Social Media – should I disconnect?

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A couple of months ago I decided to completely minimise my social media profiles, which you can read about here https://thebranchingmind.com/2017/04/19/breaking-away-from-social-media/. So far, I have been incredibly happy with this decision because it has allowed me to live in the present – to live for myself and to view the world through my own lens rather than living for the online world and perceiving life through the lens of a camera. However, even though I have minimised my profiles, I still have social media and I still browse through it. What I find interesting is that I never used to be the type of person to compare myself to others because I knew social media was fake; it’s a place where only the altered versions of people’s lives are presented rather than the real versions. Since moving back to New Zealand, I have suddenly started comparing my life to the lives of others. I believe the reason for this is simply because I am bored. When I was living in Hong Kong and Brisbane, I could walk out of my door and I would be met with vibrancy, excitement, architecture, nature and a whole range of different sights and activities. Now, I walk outside of my door and I basically just have two options of things to do; go to Takapuna beach or into the city. There are a few other things I could do/places I could visit, however, these places are quite inconvenient to get to (especially without a car). Therefore, I usually end up spending far more time in my flat, on my computer, pointlessly browsing through social media.

I’m starting to find that with each day that passes, the more disgusted I become with the online world. One reasons for this is because social media is based on materialism and superficiality. Above are some screenshots I took from my Instagram a few days before I deleted it. Let’s just depict some of these images. What do you see? I see several girls looking fulfilled and refreshed on their extravagant and luxurious holidays, numerous Kodak milestone moments, people in expensive designer clothes, and oh look someone’s posted a picture of their new, flashy car. Everyone looks so flawless, so happy and their lives seem so…perfect. Is this real, everyday life? No it’s not. This definitely isn’t my everyday life. Therefore, processing and internalising images like the ones above are obviously going to make my life seem insignificant.

Another reason I am feeling increasingly repulsed by social media is because I am becoming more and more interested in world problems and environmental issues. I’m fascinated with topics regarding climate change, ocean acidification, plastic pollution and overpopulation. When I become aware of all the damage and destruction that humanity has caused and continues to cause the world – and then browse through the narcissistic and self-indulgent world of social media, it genuinely revolts me. It basically signifies why all of these issues have occurred in the first place – because the vast majority of humans are driven by greed.

For these reasons, I decided to delete my Instagram account and I am also considering removing my Facebook profile. The only problem with this, is that I could end up completely isolating myself from the online world and reducing a significant part of my social life. There are several people I only communicate with on Facebook. If I delete my Facebook account then I will be cutting ties with these people and will most likely lose contact with them. This is the sole only reason as to why I may consider keeping this social media platform, along with using it as an educational platform to keep up with world events and scientific/technological advances.

I also just want to add that I haven’t created this post as a means of ranting my frustrations. More so, I am looking for advice. If any of you have experienced what I am experiencing, what have you done about it? And if you have completely disconnected from the online world, did this help or did it hinder your life? At the end of the day, social media is a strange and sad phenomenon. It’s a place where we are connected to others, most of which we don’t speak to, haven’t seen in years, or in some cases, have never met at all. Yet, we continuously observe their lives and they observe ours. I do not want to look back on my life in future and regret spending so much time in a fake reality on an online world.  It’s bizarre and it is pointless. What do any of us actually gain from this? If you have any advice, please let me know by leaving a comment or posting a message on the ‘contact’ page. I would really appreciate pointers from others on this!

5 comments

  1. Having ditched FB recently, I can confirm it’s still possible to keep in touch with friends and remain up to date with the world with out it 🙂

    For keeping in touch then are myriad choices – phone, SMS, email, postal, other IM services, smoke signals, etc. When you strip FB down it’s really not offering anything unique other than “loads of people are on it”. If most of those people get under your skin, you won’t losing a lot by leaving!

    For news, there are more reliable sources you can tap into. FB is ultimately controlled by a central authority which is so far removed from the web’s open intent, and such an old fashioned model. Personally I like to use Feedly to aggregate RSS sources (remember RSS?!) of interest from a diverse list of places. It feels like I’m getting a rounded view of the world this way, rather than the “bubble” platforms like FB tend to engender.

