevance of having Social Media (SM) accounts (I need to stay in touch with family, I love to show people what I'm doing, "the view from the top of this hike is super dope, I bet that complete stranger I met that one time at a social event with whom I interacted long enough to get his business card and friend request him on Facebook would really love to see this"), yet for the most part I find it easy-ish to tell reassure myself that its just a waste of time.
If you took some time to really think about it, would you come to this same conclusion? It's all kind of pointless, isn't it? What are we actually accomplishing with SM other than simply humble bragging to a bunch of people we kind of maintain a faint social connection with? And who/what are we ignoring in our never ending quest for social validation? I often see groups of friends in social settings, sitting a couple of feet apart but separated by a metaphorical galaxy of information and distraction. I see kids vying for the attention of parents who are getting annoyed and swatting their own kids away because they are trying to watch some other kid play a funny prank on their parent on TikTok. How fucked is that? What are we really teaching our kids about living in a society?
Try this experiment: pick a week in which you can carry around a journal of some kind. Whenever you engage with a social media app, once you've closed it, write down in that journal what you accomplished, what you spent that time on SM doing. Could you have spent that time in a more constructive way? What about your mood? Notice any changes in how you feel after you've spent 30 minutes "eating popcorn" and watching some passionate idiots have a fight in a comments section? Or maybe your feed is more uplifting and positive, when you log off of SM, do you feel like you need to go back so you can reclaim that feeling of peace and happiness which runs throughout your feeds? Peace and happiness quite possibly shared by people who, themselves, are most likely struggling with life and using the escape of SM to live vicariously through a made up persona. What else already exists in your life that you can substitute for the time you want to spend scrolling?
Now that I'm halfway through the 30 day SM cleanse I wanted to attempt, and have so far been doing pretty well, I think I'm going to start permanently deleting some accounts. I am starting with Twitter because, to be honest, I still don't understand the damn point. So I've deleted the app, logged into Twitter on my laptop and deactivated the account, and went into my Google Chrome settings and have deleted the saved username and password. While that was simple enough because I rarely use it, I'll see what happens when I move to delete Instagram (another app on which I have, at best, a tenuous grasp).
23 September 2021
I honestly think i'm ready to delete it all. I've been off for three and a half weeks now and I honestly don't miss it. I've gotten a couple texts from friends asking me why I didn't respond to something I was tagged in and it was easy enough to explain.
10 February 2022
I forgot this post was on here 😂. I'm going to wrap this thing up really quick. I have, in fact, turned my back completely on Social Media. Okay, you caught me in just a little bit of a white lie. I maintain a LinkedIn account on the advice of MANY people during my career transition process. There's inherent value there, apparently, I just haven't necessarily found it yet.
I also did reactivate my Facebook/Instagram for about three weeks in December/January. I thought I was missing it. I realized almost immediately that I was back to mindless scrolling with no actual benefit or pointed goal in mind. It was much easier to get rid of them the second time. My brain is now free to explore other attention grabbing vices. I have been reading a lot again, which makes me super nerd-style happy. I find myself able to simply leave my phone at the house for long periods of time (which is weirdly liberating in its own right).
Though I think most of this post will sound rather sanctimonious, I promise that is not my intent. I also don't think I'm writing this to convince an entire generation raised on computers to join some weird luddite revolution. I also understand that, when I deleted my social channels, I deleted the majority of any reading audience I may have had 🤣. I guess this is just a live journal now. I simply want to express to anyone who may have recently looked at, and been horrified by, their social media habits, that quitting is possible.
If you somehow found your way here, I thank you for reading all of this rambling. I'm on a quest to sever the connection I have with my cellphone. Even after deleting my social channels, apple tells me my average screen time still hovers around five hours a day. That's frightening to me. How much of life is passing people by while our faces are so deeply buried in digital Facehuggers?
Also, If you can no longer reach me because we're not connected outside of social media, and you want a more concrete contact method, you can still find me on FB Messenger.
I wanted to jump in here one more time and add an update after doing some thinking on the subjects of social media and addiction. According to the Social Media Victims Law Center :
According to Ofcom, 98 percent of young adults (aged 16 to 24) are online in Western countries. The average person spends about 20 minutes on Facebook, the most popular social media site, and 20 percent of adolescents use social media for at least five hours daily, according to a different UK study.
That's a pretty sobering statistic when you think about how much time is spent on those platforms and what is actually going on when spending that time. Children are introduced to these