I quit social media
A few months ago I had a battle with my mental health which became the worst it’s ever been, hence why it’d taken me so long to write my next post. I won’t go into details at this time, but it was bad enough for me to need time off work…and to quit social media. It’s the social media I will be talking about here on this post, because I was a heavy user who was ashamed of my usage time and often did stints of cutting back and deleting it from my phone.
Do you think that worked?
Of course not. Cutting back and temporarily quitting never works. Not for long.
It wasn’t that I was having any negativity aimed at me on social media or getting into debates, but I was seeing other peoples’ on a regular basis. People I didn’t even really know. Even when I unfollowed a number of accounts, I was still overwhelmed with the amount of crap I was automatically scrolling through every day.
Distressing news headlines, negative statuses aimed at upsetting others, cryptic statuses begging for attention, motivational memes that had lost all meaning other than to garner likes or give an impression of taking action in their lives, ads to make me feel dissatisfied with what I already have. Pure information clutter.
Not only that, I realised I was worrying non-stop about what others thought of me. I never shared much of my true thoughts on social media or got involved in opinion posts (unless it was related to gaming), but I did share just about everything from what I was doing at the time, to what I was eating, where I had been, and what I was watching or playing.
Sometimes, this killed conversations with people in real life because they already knew what I had to talk about – I’d shared it on Facebook already. Other times I was far too busy with my phone to be present, so conversations were blurring into the background.
But ultimately, behind those carefree posts and the ignorance of what was going on around me, I was suffering like never before, running away from the insanity going on elsewhere in my life and in my heart.
I didn’t feel worthy of connecting with another human, or even likeable. I felt like an imposter in my own life, like I was wrong for exisiting.
The night I had the breakdown, I ran out of my house and to a local bar-restaurant. There, for some reason, tears streaming down my face, I found myself on my Facebook telling friends I would be disappearing for a while until I felt better, then I made the decision to ‘temporarily’ delete my account.
There was so much going on in my life, I had to declutter something immediately, but not something physical, something that was adding unseen weight to the burdens I was already carrying. It was like a sudden desperation to make my own presence as small and as light as possible and to completely hit reset.
Not surprisingly, the more time I’ve spent away from it, the more I’ve realised what little value it was adding to my life. Sure, I’ve done this before and realised pretty much the same thing, then I went back as soon as I felt like I’d regained some semblance of control (an illusion, of course!)
The people running these apps and services, the ones making the money, they don’t want you regaining control. They want your attention and data and they want you to be insecure. How else are they going to work with companies to sell products and your data? How else are they going to sell you the solutions to fix the problems they contribute to?
I’m aware I can’t use social media to share these blog posts anymore. But I thought that was probably contributing to someone else’s information clutter anyway. I only really want people who are genuinely interested in my content or who need help simplifying. I don’t have access to Instagram anymore,either, and that one I do miss, if only for the beautiful photos; but there’s a whole world outside my front door which is stunning in the autumn light.
Of course, this is just one way that companies like Facebook keep you trapped. They tie it to as many other services as possible and ensure they don’t work independently of it. So you’re now not just quitting Facebook, but other services too.
I still sometimes have the odd reaction to type Facebook into my internet browser but thankfully I lack the desire to log back in.
The truth is, I’m terrified of it. I’ve found that the urge to share everything about my life has burnt out, along with the feeling I’m missing out. And I don’t want those feelings back.
Life’s got enough challenges without dealing with the useless emotional and mental clutter that social media and the internet cause. There’s also this nagging feeling that I’m 36 in little over a month, yet it seems like 5 minutes ago I was finishing school. I only have to blink and my kids have altered and shot up a few more centimeters.
The last thing I want to do when I next blink is to look back and realise most of my memories are in the digital space while my real life has passed me by.
None of us know how much longer we have on this Earth or if some terrible disability or illness will befall us, so I think it’s important to live with intention in the present moment more than ever. Too often, I’ve seen lives wasted in front of me, and even more wasting away without even realising; I don’t want to look back at the end of mine to see a tired, wasted life of regret.
Nobody wants that.
I mean, honestly, when that time comes, would I really give a shit who had unfriended me on Facebook or liked that image I posted? Would it really matter if I’d shared that old motivational quote when I hadn’t even lived my own values?
When it comes to social media, the people who truly give a damn about me see me in real life and text me, then we have plenty to talk about. I do still spend time on my phone, mainly playing Pokemon Go, Garden Affairs, and Wordscapes, but they are intentional uses of my time rather than a built-in reaction that wastes so much of it. I don’t play them ‘to kill time’ like some phone users do, but because I like the games in the first place.
As for the future of my social media use, I can’t see myself using it again with a personal account, at least, not as I write this post. It’s been a good length of time now and all I feel is shame for how much time I wasted posting about my life instead of living it. I’ve thought about using it as a tool to promote minimalism and simplicity, but knowing how social media is designed, even that is questionable to me right now.
If you have social media, I urge you to question your own use of it, and whether it might be worth deleting it for good. Life’s too precious to waste, and unless you rely on it for business, I promise you won’t be missing out.
Don’t wait until it’s too late, because one day it really will be.