    The only social platform I use these days is Twitter because it’s a lot like RSS and very lightweight – you subscribe to areas/people of interest and in return get little chunks of info that are enough to spark a conversation/thought.

    I guess it’s a case of you get out what you put in … Follow shallow folk, you’ll get shallow insights; follow deep thinkers, you’ll get thoughtful posts. Best to follow a mix of these for the full picture 🙂

    But mainly, ditching these platforms leaves your world a little “quieter”. Not a bad thing imho.

    Good luck with your emigration decision 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It is funny. Tom could basically be me; Though I have probably been sans FB for longer than he. I gave it up close to a year ago and actually went through the account deletion process about 6 months ago. I had already been using Feedly since 2013 when Google’s RSS reader shutdown so I must admit I never really used social media as a news source. I wanted to share with you how my IRL social interaction changed over the year when I walked away from FB. I went into it with the knowledge that I was going to have to step up my contact game. What I mean is that I knew that I was the one who was going to have to initiate contact through other methods than FB with those that I cared about. I found that once those people had heard and registered that I was no longer on FB they were more than willing to keep in contact via other means. Most of them anyway. I wrote the others off as people who just really didn’t care about me. Who needs those people anyway? That being said I did find that in the begging I did miss a number of social events. People are so programmed that you just know about their get together because they created an event on FB that it takes them a bit to register that you didn’t get the invite. Again, Once that realization sunk in with those people they started to reach out via other means to make sure I got their invite. Be prepared to get a lot of last minute invites for awhile. EX. SMS saying “I totally forgot you quit FB but I am having a BBQ now. You should come over.”. Now days I generally get the invite in plenty of time. At least from the people who really care that I attend their event. Basically by quitting FB and social media in general, you will find out who your real friends are. Now lets move on to those people from your past that you still care about but live lives that keep them from being in yours. A friend from high school or college that now lives across the country for example. Again be prepared to be the one to be the person to reach out. If you do not have their contact info then most likely you can get it from a friend who is still on FB. I had this situation happen just the other day. A person I hadn’t had contact with for a long time came into my thoughts and I really wanted to know how they were. Instead of hopping on FB, taking a quick perusal of their profile and maybe or maybe not sending them a message or posting to their wall, I got their contact info from a friend who does keep in regular contact with them and then reached out. Now I have had a full conversation with the person I was thinking of and as the distance between us isn’t crazy far we have plans to meet midway, have dinner and catch up further. So in short I would say that though quitting FB will most likely reduce the amount of people you socialize with but will make the experience with those that you do that much more enriching to your life. At this point I have quit all social media and do not miss any of it.

        Cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I decided 3 months ago to deactivate my fb account. My messenger is still active so I can reach people on there if I need to or if they need to. I do still have my instagram account active for this reason. I am a creative and visually I enjoy pretty pictures. I follow people I find interesting. Instagram gives me happy feelings. My fb news feed become a soap box for hate speech. It became a place that all you scroll through is anti this and anti that and fight for something but digitally and with people thinking by sharing something it’ll make a difference. I got to a point that it made me so angry and started negatively thinking about the world. So one day, I deactivated my account. It was the greatest thing I did to my social life, to my health life, to my relationship, to my emotional wellbeing. I started spending less time on my phone and more time doing things. Instead of reading articles my friends put on my newsfeed, I started using google play newsstand to read up news and articles that I was more interested in. I feel more informed now than I ever did on social media. (This app is also how I found your article.) If one is too scared of deactivating your fb (and other social accounts) at least just take it off your phone so that it isnt so accessible. My partner has recently done this on his own accord and he has also felt the world of difference in his stress levels. So I hope this has given you and other readers some insight. That is all.

    Like

    1. Hi Marike!
      That’s interesting – I have actually found the opposite. Personally, I found that Instagram is the social platform where people express their materialism and ‘altered lives’ the most. I also appreciate it when people use facebook to express their views regarding current issues, rather than just using it as a means of expressing their life. That’s a good point you made about Facebook messenger though! I didn’t know it would still work even after deleting Facebook! Thanks for the tip!

      Like

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